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Tips to Unclog Your Kitchen Sink

White farmhouse kitchen sink

September 15, 2021

When your kitchen sink is clogged, it brings everything to a complete stop, and the smell can drive you out of the house completely. Most kitchen sink blockages are a result of grease build up in the sewer. Grease builds up over time from washing dishes, but it is always best to keep as much grease as possible out of the drain. If this issue occurs frequently then you may want to contact a plumber as this can be an indicator of a breakdown in the sewer or an improper installation of the pipes that service your kitchen sink. Here are a few tips on how to unclog your kitchen sink.

Plunge the blockage

Using a plunger will be the first method to try if you have a slow running drain or a small clog in your kitchen sink. Plunging works by building pressure in the pipe that pushes the clog down the drain. For a single compartment sink, simply plunge the drain from the basket strainer or garbage disposal flange. For two compartment sinks, you will need to use a drain stopper in one compartment while you use the plunger in the other compartment. Do not use this method if you have poured a chemical drain cleaner down the drain. Be sure not to plunge too hard as it can result in the seals on the tubular waste to leak.   

Baking soda and vinegar

This clogged kitchen sink home remedy is a much safer alternative to chemical drain cleaners, but typically only works on very minor grease clogs. Simply pour ½ to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain then pour an equal amount of distilled white vinegar down the drain. Then seal the drain with a rubber stopper for 10 to 15 minutes. Run hot but not boiling water down the drain. The reaction caused by the baking soda and vinegar will help to break up the blockage. You may repeat this process a few times until the kitchen sink is unclogged.

Snake the drain

Most hardware stores sell a drain snake in their plumbing section. Some are manually spun as you feed the cable down the drain and some can be used in conjunction with a powered drill. Both function similarly. You will need to disassemble the tubular waste under the sink or use a clean out to gain access to the sewer. Be sure to have a bucket ready if the sinks have standing water in them. Feed the snake into the drain spinning it as you go to break up the build up of grease and food waste. When you have run the entire length of the drain snake, pull it from the sewer and reassemble the tubular waste or reinstall the clean out plug. Test the sink by running water to see if the blockage has cleared. Sometimes multiple attempts are needed to fully unclog your kitchen sink.

Clean the P-trap

Some blockages or slow draining sinks are a result of items in the drain that are too big to pass through the P-trap. Disassemble the P-trap and clear out anything  that is blocking water flow. Be sure to have a bucket ready as the P-trap will be holding water.

Always avoid unsafe practices when your kitchen sink is clogged!


There are many different brands and mixtures of chemical drain cleaners. These drain cleaners can cause a hazard to you and your family if they are not handled with care. Always follow the manufacturer instructions and never mix two different drain cleaning chemicals together. Take proper care to keep these chemicals out of reach of children and pets. If you are unsure of what chemical to use, call a plumber to discuss alternative options.

Boiling water

You will commonly see boiling water as a drain cleaning home remedy. Boiling water can cause damage to your plumbing system as some pipes are not rated for that temperature. The tubular waste pipes under your sink are most commonly made of PVC pipe, PVC has a maximum temperature rating of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Pouring boiling water into a PVC sewer system can melt the pipe and cause costly damage. Boiling water also poses a risk to your safety. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and water over 155 degrees Fahrenheit can cause third degree burns in less than one second.

Using powered equipment improperly

While powered drain snakes are an excellent tool for unclogging kitchen sinks, if used improperly, they can result in serious injury or damage to the sewer. When sewer cables get bound up on a blockage, the cable can snap or bind your fingers up. If your cable gets stuck in the sewer, it is best to call a plumber to remove it as forcing it out can cause damage to the sewer.  Always follow manufacturer instructions when operating powered drain snakes and wear the proper personal protective equipment.

Some blockages can be too severe to handle without a professional. Contact your local plumber to clear your blockage and to provide you with solutions to prevent blockages in the future and prevent future plumbing emergencies. If you live in the Winston Salem, Kernersville, Greensboro or High Point, NC areas, Contact Enduric Plumbing to get your kitchen sink unclogged today with our plumbing services!