How to Unclog Anything In Your Apartment

February 27, 2015 | Apartment Living

Plumbing systems clog — all of them. It’s a fact of life. But a clogged tub, sink, or toilet doesn’t have to mean an expensive call to a plumber. In fact, most of you already have everything you need to handle almost any clog you could come across — without disassembling any plumbing. Here’s how it works:


Step 1: Plunge

Think your plunger is for your toilet only? Don’t let’s be ridiculous. If your kitchen or bathroom sink or even your tub is clogged:

  • Let the water run long enough to completely cover the lowest inch of the plunger,
  • Cover any other holes (the other drain of a two-bowl sink, the overflow holes of your bathroom sink or bathtub, and so on) by stuffing a wet range into them, and
  • Plunge with abandon.

This simple trick will clear up 90% of apartment plumbing clogs. The only potential problem is if your bathtub or bathroom sink is curved up too much in the immediate vicinity of the drain, a plunger might not be able to make a seal against the porcelain.


Step 2: Augur

This gets a bit more tricky, but can still be done with household items. If the plunger isn’t moving the clog, grab a wire hanger. Undo the wire hanger and straighten it out. Then take the end with the twisty-twisty bit (not the hook), and bend the last inch or so sharply back toward the main body, forming a barb.

  • Stick that barb down the drain.
  • Keep feeding the hangar down until you reach resistance.
  • Grab the hangar by the shaft with one hand and the hook with the other, and use the hook to gently twist the hangar while you keep poking at the clog. You should find that at some point you either break through, or hook something.

If you break through, poke several more times and try to bust up as much of the clog as you can. If you hook something, gently attempt to pull it back out of the drain. (Be prepared with a bucket or something similar, because the clog will almost certainly be composed of something wet, gross, and probably full of hair.)


Step 3: Fizz

Drano is both expensive and highly toxic — but you have the alternatives in your kitchen already. Just like a middle school science fair, you’ll be playing with baking soda and vinegar! For a drain:

  • Carefully pour about a half-cup of baking soda into the clogged drain.
  • Then pour about a half-cup of vinegar after it.
  • If applicable (i.e. not a toilet), block up the drain so that the foaming action forces the fizz into the clog rather than away from it.
  • Repeat the last two steps with the other half of the vinegar 2 minutes later.
  • Allow to sit for 15 minutes
  • Pour a teapot or saucepan full of boiling water down the drain.
  • Wait 15 more minutes. If the drain is still clogged, try again up to 4 rounds.


If you’re dealing with a toilet, instead:

  • Pour an entire cup of baking soda into the water.
  • Then pour two entire cups of vinegar into the water.
  • Then pour a teapot or saucepan of boiling water into the water.
  • Wait about half an hour.
  • Normally, you’ll find the toilet has drained — if not, try a plunger. If that still doesn’t work, add another 1-and-2 cups of baking soda and vinegar and wait another 30.

Don’t pour Drano after vinegar.  It’s not as dangerous as Drano and bleach, which will kill you dead, but it does form some nasty gasses that are not healthy to breathe. This means that you will, sadly, have to call a plumber if none of these work — but done correctly, that should be a vanishingly small part of the time.

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