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Clean Your Sink Drains

Home Maintenance Tip: Clean Your Sink Drain

Posted on November 20, 2015

Do your sinks have an unpleasant odor or are they slow to drain? A stinky kitchen sink can be an annoyance, but it also can be a health hazard. Bacteria that flourish on food particles and warm water are most likely the cause of a smelly drain. Food particles form a sludge that prevents water from freely flowing down the drain pipe. If this describes your kitchen, you need to clean your sink drain.

To clean a sink drain or unclog a slow-moving drain, follow these steps:

  • Pour boiling water down the drain letting the stream last for at least 15 seconds.
  • Put ½ cup of baking soda down the drain.
  • Pour a mixture of two cups of white vinegar down the drain. When mixing the vinegar with the baking soda, foam and bubbles result forming carbonic acid.
  • Cover the drain with a stopper and wait for 15 minutes. For a double sink, cover both sink drains.
  • Flush with boiling water for 15-30 seconds.

The baking soda and vinegar cannot be mixed in advance because the fizzy chemical reaction that results is what helps to shake loose clogs in the drain. Periodically, use a bacterial enzyme-based drain cleaner following the product directions.

If this method doesn’t work, you may need to use a plunger. Follow these instructions:

  • Use a different plunger than the one you use for toilets. Make sure that the plunger cup has a flat bottom.
  • Fill the sink with 2-3” of water to cover the drain and bottom of the sink if water isn’t already present.
  • Remove the strainer or stopper.
  • Create a tight seal by pressing the plunger tight over the drain.
  • Press firmly up and down on the plunger several times. You may need to use a step ladder to be able to press downward on the plunger.
  • After several tries, check to see if the water is draining properly. Repeat the process if the clog is not cleared.
  • When the clog is cleared, flush the drain with water.

If your drain is still clogged, you may need a plumber’s “snake” or 25’ cable auger. You can buy or rent one at a hardware store or big box home improvement store. You may want to call a plumber if you aren’t familiar with how to remove the sink trap.

Preventing drain problems is best. Follow these guidelines:

  • Scrape your dishes into the trash can instead of down the sink if there is food on them.
  • Clean the sink, strainers and stoppers often.
  • Don’t empty grease, coffee grounds or any product that can turn into a solid inside the drain.
  • Try to keep hair out of bathroom sinks.
  • Keep plumbing vents on the roof free of leaves and other debris.

Proper maintenance on your sink drains will prevent significant problems in the long run. Don’t hesitate to contact a Licensed Plumbing Contractor if you have a significant plumbing problem.


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