How to Remove and Clean your Bathroom Sink Drain

Taking out your bathroom sink drain to clean it is easier than you think—just remove the stopper and follow a few simple steps.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Removing and cleaning your bathroom sink drain is easier than you might expect—simply take out the stopper, clean the drain, and place the stopper back in your sink.
A sink that won’t drain properly is nothing short of a nuisance. If your drain is clogged, you have even more work on your hands.
A dirty or clogged drain can cause your sink to smell terrible and harbor bacteria, so it’s important to deal with it as soon as you can.
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Tools to remove your bathroom sink drain

You’ll first have to remove your bathroom sink stopper to access your drain. You’ll need several items to complete the removal and cleaning process:
  • Wrench/pliers
  • Hair clog removal tool
  • Flashlight
  • Bucket
  • Bathroom cleaning detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Drain cleaner liquid

Signs you need to clean your bathroom sink drain

If you’re unsure whether your bathroom sink drain needs a good cleaning, check for the following signs:
  • Water is taking a long time to drain
  • Water isn’t draining at all
  • There’s a smell emanating from the sink
  • The drain is making sounds

How to remove your bathroom sink drain

To remove your drain and make it good as new, follow these steps:
  1. Remove the stopper. Use your hand to lift and turn it out of place 
  2. If you can’t remove it by hand, do the following:
  3. Clear the area under the sink and put a bucket down to catch any water that may spill
  4. Find the horizontal plunger rod—it’s a metal rod with holes in it, connected to the vertical strap
  5. Remove the clip attaching the rod and strap
  6. Unscrew the pivot nut
  7. Remove the stopper
  8. Place the stopper in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water to remove any gunk or dirt
  9. Use the hair clog removal tool to clear the sink of any built-up hair
  10. Pour the drain cleaning product into the sink. Carefully follow the instructions on the box. It usually has to sit for at least 10 minutes before you turn on the faucet
  11. Put the stopper back in place
  12. If you removed it from underneath the sink, you’ll need to:
  13. Put the stopper back in
  14. Screw the nut back in place
  15. Using the clip you removed earlier, reattach the rod to the strap
  16. Test the stopper to make sure it’s working normally and run the sink to make sure it’s draining properly

Tips for dealing with your bathroom sink drain

Keep these general tips in mind when you have to deal with your bathroom sink drain:
  • If you need to replace any parts, take the old pieces to a hardware store to get help finding a perfect replacement
  • Wear gloves—you never know how much dirt can build up in your sink!
  • Use a tray to keep track of all your tools and small parts
  • Fix the problem sooner rather than later, as your sink drain will only get worse over time

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It’ll change depending on where you live, but the average cost for a plumber to remove and clean a bathroom sink drain is between $100 and $200.
If you’d rather use a homemade, non-chemical cleaner for your bathroom sink drain, there are a ton of recipes to use!
One method is to mix ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar, or ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup lemon juice.
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