How to unclog a drain (with step-by-step pictures)

Posted in Home Improvement on June 23, 2018

Steps to unclog your drain now

  1. Plunge a clogged drain with a steady rhythmic motion to provide an alternating pressure and suction on the obstruction. Keep the rim of the plunger cup tight to the sink, and tightly cover the other drain or overflow with a wet rag to prevent air from espacing.

  1. Remove the trap to clean a drain line with a snake. Loosen slip nuts at both ends of the trap. Slide the hole cover forward and loosen the slip nut behind it that secures the trap arm.

  1. Slide the spiral end of the snake into the drain and feed it all the way to the clog if possible.

  1. Lock the offset handle in place and crank the snake clockwise while pushing it forward. Slide the handle back as necessary. The spiral end can help feed the snake around bends and will break up the clog when it reaches it.

  1. Keep kitchen drains grease-free with a few tablespoons of baking soda every few weeks. Then fill the sink with hot water and let it drain freely to flush debris.


Drains clog up sometimes. It’s a fact of life — probably even in the White House.

Make your first assault on a clogged drain with Drano or a liquid clog dissolver such as Liquid Plumber or S-T Drain Opener. Most of these will pass through standing water. Be careful with this stuff! It can burn your skin or your eyes. Follow the safety instructions on the label exactly.

If a dissolver fails, use the plunger. But be careful that any caustic cleaner remaining in the drain doesn’t splash into your eyes.

Most sinks and tubs have either two drains or an overflow drain, and you have to cover this second opening tightly with a damp rag to generate the necessary suction and pressure with the plunger, as shown in Photo 1.

The flexible wire snake — which you can buy for cheap — is the last resort if the plunger doesn’t work. First try working it down through the sink drain, since the clog might be right in the trap. However, if the clog is farther down the line, you’ll probably need to remove the trap and trap arm, as shown in Photo 2, then feed the snake as far into the drain as necessary to reach the clog.