How to Fix Slow Draining Bathroom Sink (Easy & Safe)

A slow draining bathroom sink is a common household problem.

A build-up of hygiene products and hair is the most likely cause of the blockage. If left unaddressed, it can lead to unpleasant odors and potential water damage.

You could use chemical solutions to remove the blockage, but that’s corrosive and can damage your pipes.

Moreover, they can cause respiratory problems or allergic reactions.

Instead, this guide will provide safer methods on how to fix a slow draining bathroom sink. You also won’t need to hire a plumber for these methods.

Identify the Problem

Facing a slow draining bathroom sink can be frustrating, but before you can fix it, you need to identify the cause of the problem.

There are several possible reasons for slow draining sinks, and identifying the issue will help you choose the best solution.

One common cause of slow draining sinks is a partial clog or blockage in the pipes. This can happen due to the buildup of various materials like hair, debris, and soap scum.

Over time, these materials accumulate and obstruct the flow of water, leading to slow draining.

Another possible reason for slow draining sinks could be the formation of a clog in the pipe connections, such as the P-trap.

The P-trap, a U-shaped pipe beneath the sink, serves to prevent sewer gas from entering the home. However, it can also become a place where debris and gunk accumulate, causing a slow drain.

Additionally, the problem might originate from improper pipe installation or damage, such as misaligned, crushed, or corroded pipes. In such cases, fixing the slow drain may require professional help.

Now that you have a better understanding of the possible issues causing your slow draining bathroom sink, you can start taking the appropriate steps to resolve the problem.

6 Ways to Fix Slow Draining Bathroom Sink

You can save quite a bit of money and time by unclogging the bathroom sink yourself.

Also, you don’t have to purchase cleaning materials because you most likely already have them.

Here are some ways that you can unclog your bathroom sink.

Remove and Clean the Stopper

This simple step can often fix the issue, as most slow draining sinks are caused by a build-up of hair, soap, and debris on the stopper.

In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of disassembling and inspecting the sink stopper, and cleaning it properly.

Disassemble and Inspect the Sink Stopper

  1. First, locate the sink stopper’s pivot rod beneath the sink. This rod connects the stopper lever to the drain.
  2. Use a pair of pliers or your hands to loosen the nut that holds the pivot rod in place.
  3. Carefully pull the pivot rod out, making sure not to lose any small parts.
  4. With the pivot rod removed, gently lift and twist the sink stopper to remove it from the drain.

With the sink stopper disassembled, inspect it for any visible damage, such as cracks or broken parts. If you notice any damage, it may be time to replace the stopper.

Clean the Stopper

  1. Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any hair, soap, and debris from the stopper’s surface.
  2. For more persistent buildup, soak the stopper in a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap for 15 minutes.
  3. After soaking, give the stopper another scrub to remove any remaining debris.
  4. Rinse the stopper thoroughly with warm water to remove any soap residue.
  5. With the stopper clean, reassemble it by following the disassembly steps in reverse order.
  6. Test the sink to see if the water drains more quickly. If not, consider trying other methods of unclogging a bathroom sink like using baking soda and vinegar.

By removing and cleaning the sink stopper, you can often fix a slow draining bathroom sink without the need for harsh chemicals or professional help.

Remember to clean your sink stopper regularly to prevent future build-up and keep your bathroom sink draining smoothly.

Hot Water and Dish Soap

Using hot water and dish soap is a simple and safe method to help unclog your slow draining bathroom sink.

First, remove any standing water from the sink. Then, squirt a generous amount of dish soap into the drain.

Follow this by pouring a kettle of boiling hot water down the drain, which will help to break up and dissolve any greasy buildup. Be careful when handling boiling water to avoid burns.

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can clear the drain with natural solvents like vinegar and baking soda. You’ll need the following materials.

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Measuring cup
  • Lemon juice
  • Rag or sink stopper

Collect and keep all ingredients ready. You don’t want to increase the time between you pour the baking soda and the vinegar.

