How to Clean Kitchen Sink Drain: Everything You Should Know


Maria DeSouza

| Published September 20, 2023

We are certain you would agree that a sink is essential in every kitchen. It is where we prepare our produce, clean dishes, wash our hands, and more!

With constant use, it’s no surprise that kitchen sink drains can become clogged and dirty over time. Food debris, grease, and other residues will accumulate in the pipes.

That’s why regularly cleaning your kitchen drain is necessary to ensure proper drainage and prevent unpleasant odors. 

In this guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions and expert tips on how to effectively achieve a clean kitchen sink drain. Let’s get started!

Identifying the Need to Clean Kitchen Sink Drains

So by now, you’re probably wondering how you can tell your kitchen drain needs attention. We’re here to share with you the answers to identify when to clean kitchen sink drains!

Signs That Your Drain Needs Cleaning

Drawing from experience, these are the signs to look out for when to clean kitchen sink drains:

  • Slow Drainage – Water taking longer to drain clearly indicates a possible build-up of food items in the pipes. Water pooling in the sink indicates a clogged drain too.
  • Persistent Clogs – If you frequently experience clogs that cannot be completely cleared with simple methods, your drain needs a deep clean. This might require help from local plumbers.
  • Foul Odors – Even with the regular use of scented dish soap, a clogged and dirty drain will still emanate unpleasant smells.
  • Gurgling Sounds – When water drains with gurgling or bubbling sounds, it suggests a blockage in the drain.
  • Water Backup – When water backs up into the sink or other connected fixtures after a rinse, it signifies a severe blockage that requires immediate cleaning.

Consequences of Neglecting Drain Cleaning

Whether you are maintaining a bathroom sink or a kitchen sink, failure to clean a sink regularly can lead to the following consequences:

  • Unpleasant Smells – Accumulated food particles, grease, and dirt all over a sink’s surface can cause pungent odors to arise from the drain.
  • Bacterial Growth – Dirty drains are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and can pose health risks.
  • Clogs and Backups – Neglected drains are prone to frequent clogs, resulting in water backup and potential damage to your plumbing system.

Essential Materials for Drain Cleaning

You should prepare the following materials when you are planning to clean kitchen sink drain or bathroom sink drain:

  1. Rubber Gloves – When scrubbing, protect your hands from harsh chemicals and contaminants.
  2. Plunger – An efficient tool for dislodging clogs.
  3. Cleaning Agents – Lemon peels, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, salt, vinegar, and baking soda are effective cleaning agents that help remove unpleasant smell and buildup.
  4. Boiling Water – Used to flush out debris and sanitize the drain.
  5. Commercial Drain Cleaner – An option for stubborn clogs, but use them with caution as they can be harsh.
  6. Cleaning Brush – A long-handled brush designed to reach deep into the drain.
  7. Microfiber Cloth – Used to wipe dry the kitchen or bathroom sink drain’s surface.

Commercially Available Drain Cleaners

If you don’t want to make a DIY cleaning solution on your own, you can find the best cleaning products for your drain in stores. These chemical cleaning agents are made to kill bacteria, remove unwanted odors, and completely clean kitchen sink drains instantly.

However, they often contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to your health, your pipes, and the environment. If you choose to use a commercial drain cleaner, carefully follow the instructions on how to clean kitchen sink drains with it and take appropriate safety measures.

Natural Cleaners and Their Benefits

Natural cleaners like lemon wedges, salt, baking soda, and vinegar offer a safer and eco-friendly alternative when you clean kitchen sink drain. They help break down grease and dissolve organic matter, maintaining the health of your drain pipes.

We even like to include a few drops of essential oils when you clean your kitchen sink. This doesn’t only remove the unpleasant odor, but it keeps your drain smelling fresh too!

How to Clean Kitchen Sink Drain

To keep your entire kitchen clean, it is important to keep your space organized. 

We encourage maintaining a few dish racks and a garbage disposal system. This ensures your kitchen sink is completely cleared of food items, utensils, dishes, and even coffee mugs.

The kitchen sink’s drain is easily blocked by the grease and waste that goes down the drain. Whenever you are about to wash after cooking or after taking your meals, ensure that most food waste is thrown into the proper garbage disposal. 

Have as minimal food particles thrown through the drain as much as possible. Make sure to scrub all the buildups to prevent the growth of germs and bacteria too.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean kitchen sink drains using various methods:

Step-By-Step Guide on Using Boiling Water to Clean Kitchen Sink Drains

Hot water with some dish soap, coarse salt, and lemon wedges is an inexpensive solution to draining your blocked sink. However, this method to clean kitchen sink drains is most effective when your drains are only partially clogged.

