How to Unclog Sink Pipes




About: Lithium Rain is absolutely not to be trifled with when it comes to building insane and useless things. She prides herself on being able to eat more churros than your average horse. She is not a toaster. She...

My sink took 15 minutes to fully drain. This, needless to say, was getting ridiculous. So I cleaned it out. This instructable will show you how to remove all that gunk that's keeping your sink from draining properly, without pouring nasty chemicals down the drain that cost monies and kill all the good bugs in the septic tank.

This isn't for the faint of heart, however. I have a strong stomach, but this one made me gag. So this might be a job you sweettalk/bribe/force someone else to do for you. ;-)

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Step 1: Gather Tools

You will need:

  • Pliers or other pinchy thing

    • Long screwdriver or other poky thing
    • Bucket O' Happiness
    • Towels or other absorbant things
    • A strong stomach
    • An air freshener
    • Music/podcasts to take your mind off things

If you are a (Wo)Man, you will not need any of the last three items. If you are a Wuss, you will need all of them. If you are a Muss, you could turn on the bathroom fan and hum to yourself.

Step 2: Disconnect the Pipes

Unscrew the pipes under the sink and set aside the ones that can come completely out. They will have water in them, so set the bucket on some towels and hold underneath to catch the water.

Step 3: The Fun Bit

Now take the pliers and screwdriver and poke, pull, push and scrape alll the disgusting goo and hair out of the sink, and dump it right in that Bucket O' Happiness. Be sure to get the bottom pipe leading from the sink as well as all the stuff out of the top.

Step 4: Cleaning Out the Other Pipes

Remember those pipes we laid aside in the first step?

Oh. No, that's okay. I'll wait here. I should have told you we weren't throwing them away forever. It sure looked like we were.

Got 'em?

Alrighty then, take them outside (so you don't start a horrible game of musical pus by dumping the goo from one sink down another so you have to clean up that sink) and spray them out with a hose.

Step 5: Putting It All Back Together

Put all the pipes back the way they were and screw all fittings nice and tight. Run the water to make sure the pipes are clear and there are no leaks.

That's it, you're done! Go reward yourself with something awesome. You deserve it. You totally do. This was not a fun job.

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    89 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this.

    UPVC Pipes do not corrode and are totally unaffected by
    Acids, Alkalies and electrolytic corrosion from any source. In this respect
    they out class any other pipes material including stainless steel and can be
    used anywhere.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    A way I've found to reduce this type of clean-up job is to pour hot water down the drain. We don't use much hot water itself in the bathroom sink (energy savers we are) and the slime tends to really like that.

    Every once in a while after I've finished boiling something for a meal, I'll just take the pot up to the bathroom and dump it down the sink there instead. Since I've started doing that, I haven't had to clean it out since.

    I think my photo beats out the ick of your photos :-P

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Step 3

    My wife has long hair, and I have to do this all the time. I use a straightened coat hanger with a hook bent into one end. When it got really bad, I used my air compressor to blast it out...

    14 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The air compressor idea is... ingenious, but I'd be a little tiny bit worried that the blockage would resist pressure better than the pipes above it. Gunk in your pipes isn't as bad as high-pressure gunk being blasted under your floorboards >_< I used to live in a house with three girls, all with mid-back-length hair, and one shower. Clearing out that drain after a few months was like making contact with an alien civilisation. Initially fascinating, quickly degenerating into "Oh god the smell kill it kill it now"


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I admit, I was worried about whether the compressor would blow out the pipes the first time I pushed that button. But, the pipes in my house are all thick copper or iron and they held up just fine. I'm not sure if plastic pipes would hold up as well. Of course, you don't have to hit the pipes with a full 100+ psi, either. Using the regulator on the compressor you could start at 50 psi and work your way up.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I use the wet/dry vac to suck all the crud out but once I had a bad one in the tub and had to use the blower. Worked great. I don't know how much pressure a standard vacuum can generate but it's got to be less than the air compressor, no?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've done that too, even a standard vac can do it, if you are careful or use a strainer to such through


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, it'll be much less. I'd just be afraid of sucking "swamp gas" into my house along with all the crud...


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Did you ever have any problems with water blow out of the other drains around the house?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Well, you have to block the other drains that are attached to the same branch, but not the whole house in most cases. When I went to unclog the bathtub drain, I had to block off the overflow, and the drain and overflow on the sink.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Seems like the coat hanger alone would be a pretty good alternative to taking the pipes apart


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    The coat hanger can pull out the clogs, but it doesn't clean out the slime (which eventually attracts more hairs to clog).


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    I mean a straightened coat hanger for scraping the sides of the pipe while water is running.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Then it just clogs farther down in the pipe.. that's a great temporary patch, but methinks getting that nasty crap out is the only real solution.

    Lithium Rainjeff-o

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Haha! Ya'll have really awesome ideas! I wouldn't have thought of an air compressor, either.

    jeff-oLithium Rain

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I ran out of "One Second Plumber," and all the stores were closed because it was a holiday. Necessity is the mother of all invention!