Introduction: Clear Sink Clog - FAST, NO BUCKETS, NO CHEMICALS

So, the bathroom sink is clogged again. I hate it when that happens. Here is the fastest, simplest, tidiest way to get rid of this little inconvenience.

The web is FULL of references and guidance on clog-removal methods that involve disassembly of pipes, or evil liquids of one sort or another. We are going to AVOID all that yuck and mess, and get right to the heart of the matter.

Most of the time, the clog is a combination of hair and slime, and it is NOT at the bottom of the trap. (That's the plumbing term for that removable U-shaped pipe at the bottom.) Slime and hair collect in the drainpipe right where the stopper-lift lever intrudes into the drainpipe. We are simply going to pull out the stopper-lift lever, scrape the clog loose, and flush it on down the drain. No muss, no fuss, no wrenches, no Nasty Potions. You don't even have to SEE the foreign life form.

(BY THE WAY, since you are an insightful and proactive person, you will perform this procedure BEFORE the drain is TOTALLY clogged. Letting the water seep out, even if it takes a while, allows you to do the job without a bucket.)

All you need is a short length of 1" PVC pipe to use as a scraper. This handy tool will work EVERY time, for the rest of your house-keeping life.

If you are the Do-it-Yourself type of person, you may already have some 1" plastic pipe left over from some other project. You can certainly get it at most hardware stores or home centers. If you prefer the online-commerce approach, as many do, a modest $5 PayPal transaction to your author will bring one to your door.

Step 1: The Region of Goo

OK, kids, this is where it's happening - the spot where the stopper-lifting rod intrudes into the drainpipe. In my experience, there's usually some hair hanging over the rod, in combination with some gooey bio-slime. All we need to do here is pull out the stopper and the lifter rod, give the glop a shove in the right direction, and flush it away.

Step 2: Remove the Lifting Rod

Undo the lifting rod nut by turning it CLOCKWISE. It seems counter-intuitive, but the standard "righty-tighty, lefty loosie" would only apply if you were facing this assembly from the back side.

After the nut's off, simply pull out the lifting rod. If you were proactive enough to take care of this job before the sink was TOTALLY clogged, nothing will come out except a wee ball of slime. If you ARE in deep water, better have a bucket handy.

After the lifting rod is out, you can pull the stopper out of the drain pipe. Yes, the bottom leg of the stopper is likely to be covered in slime, which you can remove with your finger or an old toothbrush. (Not your housemate's.)

Step 3: Scrape That Clog Right Out of Your Life!

Ok, even though we've removed the hardware that passes through the Region of Goo, that ol' slime ball is probably still hanging in there. This is where our PVC* push-pipe comes in handy. Introduce the pipe into the drain, and push down. You will possibly feel some resistance at first. The Goo will resist a wee bit, but you are far mightier.

It's a good idea to scrape multiple times, getting all sides of the drainpipe.

*If you don't have a length of plastic pipe handy, some other solid item with a small-enough curved edge will do. In a pinch, I have been known to use a length of wooden quarter round trim.

Step 4: Ready, Set, FLOOSH!

OK, almost done. Now that the clog is scraped loose, all you have to do is open the faucet and let the water flush it down the drain.

Oh, yes, it is VERY smart to seal the opening where the lift rod was located. Perhaps your finger or thumb is large enough to cover it. (If not, improvise with a wad of bath tissue.)

VICTORY! Goo-Be-Gone! Well done. Nothing left to do but reassemble.

Step 5: Reassembly

If you've gotten this far, reassembly should be easy.

  • Remove any improvised item used to block the lift-rod opening.
  • Push the lifting rod back into its opening.
  • Reattach the lift-nut by turning it counter-clockwise.
  • Wash your hands, and treat yourself to a fine beverage.



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    61 Discussions


    7 months ago

    I woke up, went to the washroom, discovered the sink was partially clogged, immediately used this method to unclog the trap, used the sink to wash up, and went into the kitchen. There, I met my wife and her sister. Apparently, her sister had dropped her diamond engagement ring down the sink. They were waiting for me to wake up so I could retrieve it for her.

    1 reply

    Sorry for her loss--but perhaps they should have left a note/post-it in the sink?

    If the stopper isn't trapped by the lifting rod you can get nearly the same effect without any disassembly of the lifter mechanism (which is nearly as much of a pita as removing the trap) by using a skinny stick like a bamboo shish kebab skewer.

    i really don't see how a 1inch pipe does anything except scrape the drain pipe and maybe cut into it . what i would use is a small dowel rod with a rag on it and move it around in the drain and making sure the rag is touching the pipe and not the dowel

    Put hot water in the drain, put two or three Alka seltzer in the drain, use the stopper, then fill sink with hot water, in a few minutes open stopper and it will be good to go. Doodado worked for me many times

    15 replies

    Rocket Girl is correct. Baking soda and vinegar are weak in themselves and so is their bubbling/agitating action. Mixing the two together only gets you some inert ingredients that do nothing.

