Unclog Bathroom Sink Without Chemicals

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Introduction: Unclog Bathroom Sink Without Chemicals

About: I am a DIY person on small scale... fixing things, painting, creating simple solutions... I've been offline for a while, regrouping in my career, going into social work and trauma healing. I teach NVC so will …

My sink has been draining slowly, and finally, people are coming over and we need to clean. It's all backed up, yuck.

The steps of this instructable show you how to remove biological mysteries from your sink's drainage without using caustic chemicals that cost money, are bad to breathe, less fun and whose success as an unclogging strategy has a lot of uncertainty.

My bathroom sink is simple enough that the pipes and pop-up assembly do not require any special tools to take apart and put together. The only tool I employed besides my hands was an old tooth brush.

This job takes me about 15 minutes; less time than it takes to go to the store and back to buy those old chemicals.

I read that you can keep pipes from bioaccumulating by putting down 1/2 cup baking soda, then 2 cups very hot white vinegar, wait 1 minute, bubble bubble, then follow with 2 cups very hot water.

Step 1: Prepare for Cascading Water and Biofilms

Take all your cleaners, electronics, Make magazines and paper supplies out from under the sink. 

Install nice large plastic tub. I prefer a tub to a bucket so I can get my hands in there and so I can see the wonderful microbial masses that come sliding out.

Step 2: Detach and Clean U-bend Pipe

Unscrew ends of the u-pipe, remove, empty water and clean out hair and bio-critters.

Step 3: Remove and Clean Tail Piece

Slide tailpiece pipe from sink drain pipe. Yours may need to be unscrewed.

See culprit biofilm on inside of the pipe.

Push microbial communities out, screaming and crying, with your toothbrush.


Step 4: Clean Sink Drain Pipe

Get tooth brush up into the sink drain pipe.

The horrors that come out!  Kind of thrilling, isn't it?

Thank goodness there are no instructables for a kefir-kombucha-pipebiomass hybrid fermented health drink.

Step 5: The Stopper

The stopper won't come up because it is still hooked into the pop-up assembly.  It is connected underneath to a horizontal rod that links it the lift rod (the pull-up knob you use when you want to engage the stopper and fill your sink with water).

Step 6: Decouple Stopper and Lift Rod

Unscrew the pivot nut that holds the horizontal (pivot) arm onto the popup assembly.

In my sink, the horizontal pivot arm can come out of that hole, is not attached. I just disengage the connection and rest the end in the hole for a bit.  The pivot nut stays on the horizontal arm so you don't lose it.

I found tips and vocabulary from the Natural Handyman website on bathroom sinks.

Step 7: Clean Stopper and Drain

Now you can pull the stopper our and find all those wonders to clean!

Then push your toothbrush down into the drain and force the refugee masses down into your tub.

Step 8: Reattach Popup Assembly

After scrubbing your stopper and drain hole clean, place stopper back into drain hole with flat area and connection hole toward the back of the sink, so that side is closer to the lift rod.

Hold up the stopper by a cm or so with one hand, while reaching under the sink with the other hand adjusting the horizontal rod to get that plastic shaft into the hole at the bottom of the stopper so they are connected.

Step 9: Test Connection!

Test to see if the lift rod and stopper are attached. Move end of the horizontal rod by end of the lift rod up and down. The two should move in opposite directions together, like pop goes the weasel.

Step 10: Reconnect Things

Natural handyman recommends to slather some plumbers grease on the ball. I don't.

Screw on the pivot nut locking the horizontal pivot arm in place. Not too tightly, and not too loosely. If the lift rod doesn't stay up, you might need to tighten the pivot nut a bit. 

Slide the tailpipe back onto the drain pipe (mine fits without tightening).

Reconnect the u-pipe by tightening each end a little in turn.

Step 11: Test, Compost, Maintain

Run the water; see the clean water go down the clean uninhabited pipes!

Look below, are there leaks? Tighten nuts as needed. 

What to do with this big biological party in the tub?

Compost it!