Step 1. Put a Kettle of Water to Boil

Let a kettle of water boil.

During that time, measure out the rest of your cleaning materials.

Step 2. Measure the Cleaning Materials.

Put a quarter of a cup of baking soda into a bowl.

Also, put a full cup of vinegar. Don’t mix the two ingredients yet.

Step 3. Pour the Boiling Water Down the Drain

Pour the kettle of boiling water down the drain to open it up to some degree.

If your house is old with old pipes, you should pour very hot water instead of boiling water. Boiling water may damage old pipes.

After that, you should refill the kettle and put it on to boil.

You will need to pour more boiling water down the drain at the end of the unclogging process.

Step 4. Pour the Baking Soda Down the Drain

Carefully pour the baking soda down the bathroom drain.

Ensure that all of it goes inside and not around the drain in the sink.

Step 5. Pour the Vinegar Down the Drain

Be careful when you pour the vinegar down the drain. There will be an almost immediate reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar.

So, empty the entire cup of vinegar in one motion.

If you did spill some baking soda in the sink, you could pour the vinegar over it to force it to go down the drain.

You are likely to see bubbles or hear fizzing noises. This means that the natural solutions are eating away at the blockage.

Step 6. Place the Rag or Sink Stopper at the Mouth of the Drain

Immediately after you put the vinegar, you should place the rag or sink stopper at the mouth of the drain.

Doing so will prevent the bubbles from coming out of the drain.

As a result, the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar will stay concentrated in the drain. You should let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes.

Step 7. Pour Boiling (Or Very Hot) Water Down the Drain

Remove the rag or sink stopper and squeeze some lemon juice into the drain after the required 15 minutes.

This will help with eliminating the blockage.

In addition to that, it will leave a fresh smell in your bathroom. Hair stuck in the drain eventually rots.

As a result, it leaves a bad odor. So, you should not skip this step, especially if you can get a bad smell from the drain.

After that, pour the boiling water down the bathroom drain. Watch the speed that it drains the water closely.

If it’s still taking time to drain the water, repeat all the steps mentioned above.

Your bathroom sink should drain water at a regular pace after the second try. If not, you could try one of the other methods discussed in this guide.

Using a Plunger

This method requires two materials only. You’ll need a plunger and a flashlight. Ideally, you should use a plunger designed specifically for sinks.

If you don’t have one and cannot purchase one, you can use a toilet plunger.

However, make sure to clean the toilet plunger thoroughly before you use it in your sink.

Step 1. Remove Your Bathroom Sink Stopper

You will need to remove your bathroom sink stopper for this method to work. If you don’t, you’ll force the stopper up and down.

Thus, the plunger will have little to no effect on the clog itself.

Pull the sink stopper with your hands until it can’t come out of the drain further. Next, turn the stopper counterclockwise until you unscrew it.

It should detach from the drain after that.

Step 2. Fill the Sink with Water

Turn the faucet on, and let the sink fill with water.

Don’t fill the entire sink. Instead, the water should be about an inch or two above the drain. The water is necessary for the plunger to work.

Step 3. Create a Suction Seal

Place your plunger right over your sink’s drain. Press down on the plunger to feel the bottom rubber part of it tighten into a suction seal.

Make sure that you’re standing right above the plunger.

If you pull on the plunger at an angle, you may ruin the suction seal. As a result, the plunger won’t do a satisfactory job at unclogging the drain.

Step 4. Pull the Plunger Up and Down

Hold the plunger’s handle with both hands and pull upwards and downwards on it. Keep your motion smooth and stay positioned above the plunger.

Continue this process until you pull and push on the plunger about 10 to 20 times. The plunger will force the blockage to move if there’s a suction seal.

So, make sure that the plunger stays sealed to the drain throughout the process.

Step 5. Inspect the Drain for Unclogged Materials

Keep the plunger aside and let the water drain. Next, use your flashlight to inspect the drain. Check if you can see any blockage that came loose through your efforts.

