How To Fix A Slow-Draining Sink: 7 Methods To Clear Your Drain Pipes

Have you ever experienced a sink that takes forever to drain? 

A slow-draining sink is not a mere annoyance, but it can also be a warning sign of more significant plumbing problems. Ignoring it can lead to clogged pipes, water damage, and in some cases health hazards. 

There are, however, preventive measures and DIY solutions you can use to tackle this problem. We’ll take you through how to fix your slow-draining sink and also provide some awesome tips to help prevent your kitchen or bathroom sink from becoming slow to drain in future.

How to Deal With a Slow Sink Drain

clogged sink drain backing up water
There’s few things as frustrating as a slow-draining sink.

One of the most common causes of slow-draining sinks is a blocked drain. Hair, soap residue, and food particles can build up in the pipes over time and block the flow of water. The simple solution is to make sure to clear out any gunk that might be preventing it from draining as it should. 

If your sink is still slow after clearing out the clog, then it’s possible that there’s a bigger problem with your plumbing system. If our DIY solutions don’t work for you, then we recommend you call in a pro. A qualified plumber will have the necessary tools to inspect your drainage system and will pinpoint the source of your problem pronto.

No one wants their sinks to be draining away their precious time and patience! But with a few simple steps, you can get your sinks back up and running with next to no fuss at all. From unclogging drains to calling in an expert plumber, these solutions will have your slow-draining bathroom or kitchen sink fixed faster than you can say “what the heck’s wrong with my sink!”

Slow Drains: Key Takeaways

  • A blockage is the most common cause of a sink draining slowly and can be caused by the accumulation of junk such as hair, soap scum, grease, and food.
  • There are multiple DIY solutions to fix slow-draining sinks, including cleaning the stopper, using baking soda and vinegar, using a Zip-It tool or plumbing snake, using a plunger, or checking for P-trap problems.
  • Regular cleaning and proper disposal of debris can help prevent these problems from occurring.
  • If the clog is stubborn and won’t clear, or multiple drains are backing up, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional plumber.

Solutions for Slow-Draining Sinks

Clean the Stopper

bathroom sink stopper clogged with hair
Check the sink stopper for hair, food or soap build-up.

If you’re dealing with a slow drainage issue, the problem may be lurking right at the bottom of the basin. The sink stopper can often become clogged with hair, soap scum, and other debris over time. 

To solve this issue and get your drains working again, you need to clean the stopper. In many modern sinks, you can simply unscrew it for easy access. For older sinks, there will be a small rod with a nut and clip attached to the pipe underneath the sink that needs to be removed in order to access the stopper. 

Once you have removed the drain stopper, scrub away any of that disgusting soap scum or sludge that has accumulated with a brush and cloth or paper towel. Once you’re happy that you’ve got it looking all shiny and new, give it a final rinse and screw it back in place. 

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

vinegar and baking soda
Try using baking soda and vinegar to clean and deodorize your drains.

Baking soda and vinegar are two household staples that can help you fix a slow drain. 

Remove any visible junk from the drain, and pour 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. This will cause a bubbling fizzy reaction that should help to dislodge stuck gunk – leave it to work for an hour or two before flushing the drain with hot (but not boiling) water.

This method is great for being cheap and easy to use, but it is unlikely to solve more problematic clogs.

Clear Out Gunk With a Zip-It Tool or Plumbing Snake

snake drain covered in hair
A plumbing snake is a great way to tackle more stubborn clogs.

A little mechanical action using a Zip-It tool or plumbers snake might be what you need to get your clogged kitchen sink or other sinks functioning again. 

Zip-It tools are slim strips of plastic with hooks. Simply thread it through your kitchen or bathroom drain and through the clog. Pull it out and the hooks will catch hair, or any other gunk blocking the pipe.

If the clog is a bit too deep to reach with a Zip-It Tool, plumbing snakes, also known as drain snakes, can be an effective DIY solution for clearing clogs in a slow sink drain. These tools are long, flexible cables that can be inserted into the drain to break up and remove blockages. 

To use a plumbing snake, insert the tip into the drain and rotate the handle. As you work the snake down the drain, you may feel resistance when it encounters the blockage. Keep rotating the handle or motor so the snake will push through the clog and break it up. Once you’ve cleared the blockage, run hot water down the drain to flush out any other debris.

