How To Clean Sink Trap

Date Published: June 5, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

Whether cleaning out the trap for routine maintenance or dealing with a slow or clogged drain, it is important to know the steps on how to clean out a trap under your sink. The trap underneath the sink is also known as the P-Trap.

This J-shaped trap gets its name for a reason, it traps debris and prevents clogs. As such, it needs to be cleaned out from time to time. This short guide is easy to follow and will have you cleaning out the trap underneath your sink in no time.

Supplies List

When it comes to plumbing, keep your workspace neat and tidy. You may have most of the supplies needed for this maintenance project on hand.


A bucket is a particularly important part of this cleaning task. The J-shaped pipe segment or trap must be disconnected and removed so that it can be cleaned properly. The bucket catches water and any debris held in the P-trap.

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A wrench is required for both disassembly and reassembly. You could also use channel lock pliers for this project.

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Bottle Brush

A bottle brush is perfect for cleaning soap scum, hair, and anything else that is caked to the inside of the pipe. You can also use an old toothbrush to clean out the P-Trap.

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Keeping everything clean and tidy when working on plumbing fixtures is essential. Placing a towel on the floor will help keep the floor clean and dry when you are cleaning out the trap under your sink. Have an extra towel on hand in case you need it.  

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How To Clean Trap Underneath Your Sink

The J-shaped pipe under your sink, or trap, is designed to hold some water to prevent sewage smells from entering your home through your drain pipes. Its purpose is clear, but it makes this part of your plumbing vulnerable to clogs.

Maintaining your plumbing pipes is essential to a properly functioning drainage system; therefore, you must how to clean out the trap under your sink. The task is simple thanks to our easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions.

Step One – Gather Tools and Supplies

Removing and cleaning out the trap under your sink only requires four supplies: a bucket, a wrench or channel lock pliers, a bottle brush or old toothbrush, and a couple of towels.

  • Pro Tip: A bottle brush is going to make this task much easier on you than having to use an old toothbrush. A package of bottle brushes is inexpensive and can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks.

Step 1: Place Bucket Under Your Drain Pipe

The bucket needs to be in place before you begin to remove the sink trap. The bucket will catch the water and debris in the trap as well as the sink trap itself if it accidentally slips from your hands while you are working.

Step 3: Unscrew Joints & Remove Trap

Using either a wrench or a channel lock pliers, unscrew both slip nut joints and remove the trap from underneath the sink. Be careful not to lose track of the O-rings as they must be reinserted between fittings when reconnecting the trap to the rest of the sink’s piping.

Step 4: Clean Trap Using Bottle Brush & Rinse

Soap scum, hair, other debris, and residue can be lining the inside of the trap. The bottle brush, or an old toothbrush, is going to help you scrub the gunk from the inside of the pipe. Afterward, you have scrubbed the trap, rinse it out using another sink or an outside faucet and hose.

Step 5: Put Sink Piping Back Together

The O-rings must be reinserted between the fittings before putting the pipes back in place. Use the wrench or channel lock pliers to tighten the slip nut joints firmly.

  • Pro Tip: Avoid over-tightening slip nut joints made of PVC as it can damage the joints and pipe, causing a leak.

Step 6: Test Drain & Clean Up

Your maintenance is now complete; however, you want to ensure that the sink trap is not leaking. Dry your P-trap using your towel. This step is important as you will be inspecting your P-trap for moisture.

Leave the bucket in place below your sink. Close the drain and fill your sink up with water.

Then, open the drain and allow the water to drain out. Check for leaks by wiping the pipe with a clean, dry paper towel. Once you have tested your drain and it is not leaking, remove the bucket and put up your P-Trap cleanout supplies.

Final Thoughts

Many people think a plumber is needed to clean out a trap under a sink; however, as you can see, the process is quite simple. Follow our step-by-step instructions on how to clean out a P-trap and save yourself a lot of money. Complete this maintenance step annually or whenever your drains become slow.

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