Maintaining your kitchen sink properly is essential to ensuring your drain and garbage disposal stay operational. These recommendations can help you deter problems and solve minor clogs yourself to keep kitchen sink drains working properly.
How to Avoid Clogging Your Kitchen Sink
One method some people like to use to prevent most clogs is to buy a kitchen sink strainer that fits over or inside your drain. Its job is to collect food and other waste particles as you do your dishes, then you can dump the remnants into the trash afterward. If your goal is to avoid a sink clog as much as possible, and a kitchen sink strainer is the first prevention method.
Another method is ensuring you’re aware of the common culprits known to cause kitchen sink clogs, because it can be easy to unknowingly put the wrong things down the drain. Especially if you have a garbage disposal, it can be tempting to let the machine do the bulk of the work, thinking it will do its job to prevent clogs. Yet there are some things you should never put down the drain.
- Grease, fat and oil will clog your sink quickly because they solidify as they cool down, sticking to your pipes and slowly building up over time as you continue to rinse them down the drain. Instead of pouring these down the drain, pour them into a bottle and then throw the bottle away in the garbage can.
- Not all food waste can go into the garbage disposal, either. Make sure you don’t put eggshells, small bones or clam shells down the disposal, or any large amounts of vegetable peels. Corn husks, artichokes and coffee grounds also shouldn’t go down the drain. Learn more about avoiding garbage disposal clogs in our blog post here.
- There are also plenty of items and waste products besides food that can’t go down your drain either – read our blog post for a more extensive list of what not to put down your drains.
How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink
In the event your sink does get clogged, here are some tips about how to safely clear the kitchen sink drain. Chemical drain cleaners are effective, but not an advisable option: they can corrode plastic drains quite quickly, and even metal pipes over time. If you have a garbage disposal, it is not advised to ever use chemical drain cleaners in that sink drain, as they can cause permanent damage. It’s best to stick to natural solutions, after all fixing a kitchen sink clog is better than needing a garbage disposal or drain pipe replacement.
First, if you have metal pipes, try pouring boiling water down the drain to help clear it.
If that doesn’t work, check the garbage disposal to make sure nothing is stuck in there. Shine a flashlight down there, make doubly sure the garbage disposal is off and use a long, slender utensil to poke around – do not stick your hand down the garbage disposal. Plastic, metal, and other non-food materials should never go down the drain, but at times they do end up falling down and causing a clog.
Next, try vinegar and baking soda together down the drain. The chemical reaction causes the solution to gently bubble and foam, potentially breaking up the clog. Put the plug in and wait five minutes for the chemical reaction to work and loosen up the clog. Pour another kettle of boiling water down after the baking soda and vinegar.
One last method to try is using a plunger. Just as it loosens clogs in the toilet, it can help clear up the sink drain, too. Make sure it’s placed fully over the mouth of the drain in order to maximize the force you can apply.
Cleaning the Drain and Garbage Disposal
Conducting regular maintenance on your kitchen sink drain and garbage disposal can help clean, clear and freshen them up. Here are some important ways to maintain the operation of your kitchen sink.
For those with metal pipes, every couple of weeks pour boiling water down the drain to help loosen up any build-up. You can also try the vinegar trick to help remove bacteria and odors, while also keeping the drain operational and liquid flowing smoothly. After the boiling water, put some scoops of ice down the garbage disposal and run it until the ice is gone. The friction will help loosen any buildup on the blades and keep it fresh.
People used to put lemon or lime peels down the garbage disposal, but that is not recommended any longer. There are commercially available garbage disposal cleaners that can freshen the drain; if you choose to use those, follow the package’s directions.
Be sure to rinse one more time with boiling water.
Kitchen Sink Drain: When to Call a Plumbing Professional
Sometimes you cannot remove a clog yourself and you need to call a professional plumber. At other times, you may notice your kitchen sink has begun to drain more slowly, possibly due to a partial clog. A slow draining kitchen sink could be a problem with your kitchen sink drain pipe itself, as well as a number of other things. It’s best to get help from a professional if you haven’t been able to fix it yourself.
Similarly, if you have recurring clogs, gurgling sounds in the drains or clogs all around the house, getting a professional’s evaluation of the issue is a good idea. Your plumbing is connected through a network of pipes, and it’s possible a clog has accumulated in the main drain system, which a plumbing technician can help diagnose. They can also help if there’s a foul odor you can’t get rid of or a garbage-disposal-related repair.
Ensuring your kitchen sink drain and garbage disposal stay operational and clog-free for your daily use is an important task that requires ongoing effort and maintenance. These tips should help prevent and solve minor issues, but if you experience a complicated or unresolved clog or need professional plumbing assistance, Atlas Home Services is readily available to help. Contact us today!