Here is how to proceed:

  1. Boil a pot or kettle of water. Wait until it starts bubbling and reaches its boiling point. Pour a few cups into the drain for a quick pre-rinse.
  2. Next, carefully pour about a half cup of salt, a large squirt of dish soap, and a few lemon wedges into the drain. Flush it with more boiling water afterward. The hot soapy water cuts through any fat, soap scum, and grease. The salt scrubs off the residues. The lemon deodorizes the sink.
  3. Keep pouring boiling water directly down your kitchen sink until the water starts to move quickly and easily. Pouring boiling water also kills the drain flies that lay their eggs inside the buildup in your pipes.
  4. If any odor remains, let some baking soda sit in your garbage disposal for 5-10 minutes, then rinse the sink with more hot water.
  5. After a few minutes, pour 3 cups of cold water down the drain, then do a final rinse with 3 cups of boiling water.
  6. If your kitchen sink gets dirty and wet in the process, scrub off the surface with dish soap. Then, wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.

NOTE: If your sink has a built-in garbage disposal, the soapy water will fill the garbage disposal and loosen any residue caught between the blades. Throwing in a few ice cubes also helps remove debris from the blades.

Detailed Method to Clean Kitchen Sink Drain With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Vinegar and baking soda is a fantastic duo used in just about any household affair involving cleaning.

Follow these steps to clean kitchen sink drains at least once a week to prevent your drain from getting too smelly and dirty:

  1. To clean kitchen sink drain, add 1 cup of baking soda directly to the sink. With the end of a spoon or butter knife, push all the baking soda inside the drain so it’s not just sitting on the surface.
close-up photograph of a hand using a spoon to pour baking soda into a sink drain
  1. Allow the baking soda to sit for about 15 minutes, allowing it to absorb more odors. You can add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda to better restore your sink to its original state. This works wonders, even on a porcelain sink!

NOTE: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and abrasive scrubber that removes residues and unpleasant odors from your drain. It is safe to use on any sink with or without garbage disposal.

  1. Boil approximately 3 cups of distilled white vinegar in a pot or kettle. Let it sit for a few minutes before removing the heat once it has reached boiling point.
  2. Pour the hot white vinegar into the sink to wash off any debris and kill bacteria. White vinegar is acidic and has antimicrobial properties. Once the baking soda and white vinegar are combined, the mixture will emit a fizzing sound. This signifies it is working on unclogging the drain. Let it react for about 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse the drain with hot water to flush away soap scum or debris left over inside your kitchen sink drain.

Instructions on Using Commercial Drain Cleaners

If none of the above methods to clean kitchen sink drains satisfy you, opt for commercial cleaners. Use products that come in the form of thick gel or powder, intended to create a chemical reaction that can help unclog your kitchen drain.

You can even make use of a drain snake. This is a flexible cleaning tool that is inserted inside the drain to remove blockages like food particles and hair.

However, in our experience, a drain snake is prone to breaking and can partially get stuck, causing further issues.

For gel and powder commercial cleaners, here is to proceed:

  1. Carefully read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the product label.
  2. Typically, you’ll need to pour the recommended amount of the cleaner into the drain and let it sit for the specified time.
  3. Rinse the drain with water to remove any remaining residue.

Expert Method to Get Rid of Stubborn Gunk

For persistent clogs or buildup, use a long-handled cleaning brush to reach deep into the drain and dislodge the gunk. You can also scrub and rinse your sink with the following cleaners:

Enzyme Cleaners

There are bio-friendly cleaners made with natural enzymes that eat away grease, soap, food residue, and fat without toxic chemicals.

However, they may not be effective at removing hard mineral deposits from your kitchen drain and garbage disposal.

To proceed, pour the cleaner directly into the drain and let it sit for several hours or follow the instructions on the label.

After that, rinse the cleaner and any residual buildup with warm running water. This should keep your sink tidy for a couple of days.

Chemical Cleaners

Commercial drain cleaners contain very strong chemicals or acids that effectively break down residue and gunk. They may be toxic when inhaled, so only consider them as a last resort for minor clogs.

Proceed with caution by following the instructions on the packaging. You will likely pour the chemical cleaner into the sink drain and let it sit for a set amount of time.

Lastly, pour warm water to flush out all the chemicals from your sink. Make sure to wear gloves and get sufficient ventilation when using this method.

Precautions While Cleaning

When you clean kitchen sink drains, keep the following precautions in mind:

  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from bacteria and harsh chemicals.
  • Avoid mixing different cleaning products, as it can create dangerous chemical reactions.
  • Never plunge a drain immediately after using a chemical cleaner; it may splash back and cause harm.
  • As recommended by professional plumbers, use chemical clog removers sparingly. These contain harmful ingredients that could potentially damage your garbage disposal and pipes. It can discolor the surfaces around the sink drain too.

