Is there a way to unblock a totally blocked drain (especially kitchen) without using acids or strong chemicals?

I like to avoid acids and chemicals in general for many reasons, one of them is the environment. The drain system in Indonesia where I spend half of the year is different, and sinks and other drains (except toilets) go to a public river, so I do not want to contribute in any environment destruction.


10 Answers 10


If it is still full, snakes or the auger will work. If it drains over time, I highly recommend using baking soda + vinegar. Throw baking soda into the drain, pouring some hot water over it and wait about ten minutes. Then follow the soda with vinegar. After the reaction, toss water down it again. Repeat where necessary--it's frequently worked for me, on toilets as well, and is biodegradable so it won't harm ecosystems.

  • Cool, nice answer, and well-explained! +1 for that. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. I hope to see you around, Jack! :)
    – Shokhet
    Jan 1, 2015 at 18:02
  • Yes - good answer. Baking soda is known in Britain and probably elsewhere too as bicarbonate of soda.
    – h34
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:41
  • Yeah, super hot water is very effective to make the dirt to soften then flow out. Vinegar, baking soda, salt, and a lot of hot water. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. Mar 24, 2016 at 0:50
  • 1
    And as a safety warning, don't ever, EVER mix bleach with something else, like vinegar. It produces a highly toxic gas. Made the mistake once, wasn't fun. Mar 24, 2016 at 0:59
  • @GrasDouble: Holy cow, what happened? What'd you do?
    – user541686
    Mar 25, 2016 at 8:24

Use a toilet auger - a long bendy metal pipe that you stick in and turn round, made for going round bends.

  • You can also get smaller versions of these which may be more suitable to use in sinks. They have a corkscrew like thing on the end which attaches on to the blockage when you turn the handle allowing you to pull the blockage out. Dec 29, 2014 at 10:08
  • 1
    -1 buying a specialized tool that is made for this specific task is not a hack. Jan 13, 2015 at 11:27
  • In some situations (the worst ones) you really need this tool and can't do much without it. Mar 24, 2016 at 0:54

A plunger may help. Use lots of water, in order not to just half-dislodge your material to have it recollect at some later, harder-to-reach place. If the plunger doesn’t help, you may need to take the trap apart and clean it, that’s the primary place for stuff to settle. Don’t worry, the hardest part is often reaching the trap, at least for the equipment used here in western Europe. Remember to place a bucket under it before loosening any connections, and test that it’s watertight after reassembling.

Nothing of this is really a lifehack, though. At least with the two answers you got, this question is probably better suited for diy.SE.


Kitchen drains usually have easily accessible (and hand-removable) siphons.

If using a plunger (should be readily available in every household) doesn't work, the next easiest and cost-effective thing would be to open the two screws on the siphon (the S-shaped thing under the sink). Pull out what's inside the S-shaped pipe, flush it in the bathroom if you can, and screw it back in place. Be sure not to apply excessive force since siphons are usually made of quite cheap plastic. No wrench, the force that you can apply with your bare hands is enough.

If the obstruction is further down, you will need an auger (which you'll have to buy or borrow), but often kitchen sinks are obstructed right in the S-shaped part.


Try a plunger, but be sure to use it properly. A plunger is not intended to force a blockage down the pipe, but to pull blocked material away from whatever is blocking it.

Put the plunger against the drain opening. You need to have enough standing water to cover the head of the plunger. Push the plunger down so all air escapes from under it (you want only noncompressible water between the plunger and the blockage; air acts as a shock absorber). Now jerk the plunger up quickly. That might be enough to clear the drain. If that doesn't work, try again a few times, then try moving the plunger up and down quickly.

Once water starts to drain, put more water down, and you might have to plunge again a few times to get all of the blocked material broken up and past the obstruction.

  • That answer has already been given.
    – Chenmunka
    Jun 21, 2018 at 8:57
  • That answer has not already been given. Using a plunger has been mentioned, but read what I wrote; the instructions on how to use it properly have not been given before.
    – user184411
    Jun 22, 2018 at 16:42

If the blockage is a clump(s) (like food particles, etc.) use a plunger.

But, if the blockage is not a clump(s) like I described, glue or attach 3 pipe cleaners at the holding area only and swish it around the drain. (only with blockages that are close to the drain entry)

If you have some basic plumbing skills, open the drain and clean it your self. (Dig out, pipe cleaner, etc.)


You can usually find a Zipit, a sort of small disposable plastic drain snake, at a nearby store. They have a very simple design, are cheap, and will clear out most of your blocked sink and shower drains very easily. If the blockage is further down you may need to contact a professional or rent an auger.


I have used the following, done in the order. 1) Plunge out existing water sitting in front of clog. 2) Use a clothes hanger or ZipIt to Try to snag and pull out as well as break up some stuff on the sides of the drain as well potentially the clog. 3) Refill with water flushing it out, then plunge water out so little to no water in front of the clog. 4) Then use a Floor / Curtain Steamer without the floor attachment inserted into the drain with a rag around the drain to trap the steam. Plug the second sink to such as with a garbage disposal. (you should see little steam rising out) Do for 5-10 minutes. 5) Flush with water. If still clogged repeat steps 3-5.

This basically breaks down the clogging agents (if organic) at the point of the clog but also cleans the interior of the pipes a bit reducing risk of another clog. There is some risk of damage as with any unclogging method, but in this one so far as I am aware is exposing holes / cracks the goo in your drains has been dealing as PVC pipes used in drain plumbing should be able to handle the steam temperature just fine.


For unblocking the drain: 1 Cup baking soda 2 Cups vinegar 1 tea kettle of boiling water

For preventing this to happen again: simply stock up on white spirit vinegar, castille soap, baking soda, and a few essential oils, and you will be able to make just about every cleaner you will ever need.


Use a plumber's snake. It works like a toilet auger but it's much longer. I've used one to unclog toilets and shower drains. It should work too for your kitchen drain.


  • Welcome to Lifehacks! While this might answer the question, this site is for the creative use of stuff that one has around anyway. Buying a specialized tool that is made for this specific purpose is not a hack. Jan 13, 2015 at 11:26

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