The Best Methods For Cleaning A Bathroom Sink Drain, According To An Expert

Plus, how to prevent clogs in the future.

I can’t even tell you how many times my bathroom sink drain has been clogged, mostly from hair. When the dirty water takes forever to drain after I’ve washed my face or brushed my teeth, it leaves a dirty film around the bathroom sink bowl, and is a true pain to continuously wipe off. 

According to Sara San Angelo, a professional home cleaner and founder of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady in Charleston, South Carolina, there are many reasons bathroom sinks get clogged. “One big reason is hair that falls down the drain—hair on your head can fall down the drain, as well as facial hair while shaving,” she explains. “This gets mixed in with skin oils and toothpaste to create a nasty mess that clogs your pipes.”

Below, San Angelo gives us several methods for cleaning bathroom sink drains, her best tips on how to avoid a clogged bathroom sink, and what to avoid when cleaning your bathroom sink drain. 

Bathroom Sink Drain

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How To Clean a Bathroom Sink Drain

If your bathroom sink is clogged, there are several ways you can unclog it without using Drano or harsh chemicals. “First, I would try a drain snake,” says San Angelo. “Many times, this will do the trick and you won't need anything else.”

If that doesn’t work, you can also use a sink plunger, which is like a toilet plunger but smaller. “Another option is the boiling water and dish soap method,” suggests San Angelo. “This will eliminate the grease that may be sticking everything together in a clump in your drain.” 

For best results, the sink should be as empty as possible (it might take a while to drain fully). First, boil a large pot of water on the stove—the pot should be big enough to fill the sink with water. “Then, pour 1/2 cup dish soap (it doesn't have to be Dawn, but should cut grease) down the drain, then pour the boiling water,” suggests San Angelo. “Be careful not to splash yourself.” After you’ve done that, you need to wait it out—it might take a few hours to have an effect on the sink drain. You may have to repeat this several times for it to fully unclog the drain. 

Finally, the baking soda and white vinegar method might do the trick if nothing else works. “I would use caution when using this method if you have very old pipes in your house,” says San Angelo. First, you want to pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. Then, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. After that, pour one cup of white vinegar—you can mix it with water if it is not enough to get all the baking soda down the drain. Cover the drain with a plug and wait 10 to 15 minutes. Then, pour boiling water down the drain again. “The bubbling and fizzing of the baking soda and vinegar solution will help clear the drain,” explains San Angelo. 

How To Avoid a Bathroom Sink Getting Clogged

If you want to avoid having to unclog your bathroom sink drain as often as I have to, San Angelo suggests trying out a drain cover, like the Gotega Hair Catcher Durable Silicone Hair Stopper ($10, amazon.com), to catch hair and large particles from getting down the drain. “You can also try not to brush your hair over the sink—get hair shavings out of the sink instead of washing them down the drain,” she suggests

What Not To Do When Cleaning a Bathroom Sink Drain

As easy as it sounds to just use chemical-based drain cleaners to fix the problem, San Angelo says that it might not be the best idea. “Try to avoid harsh chemicals like Drano and Mr. Plumber drain cleaners,” she says. “They can actually cause a lot of damage to your pipes and are terrible for the environment.”

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