Bathroom Sink Won’t Drain Properly and Doesn’t Appear Clogged

All bathroom sinks are likely to get clogged at some point. If yours currently needs some declogging TLC, don’t get too put out: in no way does a clogged sink mean that your home isn’t clean enough. 

Just like bathtub drains, sinks will accumulate a lot of gunk over time. The fact that we brush our teeth, wash our hands, shave and do our skincare over the sink means that a lot of the product and dirt that gets washed away ends up somewhere between the sink we know and love and the invisible pipes that run under our home. 

And let’s not forget about the hair! 

If your bathroom sink won’t drain properly but doesn’t appear clogged, here is what you can do to solve the problem: 

Clean your Bathroom Sink Stopper First 

Your bathroom sink stopper will sooner or later get clogged up by everything that runs down it, and your sink will start to drain more slowly. 

Your first order of business is to lift out the stopper. It will probably be secured to the drainpipe by a pivot rod nut, which you will need to unscrew. After that, you can remove the stopper with your fingers. Preferably, wear some gloves, as this will certainly be a messy business.

You can then use a wire to remove the gunk that is clogging up your sink stopper. There will probably be a fair amount of hair to get rid of, and you can also give the stopper a soak in soapy water before you screw it back into place.

Make sure you re-tighten the nut well, and check your efforts have solved the clog by running some warm water down the drain. 

Plunge Your Slow Draining Sink

Plunging your bathroom sink can also help unclog it. 

Run some water into the sink until it pools: you will need about two inches of water. Place the plunger cup over the drain hole, and start plunging. Don’t be too vigorous at first, and check to see how your efforts are paying off. 

A couple of plunges should be all you need. If nothing seems to be happening however, the clog might be a more persistent one, and you will need to employ another tactic. 

Check the P-Trap for Debris 

The purpose of the P-trap (that U-shaped pipe underneath the sink) is to prevent sewer gas from backing up into your home. It’s also great for catching any loose change, unfortunate toys, stray rings and every other kind of debris that manages to find its way into your sink. 

Cleaning the P-trap can help you unclog your sink. First, you will need to turn off the water supply to the sink. Place a bucket under the P-trap, and be prepared for the smell. 

You then need to unscrew the slip nuts that are located at both ends of the pipe. They will most likely be made from plastic, and you should easily unscrew them with a wrench.  

Once the P-trap is off, use a brush or a wire to clean its inside. You can of course use a gloved hand, if you so prefer. When all of the debris is out, just reattach the P-trap, tighten the nuts back into place, and turn the water back on.

Keep an eye on the bathroom floor for the next hour or so, as you may not have tightened the slip nuts properly, and there may be some leakage. 

Use a Plumbing Snake to Clear the Drain 

You can also try using a plumbing snake to unclog your bathroom sink. 

You will need to slowly and carefully feed the snake down the sink drain. Once you feel it hit an obstacle, use firm pressure to push through it. Make sure to get rid of as much of the obstruction as you can, and feel around for any further clogs. 

When you are satisfied with your work, grab a rag and hold the cable as you extract it, so as not to make a complete mess in the bathroom. Some cleaning up will most likely be necessary. 

Use a Drain Cleaner to Unclog the Sink 

You can also try using a drain cleaner to get rid of the clog in your bathroom sink. 

Depending on the type of pipes you have in the bathroom, you can select a chemical- or an enzyme-based one. Try with a gentler unclogger first, and only pour something very strong down your drain if you see no results. 

You can try a home-made drain cleaner as well. Just pour a cup of baking soda into the sink, and follow it up with a cup of white vinegar. Be prepared for plenty of fizzing and bubbling, as the combination will cause a somewhat violet reaction. 

You can put the plug in the sink to prevent any of the cleaner from spilling out. 

Note that this DIY remedy may not work, if the clog is on the heavy side. It is a great way to keep your bathroom sink fresh and clean year ‘round however.

Give Your Plumber a Call 

If you don’t manage to solve your slow draining sink issue on your own, give your local plumber a call. 

If you also notice there is a leak anywhere between your sink and the wall, if there is that nasty sewer smell in the bathroom, or no water is draining down the sink, make that call sooner rather than later. 

Why Do I Need to Fix a Slow Draining Sink?

Even if you are not particularly bothered by a slow draining sink, you do still need to address the issue as soon as possible. If you don’t, several unpleasant things are likely to occur:

  • Mould and mildew can start developing in and around a sink that isn’t clogged but that is draining slowly. These organisms thrive in damp and dark places, and the stagnant water in your sink will be a perfect home for them. 
  • Sewer line issues could also be behind your slow draining sink, in which case you definitely want the problem fixed right away, as the unpleasant smell may quickly become the least of your problems. 
  • Odours and stains will also become a permanent resident of any bathroom with a slow draining sink. Soap scum and other dirt will start to cling to the sink, and the slow draining water won’t allow you to get rid of it as easily. This will pretty soon turn into a smelly mess.

How to Prevent Your Bathroom Sink From Draining Slowly

Slow draining sinks can be quite the pest. However, if you regularly apply some routines to your bathroom cleaning habits, you can easily prevent any blockages from forming over time.

  • Remove all loose hair from the sink – if you wash them down the drain, they will certainly cause a clog sooner or later. 
  • Use a hair catcher if a lot of hair usually gets trapped in your sink. This is especially useful if said hair is very long.
  • Do your very best to prevent any dirt and gunk from ending up in the sink. This goes for everything from excess shaving foam, to bits of makeup and too much toothpaste.
  • Clean the sink stopper every week. The more often you clean it, the less icky it will be, and the less unpleasant the task itself. 
  • Pour hot (not boiling!) water down the drain a couple of times a week, to melt away all that soap and other product buildup. 
  • Use baking soda and vinegar to clean your bathroom sink every month.
  • Bring in a plumber to check your entire system once a year. This will ensure everything is as it should be, that there are no clogs forming, and that your piping and appliances will remain operational for a long time to come. Plus, you will be helping out a local tradesman. 

Wrapping It Up 

Handling a bathroom sink that won’t drain properly (but doesn’t appear to be clogged) can certainly get your hands dirty. The sooner you tackle the problem however, the sooner you will be able to go back to your day. Plus, you won’t keep getting annoyed every time you go to wash your hands. 

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