A clog can form anywhere in the pipeline. First, an object that doesn't belong in the drain gets stuck. Water can't pass through or push the clog through, so it sits there. Other objects pile on top, and soon, a small jam turns into a large clog. If water drains slowly, if the drain is smelly, or if objects back up into the kitchen sink’s water flow, you have a clog problem. 

It's important to know how to unclog a kitchen sink so you don’t have to deal with the problem again. To achieve this, you need to know common cleaning solutions to remove clogs. You will learn what causes clogs, how to prevent clogs, and why a kitchen sink basket strainer is the number one answer to prevent kitchen drain clogs.

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

how to unclog a kitchen sink: Man pouring a spoonful of baking soda in a kitchen sink

How do you remove a clog from the kitchen sink? Most of the cleaning solutions are do-it-yourself home improvement jobs, which is excellent news. Just be sure to remove all standing water before trying these solutions.

However, try to avoid liquid drain cleaners. While they clear clogged drains, liquid drainers contains harmful chemicals that pose a health hazard if the solution backs up into the sink, jeopardizing food, dishes, and cooking items. Also, the same chemicals will erode the drain pipes and ruin the garbage disposal blades.

1. Plungers

Most kitchen sinks have two sinks with two drains that connect into one larger drain. So, place a kitchen sink stopper or a rubber stopper over the drain not in use before you begin. This improves suction and avoids water traveling to the other drain. 

Then, cover the other sink drain with the plunger. Next, run the water until you have a tight seal at the flange, or bottom of the plunger. Plunge up and down very fast several times. Do this for a minute, and then check the drain's speed by running water. Remove the drain stopper after the clog is clear.

2. Home Remedies

Take your pick of baking soda and salt, baking soda and vinegar, salt and boiling water, or baking soda and boiling water combos. Use them all if you wish. These home remedies are very common in households, and even if you do not have those items, they’re very affordable. 

All these remedies require pouring baking soda or salt first, and depending on which part you choose, salt, vinegar, or boiling water second. Allow the mixture to sit in the drain for an hour, and then turn on the faucet to see if the pipe is unclogging. Try the process again if the water starts to drain more quickly, but the speed isn’t yet back to normal.

3. Coat Hanger

A wire coat hanger is useful in grabbing clogs close to the drain. Straighten a wire coat hanger and make a hook at one end. Next, take the hook end down the drain carefully as you hold the other end with rubber gloves. Then, stop and scoop up the clog pieces. Afterward, pull the coat hanger up and take the sink clog to the trash can. Continue doing this until there are no more clog pieces.

If you have a garbage disposal, skip this method. The metal coat hanger may tamper with the blades.

4. Drain Snakes

If the coat hanger doesn't work or isn't long enough to reach the clog, it's time to use the real thing. A drain snake, also called an auger or plumber's snake, is a long, flexible coil that fits inside existing pipes. It can reach clogs deep inside the pipe by extending the coil until it feels a clog. It then latches onto the clog so you can retract the coil and pull out the clog. 

However, if you don't have the experience and knowledge to use a drain snake, including drain assembly in removing and reattaching the p-trap, it will cause more problems than solve them.

5. Plumber

Starting at $110, you can hire a plumber to clear out clogs in the drain and the garbage disposal. A plumber has the training and experience to remove clogs in the P-trap, tailbone, PVC pipeline, oil-rubbed bronze drains, and garbage disposals. Plus, they’ll do this relatively quickly and without damaging the pipe. 

Your price varies by number of clogs, the clog’s severity, and the clog’s location. A clog in the home’s main pipeline costs more than a clog in the kitchen’s p-trap. A plumber charges for labor, parts, and time too, so your bill could be as high as $500. 

As you search for a plumber, search for licensed, bonded, and insured plumbers by researching the company website or asking about it over the phone. A bonded plumbing expert offers assurance to the homeowner that the job will get done correctly. The homeowner can seek reimbursement from the bond issuer if the job is shoddy or the plumber walks off the project. 

How Kitchen Clogs Form

how to unclog a kitchen sink: Woman peeling vegetables under running water in a sink

To learn how to unclog a kitchen sink, we must learn about the objects that cause clogs in the first place. Kitchen sink clogs tend to have four main causes:

1. Food

All food contributes to clogging buildup — we can't stress this enough. This includes the bones and pits connected to the food. The difference is how the water and the pipes’ tight space yield different responses to how it contributes to clogs. The main food culprits are:

Grains

Rice, beans, pasta, potatoes, bread, and cereal all do the same thing when water hits the objects: They expand. The expansion blocks water from passing and makes it harder for water to push grains down the drain. Additionally, the grains, along with flour, turn into a paste-like outer appearance when in contact with water, making them easy to stick to the pipes and objects stuck inside it.

