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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500168

Fixing Slow-Emptying Bathroom Lavatory

Usually the problem is hair and soap curds caught in the stopper. Check first to be sure all the other drains in the house are working. If a regular rubber stopper is used, the hair is probably hanging on the screen in the drain pipe just below the stopper. Take the screen out and clean it.

Next use a plunger which applies first pressure and then suction to the plugged drain. To provide the suction and pressure, smear a good layer of petroleum jelly on the edge of the rubber stopper. Then plug the overflow with a wet rag so the air will not short circuit through the overflow pipe. Pump the plunger to loosen the stoppage. If this loosens the plug, rinse the drain with hot soapy water.
 (Vis. 1)pumping the drain

If the screen can't be removed and the plunger does not seem to help, try removing the hair and trash.

Take a piece of wire (a regular hair pin, bobby pin, or thin coat hanger), put a very short bend on one end maybe 1/4" or less. If the piece of wire is very short, bend the other end so you can hold onto the wire and turn it without dropping it. Work the hair back out of the drain. This may take patience until it is all out.
(Vis. 2) clean out the hair

After all the hair has been removed, flush several cups of hot water down the drain. This should allow the bowl to empty.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from Michigan Extension bulletin First Aid for Plumbing.

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