Noticing black slime creeping up from your drain or building up on your sink stopper? If so, you probably have some questions about that disgusting black sludge.
What is that black slime? How can I get rid of it?
How can I prevent it from coming back?
This guide will answer all of those questions so you can keep your faucets and drains black slime-free. And, fortunately, homeowners can generally DIY this particular home improvement project with ease!
What Causes Black Slime?
So what is that black stuff anyway?
Black sludge can occur in the kitchen sink or bathroom sink, or even in the shower drain. It’s a combination of black mold, mildew, and bacteria that makes its home in the hair, soap scum, toothpaste, shaving cream, lotion, skin cells, and other substances that build up in your drain.
But, aside from being just plain gross, is black slime a problem?
The build-up of slime and the substances that lead to its development can lead to a clogged drainpipe. Clogging left unchecked can cause water to back up into your sink, bathtub, or shower.
And once you have a little bit of mold, mildew, and bacteria, more and more will inevitably grow. And if that weren’t enough, warm water that gets caught in the build-up only encourages even more development of mold, mildew, and bacteria, creating more and more slime.
In short: yes, it can be a big problem.
So how do you handle it? First, let’s start by just cleaning up your sink stopper.
Remove Black Slime From Your Sink Stopper
Removing the black gunk buildup from your sink stopper (or tub stopper, since it uses the same process) is fortunately super easy.
In many cases, you’ll be able to just wipe it off with a damp paper towel, then use antibacterial soap to kill the germs and spores that cause the slime to develop. For particularly stubborn slime and gunk, you can wipe the stopper down with white vinegar or a diluted bleach solution, or soak the stopper in either of those.
Never mix vinegar and bleach together though, because it creates dangerous chlorine gas.
If you have slime build-up around the opening of your faucets too, you can use any of these methods to remove the slime and grunge from them too.
Clear Clogs In Your Sink Drain
As we’ve established, a major cause of black slime is build-up in the drain, so to resolve the slime, you need to clear the clogging. There are a few different strategies that you can use to clear a blockage in your drain.
This is one of the easiest methods, but it won’t work on stubborn clogs. Simply put a pot of water on the stove until it boils, then pour the water down the drain.
The hot water will loosen things like soap scum, oils, and toothpaste, helping the blockage break up and the substances involved move down the pipes.
Vinegar & Baking Soda
White vinegar and baking soda is a classic solution for clogged drains that’s more effective for stubborn clogs than boiling water alone. Most of us have probably used it for a backed-up drain at one point or another in our lives.
If not, or if you just need a refresher, here’s how to do it.
First, start boiling a pot of water on the stove. You won’t need it yet, but if you start the water now, it can heat up while you do the next steps.
Next, pour some baking soda down the drain. You’ll want a good bit, at least a few tablespoons, but you really can’t use too much, so feel free to use as much as you want for really stubborn blockages.
Then follow the baking soda with some white vinegar. It will interact with the white vinegar and start bubbling.
This process will loosen up the blockage. Let the mixture rest until it stops bubbling, then finish up by pouring boiling water down the drain to flush out the loosened gunk.
Use A Plunger
If neither of the above strategies works, you can try using a plunger to clear the clog.
You’ll need a cup plunger that’s small enough to form a complete seal over the drain. That means your toilet plunger probably won’t be the right style and size that you need.
You’ll also need to make sure that you won’t have air escaping the drain through an overflow drain or similar. Seal those types of things with duct tape or by stuffing them with a damp rag to ensure that you can create a vacuum within the drain.
You’ll also need to go ahead and remove the drain stopper, basket strainer, or anything else that’s covering your drain.
Once you’re all set up, place the plunger over the drain opening so it forms a complete seal. Filling the sink, bathtub, or shower with enough water to cover the rim of the plunger can help you create the seal if you’re having trouble.
Once the seal is there, simply move the handle up and down. Do so quickly, but also make sure you keep the seal intact so that the moving air can force the clog to move.
If you’ve had to cover an overflow drain, make sure to keep an eye on it, too, to make sure it stays covered. You may need to use one hand to keep the seal over the overflow drain in place.
(With so much to pay attention to, it may be good to have an extra set of hands available if possible.)
Follow up after using the plunger by flushing the drain with hot water to help get rid of any remaining gunk.
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’ve still got a clog causing black slime to creep up your drain, you can try using a chemical drain cleaner.
Always follow the instructions on the label exactly and take protective steps.
Be careful using chemical drain cleaners, because they can damage pipes, especially PVC and copper pipes. They can also be dangerous to you, so wear gloves while using them, avoid getting the drain cleaner on your skin or around your mouth or eyes.
Thoroughly wash your hands after you’ve used a drain cleaner.
The best type of drain cleaner for the sorts of clogs that result in black slime are enzyme drain cleaners. They also have the advantage of generally being safe for septic tanks, though double check to be sure before using any drain cleaner if you have a septic system.
How To Use An Auger To Remove A Clog From A Kitchen Drain Pipe
Finally, you can try breaking up the clog with an auger.
To do so, first take out the drain stopper, drain strainer, or any other drain assembly. Next feed the auger’s snake down through the drain until it runs into the blockage.
Once it does, you’ll need to feed another foot or so of the snake out of the auger. After that, tighten the auger’s set screw so the extended portion of the snake stays securely in place.
Now rotate the handle of the auger, which turns the snake and breaks apart the clog. You may need to extend additional length to break up any more clogging further down the drain.
Once you’ve broken up all the clogging, you can retract and clean the snake. Finish up by flushing the drain with hot water to remove any debris left over from breaking up the clog.
Final Thoughts On Black Pipe Slime
Removing the black slime is well and good, but you don’t want it to come back later, do you?
Fortunately, some basic steps to help prevent clogs will also help prevent the development of black slime.
For example, use a drain strainer to avoid washing hair down the drain. Brush your hair before you bath so loose hair is removed before it gets the opportunity to go down the shower drain.
Be sure to flush your drains with hot water thoroughly after use. Avoid using lotions before showering and apply body oils outside of the bath.
Wipe off excess on a rag or paper towel before washing hands.
Regularly treat your drain with baking soda and vinegar to remove any buildup in the drains before it has a chance to develop slime.
Finally, if the problem persists, you may need to call a plumber to