If you think the clog may be the result of an object in the drain, it is best to try and retrieve it rather than force it further along down the drain. Coat hangers and snakes can scratch the chrome drain, so we don’t recommend using them. Submit a Maintenance Request so a handyman can dismantle the drain and retrieve the object. However, most clogging is the result of hair, soap scum and body oil build-up. 

You might be thinking of using some “magic chemical” – DON’T! Some chemicals can damage pipes, the environment or you if you get splashed. And if someone has to work on the drain after a chemical has been used, it makes the work harder and more hazardous. So, skip the chemicals.

The basin of a bathroom sink has a drain at the bottom and an overflow drain near the high-water mark.  In the drain is the strainer.  The strainer blocks large objects from going down the drain.  The strainer tends to snag hair and is often the cause of a slow or gurgling drain.

The bathtub and shower stall both have a drain with a strainer. The bathtub also has as a stopper, which is either at the bottom where the drain is or it has a drain control lever above the drain where the overflow outlet is.  The strainer blocks large objects from going down the drain. The strainer tends to snag hair and is often the cause of a slow or gurgling drain.

Instructions for unclogging bathroom sink, bathtub drain or shower drains:

Step #1

Try the “Zip-It”.


  • For a fast, easy and inexpensive solution that almost always works, buy the “Zip-It” drain cleaning tool for $2.00-$5.00.
  • Never use the Zip-It or any other drain-cleaning tool after any drain cleaning chemicals have been used.  The chemicals could splash on your hands, skin, clothing or eyes causing serious damage. 
  • The Zip-It is a long plastic strip with barbs projecting off from the sides. Simply insert the Zip-It into the drain as far as it will reach, and then pull it back out slowly.  It will snag the hair in the drain and pull it right out. Try running some hot water to see if the drain is now running okay. You may need to repeat to completely remove all the hair. Note: the manufacturer does not recommend trying to clean the barbs as they are sharp.  Rather, they recommend you use the Zip-It once and dispose of it. If you need to use it again, they recommend you purchase another Zip-It.

Step #2

If your drain is still clogged or slow draining.


  • Remove standing water.
  • Pour ½ cup table salt + ½ cup baking soda (not baking powder) down drain.
  • Pour ½ cup white vinegar down drain.
  • Step back; it will bubble and fizzle.
  • Wait 20 minutes.
  • Pour 2 quarts hot water down drain.
  • If there is some improvement, repeat the above steps.

Step #3

If there is no improvement after steps 1 & 2

  • Bail out most of the water.
  • Add ½ cup Dawn dish "liquid" 1 gallon of hot tap water.
  • Let sit 15 minutes.
  • Plunge.

Step #4

How best to plunge.





Use the old-fashioned cup style plunger, NOT the one with the flange, which is better suited for toilets. For a picture of plunger types:  “How to unclog a toilet”.

  • Bail out or add water so the plunger cup will be completely submerged.
  • In a bathroom sink drain, seal off the overflow hole with a rag and some duct tape. In a bathtub drain try plunging without sealing the overflow outlet.
  • For added suction you can apply some Vaseline around the rim edge of the plunger.
  • With the plunger completely under water, tilt the plunger cup to burp the air out to better fill the cup with water.
  • Place the plunger completely over the drain opening.
  • Press and pull the plunger rapidly up and down 15-20 times.
  • If the water drains out, then the clog has been pushed out.
  • Add more water and plunge again.

Step #5

Still Clogged?


Additional insights on how to keep your home functioning trouble-free may be found at: Preventative Maintenance Guide.