Dealing with a clogged sink is one of your home’s most annoying plumbing issues. When hair, food, grease, and soap build-up accumulate, it can lead to frustratingly slow water drains or completely blocked sinks. While you could use harsh chemical cleaners to unclog your bathroom or kitchen sink, the humble plunger is an easier and more effective solution. 

Using simple equipment like a bucket and gloves, you can quickly get your sink drainage flowing freely again with suction. This straightforward, inexpensive method will spare you the hassle and mess of potent chemical cleaners. With just a few vigorous plunges, you can harness the pressure needed to dislodge the clog. Follow this easy step-by-step guide to unclog your sink using a plunger and get your bathroom or kitchen plumbing working smoothly again.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you start plunging, it is important to gather all the necessary supplies. Ensure you have the following tools: a flange or cup plunger instead of a toilet plunger, as it has an extra flap on the bottom. The rubber cup of a sink plunger fits perfectly over the drain hole, creating the necessary suction.


Additionally, have an old towel or rag ready to catch water splashes, and wear rubber gloves to keep your hands dry. It is also helpful to have a plastic bag or wet rag on hand for a specific purpose to be explained later. 

A bucket can be useful for catching water during the process. If desired, there are optional extras that can be beneficial. Baking soda and vinegar can aid in dissolving soap scum, while boiling water can help melt fat and grease clogs. Lastly, a drain snake is a great tool for effectively removing hair clogs.

Assess the Sink

Before you start plunging, look at the sink to assess the problem. Check if there is standing water in the sink. If there is, you’ll need to use a bucket to drain the sink first. Examine whether the sink is blocked or the water drains slowly. A blocked sink will need more plunging


For a double sink, always block the second sink with a wet rag to seal the overflow opening. Doing this prevents the plunger from sucking air from the second sink. Evaluating the sink drainage and blockage level will allow you to approach the clog with the right plunging technique.

Get the Plunger Ready

The key is to create a tight seal between the plunger and the drain hole to generate maximum suction. Here’s how to do it:

Make sure the rubber cup is clean and dry. Wet it with a little water if needed. Place the plunger directly over the drain hole, ensuring the cup completely covers the hole. Fill the sink with enough water to come 1-2 inches up the plunger cup, using hot water for best results. Wet the plunger’s rim to create a tight seal against the sink before you start plunging. These steps will allow you to create the crucial tight seal and maximum suction power for effective plunging.

How To Use A Plunger To Unblock A Sink

1. Grip the Plunger Securely

Once your plunger is tightly sealed over the drain hole, you can start plunging. First, place one hand on top of the plunger handle and squeeze it firmly. A tight grip will allow you to plunge with enough pressure and minimise slipping. Adjust your hand placement until you find a very secure hold.

2. Use Body Weight for Maximum Pressure

While squeezing the plunger handle tightly with one hand, use your other hand to brace against the bottom of the sink. This gives you the leverage to use your full body weight to apply maximum pressure on the plunger. Lean your body slightly over the sink to put your back into the plunge.

3. Perform Straight Vertical Plunges

Run the hot water in the sink while you plunge to help melt and clear grease clogs. Start plunging by firmly pushing the plunger straight down into the drain hole. Apply as much controlled force as you possibly can. Once the plunger hits the bottom, immediately pull it straight back up.


4. Tilt and Rotate Between Strokes

To thoroughly clean the drain, tilt and rotate the plunger cup slightly with each push and pull. Continually adjust the angle to ensure the force hits the clog from all sides with intense pressure.

5. Increase Pressure As Needed

As you continue plunging, increase the pressure if you don’t feel enough resistance. More resistance means the suction is working to dislodge the blockage. Keep up the vigorous pumping motion, forcing past the resistance.

6. Plunge Repeatedly

Vigorously pump the plunger up and down over the drain hole 15-20 times for best results. The repeated plunging builds up immense pressure within the pipe to eventually break up the clog fully. Don’t stop after just a few strokes – persist through multiple sets.

Checking Your Progress

After vigorously plunging the plunger up and down 10-15 times, remove the plunger and turn on the water to check if the sink drains normally. Hopefully, the clog has cleared. If the sink still seems blocked, you must repeat the plunging process. Double-check that you have a completely tight seal between the plunger and drain hole, adding more water if needed. Then, do another 10-15 forceful plunges before rechecking the sink drainage. 


It can take persistently plunging for 40-50 strokes to clear an especially stubborn clog. Don’t get discouraged if it requires repeated attempts. Keep a firm grip, brace yourself for maximum leverage, and pump the plunger vigorously up and down until the blockage finally breaks free and water flows freely down the pipes.

Alternative Plunger Techniques

If you have a double kitchen sink, you can also use the plunger in each sink separately to generate additional force. Start by firmly sealing one sink with a wet rag over the overflow opening. Fill the unsealed sink with several inches of water, place the plunger over the drain hole, and vigorously pump it up and down at least 15 times.


Next, remove the rag and repeat the full plunging process in the other sink. Going back and forth between sinks helps create strong bursts of air pressure through their shared P-trap and can help dislodge stubborn clogs. An alternate method for bathroom sinks is to firmly seal the plunger over the sink drain filled with water. 

Then flush the toilet bowl in the same bathroom with water. This sends a surge of water through the connected pipes, which can generate enough force to help clear the blockage in the bathroom sink.

Unclogging Tips

  • You can combine several useful tips with plunging to maximise its effectiveness for unclogging sinks:
  • Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid under the plunger before starting. This helps water flow freely and creates more suction power.
  • After the initial plunging, pour boiling water down the drain. The hot water will help melt and clear away any grease clogs.
  • Make a baking soda and vinegar mixture and pour it down the drain before plunging. The chemical reaction can help break up certain clogs.
  • Use a drain snake after plunging for sinks specifically clogged with hair and soap scum. The snake will pull out any leftover debris.
  • Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners as they can potentially damage pipes.

Prevent Future Sink Clogs

After putting in all that effort to fix your clogged sinks with a plunger, you’ll want to prevent future clogs from forming again. There are several ways to help keep your drains clear and avoid having to plunge blocked sinks regularly.

Use inexpensive drain catchers or strainers to trap hair, food particles, and other debris before reaching the sink drain. This prevents build-up directly in the pipes. Pouring a weekly mixture of boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar down drains will help break up grease and residue. When using your sinks normally, always run plenty of water to wash away any lingering soap or food waste. Never pour fats, oils or grease down the drain as they solidify and cling to pipe walls. Silicone drain covers also work great to catch stray hairs from going down bathroom sinks.


Combining these preventative measures with the plunger unclogging technique allows you to keep your kitchen or bathroom sink drains free-flowing and avoid frustrating clogs. Just remember to take your time plunging, re-sealing the plunger cup and adding hot water until the sink drainage is cleared fully. A little regular maintenance will spare you from having to unclog blocked drains.

When to Call the Pros for a Seriously Clogged Sink

Unclogging a sink with a simple plunger is an easy, inexpensive, and effective DIY method for clearing annoying drain blockages. By following the proper techniques of creating a tight seal, using hot water, and applying vigorous pumping pressure, you can harness the power of suction to dislodge the clog.

If your sink remains blocked even after multiple plunging attempts, don’t continue struggling on your own. Contact the professional drain experts at The Brisbane Plumbers. Their licensed plumbers have the high-powered equipment and expertise to clear any blocked kitchen or bathroom sink for smooth water drainage. Don’t let a persistently clogged sink drain frustrate you any longer – call The Brisbane Plumbers to get it fixed fast!