Is Your Bathroom Sink Clogged or Draining Slowly? Here’s What You Can Do About It

A close up of a senior woman washing her hands under the running water of her home's bathroom sink

Bathroom sinks are particularly prone to draining slowly, often more so than kitchen sinks and other fixtures. Additionally, if your bathroom sink clogged it can affect your entire household. The reason is simple: your bathroom sink faces some unique challenges. It can easily become clogged by hair debris from shaving or leaning over the sink while working on your hair, by chunks of soap, even by bath toys that might fall into the sink. It also often gets less attention than the kitchen sink. Ignoring a slow draining bathroom sink until it becomes completely clogged is never a good idea. Frequently at that point you’ll need a professional and  fast drain service to fix your problem.

So, what can you do to both unclog your bathroom sink and keep it from happening again?

How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink

When we notice the bathroom sink is draining more slowly, a lot of us reach for the drain opener. The problem with this approach is that it uses harsh chemicals (which are also expensive) and generally provides only a temporary fix. Using a drain opener on your sink every few weeks or more often is not desirable for you, your home, or the environment.

“Snaking” a bathroom sink also tends to provide a temporary solution, and depending on the stopper design it might not work at all.

One Bathroom Sink Clog Remedy: Remove The Stopper

One way to clean out your bathroom sink is to declog the area immediately below the stopper, a complicated process which involves the following:

  1. Lift out the sink stopper. If it doesn’t lift, then you will need to remove the pivot rod. Do this by removing the pivot rod nut and pulling out the pivot rod. With most sinks, especially if this hasn’t been done in a while, you will need pliers.
  2. Use a bent wire (a straightened out coat hanger works well) to fish out the clog from the trap.
  3. Run hot water through the drain.
  4. Replace the pivot rod. This involves dropping the stopper into the drain, lining up the pivot rod with the slot, and reinserting it. Hand-tighten the nut (don’t overtighten, because you may well have to do this again and want to be able to remove it easily next time).
  5. Run hot water through the drain. If you see drips, tighten the nut slightly.

This is complicated and does require that you keep tools around. If you aren’t particularly handy, you will want to call an expert.

The 2nd Common Problem: Cure Bathroom Sink Trap Clogs

bathroom-sink-clogged

The second way to clear a clog is to clean the sink trap. In order to do this you need to:

  1. Get a bucket and put it under the sink trap.
  2. Unscrew the sink trap with a pipe wrench. PVC sink traps can sometimes be removed by hand.
  3. Empty the water from the trap into the bucket.
  4. Clean any clogs out of the trap itself.
  5. Remove the horizontal trap arm from the wall.
  6. Feed an auger cable into the stubout until you feel resistance, then pull out 18 inches of cable, tighten the lock screw and crank the handle clockwise while pushing. Keep doing this eighteen inches at a time until you feel the pipe is clear.
  7. Replace the trap arm and trap.
  8. Run hot water through the drain.

If it still drains a bit slowly, partially fill with hot water and then plunge. Most people, however, don’t keep a cable auger around. Without one, you shouldn’t attempt this yourself but should call a professional right away.

A couple of other things you can try before calling a plumber are using a plunger (if you do this, tape over the sink overflow hole), clearing the sink overflow hole (again, using a bent wire is good for this), or using homemade drain cleaner. Homemade drain cleaner is cheaper and less hazardous to your health than store-bought.

If you feel as if you are unclogging your bathroom sink constantly, then you need to work on ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips.

A man using a plunger to unclog his bathroom sink drain at home.

How to Prevent Bathroom Sink Clogs

There are a few easy things you can do to help prevent bathroom sink clogs from happening in the first place.

  1. Reduce hair clogs.  One easy and inexpensive way to do this is to install a hair catcher. The type depends on the type of stopper you have in your drain. (While you are at it, get one for the shower and/or tub as well). A hair catcher can also reduce the number of chunks of soap that go down the sink drain. Also, don’t brush your hair while leaning over the sink. When removing hair from your brush, put it in the trash.
  2. Run hot water through your sink briefly after each use. This will help keep soap, toothpaste, and other things from building up. Use boiling water from a kettle about once a week.
  3. Don’t wash anything down the drain. Be particularly careful with Q tips used to apply cosmetics.

Sometimes You Need A Drain Line Professional

If your sink seems prone to clogging even after you’ve taken those steps then you should talk to a plumber, who can give you better and more specific advice on how best to keep your sink clog-free. You also may want to have them check for a mainline clog, especially if other drains also seem to be sluggish.

Bathroom sinks tend to clog more, and hair is the most common culprit. But properly maintaining your bathroom sink and running hot water through it at intervals can help keep the number of clogs down. If you do get a clog, you want to call an expert unless you are very confident about attempting the methods above. You should always call an expert if you have tried cleaning the trap and it has made no difference, as this probably indicates a clog further into the system or in your mainline that needs a professional to address.

If you have a bathroom sink clog that just isn’t responding to the drain opener, or if you have regular clogging problems, you need to call an expert. Contact Balkan Sewer & Drain Cleaning so that we can help you unclog your bathroom sink and keep it from happening again.