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Clearing a Clogged Sink Drain

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My bathroom sink had been draining slowing for a while and it was finally time to figure it out. I found a recipe on ThriftyFun for homemade Drano, using salt, baking soda, vinegar and water. It didn't go quite as planned but we were successful in the end.
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Link: Homemade Drano

Steps:

  1. First, I added 1 cup of plain salt, pouring it down the drain and letting it mound up. I then put a cup of baking soda on top of the pile.
  2. Next, I added 1/2 cup of vinegar. I used apple cider but white would work just as well. It foamed up for a while.
  3. This is after boiling water was added to the drain. I used a full electric kettle, probably about 2 quarts. I was a bit concerned about the porcelain cracking, as is reported sometimes with toilets. I think it is the temperature difference that causes the porcelain to expand. But the sink seemed fine.

    The initial water is yellow because of the apple cider vinegar but later is due to the clogged pipe. The boiling water would also make it foam up.
  4. I let it sit for about an hour and then repeated the process as it was obviously doing something. Nearly all the water had drained out but there was a lot of gunk that had bubbled up. I had an appointment that afternoon so I figured I would leave it and deal with it when I got home.
  5. Somehow, the sink looked WORSE when I got home. It hadn't drained nearly as much as the first time and wasn't draining at all now. It was also disgusting, with dead drain flies and rusty colored sludge. My husband had left for work but there was evidence that he had cleaned up some new mess in the bathroom. I got out the plunger to see if I could unblock it and discovered what mess he must have cleaned up. Water shot directly out of the overflow drain all over the backsplash. He was at work until late and I have little plumbing experience so I decided to leave it until he got home and discuss it with him later.
  6. Hours later, the water level looked basically the same. I was inclined to go and buy a plumber's snake but my husband recommended removing the P-trap under the sink first. If the blockage was past the trap, we could then snake farther down the pipe.
  7. We first placed a dishpan and towel under the sink, to catch the water that was definitely going to drain out.
  8. The P-trap simply unscrewed, requiring no tools. I probably would have attempted this the night before had I realized how simple it was. The gross dirty water all dumped down into the dishpan.
  9. There was a sizeable chunk of hair in the trap, as you can see. I have long hair and both of my teenage sons do as well. We also have a dog that sheds everywhere. I suspect they have not been too careful about making sure the hair doesn't get in the drain and it accumulated. It probably was mostly on the sides of the drain before I used the homemade Drano.
  10. Once everything was back together, the sink drained perfectly. I'm going to use the homemade Drano recipe on a regular basis to keep this from getting clogged again. I also did my bathtub at the same time, just in case.
  11. Next, I need to bleach the worn porcelain, which has some dirty yellow spots. I'm planning on painting the sink and replacing the faucet, which we purchased months ago. I will post about that when it gets done (assuming it turns out).
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January 18, 20190 found this helpful

Good for you!!! I love the last step. I do this to our sink quite often especially in the bathroom my husband uses for shaving. Whenever I see any of those little tiny gnats or the air vent smells sour, I know it's time to clean the drains.

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January 18, 20191 found this helpful

Feels great to have it drain properly and it is so much cleaner! It was getting very bad at the end but I didn't want to cause a bigger problem right at the holidays.

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I need to do some research on painting sinks. It's so chipped, it never really looks clean. I'm thinking of doing a deep blue, with a glittery Milky Way swirling toward the center of the sink. Fingers crossed!

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January 18, 20190 found this helpful

Sink looks fine to me. Looks like you may have some calcium buildup on it. If so, white vinegar may remove it.

I would take some bath cloths and wet them good with white vinegar and lay them on the places where calcium has hardened. The white vinegar will soften the calcium and make it easy to remove. It would need to soak for about 8 hours so overnight should do it.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

I'll try that but I think the yellow build up is where the porcelain finish has been worn away. It's dull even when I get it clean. It probably bothers me more than anyone else. My teenagers certainly don't care how clean it is. :)

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

If you paint it, post a picture. Sounds like it would be beautiful.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

They sell porcelain and sink restoration kits in hardware stores and Amazon. Many whiten as well as fill in cracks.

