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How Do I Unblock a Sink? Quick and Easy Fixes to Try


Lee Devlin

Published on: 16/04/2018
Unblocking a Sink with a Plunger image

Struggling with a clogged sink? Before you call out a professional, attempt to unblock it with these quick and easy techniques!

It’s a grim task, but somebody has to do it.

An unfortunate fact of modern life is that occasionally — or sometimes regularly — the pipework of your sink will become blocked. Blockages are easy to diagnose. If your water won’t drain sufficiently, or at all, you have a blockage.

This can be a bit of a head-scratcher, leaving many to ask: how do I unblock a sink?

If you haven’t had to face this situation before, it can be a bit daunting. However, most sink blockages can be solved with easy to carry out methods. In this blog, a qualified plumber from London goes through some quick and easy fixes that anyone can undertake at home.


There is a reason the plunger is the go-to technique for sink blockages: because it works most of the time. Using a plunger is simple, although there are few things you should be aware of:

  1. Don’t use a toilet plunger. They are large, covered in bacteria and won’t create a proper seal. Use a sink plunger only
  2. You must plug the overflow of your sink or you won’t create an airtight seal. Use wet cotton wool, a small towel or toilet paper to do this
  3. Coat the edges of the plunger in water to aid in the creation of an airtight seal

Once you’ve carried out these steps, simply apply the plunger to the plughole, form a seal around the sink and plunge up and down. Continue this process until water starts to drain properly.

Try Baking Soda and White Wine Vinegar

If you do not own a plunger, or the plunger method doesn’t work, you’ll need to look to other options. If you’ve been left wondering ‘how do I unblock a sink without a plunger?’ head to your kitchen and try using this technique:

Grab two mugs or small cups. Half fill one with baking powder and the other near full with white wine vinegar. Pour both down your blocked sink plughole. The two ingredients will react with each other, and you’ll start to hear a fizzing or popping sound; foam may appear out of your plughole. Allow the concoction to work for a few minutes, eroding scum, oils and fats that may have created the blockage.

Finally, run warm water to wash away the mixture and the blockage.

Bleach and Drain Unblocking Agents

Many people are cautious about using bleach and chemical mixtures in areas such as sinks, but if other methods fail, we recommend you attempt to use them to solve the problem as they can be very effective. They are corrosive substances designed to break down grit, sludge and other types of blockages, which makes them a valuable tool in the fight against blocked sinks.

Each product will have a different method of use depending on what kind of chemicals are involved. Follow the advice as dictated on the packaging carefully. Please do not use chemicals immediately after using the vinegar method, as this can create dangerous fumes.

Use Wiring

Sometimes, blockages are found in tough to reach areas of the pipe and are caused by the buildup of gunk and waste that creates a barrier that neither liquid nor chemicals can penetrate. If broken up into smaller pieces, however, the barrier can be carried away by water pressure or broken up by bleach. Using some thin wiring, you can attempt to breakdown this layer of sludge so that it becomes manageable.

Make sure you are thorough in breaking up the sludge. Creating small gaps in the layer will provide only temporary relief. For a permanent fix, you need to ensure you remove as much as possible so the sludge barrier cannot reform.

Sports cap with push pull top on a plastic bottle that can be used to unblock a sink with pressure irrigation

Pressure Irrigation

If a blockage is caused by wedged items or a thick layer of waste buildup, a bit of brute force might be all that you need. For this method, we recommend you acquire a plastic bottle with a push-pull sports cap. This allows you to create a focused stream of water that leaves the bottle with sufficient pressure to dislodge blockages. Simply fill the bottle with warm water (not boiling), open the cap, aim down the plug hole and squeeze.

We recommend you use this method in conjunction with others on this list. Use wire, chemicals or household concoctions to loosen debris first, then pressure irrigation to remove fully.

U-Bend Removal

If all other methods fail, it’s time to get your hands dirty. For this you’ll need a bucket, towels and protective rubber gloves — gloves are especially important if you’ve been pouring chemicals down the sink. If you have used bleach, we also recommend you ensure the room is well ventilated.

Look under your sink — there will be a U-bend structure likely made out of plastic. Place the towels down beneath it, then the bucket. Unscrew the U-bend fittings until it starts to leak. Allow all fluid to drain before continuing. If the blockage has been going on for long enough and is severe, you may not get any leaks.

Carefully remove the U-bend fittings completely and take it apart. Inspect both the pipe itself and those areas attached to it. Clean out any gunk or blockages you can into the bucket before reattaching the U-bend to the sink’s piping.

Tried all these tricks and still no luck? Still left asking yourself, how do I unblock a sink? It’s time to call in a professional. Get in touch with Homecure Plumbers and we’ll send out a skilled and qualified professional Plumber in North London, or anywhere else in the Greater London area.  

Lee Devlin
Publication date: 16/04/2018

Lee Devlin is the managing director of Homecure Plumbers, London's favourite local plumbing service. Since 2009, Lee's been leading a large team of gas safe plumbing and heating engineers as well as growing a successful business built on quality customer service and workmanship, in a competitive industry within the Capital. He's been in the game for a long time, so he regularly shares his knowledge and experience with the public. His expert tips have been featured in lots of well known publications such as: The Sun, Metro, Insider, Homes And Gardens, Country Living and more!

Read More About Lee Devlin.

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