How To Clean Gunk Out Of A Bathroom Sink Drain

Cleaning the smelly gunk out of a bathroom sink drain isn’t a desirable task, but it’s one that needs to be done. The longer you wait, the more materials will build up in the drain. Once it gets bad enough, the drain and/or plumbing beneath the sink may be entirely obstructed.

While it’s an absolute nightmare, you (or your least favorite roommate) need to clean out the drain. You could call in a plumber to handle the job if you’re not up to it, but it isn’t usually a difficult task (although it is smelly). If you decide to tackle the project yourself, here’s a quick guide on doing so. 

What Is The Gunk In My Bathroom Drain?

What Is The Gunk In My Bathroom Drain

The smelly, slimy creature creeping up your bathroom drain is a combination of whatever goes down the drain. In the bathroom drain, it’s usually a combination of the following:

  • Hair
  • Phlegm
  • Dirt
  • Bacteria
  • Soap scum
  • Toothpaste
  • Etc. 

Sometimes, these materials build up in your drain, causing backflow when the sink can’t drain properly. The combination of organic materials is the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of unwanted bacteria, which usually turns it into a black sludge (or dark brown). 

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Bathroom Sink Drain?

The best way to clean a bathroom sink is to do it regularly. Not very descriptive, we know, but we’ll get to that. If you want to avoid the swamp-like creature in your drain, the best preventative care is routine cleaning. 

For instance, remove any debris from the sink drain at least once a week. This helps prevent buildup, like hair and scum, from developing. The drain stopper is notorious for developing a long-term relationship with these materials, so make sure you clean the stopper regularly to avoid a slow drain. 

How To Clean Hair Out Of A Bathroom Sink Drain

Unfortunately, the task of cleaning hair out of a bathroom drain isn’t a pleasant task. If the organic buildup in the sink is left for a while, it begins to decompose, wafting less-than-stellar sewer scents up into your sink. 

While it probably won’t be your most favorite task on your never-ending to-do list, it needs to be done. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • Rubber cleaning gloves
  • Pliers
  • Dish soap 

The cleaning process looks different from a pop-up stopper to a push-pull stopper. If you have a pop-up stopper, you can just pull the whole thing out of the drain, usually without any issues. 

If you have a push-pull style drain, you’ll need to remove the nut behind the drainpipe. Once it’s free, pull out the retaining rod and remove the stopper. We recommend wearing rubber gloves for this part. You don’t necessarily have to, but you’ll run into some pretty nasty debris. 

Plunging Bathroom Sink

After you remove the stopper from the drain, clear any debris away. If you have an old toothbrush on hand, use it to get in the crevices of the drain. Make sure you scrub away all of the gunk. If you leave any behind, you’re essentially opening the door to welcome in the bacteria. 

So, make sure you clean it really well. Use dish soap to thoroughly clean the entire thing. Alternatively, you can pop it in the dishwasher for a cleaning cycle. 

With the drain stopper clean or in the process of cleaning in the dishwasher, inspect the inside of the drain. There may be residual clumps of hair and other debris hanging out in the drain. Use pliers to reach in and pull out any leftover debris. 

Once you remove all of the debris and the drain stopper is clean, reinsert the stopper. 

If the buildup is too far into the drain for pliers to reach, you may have to use a drain snake to remove it. These are available at most home improvement stores. Alternatively, you could use a plunger to help correct a sink that won’t drain, but we’d recommend investing in a sink plunger (instead of using the grimy toilet plunger). 

How To Tackle Bad Drain Smells

How To Tackle Bad Drain Smells

So, perhaps the sink drain is clean, but there are still a few lingering unpleasant scents. Usually, the cause of the pungent odors is bacterial buildup. Bacteria thrive in the moist, grubby conditions in the drain. 

There’s no need to drench the sink in some floral spray that will only mask the scent for a while. Instead, mix up a deodorizer using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Baking soda helps absorb and prevent odors, while hydrogen peroxide is a non-corrosive substance with anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

Dealmed Hydrogen Peroxide 3% USP – 16 fl. oz. USA Made Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner, Hydrogen Peroxide 3 Percent First Aid Cleaner, Hydrogen Peroxide Solution for First Aid Kit and Medical Facilities

Pour all of the baking soda into the drain and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. After it has had time to rest, pour the hydrogen peroxide in to create a bubbly solution. Relive your middle school science fair days and watch it bubble and fizz. 

The chemical reaction that happens here lines the drain pipes with a foam that kills the scent-releasing fungus. Bonus: if you have a gnat problem, it’s a two-for-one deal, as it’s a great way to get rid of gnats in your bathroom. 

After the reaction simmers down, rinse the sink with cold water from the faucet. Use this deodorizer about once a month or so to eliminate bacteria growth and ward away unwanted smells. 

What Dissolves Sludge In Drains?

Baking soda works as a great non-abrasive agent to tackle the stubborn sludge in your kitchen or bathroom sink drain. While you could go with a harsh chemical drain cleaner, baking soda and white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide are easier on the plumbing.

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