There are a lot of things that are hotly debated out there, but one thing most of us can agree on is that throwing up sucks. And once you feel that urge, the clock begins quickly ticking for you to find somewhere to deal with it.
For most, the ideal place is the toilet, but sometimes we can’t make it that far and we find ourselves making do with the kitchen or bathroom sink instead.
Unfortunately, while the toilet can easily be flushed and wiped down to clean up any mess, the sink is a little trickier.
Properly cleaning afterward is very important, though, to make sure that your kitchen or bathroom sink drain doesn’t clog. It’s also essential to disinfect properly to prevent the spread of disease, especially if you threw up because you’re sick.
If you’ve thrown up in your sink and need to know how to clean it up, this guide is for you. We’ll go over a bunch of different strategies to get your sink even cleaner than before you got sick.
This is a comprehensive list of strategies, though, and you probably won’t need to try them all. Feel free to stick with the ones that apply to your situation, and to mix and match solutions until you find one that works.
Gather Your Supplies
Start by assembling the stuff you need.
Grab some rubber gloves, paper towels, and a trash bag or grocery bag (it can be small, but you want absolutely no holes). If you’re squeamish, a mask may be helpful too.
If the sink is clogged, you’ll want to grab a plunger or auger if you have one. Otherwise, put a pot of water on to boil for later.
You may need some additional items later, but these things will get you started.
Once you have your stuff assembled, put on the gloves and scoop any remaining puke gunk out of the sink and into your trash or grocery bag. Paper towels will help you pick up any liquid, hopefully, before it has a chance to stain or before bacteria can spread too much.
Then just close the bag and throw it directly in your outside trash to keep the odor out of your home.
In most cases, you’ll want to try to avoid washing chunks down the drain, as they can lead to a slow drain thanks to clogs in the drain pipes.
If you’re dealing with your kitchen sink and you’re lucky enough to have a garbage disposal, you can just run the disposal as you drain the sink to prevent blockages and skip the grossness.
That may be all you need to do. However, if the drain is clogged or there’s a lingering scent or stain, you have more work to do.
How To Unclog A Sink After Vomiting
There are a few different strategies that you can try to remove a blockage within your sink drain.
Boiling water is a super easy solution for drain clogs that requires nothing but the basics. Simply boil water and pour it down the drain.
You’ll want a pretty large amount of water to really wash out any buildup, as well as loosen up any soap scum that may be exacerbating the issue. You may also want to try pouring a few times.
However, hot water from the faucet isn’t hot enough, you really want it to be boiling. That means if there’s already room temperature water sitting in the sink, you’ll need to wait for it to drain or skip to a different fix since it will cool down the boiling water before it even gets to the clog.
Baking Soda & White Vinegar
If the boiling water doesn’t do the trick, you can try baking soda and vinegar. Simply pour a bit of baking soda down the drain, then follow it with about a cup of white vinegar.
When the vinegar hits the baking soda, it will start to fizz, which loosens up build-up. Let it fizz for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with hot (or even boiling) water.
Like with boiling water, you can try this a few times without worrying about damaging your plumbing.
Plunge The Sink
The sort of plunger that you’ll use for a sink drain (or shower drain, for that matter) is called a cup plunger and it’s actually different from a toilet plunger, also called a flange plunger. However, most people have cup plungers, not flange plungers for use with the toilet, so the plunger you have on hand is probably the one you need.
Before you start plunging, you need to make sure that your plunger will be able to create a proper vacuum seal. To do that, you need to cover the overflow drain since air can escape that way.
Placing a piece of duct tape over it or stuffing it with a damp rag should do the trick.
Next remove the drain stopper, basket strainer, or any similar device in the drain. Then fill the sink with a few inches of water to help the plunger get a good seal.
Finally, you’re ready to start plunging. Cover the drain with the cup of the plunger and press down to make sure there’s a firm seal.
Then quickly move the handle up and down to try to force out the clog.
While doing so, keep an eye on the overflow drain to make sure it stays covered. The force of the air may cause your cover to come loose, so you might need a hand over it to ensure it stays in place.
Once you’re done, run some water to help clear the clog and ensure that the drain is now flowing properly. If not, you can try the process again and if it still doesn’t work, move on to the next step.
If so, go ahead and clear the overflow drain and replace the stopper or basket strainer.
Use An Auger
If none of the above are doing the trick, you may need to use an auger if you have one (and if you don’t, it’s worth picking one up).
Remove the drain stopper or strainer if you haven’t already. Then feed the snake down the drain until you feel it hit the clog.
Once that happens, extend another foot or so of snake, then tighten the set screw to keep the length extended.
Turn the handle so the cable rotates, breaking up the clog. If needed, extend more length to break up more build-up further down the drain.
If you need the snake to go around a bend in the pipe, rotating the handle can help the snake do so.
Once the whole clog is broken apart, retract the snake, clean off the tip, and rinse the drain with hot water.
Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners
We’ve talked about a few things you should try to remove clogs, but I also want to mention something you absolutely shouldn’t try.
A chemical drain cleaner like Drano may seem like the obvious solution, but don’t use them. For one, they’re awful for your plumbing and the environment, they’re dangerous for use, and they aren’t particularly effective in many cases anyway.
So you may just find yourself with the same problem you started with, plus a sink full of dangerous chemicals that you now have to do something with.
Getting Rid Of Lingering Scent Or Stains
Is your drain flowing fine but there’s still an unmistakable scent of vomit? There are two possible causes here:
First, there’s some vomit still stuck in your drain, but not enough to seriously impact drain flow. In this instance, try some of the methods listed above.
Baking soda and vinegar in particular may be helpful since they are also natural odor eliminators.
Second, the scene has absorbed into the sink itself. In this case, you have a few options.
First, create a paste of baking soda and lemon juice and scrub the sink with it. If that doesn’t work, you can try filling the basin with a solution of water and vinegar and let that sit for a while.
If the smell still lingers, you can try an enzyme cleaner, which will break up the proteins from the vomit. Oxygen bleach like OxiClean can also be helpful if you don’t have an enzyme cleaner immediately available, but an enzyme cleaner will typically be more effective.
Chlorine bleach can be used as a last resort, but you’ll always want to be careful with strong chemicals. Always rinse surfaces thoroughly before and after using bleach to avoid mixing chemicals or contaminating other items. Never intentionally mix bleach with other chemicals and always use it sparingly.
If there are stains left in the sink, the above solutions should help you take care of those as well. You can also try a gentle abrasive cleanser, though, likeSoft Scrub, Bon Ami, or Bar Keepers Friend.
Always read your sink manufacturer’s instructions first, though, to make sure any product that you use is safe for your sink material. It’s also a good idea to do a spot test on a small, not very visible area before applying a product to the sink as a whole.
Whether you’re sick or hungover, dealing with throwing up in the sink is the last thing you want to do. With these strategies, however, you should have no problem cleaning up the vomit from your sink unless there’s another underlying issue.
In that case, there’s no shame in calling a plumber rather than trying to DIY a solution. Plumbing can be tricky and you don’t want to make the problem worse if you don’t know what to do.
And trust us, a vomit-filled drain won’t be the first time (or even the second time) that your plumber will have seen something gross on the job, and it will probably be far from the grossest thing they’ve seen too.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that, though, and the strategies we’ve outlined here will work for you.