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Clearing a Clogged Kitchen Sink Drain

Sink drain with water running into sink.

A clogged sink drain is a common plumbing problem. Before you call a plumber, try cleaning it yourself. There are several things to consider before trying to clear the clog. This is a guide about clearing a clogged kitchen sink drain.


Solutions: Clearing a Clogged Kitchen Sink Drain

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Tip: Pickle Juice for Clogged Drains

We all have had clogged drains and like many I go to my faithful baking soda and vinegar. Which I did 2 times. I must tell you that usually this always works, even if you notice a drain that is slow to drain. This time no such luck. I used 2 boxes of baking soda and a full jar of vinegar result; nothing.

I called my daughter 2000 miles away and she was trying to help me. We both do the same things and always swap tips; usually its her asking me. This time I needed her. She ask if I had done the usual (good girl) than said use dish soap and boiling water. I put 1/2 of the dish soap in each side and boiled 2 full pots of water. The water slowly went down to where I could clean the residue up which was left in the sink. It is full of bacteria and germs. I knew I didn't want to breath or have near me.

Afterward I ran water to clean out the sink, and once again it started backing up! My daughter had sent me a link. I went to look if there was anything I could do without having to call my landlord.

I had already done everything I always do, plus broke my plunger on top of it. There in front of me I saw something I had never heard of; use the left over juice from any pickled products you may have. In my case I had dill pickle juice, jalapeno juice, and a jar which only had a few long pickles in it (which I enjoyed).

So I dumped all of these together and brought to a boil. Smelling this brought back many memories from my childhood which was filled with long summers of putting up pickles, every kind of pickles in fact it was years before I ate pickles after leaving home. These memories now were happy ones, funny how that works.

I was glad I learned so many things growing up in the country. What I had read said "be very careful do not let the mixture touch your skin or breath too deeply". I'm not sure why but I thought I should share it.

I poured the hot, boiling pickling juices into each sink, and went off to bed. Next morning the clog was gone. The pickling juices had taken away the last of a very tough built up in the pipes. Thank goodness I am thrifty, and had saved all of those jars of juice; not only for eating now I found another use.

I did have a hairline crack which I wouldn't have even known about if my landlord didn't believe what I had done worked. John (plumber) came out and found the crack, but told my landlord I did the right thing. Draino or other chemicals get into the water system, and are bad for the pipes if used too often or incorrectly. John said in his own house, he does 1/3 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar every other week as maintenance, to help with no build up or odors of any kind. How nice to see others being ECO friendly.

Things worked out as they were suppose to. I didn't have to pay, a leak which could have lead to mold was found and I got a little bit of joy by my using the things I already had without chemicals. I found that little bit of joy a much needed help while cleaning up the mess afterwards. Using of course baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.

I am now out of all my saved up juices. I'm wondering of I can freeze them when I have more than I need for emergencies, hum?

No waste not the pickles (jalapenos) juices or the glass which I always recycle!

Source: My grandmother and my daughter; I do not know which article was sent, but it was from a book when plumbing was first being used.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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Tip: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

If your kitchen sink is clogged with grease, the best thing I've ever found is Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. I plug the drain and put a huge squirt, maybe 1/2 cup, in the sink. Then I fill the sink with boiling water. Once it's full I pull the plug (use tongs or something, that water is HOT). Let it run down the drain and bingo, clean as a whistle. If it's really bad, you might have to do it twice, but I've never had to do it more than that. I had someone put bacon grease down and it was completely blocked with a wad of grease. It only took two applications to clear and it was one of this dinky trailer sinks.

Source: From my great friend and sister, Tracy!

By JodiT from Aurora, CO

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Tip: Use Wood Ashes for Clear Drains

Okay, this is going to sound a little wonky but trust me. To keep your drains clear and your septic system working a little better, pour the very finest white or gray wood ashes from your fireplace or heater down the kitchen drain, the bathtub and sink drains, and even rinse some down the toilet from time to time. Make sure the ashes are dry, have never been wet, and are powdery, not clumps.

The reason this works is because wood ashes contain potash, and when wet, that creates lye. Lye was mixed with grease and lard in olden days to make soap, and is even used today in lots of cleaners.

So when you rinse them down the drains, they mix with any oily residue in the pipes and floating in the septic tank. Just like the old homemade soap, the lye mixing with the fats and oils in the drains and becomes a healthy drain cleaner without adding dangerous chemicals. Plus the drains will smell better.

By Dollyslaffn from Darien, GA

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Tip: Use Soda Pop Bottle for Clogged Drains

I read through several tips to see if this one had been submitted. I was helping my friend clean a bathroom that had a clogged basin drain. It probably had kitty litter, aquarium gravel, hair and who-knows-what-all down it.