    HOWEVER!!!! If you have a bad clog, and can seal the opening to the drain very quickly after dumping in the second ingredient, what CAN sometimes happen is the air/gas/CO2 being formed and expanding can "Push" the clog through with the gas-pressure, but this takes some good strength to really press down on the drain plug to make sure it doesn't just fizz back up the way it came.

    Is cool when it works, but doesn't always work, and is hard to do. Otherwise, don't use baking soda and vinegar/citric acid together to clean anything, it doesn't work. One or the other as a very MILD MILD MILD cleaning agent, but not both.

    Vinegar and baking soda works too. The vinegar is slightly acidic which can help cut through any soap goo. If you use Cider Vinegar, the room the sink is in will smell like Cider Vinegar for a day or so too, which isn't a bad smell(and it may also help cover any smell of the goo should it be stinky).

    I guess you have never tried the baking soda and vinegar method. When you pour both into the drain, usually the baking soda first. A chemical reaction starts and it "boils" up and you can even hear it working. Follow by running hot water.

    It doesn't boil up. It's simply an acid/base reaction that generates carbon dioxide (a gas). The fizzing of the carbon dioxide is what you're mistaking for boiling. This reaction is endothermic and actually gets cooler, not hotter. But . . . alkaline substances (which baking soda is) do react with proteins (like skin and hair). This might be the cause of the unclogging. Or hard water (calcium compounds) are alkaline and the acidic vinegar might be reducing them. But either way, the combination of the two won't do anything more than either individual. I think the sound of the fizzing is just tricking you into thinking the combination is doing something that is impossible for it to do. When the reaction is done, there is water (inert), carbon dioxide (inert), and sodium acetate (inert). The reaction cannot do anything. Just trying to help. You can google search vinegar baking soda chemistry to verify everything that I've said.

    All of the acid and base will not come into contact and react instantly; The proliferation of bubbles will agitate the mixture in the confined space and both un-neutralized acid and base will come into intimate contact with the goo, so each can do it's own thing. Just my 2c.

    We already know all of that. Wabpita was talking figuratively about boiling because it is a physically similar type action. I'm sure everyone else understood that. The mechanical action could help loosen the clog.

    Thank you charles543. I thought most people would have understood what I meant.
    I also looked up baking soda and vinegar to find the information that rocket girl in training was spouting and did not find any reference to her analysis. Did find many references as to the ability of the soda and vinegar to open a clogged drain.

    Here, this should help.

    You guys are so upset that you're wrong. I gave you the exact phrase to Google and . . . . we saw the result.

    Want to hear it from someone else?

    1) You have never actually tried this
    2) It doesn't work (at least not how you explained it), but you'll never admit that in public
    3) I'm moving on.

    Maybe Rocket Girl should read the crunchy Betty-“baking sofa+vinegar=not so much” site further on.In the Q&A part at the end she says adding them separately into the drain is different than adding after the reaction. I am no Rocket Man, just thought-read the whole thing.

    Additionally, that is EXACTLY what I said in the beginning. There is a (very, very) small possibility that either one of these chemicals may have an effect (alkaline substances, hard water and skin/hair comment) but combining the two does absolutely nothing. Even if the one that you put in second had an effect (and it probably doesn't), it is immediately neutralized by the first therefore having no effect whatsoever. And if you had actually read instead of just looking for validation, she never said that either one works (hint: because they don't).

    While we need smart, capable females in STEM fields, it is sad that there is so much negative response to somebody who is obviously well informed. Move on and reach the stars Rocket Girl!

    There is local mechanical action where the reaction is occurring. That is what all the bubbling and fizzing is about. I don't know if this is effective on the clog or not. I don't care. I use a Zip-It type tool. It is quick, effective, no chemicals.

    I have used denture cleaner tablets to get gunk out of the bottom of narrow necked vases and water bottles. I think it's the foaming action that does it. Never thought of using it on drains, but why not! On the other hand, if you're talking about a bathroom sink, I find that what clogs those up in usually hair. After all, where do you stand to comb your hair? Right. The mirror over the sink. For that there's a neat little gadget available at most hardware and big box stores meant to deal with hair. It's a strip of flexible plastic with a hole in one end for your finger and little spines along it's length that point upward (toward the handle.) Remove the stopper, and feed the tool down the drain as far as you can possibly go, and pull out a nasty hairball!