How to Fix a Slow Draining and Clogged Bathroom Sink with Pliers

When a solution of vinegar and baking soda does not unblock your sink, there is nothing left but to go underneath and open things up. In this article, I show you how to unclog the bathroom sink from underneath with pliers.

Some plumbing issues seem very complicated at face value but are surprisingly very easy to fix by yourself. It just does not seem so sometimes. For example, when brushing your teeth and you notice the bathroom sink drains slowly or doesn’t drain at all, you can easily get intimidated. But do you know that’s an easy fix that does not necessarily require the service of a professional plumber? Yes, it is problem you can fix by yourself in minutes. You just need to know what to check, how to do it, and the tools you need.

In this article, I share how to fix a clogged bathroom sink with just a pair of pliers. The purpose is to help you learn how to fix yours whenever you notice it is not draining as it should. This little DIY hack will help you save hugely on plumbing costs. But before I start, here are some of the causes and signs of a bathroom sink that is clogged or won’t drain.

Causes of blocked bathroom sink

  • Hair strands
  • Fabric strands
  • Soap
  • Small objects
  • Food waste
  • Dirt buildup
  • Toilet paper buildup

Signs of a bathroom sink that is clogged

  • Standing water in the sink
  • Foul smell coming from the bathroom sink
  • Bubbling of water as it drains
  • Water drains slowly from the sink

How to unblock a bathroom sink with pliers

This method involves getting underneath the sink to access the sink plumbing.

What you need:-

  • 10″ Water pump pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Catch can


Step 1: Stoop down beneath the sink to access the sink plumbing.

You will see a P or U-shaped part of the drain pipe. That’s where the focus is. It is called the P-trap and it serves two purposes: 1) creates a water barrier for blocking sewage gases from getting back to the house, and 2) traps hair and fabric strands from flowing down the drain.

Step 2: Untighten the two sides of the P-trap with water pump pliers or tongue-and-groove pliers. These pliers have adjustable jaws that provide a perfect grip on objects of different sizes.

Don’t forget to place a catch can or bucket underneath to catch the water that may drain from the pipes.

Adjust the jaws to grip the slip nut of the P-trap on one side and unscrew it. Remove the nut on the other side of the trap as well.

Remember to be gentle on the plastic fasteners to avoid gouging them with the serrated jaws of the pliers. You can put a rug in between the jaws and the plastic nut.

If your sink plumbing is metallic with chrome plating, putting a rug between the jaws works well to protect the surface scratches and marring. In fact, water pump pliers with inserts come in very handy.

Step 3: Pull out the P-trap by hand and empty the trapped water and gunk into the catch can. You may find stuck hair strands or any other type of debris.

Look inside the open drain pipes. If you sight sludged up material, use a a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove it.

Step 4: Now use the adjustable pliers to open the pop up drain assembly from beneath. Clean any gunk and from the pop-up stud and reassemble.

Step 5: Reinstall the P-trap and snug up the slip nuts to ensure there is no leakage.

Step 6: Test the drain by running water in the sink to see how it works after the fix. Water should now drain quickly. If the problem persists, seek help from a professional plumber.

Well, that is how to fix a bathroom sink that won’t drain or drains slow with pliers. You can use this method to fix a kitchen sink too.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.