After the two of us polished off half a two-liter bottle of diet pop (on purpose to empty it!), I filled it with water, matched the opening of the bottle to the drain opening and mashed the bottle firmly.

It worked! I re-did it several times until the bottle was all caved in. I then put the stopper in the sink and filled it with soapy water several times, then pulled the plug out and let it run out as fast as it could. This didn't cost anything and the bottle is recyclable. Hope this helps,

By Aunt Sharon from Tom Bean, TX

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Tip: Coffee Grounds for Clearing Drains

Coffee grains are great for compost, but they're also great for clearing drains. So don't throw them away, but flush them down your sink. It's really worked for me. I haven't had a problem with blocked pipes since a friend recommended this tip.

By lucy from Oxford UK

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Tip: Keeping Drains Clear

I know there are several schools of thought on this one, so feel free to disagree. I've been married for 55 years and I have always done this. I dump my used coffee grounds in the sink drain and follow with water. It's almost like sand blasting the pipes. I have never had drains plugged up because of it. Everyone in my family who has his or her own kitchen does it with no ill effect.

Another drain hint. A friend whose daughter was a nurse told her this one. The nurse had flu for several days. She didn't want to have dirty tissue sitting in waste cans because of the bacteria so she flushed them down the toilet. When she recovered she had to have several hundred dollars worth of plumbing work done from her house down to the street. The plumber told her to never put Kleenex or other facial tissue down the toilet. He suggested she blow her nose and blot her lipstick on toilet paper.

By MartyD from Houston, TX

Editor's Note: Do you have any advice for keeping drains clear. Post your tips in the feedback.

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Tip: Long Feathers for Clogged Kitchen Drain

I live in the country, and have a septic system, and a "gray water" system, into which our kitchen sink drains. We have to be very careful about not clogging it with food or other particles. One day, I decided to try a bit of Rid-X in the sink as I was used to putting it into the septic system. But it clogged the drain shut.

In a panic, I tried hot water, a wooden skewer, a chop stick, all to no avail. I couldn't find a plunger. But I did remember that I have long goose/hawk feathers which we found in our yard. I put it down into the clog, and it was flexible enough to take out the clog straightaway. Like magic! Needless to say, I dried out the feather and kept it for future use.

    By Lise Sokoloski T. [4]

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    Here are questions related to Clearing a Clogged Kitchen Sink Drain.

    Question: Clogged Kitchen Sink

    My kitchen sink is clogged on the garbage disposal side. I have tried baking soda, vinegar, hot water, and a plunger, but it's still clogged. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

    By Alice J

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No


    Most Recent Answer

    By Debra 28 8 02/19/2012

    Pour about 1/4 cup of Dawn dishing washing liquid in sink and follow with A kettle of boiling water. This trick even works on commode stop ups! Good luck and God bless!

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Unclogging a Sink With a Garbage Disposal

    The water will not drain out of my kitchen sink, but the disposal is working. I did the vinegar and baking soda, but that didn't do it. What to do?

    By Connie from Kirkland, WA

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No


    Most Recent Answer

    By Joan 21 298 02/20/2013

    When my disposal sink will not drain, it's usually because of vegetable peelings stuck in the u-bend under the sink. I find that a plunger works best ( baking soda and vinegar will not remove peelings). If you have a double sink, close the drain on the non-disposer side, then plunge on the disposal side. After a few plunges, turn on the disposal and see if the water drains. Give it a few tries. If all else fails, you will have to remove the u-bend section from under the sink and clean it out. I have used disposals for many years and never had a problem with vegetable peelings, but either the new plumbing or the disposers are not what they used to be because I frequently have to resort to the plunger to get my sink to drain. Good luck.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Potato Peels Clogged Plumbing

    I put potato peels down the garbage disposal and while it clogged, the clog was pushed thru the pipes underneath the sink and into the wall in between the kitchen and bathroom. I tried snaking it and that didn't work. The garbage disposal was replaced because it was thought to be broken as well. So how on earth do I get that clog unclogged without tearing apart a wall and piping or spending $200 on a plumber?

    By Susie C

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

    Most Recent Answer

    By Elaine S. 39 243 11/01/2012

    If my sons were here who are plumbers, I could tell you what to do. Sorry, but I can just tell anyone. These were orders from my sons, NEVER put potato peels down a garbage disposal.

    I clogged my plumbing once at a family Thanksgiving meal and my sons spent considerable time unclogging it. I lived two hours from them so they had no tools with them and couldn't rent any on this day because it was a holiday. I think they ended up using some neighbor's tools. They had to take the soil pipe apart to do it. Needless to say, it ruined everyone's Thanksgiving.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Unclogging a Sink Drain

    How can I save money on a sink water clot?

