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How to Unclog a Double Kitchen Sink With Standing Water

It comes as no surprise that every home finds its heart in the kitchen. It is the kitchen that keeps your family warm and fed, the one that gathers everyone together for wonderful chaotic preparation of holiday dinners, and that brings together the two for the lazy coffee in the weekend morning. It is decorated and maintained with special love and attention not only due to its key role in the home mood creation but also because it is the kitchen that supports life in your house.

The place needs an extra attentive approach also due to its sensitivity and a need to be kept free from bacteria, viruses, and different contaminants. This is why a double sink clogged is not only an annoying inconvenience but it also possesses quite a threat to the overall house ecosystem safety and safety of its inhabitants. With water backing up in the sink and attracting various kinds of microbes, it is a definite health hazard. This is why the question “how to unclog a kitchen sink drain with standing water” is quite common.

The good news is, no matter the damage scale, with the right strategy (and a few tricks) is it easy to cleanse a sink clogged on both sides and have your kitchen crystal clear in no time. But before we rush to the action, let’s take a moment to look through some agents who can cause your kitchen sink to clogged both sides.

What makes my sink clog?

  1. Food waste. Even if your food disposal is located right under the sink, don’t let it fool you. Food waste thrown into the sink is the shortest cut to clogging. Most food particles, especially big ones, don’t dissolve easily, thus quickly resulting in a clogged drain. We highly recommend you to scrape the dishes and utensils clean of excess food before proceeding with doing the dishes.
  2. Grease and Oils. While not possessing a solid form to cause a blockage, fats, oils, and grease are known for reducing the sink’s draining capacity, especially during the cleaning with cold water. Accumulated on the tube sides and getting built up over time, they can be a pain to clear, but this is not an invincible obstacle.
  3. Mineral Buildup. Mineral buildup is one of the most difficult to remove causes of blockage. It is a common phenomenon for areas with hard water. The minerals residues tend to build up and gradually yet steadily reduce draining capacity that ends up with a full clog. It is recommended to have a plumber on standby to address this issue if you are living in an area with a high risk of such blockage since the removal of such blockage requires professional tools and special knowledge.
  4. Small Objects. They can be a real pain in the neck when getting into the hands of a small kid or slipping from your hands right into the kitchen sink. Rings, earrings, coins, paperclips can cause a clog more serious than you can imagine, so you should act fast to prevent it. We recommend you take off the jewelry that tends to slip off before you get to do the dishes, or make sure the accessories you wear are a perfect match to your size and will not let you down in the crucial moment.
Unclogging sink
How to unclog a double sink

How to unclog a double kitchen sink?

Now that we know the main culprits by names and have an impression of what kind of damage they may cause, we can get down to business and discuss the sets of actions that you can take to deal with the blockage and answer the question “how to unclog a double sink”. We prepared for you some proven ways how to unclog a kitchen sink with standing water and make the process easy and flawless.

Hot or boiling water

This method by far is the simplest and least expensive solution to apply, which also makes it the most popular one. Boiling water works well with grease and fat residue melting them away. If you are aware that it is the exact cause of the blockage, your troubles should end here.

However, there may occur the situation with water coming back up the kitchen sink and make it impossible to get boiling water down the pipes. This is your glory hour to improvise and find a way to remove the standing water. (You can use a small bucket, pot, mug, or anything else lying around that you find suitable for such a mission.)

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Once you have removed the dirty water from the backed-up sink, you can proceed with pouring hot water, but make sure it drains gradually. It is recommended to pour the water in small amounts to prevent it from building up. Please take into account that the process may be time-consuming and may require to be repeated to completely get rid of all the oil and grease that may have built up.

Use a plunger

Since it is common for double sinks to have a garbage disposal on one side, the second thing that can help you to drain the floating water is a kitchen plunger. If you are not aware of its operation principle, do not worry, the process is rather simple. First, you should make sure to plug one side of the disposal clogged double sink (preferable the one with the garbage disposal unit). Then use the plunger on the other sink repeatedly without break: keep the plunger in an upright position and pump it hard 10 to 15 times. This should clear any of the food remains in the sink. We strongly advise you to close off the drain on the other side to keep it away from creating a mess.