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You might also try hydrogen peroxide, the same stuff they use to whiten teeth. Do a spot check first to make sure wherever chemical you use won't damage the surface.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

Before you paint the sink, try cleaning it with Comet cleanser. It has bleach so if anything will get your sink white, Comet will. Plus its usually around $1, so a great thing to try. I use it to clean out my kitchen sinks, and bathtub too.

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

I definitely will!

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

Hydrogen peroxide is a good thought. I hate to use bleach.

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January 18, 20190 found this helpful

Wow that was a lot of gunk! Glad you were able to clear your clogged sink.

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For the shower and tub, we use hair catcher stopper. Then when it gets full or the water starts to drain slowly we'll clean the drain. :)

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

Wow that was a serious clog! I usually do only baking soda and vinegar in kitchen, bathroom monthly. Always pour any boiled water down the sink while it is still hot. Works v. well. Hair requires a little muscle. Once a month, I use a small device, do not remember what it is called, it is a narrow wire with small stiff brush bristles at the end. Down it goes into tub drain as well as bathroom sink. Picks up ALL the hair. You can get this little device at Home Depot for under $15.00.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

I think it is called a snake. I was going to go to the hardware store to buy one before my husband showed me how easy it is to remove the P trap.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

I have one of those things. Regardless, hair gets down the drain and I have to snake about every two years.

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We have double sinks and they both have to be taken apart at the P-trap. I dread it because all the stuff in both vanities must be removed.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

i love this,worked so good,i'm keeping this for future clogs.saved on buying drain clogger.any more great ideas send them my way,they are very helpful

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

If it's a hair clog, the salt/baking soda/vinegar solution won't do much since none of those ingredients dissolve proteins, which is the main constituent of hair. Drano excels at doing that. You can demonstrate this by simply making this solution and then putting some hair in it. Wait 24 hours and you'll see that nothing has happened to the hair. Then try it with Drano and you'll see that the hairs have dissolved.

What this can mildly do is dissolve a little soap that may be binding the hairs. And I stress little. It probably won't penetrate more than 1/2", even with boiling water -- and it certainly won't get through anything as dense as the hair mass shown in this photo.

Would this solution work as maintenance? Maybe, but again, only mildly. The problem is that the solution is not thick enough to coat the sides of the pipe for any significant amount of time to dissolve soap scum (and again, it has no effect on hair). That's why the best drain cleaners are a thick gel. Filling the tub or basin with boiling water and then running the steaming water down the drain might help. While that won't dissolve hairs, it should dissolve soap.

The best measures are preventive. Use liquid soap (which never hardens) instead of bar soap (which hardens when the water gets cold). And most of all, use a drain filter to prevent hair from entering the drain. They cost $1 at the Dollar Store. Or make your own by removing the drain cover then covering it with panty hose before screwing the drain cover over it, keeping the fabric in place. This only works on tubs and showers since sinks don't have unscrewable drain covers.

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

"saved on buying drain clogger"
----
Why would spend money on buying drain clogger? Most people wouldn't want their drains clogged. But if you do want to clog your drains, you can do it free. Just dump some hair or vegetable peels down your drain and then pour in some hot animal fat. Once cool, the fat will congeal, adhering the hair or peels to the pipe, clogging the drain. No need to waste money on drain cloggers.

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

It sounds like you have a lot of knowledge in this area so I would like to ask for your comments on using something like this.

www.amazon.com/.../ref=pd_lpo_vtph_60_bs_img_1?tag=thrif06...

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

I wanted to avoid Drano if possible because I have read that it can be very damaging on pipes and discouraged by plumbers.

blog.jiffyondemand.com/.../

I saw the original "Homemade Drano" article and figured I would give it a try and report the results back. I was pretty happy at how much came out. The pictures don't really show it but you could see how it bubbled up and cleaned out the top, cleared, then cleaned out more from deeper in the pipe. Until, of course, the hair stuck to the sides slipped down and clogged the whole thing. :)

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January 21, 20190 found this helpful

I have a great recipe for unclogging sinks. Put one cup baking soda in drain, heat two cups vinegar, pour vinegar over the baking soda, it will foam up, let it sit for fifteen minutes. Then flush with hot water. It works like a charm.

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

That's basically what I did, except I used cold vinegar and boiling water. It worked good until the hair loosened from the sides and then it was clogged entirely.

I think the key is to do it regularly so that the build up isn't too great.

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