Unclog Sink, No Tools! (Maybe...)

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Home Improvement

Today we continue our tips and tricks for your time under home quarantine: Unclogging your bathroom sink with no tools (maybe - I will explain later).  I have unclogged countless bathroom sinks over my years at home and rental properties.  Most of the time, I do not use any tools or machines to unclog the drain.  And yes, I did not mention any Drano, or chemicals.  These chemicals deteriorate the longevity of the the p-trap and drain.  Drain chemicals are not safe for your health.  I had a friend who burned some of the sink on his face.  I highly suggest avoiding the chemical route.  Most of the time there are no tools needed for unclogging because the #1 reason bathroom sinks are clogged are because of long hair.  Long hair gets stuck at the sink stopper.  Below I have detailed just one drain clog experience during the COVID-19 quarantine to unclog a drain with no tools (you'll get to the maybe part later).

1) This is a clogged bathroom sink

Clogged Sink

2) Access drain area under counter top

Drain Access

3) Unscrew pop-up assembly screw

Drain Stopper Plug Handle

4) Pull pop-up assembly (Don't do it if you have a weak stomach!!!).  You will most likely have long strands of hair being pulled out.  This is the biggest problem of the clog.  Take a look with a flashlight down the drain.  If there is no other hair, reverse the steps to re-install.  If there is more hair, you will need to continue with more tools and materials.

Plug Drain Stopper Up

5) Use a channel lock to loosen p-trap.

Unscrew P-trap

6) Place long screwdriver or object down vertical drain from the stopper drain hole.  Clean out the rest of the hair.  Inspect with light.

Clean Vertical Drain

7) If vertical drain is clean, put TFE or plumbers paste on p-trap thread.  Tighten with channel lock.  Perform #5-3 to install sink pop-up assembly.

Plumbers Paste


If sink is still clogged, you will have to unclog with a rod machine or drain snake.  Then its a good time to call a handyman or plumber :)  Below is a video from This Old House to look at all of the alternatives to bathroom sink clogs:

 How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink | Ask This Old House