How To Clean Sink Drains in Your Kitchen and Bathroom

Solve smelly or blocked drains with our top tips for cleaning your sink drain. Pick from a variety of sink drain cleaning methods that don't use harsh chemicals.

The sinks in your home attract a lot of yucky stuff. From food, to hair, to…whatever that gray slimy thing is. Unclogging your kitchen and bathroom sinks can be pretty unpleasant, and getting rid of those funky drain smells can be a challenge too.

We’re sharing our expert tips on how to clean a sink drain in your kitchen and bathroom with gentle, natural methods that leave your home smelling fresh.

Of course, if you’d prefer to leave these time-consuming kitchen and bathroom cleaning tasks to a professional, you can always book an affordable cleaner in your area through Homeaglow.

Before you start

You don’t need a lot of fancy products or harsh cleaners to unclog and freshen your household sink drains and garbage disposal. 

Check your cupboards and freezer to see if you have the following:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Fresh lemons
  • Sea salt
  • Ice cubes
  • Plunger
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Baking soda and white vinegar have a surprising variety of uses, and powerful cleaning properties. If you don’t have these at home, make sure you stock up!


How to clean a kitchen sink drain

To clean a kitchen sink drain without a disposal in it, we’re going to use our trusty friend, baking soda. As well as being a great all-round cleaner, baking soda has powerful antibacterial properties which makes it ideal for using in food preparation areas.

Baking soda and vinegar

Step 1: Pull any visible clumps of food out of the sink. Then boil some water in a kettle or pot, and tip this down your kitchen sink drain.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 1 cup of baking soda. This will start fizzing when it’s mixed, and it’s important that you pour it down the drain while this chemical reaction is taking place.

Step 3: Cover the sink drain with the plug and leave it to sit for 15 minutes.

Step 4: While you’re waiting, bring some more water to the boil, and then remove the kitchen sink plug and pour the boiling water down the drain.

The vinegar and baking soda act as a natural drain cleaner, and the boiling water will help flush out all the bits and pieces that have been clogging up your sink, ensuring everything flows freely again.

This DIY solution also helps freshen up your drain and remove odors.

Tip: Baking soda and vinegar is also great for cleaning a microwave and cleaning oven glass.

Baking soda and salt

If you don’t have white vinegar in the house, you can use a baking soda and salt mixture instead.

Step 1: In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of water, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1 cup of salt. 

Step 2: Pour boiling water down your drain, then follow it immediately with the salt mixture. Cover the drain with a plug, and leave this to sit for around 20 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the plug and flush the drain clean with more boiling water. 

This is a gentler process than using vinegar, so if your drain is still a bit clogged, you may need to repeat these steps once or twice more.

How to clean and freshen a garbage disposal

If your home has a kitchen sink drain with a garbage disposal unit attached, you’ve probably noticed that this setup can get pretty smelly at times.

This is our favorite trick for getting your garbage disposal fresh in under a minute.

Step 1: Cut a lemon into wedges and drop it into your garbage disposal. Add a good handful of salt (coarse salt is preferable), and a handful of ice cubes. 

Step 2: Run the cold tap and turn your garbage disposal on until all the ice has been chopped up.

The science behind this is that the salt and ice help scrub the blades clean and remove smelly grime, and the lemon provides a deodorizing element. The result is a citrus-fresh sink drain.

How to clean a bathroom sink drain

Soap scum and grime can build up quickly in your bathroom. Cleaning gunk out of your bathroom sink drains isn’t a fun chore, but it’s essential to avoid floods and odors.

Step 1: Begin by pulling any visible hair and grime out of the drain, then choose one of the following methods to clean your sink.

Step 2: For regular cleaning, you can simply flush your bathroom sink drains with boiling water. This will dissolve soap buildup and keep your drains flowing freely.

Step 3: For a deeper clean, we recommend baking soda and vinegar. Mix together 1 part baking soda and 1 part white vinegar in a bowl. This will immediately start to fizz, so tip it straight down your bathroom sink while this chemical reaction is at its peak.

Step 4: Leave the solution to sit for 30 minutes to an hour, then flush the drain clean again with boiling water.

Unclogging a sink drain

If your drain has a stubborn blockage — you’ll need a plunger to get rid of whatever is stopping the flow of water.

Step 1: Press the head of the plunger onto the drain entrance to form a tight seal. Push the plunger down firmly, and then vigorously move it up and down to help clear the blockage. You’ll hear some squelching noises in the drain as you do this - which means that the blockage is coming loose.

Step 2: Run the taps to see if the water is flowing freely again, and repeat the plunger process if necessary.

If you don’t have a plunger, you can try using a wire coat hanger. Unbend the hanger, keeping the hook on the end. Carefully thread the hooked end down into the drain, and move it around until you find the blockage. 

You should be able to pull out the material causing the blockage, and then clean your drain as usual with one of the methods we mentioned above.

Using chemical cleaners to unclog a sink drain

Most people typically reach for powerful drain unblockers like Drano when they have a clogged sink in their home. However, we encourage you to try the natural methods we’ve mentioned above first. 

Chemical cleaners are toxic, and can damage your drains if used incorrectly. These chemicals are also harmful to the environment, so should be used sparingly.

If you’ve tried everything and your sink is still clogged, then a drain unblocker is your next step. Each brand has its own specific formula, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully. 

Ensure you have good ventilation while you work, and avoid splashing the cleaner on your skin or inhaling the fumes.

Keep your sink drains in top shape with regular cleaning

Regular cleaning of your kitchen and bathroom sinks will ensure you don’t have any major blockages to contend with. Add this task to your weekly cleaning schedule, and to your kitchen and bathroom checklists so you don’t forget.

We know keeping your sink drains clean and fresh is an ongoing chore. Homeaglow is available to assist you at any time if you need it, with a big choice of cleaners in your area. Find and book your perfect cleaner online today.

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