Dentists recommend brushing your teeth 2 -3 times a day with quality toothpaste that helps remove plaque and tartar. However, a bright smile can also lead to plumbing issues, such as a clogged bathroom drain in a PVC pipe.
What do you do when your toothpaste is clogging up the sink?
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- How does toothpaste clog up the sink and cause sludge in drain pipes?
- How to tell if your bathroom sink is blocked?
- How to clean your drains of toothpaste?
|What's In This Guide?|
How Does Toothpaste Clog Up The Sink?
Your toothpaste does more than clean your teeth, keep gums free of gingivitis, and ensure that you have fresh breath. It could also create a sink clog. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you will notice until you realize that you already have a slow drain. It might even stop draining completely if your toothpaste hardens and causes sludge in your drain pipes.
The thing about your toothpaste is that if you use it properly and thoroughly, it pretty much melts in your mouth and comes out as a foam. This is quite harmless to your sink.
However, there are incidences when you may be in a rush, or perhaps your kids don’t know how to use their toothpaste carefully yet. In these scenarios, you will find that large chunks of dry and unused toothpaste find their way into your sink and then down the drain.
When these unused glops and chunks fail to wash away completely, they slowly solidify into a rock-hard residue that builds up within the pipes.
Slowly, these buildups get bigger and bigger and, with time, this gunk begins to clog up the drain. This sludge in the drain pipes will eventually slow water flow.
How To Tell If Your Bathroom Sink Is Blocked
This question might sound strange to most, but the truth is most people only recognize their drain is blocked once the bathroom sink gets completely backed up and can’t drain any water at all.
By this time, it’s probably too late, and the inconvenience will have been caused. Letting it get this far could lead to calling a professional plumber who comes with a bill in tow. Before you do, you can learn how to unclog a sink drain yourself.
There are other ways to tell when there is a blockage problem in the works:
- Your sink doesn’t drain as quickly as it used to drain
- It makes a loud gurgling noise when draining
- You see some grime or residue once the water has drained
- It doesn’t drain completely anymore
- There is a black sludge that creeps out of the drain
Any of these signs will tell you that you need to start showing your drain pipes some TLC, or they’ll block all the way through.
It’s natural to think that this might take a long time to occur, especially if you live alone and tend to be on the road a lot. The problem is that, when it comes to bathroom sinks, it’s not only toothpaste that you have to worry about.
There are other potential “blockage-causing” substances such as hair, shaving cream or lather, soap, shampoo, and even body lotion.
How To Clean Your Sink Drain Pipes Of Toothpaste
You can use several tips and tricks to make sure that your sink either doesn’t get blocked by the toothpaste you use, or even if it does get blocked, you can unclog the pipes and continue using your sink. Here are some tips you can try today:
Use Drain Clog Dissolvers or a Drain Cleaner
Granted, there is an ongoing heated debate about the efficacy of using chemical drain cleaners on your drain pipes; one camp says that these dissolvers do more harm than good, while the other camp believes that they are the simplest, most ideal way to get rid of a clogged drain.
The truth is that if you use a drain cleaner that is made out of harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, there is a good chance that you may have to replace your drain pipes at some point since these chemicals can eat through them. Which, most people would argue, is a much bigger evil than simply unclogging the pipes. This is one reason why so many people use a natural drain cleaner instead.
If you use drain clog dissolvers made out of safer chemicals you could very well kill two birds with the same stone. Something like the “Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver” saves you from the headache of using plungers and drain snakes by simply dissolving whatever clogs might be causing your drain pipes to be backed up.
These clogs could include soap scum, hair, toothpaste, grease, and other organic matter. Just know these don’t work on certain types of blockages caused by calcium, limescale, or hard water buildups in drains.
If you need something with more power to dissolve toothpaste in your drain, read our Drano Max Gel review.
Use a Drain Snake
You could also use a drain snake if you need to break up a stubborn blockage made of toothpaste. While most people wait until their sink is completely clogged up before they whip out the old drain snake, you can also choose to use it regularly in a more proactive way.
You don’t have to do this every time you carry out general bathroom cleaning, but running a drain snake down your bathroom sink drain pipes every other month isn’t such a bad idea.
For the most part, you won’t find much debris down there, and you could very well get rid of whatever toothpaste residue and hair buildup that might be slowly building up.
See this post where we review the best electric plumbing snakes.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
These two ingredients are one of the handiest DIY tools you have sitting around your house. This combination is a great mixture to include for almost any drain cleaning solution, but here’s how to use it for unclogging your drain:
Step 1: Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain first – this should help loosen up the toothpaste or anything else that’s clogging the drain.
Step 2: Take 1 cup of baking soda and then 2 cups of half vinegar and half water (1 cup of each), and pour it down.
Step 3: Cover the drain plug and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Again, grab some (near) boiling water and pour it down the drain. It might also be a good idea to let some hot water run down the clogged sink for a couple of minutes just to be safe.
Prevent Toothpaste Drain Clogs from Happening
Finally, one of the best things you can do is to try and prevent these clogs from occurring in the first place. No, that doesn’t mean that you should stop brushing your teeth or start brushing them outside like you are camping. It means that you can put measures in place to prevent extra toothpaste from accidentally going down the drain before it’s dissolved.
One of the best ways to do this is by adding a slight adjustment to your process. Let’s call these our best practices.
How to Prevent Toothpaste Clogs in the Sink: Best Practices
- Run a little bit of water prior to brushing your teeth. This will wet and prep the drain pipe prior to receiving toothpaste.
- Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. If you opt for more, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be excessive or dripping off your brush.
- Turn the water on while you spit, and for a few seconds afterward. This will help wash the toothpaste down versus allowing it to accumulate.
- Once finished, run the water for 30-45 seconds. This will further dissolve any toothpaste residue that is left, and push it further down the system.
Why not just leave your faucet running the whole time you brush?
Well, you can surely do this. However, if you brush your teeth for the full recommended 2 minutes it amounts to a lot of water waste. The above method will work just as well, and save you money on your water bill.
Any tips and tricks for kids gobbing toothpaste in their sink?
Yes, this one is hard to catch if you are encouraging kids to brush on their own. It’s a lot to ask in expecting them to follow the above best practices.
You can use something called a “Sink Strainer” in their sink to help with this. This device fits over the sink drain and catches everything that goes down the sink, preventing debris and other sink-clogging material such as toothpaste clumps from going further down the drain.
We review the best mesh drain strainers here:
Final Thoughts on Toothpaste Clogging Sinks:
Since brushing your teeth is a daily occurrence, the best way to help keep your sink drains clog-free is to use both preventive and corrective measures. Of course, if all this fails, maybe the problem is far more advanced than you initially thought.
If you suspect you might have a more serious clog further down your system, it’s probably time for an inspection. Toothpaste clogs are generally not that hard to clear. If the slow drain and backup continues, it’s possible you might have a main line sewer clog.
While basic issues can be resolved with special drain cleaners available online or in stores, it might require a plumber if it’s not being resolved with our recommendations.
FAQs On Toothpaste Clogging Sink
Can gel toothpaste lead to a clogged bathroom sink?
Yes. Gel and regular toothpaste, as well as the toothpaste cap, can create a clog in the bathroom sink.
How do I stop toothpaste from causing a blocked drain?
Follow our best practices, and also look into getting a drain stopper for kids. You can also avoid using too much toothpaste to begin with. Stick to a pea-sized amount.
What will dissolve toothpaste from a bathroom sink clog?
You can start by using baking soda and vinegar, but you also might opt for a natural drain cleaning product.
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