How to Clean Out a Sink Trap

April 30, 2018

Do you have a sink that seems to be draining slower than others in your house? Did you recently drop a valuable ring or earring down the drain? While these are two completely different issues, they could both have the same solution: it’s time to clean out your sink trap.

Also known as a “P-trap,” a sink trap is a curved length of pipe located below the drain. If you follow the drain pipe from the bottom of the drain to the wall, this bend should be relatively in the middle, underneath the sink.

The purpose of the trap’s characteristic bend is to retain enough water to prevent sewer odors from rising into your home through the drain. The shape of the trap also catches small objects if they slip down the drain. Over time, as water flows through the pipe, hair, dirt and debris can build up around the bend. This causes the sink to drain slowly.

Luckily, cleaning out the sink trap is a relatively easy task.

Sink Trap

1. Gather your tools.

Before you get started, collect the following:

  • Bucket. Water will start dripping when you loosen the trap. You don’t want old stinky drain water all over your cabinets and floor.
  • Wrench/Channel Locks. You will need these to loosen the slip joint nuts on both ends of the sink trap.
  • Bottle Brush/Old Toothbrush. This will help you clean out any gunk that’s stuck to the inside of the trap.
  • Towels. When unscrewing plumbing and removing pipes, you’re bound to make a mess. Keep an old towel handy to clean up any spillage.

2. Place the bucket underneath the sink trap.

Before you start to loosen the slip joint nuts, position the bucket below the sink trap. This will catch any water that leaks from trap when you start to loosen the nuts. The bucket can also catch the sink trap if it comes loose and slips out of your hands.

3. Unscrew the slip joint nuts.

Using a wrench or channel locks, begin loosening the slip joint nuts on either side of the sink trap. Once you’ve given them a few turns, you should be able to use your hands to finish unscrewing the trap. This will give you more grip on the sink trap if you’re unfamiliar with plumbing work.

4. Remove the trap.

When the slip joint nuts are completely loose, remove the sink trap. Be sure to keep track of the o-rings on either side of the fittings. These are essential to reattach the sink trap after your clean it.

5. Clean out the trap.

Using a small bottle brush or old toothbrush, remove any hair, gunk, or old residue from inside of the sink trap. If you have another sink or outdoor hose, it’s helpful to rinse out the trap after you’ve scraped away buildup with the brush.

6. Reassemble the sink trap.

Make sure there is an o-ring on each of the male ends of the pipe fitting. Slide the sink trap back into place and use your hands to retighten the slip joint nuts. Use the wrench or channel locks to give the nuts one final nudge, but make sure you don’t over tighten.

7. Test the drain.

Turn on the water. Make sure the drain is moving freely, and no water is leaking from the trap.

8. Remove the bucket and clean up.

Pull the bucket out from underneath the reattached trap, and clean up any spilled water.

If your sink is still draining slowly after you’ve cleaned out the trap, the issue might require the assistance of a professional. Call the plumbing experts at Bailey Brothers Plumbing 405-896-9988.