How to Unclog a Sink Drain Without Using Chemicals

Next Project

An hour or less




Less than $20


Slow-moving or stopped-up drains are common in bathroom sinks. But luckily the fix is usually simple and takes only about 15 minutes. The problem is almost always caused by hair and gummy soap scum that gets caught on the stopper or pivot rod and clogs the drain.

Tools Required

  • Slip joint pliers

Materials Required

  • Stiff wire or wire coat hanger

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Remove the Sink Stopper

  • Try lifting out the stopper.
    • Note: If the stopper doesn’t lift out, it’s held in by the pivot rod. See Step 2 for how to remove the pivot rod. Otherwise, skip Step 2. 

Step 2

Remove the Pivot Rod

  • Release the stopper by removing the pivot rod nut and pulling out the pivot rod.
    • Pro tip: If you can’t loosen the nut by hand, use pliers. With the pivot rod pulled out, you’ll be able to lift out the stopper.

Step 3

Remove the Clog

  • Fish out the hair clog with a bent wire or other tools.
  • Run water through the bathroom sink drain and replace the stopper.
    • Note: If you had to remove the pivot rod to remove the stopper, see Step 4 before running the water. Otherwise, you can skip Step 4. 

Step 4

Replace the Pivot Rod and Stopper

  • If you removed the pivot rod, first drop the stopper into the drain.
  • Line up the pivot rod with the slot in the stopper and reinsert it.
  • Hand-tighten the pivot rod nut.
  • Run hot water down the drain to help clear out any remaining soap scum and to check that the clog is gone.
  • Check around the pivot rod nut to make sure it’s not leaking.
    • Pro tip: If you see drips, tighten the pivot rod nut slightly with a pair of pliers.