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Clearing a Clogged Kitchen Sink Drain

Category Plumbing
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 page about clearing a clogged kitchen sink drain.


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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

Comment Was this helpful? 16

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 Editor's Note: This post's advice runs counter to most professional plumbers, who do not recommend putting coffee grounds down the drain.

Comment Was this helpful? 4

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 Jan Hickerson from Tom Bean, TX

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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.

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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.

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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...

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July 12, 2017

Cooking grease and the residue from shampoos and conditioners can clog your drains. Many people have success breaking up the clog with Dawn. This is a page about use Dawn detergent to unclog drain.

A bottle of blue Dawn.

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July 11, 2017

A garbage disposal will usually breathing sup enough to not clog your sink but it can happen from time to time. This is a page about unclogging a sink with a garbage disposal.

A woman using a plunger in a sink with a garbage disposal.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 17, 2012

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


February 17, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try this. In large roaster type boiler, bring water to boiling and pour down drain. Add about a cup of ammonia, staying back away from the fumes. While that is working boil another large pot of water and pour down the drain. If the first water does not drain through after it sets for awhile you will need to remove most of the water and use a plunger. If that doesn't work, call the plumber.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 17, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Pour Dawn dish detergent in the drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then pour a kettle full of boiling hot water down the drain. It will probably release the clog immediately. Use the plunger to get the drain clean. This has worked well for me. I saw this tip on Thriftyfun and it works.

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February 18, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

Go on the other side of the wall and unscrew the drain cap. It might be one that has a protruding square or one that is flush and has a slot. Either way, open it up, then use a snake in it.

I hate to say this but I have used a tape measure before with great results. You can also use the garden hose with a straight jet of water. Is it the drain or the disposal ? You could remove the pipe that leads into the disposal from the drain.

Check to see if it is clear. What ever you do, do not use that liquid drain opener. That stuff cost us seven thousand dollars when it ate sixty foot of drain pipe away. Not worth it.

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May 6, 2014

Is Dawn dish detergent safe for kitchen drains?

By Doris


May 19, 20140 found this helpful

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

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February 19, 2012

How can I save money on a sink water clot?

By Julia from NJ


February 19, 20120 found this helpful

I'd suggest, if you are at all good with tools; renting a "snake" from a do it yourself place, like Lowes or Hope Depot. It costs a fraction of a plumbers visit!

But, even before that, put a bucket under the goose-neck pipe under your sink, and take the pipes apart of the drain, most times, the clog is right in the curve at the bottom!

Do a quick YouTube search for how toos on both ideas!

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February 19, 20120 found this helpful

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

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July 16, 2010

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)


July 20, 20100 found this helpful

Try a big soup kettle of boiling water be careful. This will loosen most crap down the drain. Make sure to tighten up the pipe connectors when done. All activity will loosen them.

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July 22, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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December 25, 2013

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


December 30, 20130 found this helpful

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.

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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


July 2, 20130 found this helpful

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.

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July 17, 2010

How do you unplug a plugged up sink?

By Gerry from Waterford, CT

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 17, 2010

How do I unplug a backed up sink?

By Diane Sanchez from UT


Unclogging a Sink

My drain was clogged for just about a year and unfortunately the clog was just past the air vent so plunging would not work. Spread out over the year I went through 3 bottles of drain opener and a 4th one was the kind where two chemicals mix from Drain-O, numerous applications of vinegar and baking soda even trying hair conditioner that someone recommended here on Thrifty Fun. What finely worked was for a week I poured in straight chlorine bleach until I could see it just to the top of the drain opening, I wasn't consistent it could be every day then skip a day or 2 whenever I could think of it, when I poured bleach in it the amounts would very each time.

I used almost a gallon, then 1 day when I was pouring the bleach in it never came to the top of the drain opening, so I turned on the hot water and let it run for good 5 minutes. My drain is finally opened. Good luck with yours.

By Babette

Unclogging a Sink

Depending on what is clogging the drain, there are different approaches. I once moved into an apartment that had straws and all kinds of junk down the drain that simply needed to be removed.

  1. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow with one cup of vinegar. 10-30 minutes later follow with a whole pot of boiling water.
  2. If the first idea didn't work, pour one cup of washing soda down the drain. (washing soda is more alkaline 11.0) than baking soda. Follow with one cup of vinegar. 10-30 minutes later pour a large pot of boiling water down the drain. Continue with 2-3 pots of boiling water if you think it is beginning to clear.
  3. If it still won't budge, get a bucket and start disconnecting the plumbing directly underneath the sink and see if you can't remove what may be clogging the drain, i.e., solid items that chemicals will not remove.
  4. If all else fails, call a plumber.

