Fixing a Clogged Sink

I wanted to share this story because let’s face it, no one is traveling anywhere right now. We are all spending way too much time at home! And then let’s say you’re like me and got your kitchen sink clogged.

So much cooking, cleaning, running the dishwasher, cooking some more, washing more junk down the drain. I’d say it was inevitable, right? right?! Let’s just say this wasn’t the first time…

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Aside: Not our first clogged sink

Flashback to our Brooklyn apartment: the kitchen sink got clogged within the first month that we were there! That was a bare bones sink- just a basic faucet with hot and cold water and a builder basic faucet head.

The drain led down some metal pipe that then ran down into the apartment below and so on…I’m not sure how exactly that works, but let’s just say it was a disaster in the making because when the super came to unclog our sink, all the gunk came into our downstairs neighbors’ sink! Yuck! (No wonder they didn’t care for us).

Oh…the other thing that happened, was that the super told the management that we were subletting the apartment. (We had a signed sublease agreement).

In a turn of events, much to the super’s chagrin the management company decided to let us sign the lease for the apartment directly. Which is how we ended up staying in Brooklyn about four years longer than we had planned. Anyway….

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

Back to our new place. We have a two basin kitchen sink with a garbage disposable on the big side, to which the dishwasher hose is also attached.

The basic way to unclog a sink involves throwing in some baking soda, let’s say a 1/4 cup. Then following up with white vinegar, and letting it bubble. Then you run hot water down the drain.

Note– professionals do not recommend chemicals. They do not work better than the natural stuff and put the plumbers at risk when they come to manually unclog the sink. So stay away.

This natural method works if you just have a teeny tiny clog or are doing routine maintenance. But if you managed to actually clog the pipes with junk…well it’s time to get under there!

Moving a Stuck Garbage Disposal

Safety first! Unplug the garbage disposal before doing anything!

In my quest to figure this problem out I came across this tool. It looks like an oversized Ikea allen wrench. What it actually does, is you can use it to manually spin the garbage disposal from below in case it’s just a small piece of food stuck in there.

So get under the sink, unplug the disposal. Then wedge the tool from underneath the disposal and turn it around. You will feel the hole it goes into easily on the bottom of the garbage disposal.

Alas, our disposal was clear. So it was time to deal with the pipes.

Tools to Unclog Kitchen Sink

One thing I love about the internet- there is always a way to do it yourself with the right video. So this is the video I watched.

Now the thing that took me the longest…figuring out what tool to get in order to loosen up the rings on my kitchen pipes. So I will save you the hassle:

Unclogging the Sink

Very simply here’s how you unclog your sink:

  1. Empty out the cabinet and lay down some extra towels.
  2. Unscrew the screws to remove the metal ring and push pipe slightly aside to let the water leak out slowly into your bucket. See first picture below.
  3. Then unscrew the other part of the pipe using your pliers “chan“. See second picture.
  4. Clear out the junk.
  5. Replace parts! Yup, simple as that. But watch the video! We did not use a plunger at the top.

Why I’m Sharing About my Clogged Sink

Now this is not a DIY blog. But in the spirit of learning and empowering our kids to learn, I think it’s important to model some skills that are out of character.

I am not a plumber but I can still learn basic skills to maintain my own home. Definitely left me feeling like a super mama when everything was all done.

So to review, and just as a PSA to anyone actually reading this post. I had a look to learn from the experts what can and can not be put down a garbage disposal. Preventing your garbage disposable from getting clogged is the best way to avoid having to unclog a kitchen sink.

Things You Can Put in a Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is meant for small amounts of food scraps: fruits and vegetables mostly. If you stick to this rule, you will be A OK.

Occasionally, you can throw in small amounts of cooked food like meat that you have on plates, but not every day. And not these foods that are detailed below.

I made this nifty info graphic just for you guys, because this is where it’s at! Also, an assemblage of our family breakfast, all collected before 10 a.m.

IMAGE of things not to put in garbage disposal. In a circle: onion peels,banana peel, coffee grounds, egg shells, avocado pits and date pits, and a chicken bone.
These are things not to put in garbage disposal: onion peels, banana peel, coffee grounds, egg shells, avocado pits and date pits, and a chicken bone.

Things you Can Not Put in a Garbage Disposal

Fat of any kind!

Don’t drip your leftover oils or grease. That is a recipe for a fatburg and can cause serious damage to your plumbing.

Pasta and other starchy food

Also, rice, oatmeal and potatoes. Again, it will disintegrate and clog your drain after a while.

Hard and Stringy vegetable scraps

Looking at you celery! Also onion peels and corn husks! And…banana peels. Too many peels from potatoes and other veggies can also be a problem. Peeling one carrot? sure. Making latkes with 5 lbs of potatoes? Trash them.


I can attest that this is a bad idea! Coffee is like sand and doesn’t like to go down until it accumulates into a clog.

Egg shells

Same sandy effect as the coffee! This was our culprit, despite the fact that egg shells usually go in the trash, all it took was a few stray shells to clog up our sink.


Ok this may be contentions because I read a bunch of articles that said bones were fine down the garbage disposal. In my experience they most definitely are not. (But you can probably use that nifty allen tool from above to get it through).

Nuts and Pits

Another contentious claim, but I stand by it. Do not throw fruit pits and nuts down the disposal. They are too hard!

Maintaining your Garbage Disposal

Remember that baking soda and vinegar trick from up above? That’s how you can maintain your disposal. Follow up with running hot water down the drain.

The other trick I like, is to throw in a lemon rind once in a while to freshen it up. Don’t do this every day, but once in a while is fine!

Tutorial on How to Fix A Clogged Sink

Let’s wrap things up! Did this article help you fix a clogged sink? Is your slow draining sink working now? Is this the blocked sink fix you were looking for?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, please share this article with your friends! Even if it just helped release your backed up garbage disposal or clear a grease clog, or partially help you unclog a double kitchen sink, every share is really helpful and I so appreciate it!

That’s all my friends!

Have you fixed anything lately? Learned any new skills? Had to unclog your sink??? Would you do me a favor, and leave a comment if you found this useful?

*As a reminder, the information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional plumbing advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified tradesperson with any questions you may have regarding your home.

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