How to Unclog Anything

Updated: Mar. 20, 2024

Toilets aren’t the only clog-prone fixture homeowners have to deal with. Check out what else is susceptible to clogging—and how to fix it ASAP!

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clogged sink plunger
Family Handyman

Kitchen Sink

Clogged sink drain? With a few inexpensive tools and a little practice you can clear up all but the most stubborn drain clogs in less than an hour. Save yourself the plumbing service call and unclog your kitchen sink drain yourself by following our step-by-step instructions.

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FH10SEP_511_06_011 pull out clog washer dryer repair
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Washing Machine Pump

Save a bundle on appliance repair bills. We show you how to unclog your washing machine so it drains and replace the pump if you need to.

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unclog a sprinkler

Lawn Sprinkler

Clean clogged lawn sprinklers with special cleaners that dissolve rust and mineral build-ups, especially iron, if you have hard water. Here’s how to get the job done.

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unclog a showerhead


We’ll show you an easy way to clean your clogged showerhead and get it operating like new again. Mineral build up can plug up the spray holes; we’ll show you how to get rid of it.

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unclog a toilet


Clogged toilet? No problem. With a little practice, even a home repair rookie can get most clogged toilets back up and running in minutes, without flooding the bathroom and making the situation worse. In this article, we’ll show you how to avert a morning household disaster by clearing a clogged toilet fast.

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clean dishwasher filter
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If your dishwasher won’t drain, there’s likely a clog. Before you call a plumber, clean the bottom of the dishwasher thoroughly, especially in and around the filter, which can become clogged with food and grease.

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clear condensate drain tube


When you see water puddling around the furnace with the AC running, you have a clogged condensate drain tube. Condensation from air conditioning coils contains bacteria that can form slime and clog the condensate pan drain tube. You can prevent slime and eliminate drain tube clogs with these two easy steps. 

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Faucet Aerator

Aerators are found on almost every kitchen and bath faucet, and if water flow slows or becomes uneven, clogs inside the aerator are usually the cause. Fortunately it’s an easy problem to fix.

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remove cleanout plug

Cleanout Plug

A seasoned pro shows you how to remove a stuck cleanout plug to gain access to a stubborn clog in a drain line using pipe wrenches, heat and/or a hacksaw.

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unclog bathtub drain


Fix a clogged tub drain quickly and easily by removing the stopper and fishing out the hair and gunk that causes the problem 80 percent of the time. We show you how to open most common types of drains. Learn how to unclog a bathtub drain without chemicals.

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garbage disposal clogged drain
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Garbage Disposal

One of the most common causes of a clogged drain is when your garbage disposal clogged. If the side of the sink that has the disposer doesn’t drain, plunge it first to remove the clog or force it down the drain. And if you flip the switch to turn on your garbage disposer and all you hear is a low humming sound, your disposer is probably jammed. Here’s how to clear it.

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Pop-Up Stopper

Pop-Up Stopper

The pop-up stopper on your bathroom sink is a magnet for hair, dental floss and other yucky stuff. And it's probably a good thing because it keeps all of that out of your drains. But allowing this waste to build up for too long can cause the sink to drain slower and slower and eventually not empty at all. And because the water flow down the drain is also slowed, clogs in the drain lines can form more easily. When you notice that your bathroom sink is draining slowly, remove the stopper and clean it. Most pop-ups can be installed two ways. They can either be hooked into the pivot rod that lifts them, or simply rest on it. If your pop-up stopper is hooked in, you'll have to unscrew the nut on the back of the tailpiece (under the sink) and pull out the pivot rod to release the pop-up (left photo). When you reassemble it, try reinstalling the rod without running it through the hole in the pop-up stopper. Then drop the stopper into the drain hole. In most cases, it will work fine this way, and you'll be able to remove the pop-up stopper for cleaning without removing the rod. You can also update your bathtub drain to use a similar mechanism.
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unclog a vacuum

Vacuum Cleaner

If your vacuum cleaner isn’t picking up dirt, and cleaning or replacing the filter or the bag doesn’t help, you probably have a clog. Here’s how to remove it quickly.

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unclog under-floor plumbing

Under-Floor Drain

So why would anyone in their right mind attempt to clear out under-floor drains? Well, some of us thrive on challenge and love the satisfaction of solving a problem on our own. It isn’t easy, but we show you how to do it.

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unclog air line

Kitchen Sink Air Gap

An air gap prevents dirty dishwater from backflowing into fresh water lines. But over time, ground-up food and grease can build up inside the air gap and form a clog. If water squirts out the air gap’s vent holes or you notice a foul smell coming from it, it’s time to clean it. All you need is a bottle brush and some household disinfecting cleaner.

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unclog windshield washer

Windshield Washer

If you hear the pump going but don’t get fluid, you probably have clogged nozzles. Lift the hood and trace the washer hose from the nozzles back to the reservoir. Somewhere along the route, you’ll find either a plastic barbed connector or a round one-way check valve. Disconnect the tubing there and try the washer again. If fluid squirts out, you know the nozzles are plugged. Clean the nozzles by pushing a small pin in to loosen any debris, then blow the clog back down the hose and out the end that you disconnected.

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unclog toilet fill holes

Toilet Rinse Holes

If you have hard water, mineral deposits can accumulate in the rinse holes around the rim of the toilet, causing a weak flush. The fix is unusual, but simple and effective. Click here to learn how to get your toilet running faster.

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unclog washer screen

Washing Machine Inlet Screen

A washing machine that takes forever to fill may have an inlet screen clogged with mineral deposits and tiny particles of debris. Luckily, the fix is simple. Here’s how to clear a washing machine inlet screen.

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unclog bathroom sink

Bathroom Sink

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

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Gutter Spouts

Gutter Spouts

This is an ongoing fall chore that you shouldn't overlook — clean all those wet autumn leaves from gutter spouts before the blockages damage your gutters. Your plumber's snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts.