How To Unclog A Kitchen Sink

Plumber unclogging kitchen sink
Robert Daly / Getty Images

A clogged kitchen sink is a common plumbing problem that can be quite disruptive. Through daily use debris slowly builds up in the drainpipes of the sink and eventually leads to a clogged sink. Fortunately clearing a stopped up kitchen sink is not a difficult project. The following steps show how to unclog a kitchen sink by starting with the easiest method and progressing to a more involved process for difficult stoppages. Using one or all of these methods should be enough to clear the majority of kitchen sink stoppages.

how to unclog a kitchen sink
Illustration: The Spruce / Hilary Allison


The first step to clearing a clogged kitchen sink is to use a plunger. A clogged kitchen sink drain can often be cleared with a common household plunger. The key to clearing a sink clog with a plunger is knowing how to use the plunger correctly. Try clearing the stoppage by plunging both sides of the kitchen sink. Although using a plunger may appear to be self-explanatory it is possible to use it incorrectly. If you learn the correct way to use a plunger it can become a very effective tool. A plunger, used correctly, can clear many of the most common drain stoppages in the home.

Note: Using the right plunger for the job is a good way to ensure that you can clear the stoppage. It’s a good idea to have a plunger for each type of drain handy.

Remove The Trap

Trap drain
Aaron Stickley

When you have a stubborn kitchen sink clog that cannot be cleared with a plunger the next step is to remove the trap. The shape of the trap serves an important purpose, but it can easily become clogged with debris washed down the sink drain. Removing the drain trap will give you direct access to the clog making it easy to clear it out. If the clog is not at the trap itself you can visually inspect the surrounding pipe. With the trap removed you look inside the pipe that sits before and after the trap to determine if the clog is somewhere you can see. If you can see the clog it is easy to clear it out. If you cannot see the clog, then the blockage is further down the drain pipe.

Drain Cleaner

Drain cleaner in drain
Aaron Stickley

If clogs are a common occurrence for your kitchen sink it may be a good idea to use a mild drain cleaner on a regular basis. When you notice that the kitchen sink is draining slowly using a drain cleaner may prevent a complete blockage. This simple preventive measure can save you time and frustration down the road. A mild household cleaner is all you need to help keep the drain pipes clean.


Watch Now: Unclog Your Drain With Baking Soda

Drain Snake

Mini rooter machine
Aaron Stickley

When a kitchen sink clog cannot be cleared by using a plunger or by removing the trap the next thing to do is to snake the drain. While there are various drain machines to choose from the best option for a kitchen sink drain is the mini-rooter or medium drain machine. Most people do not own drain snakes since they are not inexpensive to purchase and they are not used often enough in the average household to make the purchase worthwhile. Fortunately drain machines can be rented by the day and the rental fee is usually quite affordable.

Note: In a pinch you can try using a top snake to clear a clogged kitchen sink drain. Usually a top snake is not a good option for a kitchen sink stoppage because the cable is not very long. A top snake may be all you need if the clog is not too far down the drainpipe and it is not too compacted.