What Not to Put Down Your Sink

To prevent clogs and maintain a clean kitchen sink drain, avoid putting the following items down your sink:

  • Grease and Oil – These substances solidify and can cause severe blockages.
  • Coffee Grounds – They tend to clump together and create clogs. Make sure to dispose of the residue from your coffee mugs in a separate garbage disposal.
  • Fibrous Food Wastes – Vegetable peels, eggshells, and other fibrous materials can lead to heavily clogged drains.
  • Harsh Chemicals – Avoid pouring harsh chemicals like paint or solvents down the drain, as they can damage pipes.

Safety Measures When Using Commercial Cleaners

If you choose to use commercial drain cleaners when you clean kitchen sink drains, ensure your safety by:

  • Reading and following the instructions on the product label carefully.
  • Using the product in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
  • Keeping children and pets away from the cleaning area.
  • Wearing protective gloves and eye goggles to prevent any contact with the commercial cleaners.

Preventive Measures to Keep Your Drain Clean

To clean kitchen sink drains, incorporate the following preventive measures into your routine:

  • Run hot water with salt, lemon peels, soap, or vinegar down the drain after each use to flush away debris.
  • Scrape food waste from plates, and throw them into a separate bin or garbage disposal so they don’t go straight into the drain.
  • Use a drain strainer or stopper to catch food waste and visible crumbs, preventing them from clogging the drain.
  • Regularly clean your sink using natural methods to prevent buildup and a smelly drain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although you are now more familiar on how to clean kitchen sink drains and other tips to ease your kitchen sink drain cleaning process, you may still have lingering questions about this. Check out the answers to these top five FAQs on how to clean kitchen sink drains:

Is It Safe to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean Kitchen Sink Drains?

YES, baking soda and vinegar are safe and effective for cleaning dirty and smelly drains. They are natural alternatives that help remove buildup and neutralize smells. They are gentle enough to not destroy the material and finishing of your sink too.

However, the baking soda and white vinegar mixture may not be the best option to address heavily clogged drains. You may need something stronger, like a chemical cleaner.

How Often Should I Clean Kitchen Sink Drains?

Cleaning of your kitchen sink drain is recommended once every month or as needed. This depends on your usage and the condition of the drain.

With the simple solution of warm water, baking soda, lemons, dish soap, and a few ice cubes, it won’t be too difficult to scrub and clean your sink regularly.

However, in the case of chemical cleaners, professional plumbers suggest using them sparingly as they can wear and tear your sink faster.

What to Do if the Drain Is Still Clogged After Cleaning?

If your drain remains clogged after cleaning, try using a plunger or a plumbing snake to dislodge the blockage. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to call a professional plumber.

Can All Commercial Drain Cleaners Be Used for Kitchen Sink Drains?

Not all commercial drain cleaners are suitable for kitchen sink drains. Some cleaners are designed for specific types of clogs or plumbing systems. 

There are those specifically made for hair clogs, some for grease clogs, and more. Read the label or consult a professional to ensure you choose the right product for your sink.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells From the Kitchen Drain?

To eliminate bad smells when you clean a kitchen sink drain, you can scrub and rinse your sink drain with baking soda and vinegar, citrus peels, or a mixture of lemon juice and hot water. 

These natural deodorizers help neutralize smells and leave your drain smelling fresh. Make sure to wipe surfaces dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent any stains.

Do you have other services besides cleaning?

At Onix Cleaning Services, we extend our range of services and ensure reliable results by partnering with trusted experts like Super Steamers and Oliveira Painting. Our collaboration with Super Steamers allows us to provide exceptional carpet and upholstery cleaning, guaranteeing that every detail of your space is impeccably maintained.

Oliveira Painting enhances our offerings with top-quality painting services, perfect for both minor touch-ups and complete overhauls. By working with these reputable partners, we deliver a seamless, one-stop solution for all your cleaning and maintenance needs, ensuring the highest standards of quality and customer satisfaction.


Regularly clean kitchen sink drains thoroughly to maintain proper drainage and prevent clog drains and smells.

By following the ways and precautions outlined in this guide on how to clean kitchen sink drains, you can keep your kitchen drain clean and in good working condition.

Remember to choose natural cleaners for your home whenever possible and employ preventive measures and maintenance to avoid future issues. Worse case, don’t hesitate to contact your local plumber for help.

Simply take our easy ways on how to clean kitchen sink drains to ensure proper drainage and prevent unpleasant smells.

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