    By Julia from NJ

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

    Most Recent Answer

    By Robyn Fed 394 1,240 02/19/2012

    I would use a plunger on the sink. I always use it in our bathtub. When you plunge it, push it and pull it way up, and the force will dislodge any toy or solid thing in the drain.

    Also you can make a wire out of a paperclip, or a hanger and "snake" it out.

    Also baking soda poured into the sink a little and then vinegar and hot water work sometimes. Here is a video showing how to use the baking soda and white vinegar, and hot water.

    Taking the u shaped part of the pipe out and see if it is clogged. This is where most things that are solid get lost, like earrings.

    Hopefully that would help. You can always get draino and pour it in there.

    Blessings, Robyn

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Unclogging a Kitchen Sink

    I would like to know how to fix a clogged kitchen sink? I've poured a large amount of baking soda, vinegar, hot water, liquid dish soap, and salt. I don't know whether I've made the right mixture, since I didn't find a precise measure for the mixture. Is there anyway I can fix it without having to use a dangerous chemical thing nor calling a plumber? Many thanks and warm regards.

    By A Life from INA (Indonesia)

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

    Most Recent Answer

    By carol 2 19 07/22/2010

    Moving into a new house,one of the shower drains took forever to go down. While at the dollar store I saw a bottle of drain cleaner and thought just how good could it be for a dollar,but I'll try anything once. Did what the directions said, left it for a day, and boy was I surprised. The water went down just as nice as you please. Now I will stock up on this for any future use. You never know unless you try, and for a dollar what can you lose.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Sink Clogged Below Garbage Disposal

    My question is similar to some others with one exception: it's not my garbage disposal unit that's clogged, but the pipes underneath it. I'm reluctant to start dismantling the plumbing (I'm no handyman!), so I'm wondering if the solutions offered here for unclogging disposals (vinegar+baking soda, etc.) will still work if the clog is actually below the disposal in the pipes, themselves.

    Thanks much.

      By acoustictherapy [1]

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

      Most Recent Answer

      By Kat 7 217 11/17/2015

      Wellll, I hate to break it to you, but, I had the same problem, tried all the solutions in my home remedy arsenal, then a drain chemical; the ultimate solution was to call a plumber. He had to cut part of the pipe and snake to the street. Still no idea what did it, but it was pricey enough that from now on I will only use the disposal after I wash dishes, to process the little food scraps from the plates and pans! everything else can go right in the trash!

      ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

      Question: Unclogging a Kitchen Sink With Disposal

      How do I unclog a double kitchen sink with garbage disposal on one side?

      By Yvette

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

      Most Recent Answer

      By Sandi/Poor But Proud 452 2,093 09/30/2014

      A plunger handle inside the disposal side, working it around sometimes helps. You also need to make double sure the power is off to the disposal and get out whatever is clogging it up. Sometimes you have to go under the sing and undo the trap, physically getting out whatever is in there.
      Recently, I had to help someone who had been putting rice down the non-disposal side for so long it was like cement. A pressure washer was required it was so bad.
      Once you "blow the pipes" so to speak, you should be ok. There is a reset button on the back of the disposal and once that is pushed, hopefully it will all be clear.

      Once it's done, preventing it from happening again is very important. Rice, potato peels, celery, and egg shells should be bagged and thrown out. They are either stringy or starchy and just don't grind up well enough to go through. I hope this helps. PBP

      This is a good place to start: ... ie=UTF-8#q=unclogging%20a%20disposal

      ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

      Question: Clearing a Clogged Drain

      Is Dawn dish detergent safe for kitchen drains?

      By Doris

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

      Most Recent Answer

      By Louise B. 6 2,532 05/19/2014

      Of course it is. People all over North America are using Dawn for just about everything.

      ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

      Question: Clearing a Clogged Kitchen Sink

      So my kitchen sink is acting up. We started to plunge and the water started to turn black. I'm totally freaking out!

      By Mimi

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

      Most Recent Answer

      By Camaroatekidd 1 12/30/2013

      The black color is grease. Your pipes are clogged with grease or... You may have a grease trap at the end of your plumbing drainage system that ends to be emptied.
      Wear a pair of latex gloves to save a lot of scrubbing of your hands. Hope this helps.

      ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

      Question: Cleaning Grease Clog from Kitchen Plumbing

      What should I do if my kitchen pipes are chocked with grease and oil products? Is there any product which can keep my kitchen pipes grease and oil free so that it does not chocked?

      By smith21

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

      Most Recent Answer

      By Linda Jones 13 88 07/02/2013

      There is a product called Glug that my plumber (who is a good friend) told me to buy. It works great.
      I also have been told pour some Dawn down the drain and follow with a lot of hot water.

      ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

      Question: Unclogging a Sink

      How do you unplug a plugged up sink?

      By Gerry from Waterford, CT

      AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No


      Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

      Archive: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      How do I use Dawn dish washing liquid to unclog a tub?

      Karen from Newark, DE


      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      Dawn dish washing liquid isn't going to cut it. Best and most thorough way to clean a tub drain is to lift out the drain plug, reach in with long needle nose pliers, and pull the gunk out and replace the drain plug. (09/23/2008)

      By Harry

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      Hi Karen,
      Try some of the other things mentioned on this site to the right of the question. If I can't do it with those, my husband does it with the snake he has bought.
      Harriet (09/24/2008)

      By Har'iet

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      My bathtub drain gets plugged quite often but it is because of my long hair. I use a crochet hook or a dentist's pick to pick the hair clumps out of the drain and pull them up. I grab onto the slippery mess with a piece of toilet paper or kleenex and put it in the waste basket. Voila! It drains as good as new. Every day my shower ends with a quick swipe of paper to pick up any of my long hairs in the tub. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (09/24/2008)

      By Joycer

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      A large pan of boiling water with a good size shot of Dawn in it, and then pour it down the drain. (09/25/2008)

      By mulberry204

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      Thanks to mulberry204 who posted on Sept. 25, I did just that (a pan of boiling water with dawn in it and pour it down the drain) and it worked. But then, I knew there was no hair in the drain, just 40 years worth of "mung" or "gunk" or something. Dawn probably wouldn't be able to "cut through" hair! (10/10/2008)

      By rabbit

      Archive: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      Would someone share the recipe for dawn liquid soap drain cleaner?

      Melvin from Fate, Texas


      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      I found a tool at the hardware store that does a great job. I think it's called a "Zip-It". It's white plastic about 18" long and maybe .5" wide with teeth on either side. You push it down into the drain and pull it back out, and all the hair and gunk gets caught in the teeth. It's only a few dollars for a two pack, it works wonderfully, and there's no chemicals! (10/24/2008)

      By bebhinne

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      I read about this tip (and website) in Readers Digest. We had some shower backup and tried the Dawn/boiling water. It worked for us! (11/06/2008)

      By spockmycat

      Archive: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      How do you unclog a drain with Dawn dish washing liquid?

      Linde from Hanover, NH


      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      What always works like a charm is baking soda and then pour white vinegar on it.

      By wife2jfbuilder

      RE: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      Dawn worked on a clog at least 10 feet down the pipes.

      Details: I have 4 females in this house, and this one bathroom sink drain had been a constant problem. I became an expert with a metal snake to pull out hair clogs in the pipes. Well the snake went all the way in this time, and did not find the clog. Actually it somehow made the problem worse, from a slow drain to a complete plug. I have tried the various chemicals in the past, and they would often work after 4-5 doses. So my wife suggested (and a past reader's digest article) through which I found this site.

      Exactly what I did: This was a bathroom sink drain, totally stopped, and about half full of water already. I took a four quart pot, boiled water, and added lots of Dawn to the boiling water while my wife stirred. I dumped it into the clogged sink. We watched a movie and when it was over the drain was clear. I will note also that the Dawn we have is very old and sludgy, but it still worked. (12/24/2008)

      By Eric

      Archive: Unclogging a Sink

      How can I unclog a sink?

      Mary from Illinois


      RE: Unclogging a Sink

      Pour some Greased Lighting down drain and let it sit for a few minutes. Put some hot water in the sink and use a plunger. If you have a double sink, someone needs to help you by holding the drain stopper down so air can't pass through while you are plunging. (11/15/2008)

      RE: Unclogging a Sink

      Use Arm & Hammer baking soda and vinegar. Pour soda down drain and then put in the vinegar. I used a small box of soda and a small bottle of vinegar. Let sit for an hour and then rinse with hot water. Hope it works for you, it did for me. (11/15/2008)

      By Brg

      RE: Unclogging a Sink

      Pour boiling water in the sink when all else fails. (11/25/2008)

      By texman

      Archive: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      How do I unclog drains using Dawn dish soap?

      Archive: Unclogging a Sink With a Garbage Disposal

      How do you unclog a sink that has an attached garbage disposal unit?

      Archive: Dawn Detergent To Unclog Drain

      I was a custodian for many years and this works. If you have a clogged toilet, this is the fastest fix. I have used this over the years and always recommend it.

      Instead of harsh chemicals or a plunger, try 1/2 cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent. Just pour it right in the clog and let it sit. After 30 minutes, try and flush. If you don't have Dawn, any detergent brand name will work. The grease relief in the products do the trick. This saves you money. Also when your clog is removed, swish with your brush any of the left over detergent and your bowl is also clean.

      By pmo3ws from Southern IL