A plugged up sink, shower, or tub drain sends most people running for either a bottle of caustic drain cleaner or a plumber’s phone number. But wait.
This could well be a job you can do yourself successfully without chemicals or a big bill.
Assess the situation
Turn on taps to allow water down other drains in the house. If everything else is flowing freely, you can be fairly certain you have a localized clog—and probably near that clogged drain’s opening. If this is involving other drains, you could have a bigger problem that may well require a professional. Assuming it’s only the one drain, let’s move on.
Get a large pot and boil up as much water as it will hold*. Now carefully pour boiling water down the drain slowly, in two to three stages so that the hot water can work for a few minutes in between each pour. This is the easiest and quickest way to unclog a drain if it works, which usually it does with a satisfying swoosh.
*Or your hottest tap water if you are dealing with a porcelain sink and/or PVC pipes, in which case boiling water could cause damage.
Pour 1/2 cup of Dawn detergent into the drain. For tough clogs, use a full cup of detergent.
While that sits, bring a half pot of water (about 4 cups) to boil. Pour this into the drain slowly but steadily to avoid getting burned by splashing water. Run water down the drain to check how freely water flows through.
If the clog remains or seems to be clearing, but the drain is still slow-running, repeat until the drain runs free.