The second step depends on the outcome of the first one. If the clog does not drain, try to reverse the process and switch the sinks: plunge the second side while plugging the side that you initially plunged. In this process, the aim is to create pressure with the plunger to retract small particles or residues from the pipes. If the process is a success and water starts to drain, we advise you to run boiling water down the system to eliminate the grease residues and polish the pipes.

Remove and check the trap

This strategy requires a little preparation:

  1. Clear out the kitchen sink cabinet and place a bucket beneath the pipes. It is needed to keep the area nice and clean by keeping inside the water that is usually held up in the unit. It can be helpful to use a wrench to help you loosen the pipe as you ease it off.
  2. Remove the pipe and inspect it for particles or debris. You can use a wire coat hanger or a plumber’s snake to remove it. Sometimes a clogged pipe can have a thick mass of clogged material that is impossible to remove by a plunger. If this is the case, take the trap outside to the cleaning area to wash it up thoroughly. No debris or any other particles should be left stuck. Otherwise, the remains would be a basis for the new clog very soon.
  3. Once the trap is clean, it should be returned to the sink drainage system. Once it is ready, run water several times to confirm that the drainage problem has been solved. If after five minutes the drainage works perfectly, our congratulations – you have successfully passed the mission “plumb your faulty kitchen drainage system”!
Solve clogged sink problems
How to unclog a kitchen sink

Baking soda and vinegar

Ever heard about this magic potion? It brings amazing results that are praised in the stories carried through generations. Follow us, and we’ll show you a whole new world of household magic.

The recipe is quite simple, so do not fret if you skipped your chemistry classes in school. First, take 1/3 cup of baking soda and place it on a limited surface, preferably a dish. Add an equal portion of vinegar to the same dish, and you will see the mixture fizzing immediately. It is your cue to pour it down the drain without any delay! Please remember to treat the substance with caution and do not let it close to your face and especially eyes. See, the fizzing action is, in fact, the cleansing agent that can help to clean almost everything – from grime to grease and residue. The more of the reaction takes place inside the pipe, the higher the efficiency is.

Then, let the mixture stay for some time. 15 minutes to an hour will do, but if you have an opportunity, it is even better to let it sit overnight to ensure it reached all the residues in your sink.

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Another way to perform this magic ritual is to skip the mixing-on-the-dish part and start by placing a large quantity of baking soda directly in the sink and following it up with an equal portion of vinegar. In this case, the mixture, again, will fizz immediately. Remember that to let the soda work, it should be applied directly to the drain, thus no standing water should be in the sink when you start the procedure.

Once the mixture has properly settled, the drain is to be cleaned with running hot water that leaves your sink fully functional again. This strategy may seem doubtful, especially trying the mixture for the first time, however, in practice, it is found to be as effective as most drain cleaners.

Salt and baking soda

If the previous part got you worried if you have vinegar, do not fret, salt can be just as good an anti-clog agent as vinegar. Place approximately 1/2 cup of salt in a dish, then mix it with a cup of baking soda. Next, you pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for about 4-6 hours. Remember that there must be no standing water in the sink!

Once the mixture has settled and has had several hours to work properly, flush it with some hot water. Depending on the severity of the blockage, the efficiency of the strategy may vary. Thus, do not hesitate to repeat it one or several times until the desired result is achieved. This method is proven to be perfect for dealing with grease and oil clogs.

Another way to use the same ingredients in the “magic potion” is to mix boiling water with salt for several minutes, apply it to the drain and let it sit for some time. Salt has proved itself as a good unclogging element, especially when being dissolved in hot water: it removes grease and fat, cleanses, and polishes the pipes allowing them to function normally again.

A little tip: we suggest you to always consider salt and baking soda whenever the plunger fails. However, it is to be taken into account that the method works best only when allowed to settle for a significant amount of time, from several minutes to hours. If you can make it through the day without using the clogged sink and can afford to leave it with the unclogging mixture for the entire period, we strongly recommend you to do so.

Unclog a kitchen sink
How to unclog a kitchen sink

Plumber’s snake

Back to the part about the trap (see “Remove and check the trap”). Imagine the following picture: you went to all the trouble, prepared the area, and removed the P-trap, trying to clean it up. However, the clog is located further in the system and out of your reach, leaving all your efforts unsuccessful. Frustrating, isn’t it? It is the right case for such an instrument as a plumber’s snake. If you have it within your reach, far-sitting clogs are no longer a problem.