By Carly St.Clair

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July 16, 2010

I have black, greasy, rusty particles coming up from the kitchen drain pipe. The sink is clogged and I cannot get it unclogged. What is the problem?

By marko from Milwaukee, WI


Unclogging a Kitchen Sink

Try bailing out all the water, then put baking soda and vinegar in the drain. Wait and watch it bubble everything out. If this doesn't work, try Drano FoamingSnake drain cleaner, it's never failed me yet! (05/04/2010)

By Rhonda

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June 30, 2010

Every spring I used to have problems with my kitchen drain going slower and slower. Solution, put a cup of salt down the drains about once a week. Buy it in the box, so you don't run out too fast. It kills the little roots that sneak into the drains in the spring time. It really works.

By Ardis Ilene Barnes


Keeping Drains Clear

What I use is baking soda and vinegar - works wonders! (05/24/2005)

By Joycew

Keeping Drains Clear

I guess that's ok on sewer lines but if you have a septic tank, it will hurt your drainfield. look at: They have info on what will help your drains. (07/30/2005)

By Jeff

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

May 3, 2010

How do I unstop my kitchen sink?

Sharmel from St. Louis, MO


Unclogging Kitchen Sink

It depends on how bad the clog is. I recently had this problem. I tried putting vinegar and baking soda down the drain which is the same as using commercial liquid drain cleaner (but safer and much cheaper). That didn't work because somehow a toothbrush and some drinking straws became lodged in the pipe. I also tried using the plunger while the dishwasher was draining water through the pipes which worked for me on other occasions, but alas not this one.

I discovered the hidden treasures by buying a plumbing snake (plastic drum auger) at the Home Depot. I bought the cheapest one possible which was about $12. Go under the sink and take the pipes apart. Make sure you have a bucket or large bowl underneath to catch any water from the sink if there is any. If the clog is under the sink you'll be able to take care of it without the snake. Otherwise take the snake and unwind it until you feel some pressure. Turn it several times and pull. It's pretty simple. I did it without too much difficulty. I had to pull very hard though.

I thought I was going to break something because I had to stand up to get some leverage. The hidden objects came out and now I put a mesh strainer over the sink drain so no other objects go down the sink. The toothbrush was flushed down the toilet by a 2 year old. Fortunately it was only a baby size toothbrush. Hopefully that will fix your problem.

The unpleasant part for me was cleaning the snake. Hose it off in the driveway and then spray it with WD40. I actually didn't have any WD40 that particular day, so I just used cooking oil, and that worked pretty well too. It's not rusty and I was able to use it again, but I would recommend spraying with WD40. I guess cooking spray might also work if that's all you had. If you put baking soda and vinegar down the drain regularly, it will keep the pipes running smoothly. (10/09/2008)

By Tara

RE: Unclogging Kitchen Sink

Unclogging a Kitchen Sink

Baking soda and vinegar is not an effective substitute for Drano or products like that. Nor will they keep your pipes clean. When you combine them, they bubble nicely, but all that is happening is that the vinegar is combining with the baking soda, and carbon dioxide, water, and salt are being produced. Baking soda by itself will deodorize a drain, and may help to unclog grease clogs if accompanied by boiling water. Vinegar by itself may also be marginally helpful, as it is a slight acid. Boiling water is likely just as effective on its own, to keep a drain clear.

To unstop a clog, your first step is to try the plunger. If you have a double sink, you have to close off the second sink to get anywhere with your plunging. If that doesn't work, then you get a commercial drain cleaner like Drano or the stronger kind that you "shoot" into the drain. If that doesn't work, then it is time to try the snake. Of course, if the clog is caused by something in the drain, like silverware or toothbrushes, then you might just as well go straight for the snake. There is no way something like that is going to dissolve. Most clogs in the bathroom are caused by hair and sometimes you can just pick that out. Clogs in the kitchen are most commonly caused by solidified grease or chunky bits of food stuck in the drain, usually a combo of these. (10/14/2008)

By Louise B.

Unclogging a Kitchen Sink

If you can get to the pipes, put a large bucket under the elbow piece. Slowly unscrew it on both ends letting the water drain. Remove the piece completely and more than likely you will find your culprit; in my case a huge clump of grease. (03/01/2009)

By Jami

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June 26, 2009

How can I unclog a sink?

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