Blocked kitchen sink: How to unblock it without any tools

Got a blocked kitchen sink? Whether it’s slow to drain or completely blocked, this easy to follow guide will walk you through the simplest and most effective way to unblock it.

Blocked kitchen sink

No matter how careful we are, food particles and fats do sometimes go down the drain, resulting in a blocked kitchen sink. Often the water takes longer and longer to drain away before becoming completely blocked.

Unblocking it is not a particularly glamorous job, but when your dirty washing up water is just sitting there, you don’t really have a choice but to do something about it. However, it’s usually pretty easy to fix, and chances are you won’t need to call a plumber.

While chemical sink unblockers are available, the fastest and most effective way to deal with a blocked kitchen sink is to simply unscrew the U-bend/trap and physically remove the obstruction. This is where the blockage is usually located, as the point of the trap is to prevent foreign objects from causing larger blockages further down the sewer, which may have a wider impact and can be much trickier to fix. The other purpose of the trap is to collect a small amount of water that acts as a barrier between the sink and the sewer. This stops bad smells from coming into your kitchen.

Before you start

You shouldn’t need any tools to sort a blocked kitchen sink, but you will need the following everyday household items to help you:

  • An old pair of rubber gloves
  • A bucket or another large plastic container – a plastic waste paper bin that you can wash out afterwards works well
  • An old rag or cloth – may come in handy to open the nut on the U-bend
  • Anything long and reasonably rigid, such as a straw, with which you can poke the blockage out of the U-bend. Disposable cutlery works a treat.

1. Empty the cupboard under the sink

You’ll need to make room in the cupboard for your bucket, so take out those old cleaning materials and put them to one side

2. Identify the U-bend of the blocked sink

If you have a double sink that’s clogged, check to make sure you’re working on the correct U-bend if they don’t share one. Some washing machines and dishwashers may empty into the kitchen sink pipe, so you might want to confirm they aren’t going to pump waste water all over the floor. If they do share the same pipe, make sure they’re off before you start.

3. Place the bucket underneath the U-bend and unscrew the plastic nuts securing it in place

Don’t forget your rubber gloves when doing this, and bear in mind that once you’ve broken the watertight seal behind the trap, the entire contents of the sink is going to empty into the bucket. If you want to make this as small amount as possible, you could decant the dirty water in the sink back into the washing up bowl, and then flush that down the toilet. Of course, be careful not to flush anything which would block that too.

In most cases, you should be able to open the plastic nuts by hand. If extra force is required, use the old rag/cloth to get a better grip. Take care not to lose any rubber washers inside the nuts.

4. Inspect the U-bend/trap for the blockage

It should be pretty easy to spot. Use a long rigid object to dislodge or scrape out the blockage. As mentioned, disposable cutlery works a treat because you can throw it away afterwards. (Once you’ve seen and possibly smelled what was blocking your sink, you probably won’t want to even think about eating with them again).

5. Replace the parts

Screw the U-bend back into position via the plastic nuts, making sure that the washers are in place too. Take care not to overtighten, or to cross the threads of the screw.

Disinfect the area and the container you used to catch the dirty water and blockage. Throw away any foreign objects or lumps of food debris/fat that were causing the blockage. Don’t flush them down the loo.

Congratulations – your blocked kitchen sink should be no more! Don’t forget to remind other members of the household not to let food particles and fats go down the drain in future.

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