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How to unblock a bathroom sink

The bathroom should be a place of peace and serenity, so when water refuses to drain from your sink or water begins to rise when it shouldn’t, it can be frustrating.  

There’s no reason a blocked sink should put a dampener on your day, but before you begin Googling local plumbers, we’re here to show you how to unblock a sink without a plumber, saving you time and money.  

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Why is my bathroom sink blocked?  

When it comes to clogged bathroom basins, there are three main culprits. Sadly, only one of these three offenders is in your control. 

These elements include:  

  • Foreign objects
  • Poor installation
  • Storms and bad weather

We’ve explained each one in more detail below.

Foreign objects

Foreign objects are the most common cause of blocked bathroom sinks. Luckily, it’s also the only factor you have control over. By foreign objects, we mean anything that doesn’t belong within the system you may find in a bathroom, like hair, soap, and toothpaste buildup. 

Sometimes, this dirt and materials can build up within the pipes, causing a blockage, which you’ll only notice when your water takes longer to drain. 

In most cases, this doesn’t require a plumber to solve, as sections of the piping underneath the sink can be easily removed and cleaned. Suppose a larger object gets accidentally lost down the drain. In that case, it will have been caught by the basin trap, also known as the U-bend. This trap is specifically designed to catch unwanted items and make them easier to remove. 

1. Blocked Sink

Poor installation

If you’re constantly experiencing a blocked sink, it may be down to poor basin or pipework installation. Water flow depends on gravity, so pipes fitted with the wrong falls or angles can easily lead to build up of materials that can cause blockages. 


The cause of this issue is likely not your fault, so if you’re a Places for People Customer, we recommend that you report this issue through your online account or by calling a friendly Customer Support Centre on 01772 667002.

2. Poor Installation

Storms and bad weather

Unbelievably, severe weather really can be the cause of a blocked sink. Heavy rain during a story can cause drains to become blocked outside, which will back up into your home. 

This often happens because leaves, dirt and debris wash into the drains. However, even just large volume of water can cause this problem. Unless the drain is your main outside access, there isn’t much you can do, and it often solves itself. 

3. Bad Weather

How to unblock your bathroom sink

Now that we’re run through some causes of your blocked basin, it’s time to identify some methods to clearing the blockage using common products and items found around your home.

For these methods, you may need:

  • A plunger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket
  • Towel
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Boiling water

How to unblock a sink with a plunger

If the blockage is in the upper part of the waste pipe, you may be able to use a bathroom plunger to dislodge the blockage.

5. How To Plunger

You’ll need: 

  • A plunger
  • Rubber gloves


  1. First, remove the pop-up plug or the drain stopper. Then, block the overflow with a cloth or tea towel to create a vacuum.
  2. Place the plunger’s suction cup over the plughole, ensuring it completely covers the plughole. Make sure you have water in the basin to cover at least half of the plunger head.
  3. Gently push down on the plunger create a seal before pumping repeatedly at a steady pace for a few minutes. Then release the plunger to let the air out and repeat this until the water drains.
  4. The suction created should move whatever is causing the blockage, allowing you to reach down and remove the debris.
  5. If this doesn’t work and the water is still sitting in the sink, try a different method.

How to unblock a sink without a plunger

Not every blocked sink will need a plunger to resolve the problem. We take a look at some alternative ways to get the job done.

How to unblock a sink with baking soda and vinegar

6. How To Baking Soda

If you’re bathroom sink isn’t completely blocked but is draining slower than usual than this method is worth trying. This mixture will dissolve a blockage in an easy and accessible way using items you probably have in your kitchen already.

You’ll need: 

  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • White vinegar
  • Boiling water
  • Rubber gloves


  1. First, make sure the water has drained away and your sink is empty and dry.
  2. Then, pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by two cups of boiling water. Follow this up by waiting about 3 - 5 minutes.
  3. Once the time has passed, pour another cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar, down the drain.
  4. Let the fizz and bubbles come out. Once they’ve disappeared, pour two cups of hot water down the drain.
  5. After about twenty or thirty minutes, check to see if the problem has been resolved.

How to clear a sink by removing the waste trap or U-bend

How To U Bend

If natural products or the plungers haven't shifted the blockage, it’s time to get underneath the sink to remove the issue manually through the U-bend.

For this process, you’ll need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket
  • Adjustable spanner/wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Old towel or rag


  1. First, turn your water off at the mains and clear a space underneath your sink.
  2. Place a towel and bucket underneath the basin to catch any water that may come out once you’ve taken the U-bend off.
  3. Note down how the U-bend is constructed so that you’ll be able to put it back together properly later.
  4. Carefully loosen the fittings that connect the U-bend to the basin with a wrench or screwdriver. Make sure you’re ready for any water that comes out. Do not put your head directly under the u-bend as you are loosening or removing it
  5. Be careful not to lose any additional fittings, such as rubber seals or washers, that might be in place in the U-bend.
  6. Remove the U-bend and clear the blockage by pushing a piece of flexible wire through the pipe or even using your hands if you can see and grab it.
  7. Once you have cleared the blockage, refit the U-bend in the same way you took it apart, making sure it’s completely sealed at both ends.
  8. Turn the water back on.