If you can spot some blockage, stick your hand in the drain to remove it. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this process.

The gloves will prevent anything from getting under your nails.

Repeat the process if you can find any blockage.

There’s a chance that the blockage may have drained. So, run water in the sink to check if it’s draining at the right pace before you use the plunger again.

Using a Wet-Dry Vacuum

A wet-dry vacuum might be your go-to tool to unclog a stubborn sink. Ensure the vacuum is set to “wet” mode and follow these steps:

  1. Cover the sink overflow hole with a damp cloth, which helps to create suction.
  2. Attach the vacuum hose to the drain opening, creating a tight seal.
  3. Turn on the vacuum to full power, sucking out the clog from the drain.
  4. Once the clog is removed, let the water drain to confirm the issue is resolved.

By Snaking the Pipes

In some cases, the clog may be too bad to unclog using the methods above.

So, you’ll need to snake the pipes. The materials you’ll need for this process are listed below.

  • Wrench or screwdriver
  • A bucket
  • Plumber’s snake/drain snake
  • Gloves for protection

You can use a straightened wire hanger if you don’t have a drain snake. After the wire is straight, create a hook by bending one end.

Step 1. Place the Bucket Underneath the P-Trap

Place your bucket underneath the P-trap, i.e., the curved pipe that is fixed to the drain.

The bucket will catch the blockage and prevent a mess.

Step 2. Remove the P-Trap

Before you remove the P-trap, you must determine what’s keeping it in place. Some of these pipes are held together by screws.

In that case, you’ll need a screwdriver (the size and type of screwdriver will depend on the screws).

On the other hand, the P-trap may have slip nuts. So, you’ll need a wrench (specifically channel locks) to remove the P-trap.

Remove the P-trap slowly by turning the screws or nuts counterclockwise. When they’re loose, use your fingers to turn and remove them.

Keep the nuts or screws in a cup or case so that you don’t misplace them.

Step 3. Find and Remove the Clog

Check the P-trap for the clog. It’s most likely to contain the blockage because of its curved shape. If you spot it, use your hands or wire hanger to remove it.

If you don’t find the blockage, it may be in the pipe in your wall. In that case, insert your drain snake into the pipe.

Keep pushing it until you feel some resistance. That resistance is most likely the blockage.

Push the drain snake back and forth like you would use a plunger. Continue doing so until you don’t feel any resistance. That should remove the blockage.

Safety Tips When Using a Drain Snake or Auger
  • Always wear gloves to protect your hands from any sharp edges or debris that may be in the pipes.
  • Ensure any electrical appliances near the sink are switched off and unplugged to prevent accidents.
  • Use the appropriate size and type of snake for the job. For most routine kitchen or bathroom sink drain clogs, a small drum auger is ideal, with a shorter cable length of 15 to 25 feet
  • Be gentle when rotating the handle and pushing the snake into the pipe to avoid damaging the pipes.
  • Do not use excessive force if the snake becomes stuck, as this may cause damage to your plumbing.

Step 4. Reinstall the P-Trap

Place the P-trap in the same position it was in before. Hold it in place, and tighten the nuts or screws.

Make sure to tighten it well (without overdoing it) to prevent water from leaking.

Turn on the faucet to check if the bathroom sink drains at a regular pace. If not, consider hiring a professional.

So these are some of the easy ways you can use to fix a clogged to slow draining bathroom sink.

Maintain Your Bathroom Sink Drain

Keeping your bathroom sink drain running smoothly is vital to prevent slow draining or clogs. In this section, we focus on two main sub-sections: regular cleaning and preventing clogs.

Regular Cleaning

To maintain a clean and efficient drain, it’s essential to perform regular cleaning. This can be done by:

  • Cleaning the drain: Use a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice to loosen build-up in the drain. Pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it with boiling water. This helps maintain a smooth flow and prevents clogs.
  • Cleaning the sink overflow: The sink overflow, usually found near the rim of the sink, should be cleaned using a pipe cleaner or brush to prevent build-up and improve water flow.
  • Cleaning the sink stopper: Remove the sink stopper periodically and clean off any debris that has accumulated. You may use an old toothbrush or sponge to scrub it clean.