Being created specifically for these occasions, the plumber’s snake (or drain snake) helps you access the areas that a wire coat hanger cannot reach. If such clogs are a common occasion for you, we strongly recommend buying this tool from your local hardware store to have it handy at any time.

Plumber snake is pretty easy to operate and we are sure you will easily find your way around. Once you are done with the snake, set up the trap back again and run some hot water to clean up the system from residues of grease, fat, or oil that might have remained. After that, you can run the faucet to check the results of your DIY plumbing. If you did a thorough job with the plumber’s snake, the sink should drain.

Reset garbage disposal

Another reason for the kitchen blockage besides those that we discussed can be your garbage disposal backing up into the sink. If your problem at this point sounds like “how to unclog a garbage disposal with standing water”, here’s what you do: the first thing in this situation is to locate the garbage disposal system from under your clogged sink.

Try to press the reset button several times to see if it’s enough to solve your drainage problems. This strategy can work, however, no worries if it’s still not draining – the next option is to use an Allen wrench and turn the center crank in a clockwise direction to loosen the blades and thus alleviate any blockage.

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It is strongly advised to use a plumber’s snake on the kitchen drain afterward to ensure full lifting of the blockage. Once you have reset the garbage disposal, run the faucet to make sure that the sink is fully fixed.

Unclogging sink
How to unclog a kitchen sink

Try a coat hanger

As handy as it is, a plumber’s snake is not a common tool to have at home available at any time. If you do not possess this wonder of household wizardry, a wire coat can play a good substitute! While it is not designed for such a purpose and may lack some flexibility to reach the clogs that sit way too deep in the system, it still can help unclog some of them and clear out your sink.

How do I prevent recurring blockage?

As we already said in the beginning, keeping food waste away from the sink and preventing it from entering the drain is the surest way to keep your sink fully functional. Even though it can be a pain in the neck to clean all the small particles from the plate before placing it in the sink, try your best to clean up and throw waste in the garbage to save yourself some time and trouble on clearing the clogs later.

After a heavy supper with a greasy meal and/or oily dessert clean the plates with a paper towel. It takes only several seconds, but also it does prevent grease and oils from building up in the drainage system, especially if you prefer using cold water when doing dishes.

Once you are done with the dishes, we strongly advise you to run some hot water to reduce the buildup of grease and fat. Mixing hot water with salt and pouring it down to let sit for some time after you have done the dishes can be your everyday practice that keeps your sink free from clogs and doesn’t take much effort. It is a perfect “good night” procedure for your sink that would pay you off.

If you found yourself living in a hard water area, you can get a softener for the sink that would: first, prevent mineral deposits from building up and saving you the trouble to call a plumber to remove them, second, increase the overall lifespan of your drainage pipes. Hard water does not seem as much of a threat to the pipes, the people using it, which is a mistake that can result not only in clogging of the system but also in an adverse effect on the skin, especially a sensitive one.

What should I do if my drain smells bad?

Clogs are often accompanied by unpleasant smells from the sink drains; however, the smell can occur on its own, even before the clog is formed. A little organic buildup in the pipes is all it takes to make your kitchen routine way less pleasant and more complex.

The strategy is not too different from the unclogging ones: put a stopper plug on your drain and fill the sink with hot salty water. Then, pour in some dish soap and stir until it completely dissolves. If the smell is strong, consider adding a cut lemon (or some lemon juice) to the mixture; lemon is one of the strongest agents against unpleasant smell. Do not forget to remove the stopper once the potion is ready so that it can move down the pipes. The sink should be rinsed off with pure hot water once the procedure is done.

Should I consider hiring a professional?

A kitchen sink backing up on both sides is not a problem you cannot deal with on your own. As complex as it seems, most people intuitively know how to unclog a double kitchen sink with only a few directives given. However, if you do not feel confident about it, if you have doubts about the strategies we presented, if you have difficulties removing a trap or any other necessary part, if you are allergic to any of the substances used, it is strongly recommended to call a professional who would fix your sink for you in no time. It is also the right thing to do in case of the recurring clog after a successful (or unsuccessful) attempt to unblock it on your own.

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