How To Clean Your Bathroom Sink Drain In 7 Easy Steps

Have an unpleasant odor emanating from your sink? Or just a big ol’ clog? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Your bathroom sink drain puts up with a lot. Think we’re exaggerating? Consider, if you will, just how many different substances you wash down your bathroom sink on a regular basis. Yep. Face wash, soap, hair products, hair, toothpaste … the list goes on.

Now think about the last time you cleaned it.

… Yeah.

So the next time you notice a smell in your bathroom that’s a little off or see that your sink isn’t draining quite like it should be, consider whether it might be (past) time for your sink drain to receive some routine cleaning. Trust us, giving your bathroom sink drain a little TLC on a regular basis will help prevent serious clogs from forming and take care of any mold or mildew that might be growing in your drain before it gets out of control (because out-of-control mold and mildew are pretty much the last things you want in your bathroom sink ... or anywhere).

The good news is that cleaning out your bathroom sink drain is incredibly straightforward. Even better news? We have an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide that will have your bathroom sink drain sparkling in no time!

Tools and supplies for cleaning bathroom sink drains

Cleaning your bathroom sink requires just a few items you probably already have lying around the house (woohoo!). And if you don’t, they’re readily available at your nearest grocery or hardware store.

  1. Distilled white vinegar
  2. Baking soda
  3. Boiling water
  4. Drain snake
  5. Dish soap (such as Dawn)
  6. Sponge, scrub brush, or rag

How to clean a bathroom sink drain in 7 easy steps

1. Remove any clogs or debris you can reach.

First things first: if there’s an easy-to-spot and easy-to-reach clog (we’re talking clumps of hair, globs of toothpaste … you get the idea), use your fingers and/or any other tool you have handy to fish it out. Dispose of it, and then run the faucet for 5–10 seconds.

Phew! That’s better!

Pro tip: aim to do this weekly. It only takes 30 seconds (15 if you’re speedy) and will go such a long way toward keeping your drain at the top of its game and preventing mold, mildew or bacteria from building up. That’s half a minute well spent if you ask us.

2. Mix up a DIY vinegar cleaning solution.

Vinegar is the best. Hands. Down. Full stop. Why? It’s cheap, versatile and just so darn effective. Seriously, vinegar is one of THE best cleaning hacks there is.

If you’re already onboard the vinegar bandwagon, feel free to use your go-to vinegar cleaning solution here. If you’re new to using vinegar as a household cleaner, though, or are just in the mood to try a new vinegar solution recipe (because we hear you, why not shake things up a bit?), mix up equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, and then add a dash of baking soda (carefully—baking soda and vinegar pack a mighty cleaning punch when used together, but the initial combining can result in a big ol’ bubbly mess if you go too quickly). You’re going to need about one cup of solution in total. And if you’re not crazy about that vinegar smell (which, we don’t blame you—that smell might be the one area where vinegar earns less-than-stellar marks), consider adding a bit of lemon juice to give that solution—and your drain—a bright, zesty aroma. (You’re welcome.)

3. Pour your vinegar solution down the drain. Then let it sit for about an hour.

While that vinegar solution works its magic, go for a walk or play with your dog. Or take a nap. We told you this would be easy.

4. Flush your drain with boiling water.

When that hour is up, boil some water, and pour it down the drain to wash away the vinegar solution and any remaining gunk or grime. (And we know you know, but please, please be careful; a clean sink drain is not worth a second-degree burn.)

5. Another option: dish soap.

If you don’t have vinegar and baking soda handy, you can also use a liquid dish soap, like Dawn, to tackle drain clogs (who knew!). You have two options if you go this route. Number 1: pour some boiling water down your drain to loosen up any clogs, then follow it with a cup of liquid dish soap. Follow this with more boiling water. Alternatively, your second option is to premix some dish soap with some lukewarm water and then pour it down the drain. (Note that this second option is really designed for minor clogs; if you’re dealing with anything more serious, go for the first option or get some vinegar and baking soda.)

6. Clean the sink itself and your counter.

It’s a good idea to clean your sink bowl and the counter around it at least once a week. Why? Well, for one thing, this is your bathroom, which means it sees a whole lot of bacteria and just general grime. For another, letting all that grime (and dirt and product and everything else that inevitably ends up on your counters) accumulate for long stretches of time increases the risk that, when it eventually works its way down the drain, it will cause—yep, you guessed it—a clog.

To help prevent this (and keep you healthy), use your handy vinegar or dish soap cleaning solution from above—or an all-purpose bathroom cleaner like 9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner—and a sponge (or scrub brush or rag) to wipe down your counters and sink bowl weekly. Make sure to get the faucet while you’re at it!

7. Consider using a drain snake to help clear particularly stubborn clogs.

As miraculous as vinegar is, once in a while, you may end up with a clog that just won’t budge. If that happens, a drain snake (which should be available at any hardware store) can be a mighty effective tool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use it to dislodge any remaining clogs.

That’s it! Run that water, and inhale. No odor and a sink drain that drains just like it ought to? We thought so.

Maintaining a clean bathroom sink drain

Now that you have a bathroom sink drain that’s spotless and functioning beautifully, we’re guessing you’d like to keep it that way.

Number 1 tip? Do what you can to prevent clogs from forming in the first place.

Whoever first noted that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure very well could have been talking about keeping their bathroom sink clean and clog free. And even if they weren’t, the general principle is pretty darn applicable here. This means that you should be removing superficial clogs (Step 1 above) weekly, and ideally doing a deeper clean of your drain with vinegar and/or dish soap once every month or 2. You should also be cleaning your actual sink and countertops weekly; doing so will help prevent grime and other buildup from accumulating and turning into potential drain clogs.

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