Everything you need to know about unblocking a sink

5 minutes

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A blocked sink can be a smelly inconvenience for your whole household. Tackle it with confidence by knowing how to unblock a sink yourself...

  • Learn how to spot the warning signs that your sink may be becoming blocked.
  • Know your options for tackling a blocked sink drain and when to call in the professionals.
  • Understand how to prevent future blockages and protect your home from damage. 

Unblocking a sink isn't the most exciting job, but it has to be done...

Knowing how to unblock a sink is something that everyone should have in their DIY arsenal. Sinks are essential in our homes and it can cause major issues when they’re out of action. Using items you may have around your home should help you to unblock your sink without much trouble – though you won’t want to forget the gloves. 

Is your sink blocked?

Sinks are the unsung hero of the home. From food waste and grease in the kitchen, to hair and soap products in the bathroom, they have a lot to deal with multiple times a day. One of the early warning signs that there’s something wrong with your plumbing or sinks is that water starts to drain away slower. It could trigger nasty smells or an unusual gurgling noise. As soon as you notice this happening, act to prevent any further blockages.

Your options for unblocking a sink

Looking for the best way to unblock a sink? Try working your way through the options listed below before calling in a professional.

Check the plughole 

Pop on a pair of rubber gloves and look for any debris in or around the plughole that could be preventing water from flowing freely.

Reach for the plunger 

The plunger is your best friend and it often only takes a couple of firm plunges to dislodge a blockage. 

Go with a natural method 

Natural methods are much safer than chemical sink unblockers and can work just as effectively.

Use a sink unblocker 

Where manual methods may not have worked, a chemical drain unblocker may work to dissolve the obstruction.

Check the U-bend  

If everything above has failed, you may need to detach the U-bend to see if there is a blockage inside the pipes. If you’re not confident doing this yourself, call a plumber. 

How to unblock a sink drain – next steps

Assuming you’ve checked and cleared any debris from the plughole and your sink is still blocked, there are other options to try– one of these methods should do the trick.

1. Unblocking a sink with a plunger is probably the easiest way to clear a blockage but may take longer than you expect. Removing any excess water from the sink that will not drain will help you get an airtight seal. To check if this has worked, run a little water down the drain. If it drains away easily, then you’ve been successful. 

2. Running hot water down the sink can work to dissolve grease or softer blockages. Similarly, filling up a plastic bottle and squeezing it down the drain can work to flush away any softer blockages. 

3. Pouring a mix of baking soda and vinegar down the drain causes a fizzing that can dissolve blockages. This method is a friendlier solution than some of the more drastic methods listed below. 

4. Trying harsher chemicals is usually the next step. However, be warned that they can linger around the drain and cause harm if not washed away properly. Common household bleach or a specific drain unblocking product can be poured down the sink and will work to break up blockages. Special hair dissolver products can be bought to deal with hair in bathrooms if nothing else has worked. 

5. Calling a professional. If none of the above methods have worked, it is probably time to call in a plumber. If you’re confident, you can dismantle the u-bend to dislodge the blockage manually. If you have any doubts – leave it to the professionals. You wouldn’t want to cause a leak and subsequent water damage.

How to prevent a blocked sink

Preventing blockages is much easier than unblocking a kitchen or bathroom sink. Use these simple steps below to avoid having to deal with a blocked sink in the near future:

Clean plugholes regularly

Making sure any food or rubbish is cleared out of the sink after you’ve used it is the easiest way to try and prevent issues. If this waste builds up in the pipes it can quickly get blocked. You can try using a sink strainer, which catches any food waste before it gets washed down the sink, if this is a common issue in your home. Never wash vegetable peelings or leftover food down the sink, dispose of this in the bin instead. 

Remove hair

Hair is a nightmare for bathroom sinks. Ensuring that the plughole stays hair free is the easiest ways to prevent problems with your bathroom sink. You can purchase plughole covers that will catch hair, bath salts and beauty product residue – all of which could cause blockages.

Watch what you put down the sink

Avoid pouring grease or oil down the sink as it can solidify. Other food and soap debris then get stuck behind, creating an even bigger problem. If cooking oil is too hot to put in the bin, leave it to cool and then dispose of it. 


Whilst a blocked sink can be a huge inconvenience, these quick and easy fixes should get the water flowing away in no time. Use our tips to prevent similar blockages from happening in the future. 

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