Preventing Clogs

Taking steps to prevent clogs goes a long way in maintaining the sink drain. Here are some tips:

  • Use a drain cover: A drain cover catches hair and other debris before it enters the drain, making it easy to clean and keeping the drain clear.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: Once a month, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. The fizzing action helps break up and dissolve build-up, keeping the drain clear.
  • Mindfully disposing: Always dispose of grease, food particles, and other debris in the trash, not down the sink. These items can cause clogs and impede drain flow.
  • Run water: Run hot water through the sink regularly to help break down and flush away any build-up that may be forming.
  • Use a plunger: If you notice your sink beginning to drain slowly, try using a plunger to remove any blockage before it worsens.

By incorporating these simple steps into your routine, you can maintain a well-functioning and efficient bathroom sink drain.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While many slow-draining bathroom sink issues can be resolved with simple DIY fixes, there are times when calling a professional plumber is necessary.

One such scenario is if you’ve tried multiple solutions, such as using a plunger and chemical-free cleaning methods like baking soda and vinegar, but the problem persists.

If your home is older, you may have outdated plumbing that could be contributing to the drainage issue. Over time, pipes made from galvanized steel can corrode and narrow, limiting the flow of water.

In such cases, a professional plumber can assess the situation, remove the problem sections and replace them with more durable material for better drainage.

When using a chemical solution like Drano, always be cautious! These products can be harmful to your plumbing system and the environment. If you’ve already tried Drano without success, it’s a sign that the clog might be more serious and requires a plumber’s expertise.

A professional can utilize tools like plumbing snakes to reach deeper into the pipes and clear stubborn blockages.

Additionally, if you notice water leakage around your bathroom sink, it’s important to call a plumber immediately.

Leaks can lead to water damage and mold growth, both of which can pose health risks and be expensive to repair. A plumber will be able to check for leaks in your pipes and provide a solution to prevent costly damage.

In summary, while there are easy and safe ways to fix a slow-draining bathroom sink, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber when needed.

They can help with complicated clogs, outdated plumbing, and leak detection, ensuring a properly functioning drainage system in your bathroom.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a slow draining bathroom sink?

A slow draining bathroom sink can be caused by a variety of issues, such as a buildup of hair, soap scum, or other debris in the drainpipe. Over time, these materials can accumulate and restrict the water flow, causing the sink to drain slowly.

How can I unclog a bathroom sink with a non-removable stopper?

If you have a bathroom sink with a non-removable stopper, there are other ways to unclog the drain.

You can try pouring boiling water down the drain to break up any blockages. If that doesn’t work, you can use a plunger or a drain snake to manually dislodge the clog without removing the stopper.

Which tools are most effective for clearing slow bathroom sink drains?

Some of the most effective tools for clearing slow bathroom sink drains are plungers, drain snakes, and sink augers.

Plungers use suction to dislodge clogs, while snakes and augers are more suitable for breaking through larger and more solid blockages.

Are there home remedies for slow draining sinks?

Yes, there are several home remedies that can help with slow draining sinks. One popular method is to mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar, then pour the solution down the drain.

Let it sit for about 15 minutes before flushing with hot water to remove any remaining clogs.

Can chemical drain openers help with slow draining bathroom sinks?

Chemical drain openers can be effective in clearing clogs and improving the flow of a slow draining bathroom sink.

However, they should be used with caution, as they can cause damage to your pipes if used improperly or too frequently.

How do I maintain proper bathroom sink drainage?

To maintain proper bathroom sink drainage, regularly clean the drain to remove hair and debris, and avoid flushing substances that can cause clogs, like grease, down the drain.

Additionally, using a drain strainer or screen can help prevent clogs from forming in the future.

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