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Unclog a Bathroom Sink Without Chemicals

Bathroom sink clogged? Here's an easy fix that doesn't require chemicals or drain snakes.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Unclog a Bathroom Sink Without Chemicals

Bathroom sink clogged? Here's an easy fix that doesn't require chemicals or drain snakes.


Slow-moving or stopped-up drains are common in bathroom sinks, but luckily the fix is usually simple and takes only about 15 minutes. The problem is caused by hair and gummy soap scum that get caught on the stopper or pivot rod and clogs the drain.

To get at the clog, try lifting out the stopper (Photo 1). Sometimes it'll come right out. If it doesn't lift out, it's held in by the pivot rod. Release the stopper by removing the pivot rod nut and pulling out the pivot rod (Photo 3). If you can't loosen the nut by hand, use pliers. With the pivot rod pulled out, you'll be able to lift out the stopper. Then to get the clog out, bend a wire in a tight hook (a light-duty clothes hanger or short length of electrical wire will do) and fish out the hair (Photo 2). If you didn't have to remove the pivot rod to remove the stopper, you can just drop the stopper back down into the drain. If you removed the pivot rod, first drop the stopper into the drain. Then line up the pivot rod with the slot in the stopper and reinsert it. Finally, hand-tighten the pivot rod nut.

Run hot water down the drain to help clear out any remaining soap scum and to check that the clog is gone. Check around the pivot rod nut to make sure it's not leaking. If you see drips, tighten the pivot rod nut slightly with a pliers.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Slip joint pliers

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Stiff wire or wire coat hanger

Comments from DIY Community Members

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June 29, 6:58 PM [GMT -5]

Worked like a charm...

March 07, 9:45 PM [GMT -5]

OMG It worked! Thank you Thank you Thank you for these instructions. I just unclogged my 3 bathroom sinks. Used a wire coat hanger. The stopper removed easily - didn't have to deal with pivot rods or anyhing, thank goodness. My sink has been slow draining and getting more and more clogged for weeks to the point of standing water in the sink every time I use it. Have been pouring viniger and peroxide (not at the same time) down the drain as well as natural drain cleaner. Nothing was working. Draino was not an option due to the fumes.
Found this website on a google search and thought I'd give it a try.... Glad I did!

April 20, 9:02 PM [GMT -5]

Just some FYI: The plug should not just come out if it is properly installed. You should always take out the pivot rod to get the plug out or you may break it off. You will notice that the plug bottom is shaped so that the pivot hole should face the pivot rod for proper instillation. It prevents the rod from slipping off in the up or down position.

if you cannot get the clog out with this method and you have a PVC type trap you can put a bucket under the trap and most of the time they are only hand tightened on. Just take off the trap and you will have compleate access to the cloged drain. I just take an old rag wrap it up and stick it through from the top and push it down until it comes out of the drain pipe and clears the clog. Then just clean all of the parts, put everything back together and the problem should be solved.

I can't tell you how many house calls I make for this simple repair.

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