First come the warning signs: the water drains a little slower than normal and some puddles around the drain. Then, it just stops going down all together and you have a muddy and murky pool to deal with. Don’t let your cooking and dishwashing come to a halt because of your stopped up sink. Here, we will give you the tools and step-by-step instructions you need so you can clear a blockage on your own and don’t have to pick up the phone and wait for a visit from the plumber.

By Real Simple
Updated January 17, 2017
Brown Bird Design

What You Need

  • a bucket
  • pair of rubber gloves
  • adjustable pliers or a pipe wrench

What to Do

  1. Place the bucket under the curved part of the pipe, known as the P-trap. Next, put on your rubber gloves. Grip the round, ridged metal parts on either end of the trap (called slip nuts) and turn until they are loosened. If these parts do not come apart easily, use the pliers to release them. Wiggle the P-trap until it is free. (You can put the pliers away now.)
  2. Next, hold the trap over the bucket to catch any spills. Clean out the trap by hand. Warning: You don’t know exactly what you will find so this part of the process will be yucky and gross—prepare!
  3. When the trap is cleaned out and the debris is removed, reattach it. Tighten the slip nuts by hand. It is important to make sure that you do not use the pliers, which could overtighten and end up cracking the pipe.