How to Clear a Slow Drain: 9 Best Techniques

  • Michael Grant
  • September 12, 2019

Bathroom sink drains can get partially blocked by a build-up of hair and soap, while kitchen sink drains will slowly accumulate fat, oil, grease, and food debris. A slow drain is annoying, but you might be tempted to not do anything about it since, at least, it’s not completely clogged.

However, if you choose to endure your slow drain, it will eventually get clogged, and you might need to call a plumber to get it unclogged. This is why you should do something to fix your slow sink drain before the problem becomes much worse.

Here is how to clear a slow drain with a few things you probably already have at home.

1. Use a plunger

The first thing you should do is try to clear the drain with a sink plunger. Cover the sink overflow with a rag if the problem is with your bathroom sink, and partially fill the sink with hot water.

Cover the drain with the plunger, and push it up and down at least 10 times. Let the water drain, and repeat a few times.

2. Use a drain cleaning tool

If you don’t manage to fix the slow drain issue with your plunger, you could use a drain cleaning tool, also called a hair snare or a zip-it tool. This is a thin, flexible piece of plastic with small barbs on each side.

Put the tool down the drain, and it should collect a build-up of hair and debris when you bring it back up.

3. Use a plumber’s snake

A plumber’s snake, or snake auger, is another tool that can be used to clear partially clogged drains. There are different types of plumber’s snakes, and you don’t need to be a plumber to own a small one.

It’s a long, flexible coiled wire attached to a crank. You can send it down the drain, and it should be able to pull clogs out of it.

4. Use baking soda and salt

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, and don’t want to buy one, you could try to dissolve whatever is blocking your drain with baking soda and salt. This is one of the effective ways on how to clear a slow drain.

Simply mix half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt, and pour it down the drain. Wait 20 minutes, and pour hot water down the drain. The chemical reaction between the baking soda and the salt might fix your problem.

5. Use baking soda and vinegar

Pouring a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the drain, and letting them react together for 15 minutes could also solve the issue.

This recipe could work just fine in your bathroom sink, but if your kitchen sink is the one that has a slow drain, baking soda and vinegar might not be that effective.

6. Use hot water and dishwashing detergent

If your kitchen sink is draining slowly, it could be because of a build-up of fat, oil and grease. You should use hot water and dishwashing detergent to try to dissolve this nasty build-up.

Mix a cup of hot, nearly boiling water with a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent, and pour it down the drain. Wait a few minutes, and flush it down with more hot water.

7. Use caustic soda

Caustic soda can also do a great job at clearing partially clogged drains. For this trick to work, you will need 3 cups of caustic soda mixed with half a gallon of cold water. Pour this mix down the drain, let it react for 20 minutes, and flush the drain with hot water.

Be careful when you handle caustic soda, as it could burn your skin if you are not wearing gloves.

8. Remove and clean the sink pop-up

Maybe the pop-up of your bathroom sink is responsible for the problem. To be sure, you should remove it and clean it.

Find the pop-up nut under the sink, and remove it. Remove the pop-up, and clean off all the hair and debris it might have collected. Put it back in place, and check if the sink is still draining slowly.

9. Clean the sink overflow

The sink overflow could also be responsible for your slow drain problem. If the overflow is blocked by a build-up, it can prevent the water from draining quickly.

To clean the overflow, you can use a pipe cleaner, or an overflow cleaning brush. You could also use a funnel to pour hot water down the overflow, or to pour a mix of baking soda and vinegar to clean it properly.

If your sink is still draining slowly after you have tried a few, or all of these techniques, you should consider calling a professional plumber. The issue could be a sign that there is something wrong with your home’s plumbing system.

Previous «
Next »

Hello, my name is Michael and I'm a cancer survivor. I'm also a home entrepreneur and stay-at-home grandfather. In the past thirty years, I've dabbled in the the financial sector, the technology industry, as well as a little business consulting. I guess you can call me a jack of all trades!