Plunging Bathroom Sink




Most, but not all, bathroom sink stoppages can be cleared using proper plunging techniques without the use of chemical drain cleaners (ex. Liquid Plumber).

I personally do not recommend using a chemical drain cleaner on sinks.

WARNING: If you have used chemical drain cleaners to try to clear the stoppage, personal protective equipment such as a face shield, rubber gloves, and rubber apron may be required before plunging. Water may splash out of sink during the plunging process, and any chemicals used will still be present. Follow emergency procedures outlined on chemicals used in case of skin or eye contact, or ingestion.

NOTE: If complete stoppage remains after proper plunging you may need to contact a plumber.


Step 1: Gather Necessary Equipment

  • Vacuum Plunger
  • Paper Towels or Toilet Paper

Step 2: Place Plunger Over Drain Opening.

The plunger needs to seal to the sink surface with the drain opening completely covered.

Step 3: Plug Overflow Drain

  1. Locate overflow drain on the sink.
  2. Ball up a wet paper towel (or toilet paper) to a size larger than the overflow drain.
  3. Use wet paper towel to completely cover overflow drain, and hold in place.

Step 4: Plunge Sink

Rapidly move plunger up and down without breaking the seal with the sink

The plunger should want to remain down if a proper seal is maintained.

Refer to video for demonstration.

Step 5: Flush Drain

Run HOT water through the drain for 2-3 minutes after stoppage is cleared. This will ensure you have a properly draining sink.

If water still seems to be draining slow repeat plunging process.



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    7 Discussions


    2 years ago

    What do you do if this helps, but does not resolve the issue fully? Any thoughts? Is there a safe chemical to try if you think something may be stuck?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Try to repeat plunging a couple more times and run hot water through. You will probably still be pulling very black water back. If not your drain could be undersized or have another more significant problem.

    hrichardson v

    2 years ago

    Put more water in the sink. did this 14 years ago when people vomitted in my sink. more water will prevent splashing. shallow water will splash!

    1 reply
    Sheetsiehrichardson v

    Reply 2 years ago

    The splashing was a general precaution, especially if you have used chemicals to try to clear the drain. Some sinks are really shallow, and you may not have room to add water.

    If you do have room to add water, hot water will help loosen clogs.


    I've done plumbing in the Air Force for over 14 1/2 years. This was a typical problem. Our facility managers were required to attempt to plunge any clogs before calling us to come out. Most of the time they didn't know about plugging the overflow drain, and we would still need to come out.