Every 3-4 weeks you can put 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 2 cups hot vinegar, wait 1 minute, than add 2 cups super hot water to keep pipes colony-free.

Hydrogen ions from the vinegar react with the bicarbonate ions from the baking soda to form carbonic acid. The acid acts on the biofilm while decomposing into water and carbon dioxide!  So simple and clean!  See this instructable by

I don't bother with that, I just clean out the pipes about 3 times a year.

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    59 Comments

    0
    Lm23
    Lm23

    6 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing. That is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. and im so excited to go do the same with my bathroom sink. I have a feeling i may be in for real treat and see something even worse. I am truly scared of whats going to come out of there! Now this may not apply to very many, if any one else but it happened to my house so im gonna throw it out there any ways. When my house was being built (in 1963) the original plumbing, was not done by a licensed plumber. I'm talking about the pipes that are inside the walls. All drains, no matter where they start:kitchen or bathroom(s) come together eventually after making several turns and connections to one big drain that goes out to the "street" and city water works. Where those inside pipes turn corners are called slopes because they should be a curved pipes that make a downward slope to allow gravity to work so the water drains out. They should not be made with perfectly horizontal pipies that have 90 degree angles which allow water to stand in them and make sharp turns that are easy to clog, like mine are. It makes for endless plumbing problems as well as issues with the drywall and sheet rock that must be cut into to reach the corners that need replacing with slopes. However i must say at least the guy knew how to be thrifty and save a few dollars by doing it himself. Thats as nice as i can be.

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 10 months ago

    Wow, what a plumbing journey you went on!
    hope you got good slope in the new pipes and all is draining fine!?

    0
    ManarK2
    ManarK2

    5 years ago

    You can easily fix a clogged kitchen sink with the right tools and a little work. And, if you have to do it often enough, practice will make perfect even with the most stubborn clogs. So save yourself money and try a few home tips before calling the plumber .
    تسليك مجارى

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 10 months ago

    that's right!

    0
    MollyN12
    MollyN12

    4 years ago

    Thanks for making a super gross task easy to do and amusing at the same time. Found an abundance of microbial communities and now have a clean running sink.

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 10 months ago

    haha, this is great, congrats on doing it yourself! I enjoyed feeding my compost with the community.

    0
    HimDownStairs
    HimDownStairs

    12 years ago on Introduction

    So the million dollar question is this: Did you use the tooth brush afterwards?

    :)

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    I just rewatched this and asked myself the same question... I did not clarify what to do with that toothbrush afterwards, did I!

    0
    SurferGeek
    SurferGeek

    12 years ago on Introduction


    Great job!  Plunging the sink would have removed the majority of the buildup especially when using lots of hot water.

    Outstanding instructable with great photos.  Well done.


    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you for the encouragement! I am thinking to start creating more 'ibles soon... :)

    0
    spylock
    spylock

    12 years ago on Introduction

    I can do it without removing the trap,providing the trap is in good shape.

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks! great!

    0
    jtsherwood
    jtsherwood

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very helpful. My efforts looked pretty much exactly like this. Drain is all drain-y now!

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Drainy drains rock!

    0
    KimmyO
    KimmyO

    7 years ago on Step 2

    Thank you! I did this and it worked after hours of trying to figure out how to unclog my bathroom sink.

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    It's so good we all have similar bathroom sinks. It's nice to have things that mechanically make sense, right? :)

    0
    matnook
    matnook

    12 years ago on Introduction

    MATNOOK


    Have you ever tried wet and dry vacuum. I have done it many times. It is the fastest and the most effective.Close all holes except he sink hole.use a powerful vacuum.Small vacuum  would not work. It need power to suck out the uuuugh!!!. No mess to fix the plumbing again

    0
    katmckee
    katmckee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Interesting... does it really get it all out? I like this method of getting all of it out off the interior lining, removing the critters that would reproduce soon after... and the gratification of getting the tub of microbial assemblage to put outside...

    0
    imer.xid
    imer.xid

    7 years ago

    Thanks for all your help! problem solve :)