While plumbing snakes can be effective for clearing clogs, it’s important to use them carefully to avoid damaging your pipes.

Cleaning Out the Pipe With Drain Cleaners

pouring drain cleaner down the drain
A drain cleaner from your local hardware store will help unblock your sink in no time.

A blockage in your kitchen or bathroom sink can be quickly dealt with using a store-bought chemical cleaner. Different cleaners will work better on different types of clogs. For instance, lye or sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda) are super effective at dissolving organic matter like stuck hair.

The downside to using them is that the harsh chemicals can damage your pipes, and they should never be used in conjunction with other chemical products. Additionally, stay well clear of them if your home uses a septic system rather than being connected to the public sewer line – your septic tank needs bacteria to function properly, and these will be killed off by the chemicals.

Use a Sink Plunger

using a plunger in a kitchen sink
Make sure you have a good seal before you start plunging.

A toilet plunger is a simple and affordable tool that can help you quickly fix any slow-draining sinks in your home. It’s easy to use and can be used in a variety of situations, from minor clogs to major blockages. 

To ensure a good seal, fill the sink with enough water so the rim of the plunger cup is submerged. Then start plunging up and down in quick, repetitive motions until the water starts draining away. This should dislodge any clogs that are causing the slow drainage, allowing for normal flow again. 

Check for P-Trap Problems

unhooking pipe from plumbing trap
Check your p-trap for clogs or damage.

If all the above fails, the next thing you might want to try on your bathroom sink is to remove and check the p-trap for clogs or damage. 

A p-trap is designed to hold standing water to prevent sewer gas from entering your home from the main sewer line. However, it also is a likely place for food, hair, and other detritus to get stuck.

Before you start, gather all the tools needed, make sure to turn off the water supply to the sink, and remove any items stored beneath it. Then, place a bucket underneath the P-trap to catch any dirty water that may come out. 

The trap is usually held in place by slip nuts at each end of a curved pipe, so use a wrench to loosen these nuts and pull out the trap. You’ll likely find all sorts of debris inside it – coins, hair, and other gunk – which will be blocking the flow of water out of your sink. 

Once you’ve removed all this sludge, replace the P-trap and tighten up the slip nuts to secure it back into place.

What Causes a Slow-Draining Sink?

There are multiple reasons why your sink drain might be draining slowly. The most likely culprit is a blockage in the sink drain, or in the P-trap, which is the curved pipe that sits beneath the drain. 

Over time, drains can become clogged with debris such as coins, hair and other items, preventing water from draining freely and causing it to become slow-moving or completely backed up. Add soap scum or grease to the mix, and you’re bound to get a ball of hard-to-shift gunk in your pipes.

Fortunately, all of these causes of a slow-draining sink can be easily fixed with some DIY knowledge and, in most cases, with common household items. 

To help prevent these blockages, try to clean pipes and drains regularly by pouring baking soda and hot water down them. It’s also a good idea to cover bathroom drains with hair catchers and remove any potential impediments from the drains before they have the chance to disappear down your drain pipes.

If you’re dealing with multiple slow drains, gurgling noises, sewer gas smells, or air bubbles in a slow drain, you might have a more serious issue like tree roots or a clogged vent pipe on your hands. If you suspect this is the case, then the best solution is to call a qualified plumber who can help remedy the problem.

Cleaning Up – Clear that Clogged Drain in No Time

In conclusion, a slow kitchen or bathroom sink is often a minor inconvenience with some pretty simple solutions. Regular cleaning and proper disposal of debris can help prevent this issue. If you’re already experiencing a slow-draining sink, then any of the methods above should help you clear the problem easily.

However, if you’re dealing with a stubborn clog or you have several drains backing up, then it’s best to reach out to your friendly local plumber for their expertise.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article, and we always love hearing from you – if you have any comments or questions, please let us know in the comments box below. 

About the author

An accomplished plumber with more than 15 years of experience in the industry, David "Fitz" Fitzgerald began as an apprentice and steadily worked his way up to become a fully licensed and certified master plumber.

With extensive training in all aspects of plumbing. David is well-versed in the installation, repair, and maintenance of plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and is able to troubleshoot and solve even the most complex plumbing issues.

He loves to share his wealth of knowledge and looks forward to engaging with the community here on No Hassle Plumbing.

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