Coffee and Eggs

The breakfast items' unwanted halves will clog the drain easily. Eggshells, coffee filters, and coffee grounds mixed with water are not good for pipes. The fine textures of grounds, eggshells, and filters make these foods easy to stick to items already stuck in the pipe, creating a clog pileup.Additionally, water cannot push the sticky and slushy substances down the drain. 

Hot Liquid

Bacon grease, chicken grease, ground meat grease, olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil...none of these liquidy items should go down the drain. When poured down the drain, hot grease and cooking oil begin as liquids. Along the way, the grease and oil coat the pipe walls. 

The water spreads the grease down the pipes rather than carrying it away. Consequently, the liquid cools and thickens, turning the liquid into a solid and sticky solution. The pipe diameter is smaller and the water passes through at a slower pace than normal. Additionally, the thick liquid gives food and other objects shelter, resulting in clogs.

2. Hair

It may seem unlikely for hair to cause clogs in kitchen drains because a kitchen sink is mainly used to clean dishes. However, some people use the kitchen sink to wash their hair or wash their pet when the bathroom is in use. In this case, strands of loose hair may fall in the sink as an alternative solution to the trash can. 

Like the bathroom, hair wraps around food and foreign objects, contributes to clogging size, and makes it harder to remove.

3. Foreign Objects

Non-food-related items that are small enough to fit down the drain will help clogs develop. Small jewelry pieces, tiny toy parts, medication, bottle caps, paint, and sewing items can fall down the drain and clog it. 

Remember, any clog worsens when there are existing blockages in the pipe.

4. Garbage Disposal

The cause of kitchen drain issues may not be a clog at all but, rather, a garbage disposal malfunction. If your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal attached to the drain, inspect it with a flashlight. Food or objects may jam the blades, causing it not to turn and operate as intended. 

Clean the garbage disposal by turning it on and pouring ice inside. This creates a harsh abrasive cleaner. Next, run cold water to remove debris down the drain. Then, put an orange peel or lemon peel inside the disposal to remove odors. Turn on the garbage disposal frequently to prevent rust and corrosion. 

If this method doesn’t work, use a plunger to remove the clog. Fill the disposal halfway with water before plunging repeatedly. If the plunger doesn’t resolve the issue, contact a plumber.

Note: Be sure the disposal is on the OFF switch before inspecting it for issues. Never stick your hand inside a garbage disposal.

How to Prevent Clog Buildup

Man holding a Kitchen SinkShroom against a white background

You can take preventative measures to keep clogs from forming, so you won’t have to remember how to unclog a kitchen sink. However, these suggestions only work if you do this continuously.

  • The same home remedies that clear clogs are equally helpful in preventing clogs. Due to the kitchen sink being a high traffic area, routinely clean your kitchen sink drain pipe with one of these DIY formulas:
    • Baking soda and vinegar
    • Baking soda and salt
    • Baking soda and hot water, and/or salt and hot water. 
  • Pour dishwashing soap down the drain to clear clogs from grease buildup.
  • Throw food in the trash can instead of the drain pipe. This includes food scraps from dishes, silverware, along with bones, pits, peels, wrappers, coffee filters, and paper towels. This also prevents garbage disposal overload.
  • Clean the garbage disposal by turning it on and pouring ice inside. This creates a harsh abrasive cleaner. Next, run cold water to remove debris down the drain. Then, pour orange peel inside the disposal to remove odors. Turn on the garbage disposal frequently to prevent rust and corrosion..
  • Pour grease and oil in a sealed container, and throw away the container afterward. This also avoids trashcan cleanup due to oily and thick grease.
  • Don't use the sink for anything other than cooking-related stuff. It is not a place to brush your teeth, wash your hair, or bathe. Do these activities in your bathroom.
  • Toss out unwanted medication and paint rather than throwing them down the drain.
  • Keep non-kitchen items out of the kitchen.
  • Keep children away from the sink and teach them not to throw random items in the sink.
  • Invest in a kitchen sink strainer. It is a food and hair catcher that collects food in its wire basket before it enters the pipe. When the strainer is full, empty the food into the trash and place it back in the drain.

The Kitchen SinkShroom drain strainer will catch food and objects before they enter the pipe without stopping water flow. Place the basket in the drain opening, and continue with prep and kitchen cleanup. The round, wide rim catches the food while the black cylinder center makes it easy to remove and re-insert. Its stainless steel design makes the basket strainer last longer than standard kitchen sink strainers. Hit “add to cart” and enjoy life without clogged kitchen drains!

Don't Jeopardize Kitchen Workflow Because of a Clog

Clean sink with a Kitchen SinkShroom

Whether it’s an enamel, copper, chrome, or stainless steel kitchen sink (or any other material), you cannot afford to have a clogged kitchen sink drain

If you want an easy solution to combat clogs from forming, the Kitchen SinkShroom is the answer. The stainless steel basket strainer is a stress-free solution to avoid learning how to unclog a kitchen sink. 

Don't forget to protect the laundry room sink and bathroom sink from clogging with SinkShroom.