How to Get Something Out of Sink Drain

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on November 26, 2021



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how to get something out of a sink drain

There are very few things as terrifying in the bathroom as that clanking sound of something valuable finding its way down your sink’s drain pipe or garbage disposal. 

Whether it’s your $5,000 engagement ring or maybe those earrings that hold sentimental value, that descending sound is enough to have your heart sinking as far as the item in question. 

Immediately after you stop sharing in shocked horror, the very first thing that comes to mind will most likely be whether or not you know how to get something out of a sink drain.

Most people don’t have the solution to this problem, a realization that will probably have their hearts sinking further. Thankfully, however, just because you dropped something down the kitchen sink or bathroom sink drain doesn’t mean that it is gone forever.

What's In This Guide?

      Tips On How To Get Something Out Of The Sink Drain

      If you instead have a clog and just need to get it flowing again, check out our post on how to unclog a sink drain. You’ll also find guides to every specific type of clog under the sun.

      Now let’s discuss the tips to get whatever you’ve accidentally dropped down the sink drain opening back out again:

      Step 1: Turn Off the Water

      This is the very first and most important step. You have to turn off the water immediately. Even if you were washing your hands, face, or even hair, turn off the water immediately. While you might think this is easy to do, it’s quite literally easier said than done. 

      The few extra seconds you take lamenting about what a potential loss that accident is to you, the longer the water keeps running and the further down the clogged drain pipe the item goes. It’s advisable to turn off the water immediately. 

      Step 2: Use A Magnet

      Once the water is turned off, and everything else has drained out of the bowl, there is a good chance that the item you dropped down the bathroom sink or shower drain will stay in place. If it just so happens to be a metallic object, the best course of action is to get yourself a magnet. 

      If you don’t have one handy, don’t worry, the item is most likely not going any further down the drain. You can simply skip out and get one from your local hardware store. 

      It’s best to get a small magnet, one that can fit down the drain. 

      Once you have your magnet, attach it to a string or a flexible rod and slowly slide it down the drain. Occasionally pull the magnet back up to see if it caught your favorite item. If you still don’t have the object attached to the magnet after a few tries, try using a stronger one. 

      Unfortunately, if what you dropped down the drain is jewelry, there is a good chance that it’s made out of gold or silver and, therefore, won’t be attracted to the magnet. In this case, try a coat hanger.

      Step 3: Try Using a Four-Pronged Tool

      If the magnet can’t do the trick and your hand is too big to try to grab the object down the drain yourself, the next best thing to do is try using a four-pronged tool. These are quite inexpensive and very effective. 

      You will have to unscrew the top of the kitchen drain or bathroom drain first to get the tool down the pipe. In some cases, you will find that it’s too dark inside the pipe (depending on how far down the item went). In this case, try using a flashlight to shine some light and give you direction. 

      Step 4: Take the P Trap Apart

      If all else fails, it’s time to bring out the big guns. If you can’t reach down the drain pipe yourself, the magnet doesn’t work, and the four-pronged tool just isn’t grabbing onto anything other than scum, taking apart the P trap is probably your only other option. 

      Thankfully, this isn’t quite as complicated as it sounds. It does, however, call for a reasonable level of DIY skills and a little care. Here are some practical tips on how to make sure that taking the P-trap apart doesn’t create a mess in your kitchen or bathroom:

      • Clear out the space underneath the sink you need to work on: You will be working here and need enough space without any hindrances or chemicals that might present a hazard to your health. 
      • Place a bucket under the pipes: There will be some sludge accumulated within the P-trap pipes. When you take it apart, this sludge is going to go somewhere. It’s best if that place was inside a bucket as opposed to on the floor. Besides, there is a good chance that the item you are looking for is inside this sludge, so catching it inside the bucket makes it much easier to retrieve. 
      • Take the P-Trap Apart: Depending on the kind of P trap you have, you can easily take it apart with your hands (if it’s plastic), or you might need to use some tools such as a pair of pliers or a wrench to remove the slip nut.

      Be sure to study the arrangement of the plumbing system, so that you can put everything back together again once you are done, although it really isn’t that complicated. 

      Once you have taken the P trap apart, empty the U-shaped overflow pipe’s contents into the bucket and slowly sieve out the sludge to see if the item you are looking for is in there. If it’s not, then it’s probably gone past the P-trap and might be in the main drain. 

      At this point, it’s best to retrieve your flashlight and keep the magnet or four-pronged tool handy to retrieve the item. If for some reason you still can’t find it and the item is that important to you, it’s best to call a professional plumber and explain the situation to them. 

      After you’ve retrieved the item, the first thing you should do is get a drain trap to avoid this in the future! Having something like a sink strainer or sink stopper in your drain will prevent any larger items from falling through – or at least catch them and give you some time to turn the water off and grab it.  If none of these methods do the trick, it’s time to call for professional drain cleaning to attack the stubborn clog and retrieve your lost item before you wind up with a smelly drain.

      Preventing Things From Getting Stuck In Your Drain

      After you get your item back, you should take action to prevent the problem from happening again. 

      A drain plug, drain stopper, or sink stopper can prevent a drain clog by catching items before they get too far down your tub drain.

      You should also do your best to prevent other items from clogging your drain, such as grease or soap scum.

      FAQs On How To Get Something Out Of A Sink Drain

      What happens if something goes down the drain? 

      If something falls down the drain, it will likely get stuck and clog the drain. 

      How do I get something out of a sink without taking it apart?

      To remove something from the drain without taking the sink apart, you can try using a magnet or a long four-pronged tool if you can’t reach it yourself. 

      Can a bobby pin clog a sink?

      While small, a bobby pin can sometimes create a clog in your sink, especially if it lands at just the right angle. Remove all items that fall down the drain if you can, no matter how small. 

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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