Tips on How to Unblock a Drain at Home Effectively

Man using plunger to unclog sink drain in kitchen, closeup

When your drain is blocked, it can be a huge pain. An unidentified foul smell floating around can lead to a slow draining sink or even a complete blockage. Whatever the cause of your clogged drain, you’ll want to get it sorted as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, if you’re searching for how to unblock a drain at home, there are a number of simple methods you can use with low-cost tools widely available in most DIY or hardware stores.

If you find that you’ve got a very slow drain that isn’t responding to the usual methods of unblocking, then it’s time to get a professional in. We provide a range of expert drain unblocking services with no call-out fee and free, no-obligation quotes. Just get in touch for a quick fix that lasts from our drainage engineers.

Whether you have a blockage in your bathroom sink, kitchen sink, shower drain, drain pipe, or even a sewage drain, read through our expert blocked drain solutions and get some handy tips for unblocking your drains.

Inside Drains

If there are minor blockages in your drainage system that you can source to your indoor drains or plugholes, there are several ways you can fix these. Read on below.

How to Unblock a Sink Drain: 5 Easy Methods

If your sink is taking longer to drain, it’s probably a blockage. Here are some easy ways of clearing that blockage if it’s localised to the plug hole.

Unclog a sink
  1. Use a plunger

Use vaseline to coat the edges of the plunger’s cup – this will improve suction. Cover the overflow holes with a damp cloth as this will help to build up pressure and make the plunger more effective.

2. Wire coat hanger

Another simple method, a wire coat hanger is great for blockages like hair in bathroom sinks or shower drains. Poke around in the drain with the hook and pull out any built-up clogs, but make sure to go gently so you don’t damage the inside of your pipes. You can also buy drain snakes for this purpose. Read more in-depth tips for how to unblock a shower drain.

3. Pour hot water down the drain

Hot water is a surprisingly effective method for clearing small blockages. All you need to do is boil a kettle full of water, let it cool for a minute, then pour it all down the sink to cut through fat, grease and oil.

4. Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda) paired with white vinegar is good for small blockages but not for serious ones. To carry out this method, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda into one cup of white vinegar then pour down the drain immediately. Leave for five minutes for the fizzing action to do its work then pour hot water down the drain to flush it out.

5. Household cleaning products

Normal drain cleaners that you can purchase from any household shop should work for small, localised blocks that are causing slow drainage. Commercial drain cleaners that are stocked in hardware shops can also help.

These methods should help if your problem isn’t serious, but you should always get a professional in if you’re unsure what you’re doing or if you find these methods don’t work as effectively as you need them to.

External Drains

Unclocking an outside drain requires different tools and different methods. If you’re in any way unsure, or if it’s a shared drain, it’s best to get a professional in.

Sometimes, trees roots can muscle their way into tiny cracks in outdoor drain pipes, expand and cause serious damage. During autumn, excessive amounts of fallen leaves can clump together to cause a blockage in your outside drains, while frozen pipes cause all sorts of problems. Read our 7 methods for preventing frozen pipes to help guard against this issue. 

How to Unblock a Sewage Drain

If the issue with your outdoor or sewage drain is fairly minor, and if you have the below equipment, you can fix this yourself.

Equipment needed:

  • Rubber gloves and protective clothing, including goggles and a face mask
  • A drain rod (easily found in any DIY or hardware shop)
  • A bucket or heavy-duty bin bags
  • A strong, flat-head screwdriver for lifting the drain cover
  • Something to clean the drain afterwards, like a pressure hose


  1. Remove the drain cover

Use your screwdriver to get the drain cover off, being very careful not to drop the cover down the drain. You may need a rope to help if it’s particularly heavy.

  1. Identify the blockage

Remove any blockage you can with your (gloved!) hands and deposit in the bucket or bin bags you have ready.

  1. Use the drain rod

Now it’s time to use your drain rod. Insert it into the blockage and start turning it in a clockwise direction while applying pressure. If the blockage is stubborn, keep plunging and turning. You’ll know the clog is clearing when it starts to feel easier to turn the rod.

Plumber Fixing Problem With Outdoor Domestic Drains

Why Do My Drains Keep Blocking?

If you find that your drainage woes keep returning despite these methods, there could be a number of reasons. These are the most common causes for continuing blockages:

  • Pouring oil or fats down the kitchen drain
  • Washing bits of food down the kitchen drain
  • The clumping together of hair and soap building up in bathroom drains
  • Trying to flush sanitary pads and nappies down the toilet – these items are  not supposed to be flushed
  • Not regularly cleaning your drains

How To Prevent Blockages

Before you have to look up how to unblock a drainpipe, the best thing to do is to prevent blockages from happening in the first place. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to plumbing problems. 

Making sure to avoid doing the things in the above list is a surefire way to keep your drains healthy and functioning. You should also clean your drains using the household methods we’ve provided about once a week, or every two weeks, to help keep things from building up.

A professional CCTV drain survey is highly recommended once a year. The CCTV drain surveys that we provide are free, convenient and completely comprehensive. Our highly trained drainage engineers use state of the art technology to inspect your full drainage system and identify any problems before they become big issues. 

What’s the Best Way to Unblock A Drain?

When it comes down to it, the best way to unblock a drain if you’re experiencing a serious clog is to get a professional in. At BlockBusters, we use high-pressure water jets that flush through your entire piping system and CCTV micro cameras which locate the exact source of the problem. Our call-outs are free and our solutions are long term.

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