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Why Do I Have a Clogged Kitchen Sink?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Learn the Most Common Reasons Why Your Kitchen Sink Is Clogged

Out of all the sinks in your home, it’s the kitchen sink that takes a lot of abuse. After all, you use the kitchen quite a few times a day. It only makes sense for the kitchen sink to eventually develop a clog to the point of not even draining at all. Continue reading to know how to clear a clogged kitchen sink and why it’s even clogged.

What to do if you have a clogged kitchen sink
Check out the list below for the most common causes your kitchen sink might be clogged and how to try some DIY repairs to unclog it.

Common Causes of Clogged Kitchen Sink

A kitchen sink not draining is a common issue. Sinks clog often and it’s no wonder why since we constantly put things that aren’t supposed to go in the sink drain. Of course, there are other reasons too, and that’s what we’re here to discuss. Before we talk about how to fix your clogged kitchen sink, let’s talk about the most common causes behind it.

Fats, Oils, and Grease

Fats, oils, and grease may be liquid, but they get stuck inside the drains if poured down the sink. It’s because they’re sticky and harden once they get inside the drain, making it harder to get them out. Many homeowners try to get rid of fats, oils, and grease with boiling water, but it doesn’t usually work. If you want to prevent this from happening, make sure that you don’t dispose of them in your kitchen sink.

Food Scraps

A lot of people think that having a garbage disposal means you can dump anything down the kitchen sink. This is not true at all. Garbage disposals can only handle small pieces of food items. They aren’t meant to grind things like seeds, rice, pasta, bones, or eggshells. If you put these food scraps down the sink drain, it will definitely cause a clog.

Learn why your kitchen sink is clogged
Food scraps are among the most common causes of a clogged or slow-draining kitchen sink. Be sure to use a catch to prevent food scraps from entering the pipe.

Tree Roots

If your kitchen drain is clogged for no apparent reason, there’s a possibility that tree roots are the culprit. This could be true if you know the previous reasons for clogged sinks listed above is not why your sink is clogged. Tree roots often weasel inside sewer lines looking for cracks, rapidly growing thanks to the abundance of nutrients. If this is the cause of your clogged kitchen sink, you will need a professional plumber to have it cleared and repaired.

Our resident home repair guru has provided a list of common reasons your kitchen sink might be clogged, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to get the sink and pipes draining correctly again.

Soap Scum

We use soap to wash our hands and dishes by the kitchen sink. That’s great and all but many types of soaps can cause clogs when mixed with hard minerals. They can build up in the kitchen pipes, causing clogs and water to drain slowly. The best way to get rid of soap scum is to get it cleaned professionally.


Older homes often have this problem. This is because older homes have metal pipes, which are susceptible to rust. When the metal pipes corrode due to rust, they become rough. As time passes, the waste that goes through the pipes sticks to it and builds up. Corrosion also causes clogged kitchen sinks, due to how it shrinks the pipe size. This is a result of the walls’ thickness increasing the amount of rust.

Kitchen sink clogged DIY tips
Kitchen sinks have multiple pipes and connections to your incoming and outgoing water. Debris can clog the outgoing pipe in various places.

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

It is frustrating when the kitchen sink is clogged, but don’t worry. There are ways to clear a clogged kitchen drain, some of which you can even do on your own. Below we will share with you some of the best ways to unclog your kitchen sink.

Garbage Disposal

Start by checking if it’s your garbage disposal that’s clogged. Run it for a minute or two using hot water. It might clear the clog, but if not, you can try resetting the appliance. Follow the instructions on how to reset the garbage disposal per the owner’s manual. This could clear the clog, which may also resolve the clog of your kitchen sink.


One of the drain clog remover tools you can use to clear the drain is the common sink plunger. The plunger needs to have a tight seal around it, so make sure that you fill the sink with enough water. Put the plunger firmly over the drain then plunge well a few times. After clearing the clog, you can now remove the plunger and flush the sink with warm water.

Kitchen sink unclog with a plunger
Using a standard plunger can create the suction vacuum necessary to free lodged food particles and open the pipe water flow.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is a simple and inexpensive home remedy for clogged drains. All you need to do is boil a pot of water first. While waiting for the water to boil, remove standing water from the sink as much as possible. When the water is finally boiled, pour all of it down the sink and let it sit for a few minutes. If it’s not draining yet, then it is still clogged. You may have to repeat this process several times.

DIY Drain Cleaner

You can buy a drain cleaner and use it to get rid of the clog in your kitchen sink. But these cleaners are harsh. If you want, you can make DIY drain cleaners using baking soda and vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar next. Wait until it stops bubbling then put the stopper in while waiting for about 15 minutes. Run the hot water after to see if it cleared the clog. Like with the boiling water method, you might have to repeat this several times.

Clogged Kitchen Sink FAQs

Why Does My Kitchen Sink Gurgle?

It’s clogged. There could be all kinds of debris buildup inside your kitchen sink, such as grease, dirt, and food items. Because of that, the air is trapped inside and makes water slow to drain. The gurgling noise happens when air bubbles force through the clog. Besides gurgling sounds, you may hear a squealing or high-pitched sound. You will have to find the source of the sound to be sure of what exactly the problem is.

Why Do Kitchen Sinks Have Vents?

Plumbing fixtures need proper venting to work properly. This includes kitchen sinks. The vent is crucial for the draining process due to the negative pressure the drain creates. This pressure pulls the water and prevents sewer gasses from getting inside your home. Without the vent, you would have dangerous gas from the sewer entering your home each time the draining process produced negative pressure.

Why Does My Sink Leak?

Some of the possible causes of a leak in the kitchen sink include loose connections, missing valves, and cracked or damaged pipes. The latter is the most common cause, which is due to quality issues. If the pipe used is of low quality, it will quickly succumb to degradation and rust leading to the sink leaking faster. This makes it vital that the piping materials used are always of good quality.

Why Does My Sink Smell?

There could be two reasons as to why your kitchen sink stinks – sewer gas or rotting food. The food particles that get caught in the drain eventually rot, which, of course, causes a nasty smell to emit from the sink. Removing the clog should also remove the smell but it is different if the odor is sewer gas. In that case, you need a licensed plumber to ensure there’s no danger of toxic gas.

Call a Professional Plumber for Help

Besides the methods mentioned above, there are a few other ways to clear the clog of your kitchen sink on your own. You can use a coat hanger or the plumber’s snake, for instance. But if you don’t want to because you’re busy or don’t know how, you can always call a licensed plumber instead using the phone number or form on this page. They will clear the clog off your kitchen sink quickly and easily.

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