Sink clogged - what to do?

Every now and then it happens that the drain of the sink is clogged. What remedies and home remedies help to repair a clogged drain, and why drain cleaners are quite dangerous, read in this post.

Blockage in the siphon

A lot of blockages in the sink are in the siphon. It is therefore advisable to first check the siphon if there is a blockage and, if necessary, to clean the siphon. Often blockages are caused by hair.

drain cleaner

drain cleaner seem to offer a very simple help from the drugstore. In not a few households, they are even used regularly. Chemical (so-called inorganic) drain cleaners are anything but harmless.

Hazards of drain cleaners

  • they are very strong alkalis that have a strong corrosive effect (many contain the dangerous caustic soda or caustic potash)
  • they can form explosive gases, even purify the drain
  • if swallowed, drainage cleaners can be lethal even in small quantities
  • drain pipes Plastic can be damaged (in case of overdose or too frequent use)

Ecological Hazards

The strong alkalis that drain water purifiers produce in conjunction with water are very dangerous to the environment. In addition to alkalis, inorganic drain cleaners often still contain:

  • Chlorine compounds
  • Strong oxidants
  • Aluminum particles

All of these substances also harm the environment and, in larger quantities, can also impair the clarification of the water or make it considerably more laborious. If even small parts get into the water, this often leads to massive water damage.

Mode of action of inorganic drain cleaners

In most cases drain cleaners are available as granules. The lye comes only when water is added (which is present in the drain yes).

Since soiling almost always contains a very large amount of organic material (hair, fats, proteins), alkalis are used.

Aluminum reaction

The aluminum contained is oxidized under heat. This produces hydrogen, which - in order to exclude the risk of a detonating gas explosion in the pipe - is again reduced to ammonia.
The heat loosens locally the pollution components. The reactants and the reaction itself are designed to break all chemical bonds between the constituents of the contaminants and to liquefy the organic constituents.

Overdose hazard

If overflow is overdosed, it can generate excessive heat damaging plastic pipes. In addition, there is a risk that the drain cleaner itself clumps and thus even clogged the pipe even more.

Liquid drain cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners work alone with alkalis. Additional reactions, as they occur in the granules, do not take place. The danger here is even higher, as splashes of these alkalis in the eyes and on the skin can cause severe chemical burns, and also a swallowing (for example, by children) is even more dangerous.

Biological drain cleaners Bi Biological, non-corrosive drain cleaners work by using enzymes rather than strong alkalis. These enzymes are also able to decompose the organic material (especially fats and proteins) within a certain period of time, thus releasing the effluent.

The disadvantage is the lower effectiveness and the often very long exposure time. Enzymes take several hours to several days to completely decompose organic matter. This is often not very comfortable. But there are only minor health hazards and no risks for wastewater and the waters, which will be introduced later.

To get a clogged drain free, you should first resort to mechanical methods:

opening the clogged drain with the suction cup

using pipe spirals

  • using wire brushes
  • suction cup
  • The suction cup is a reliable means to release clogged drains by pressure. In doing so, you have to close the overflow with a cloth, so that enough suction is built up within the drain.

Pipe spiral

Pipe spirals are available at the hardware store. They are relatively easy to use and eliminate most blockages easily.

They are available by hand or for connection to the drill or with electric drive. The electrically driven spirals, however, are very expensive and rather intended for professional use.

In case of heavily clogged drains, a more efficient pipe cleaning can be carried out by the plumber.

Basically, always work slowly and with the least possible pressure. Especially the motor-driven or connected to the drill variants can otherwise quickly damage the drain - and that can be a very expensive damage in many cases.

The cleaning function is based more on a constant forward working of the spiral, which makes the drain slowly, but also gently. If the spiral is stuck, you only need to turn it in the opposite direction to free it again. After successful cleaning, run water for a while to rinse the remainders (and prevent new blockages).

Wire brush

Wire brushes for pipe cleaning ("bottle brushes" in small format) can be a way to eliminate clogging. As a rule, however, you will get on with a pipe cleaning spiral.


Regularly pouring hot water into the drain is a prevention against blockage during drainage. At least it does not hurt to think of it from time to time.

Tips & Tricks Never rinse food leftovers in the sink. This can cause the drain to stink.

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