How to Clean an Overflow Drain in a Sink

Have you ever looked at the back of your bathroom sink and noticed the little hole underneath the faucet or somewhere along the perimeter? This hole is called the overflow hole. It helps to keep your bathroom sink from flooding, but it is easy to forget about this little hole, causing it to get dirty and mucky.

If you take a close look, you will probably be able to see gunk inside. To ensure you can rely on your overflow drain when needed, it’s important to learn how to clean an overflow drain in the sink. Because you’ve likely never tried to clean the sink overflow hole before, it likely needs a good cleaning.

In this article, you are going to discuss how to clean the overflow drain in a bathroom sink. It’s important you do this whenever the overflow drain is dirty, but you should regularly maintain its cleanliness as well.

What’s the Point of the Overflow Hole in Bathroom Sink?

The purpose of an overflow hole is to divert some water if the sink is filling up. This helps to prevent flooding if you accidentally leave the sink on.

Obviously, this small overflow hole will not prevent a flood if you fail to turn off the sink for a long time. Luckily, it will catch a bit of water if you aren’t paying attention when washing your hands or using the sink for some other purpose.

For an overflow hole to fill this purpose, it must be clean and clear of any obstructions. However, many years of use and failure to clean may eventually render the overflow hole useless.

How to Clean Sink Overflow

To make sure you can use this vital part of your sink, it is important that you know how to clean a sink overflow. Here is what to do:

Gather Your Necessary Supplies

Before you get started with cleaning your sink overflow, you need to get the appropriate supplies. In order to clean your drain overflow hole, you will need the following items:

  • Pipe cleaner or sink cleaning brush 
  • Silicone funnel
  • 2-3 quarts of boiling water 
  • 1 cup of baking soda (optional, if the hole is emitting a bad odor) 
  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar (optional, if the hole is emitting a bad odor)

Steps to Clean Sink Overflow 

  1. Grab the pipe cleaner or sink cleaning brush and stick it into the overflow hole.
  2. Move the cleaner in and out of the hole several times so that you can remove as much gunk as possible. You might need to rinse off the cleaner during this process so that you can remove more gunk.
  3. Bring two to three quarts of water to a boil.
  4. Stick a silicone funnel into the sink overflow hole. If you don’t have a silicone funnel, opt for another funnel that can handle boiling water.
  5. Pour the boiling water directly into the hole using the funnel to flush out any remaining gunk. Be extra cautious not to spill or splash the boiling water on yourself.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 as many times as needed until all of the gunk is removed.

What If The Overflow Hole Smells Bad?

If the overflow hole is emitting a nasty odor, boiling water might not be enough to remove the smell. If this is the case for your overflow hole, you will need to flush it out using baking soda and white vinegar before inserting boiling water. Here is what you need to do if the overflow hole stinks:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 4, as described above. 
  2. Pour baking soda into the funnel. 
  3. Pour distilled white vinegar through the funnel. Expect fizziness to occur. 
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes. 
  5. Repeat steps 5 and 6, as described above. 
  6. Repeat as many times as needed.

Tips to Keep a Clean Sink Overflow Hole

To make sure that your overflow hole does not get excessively dirty or stinky again, make sure to clean it out regularly. We recommend giving it a quick cleaning every time you clean the sink. You can do this with a pipe cleaner and regular tap water. This will help keep the hole clean from week to week. 

Additionally, try not to let the water reach the overflow hole if you can control it. If no water or substances make it inside the hole, you won’t have to clean it out very frequently. 

If water and other substances do get inside the overflow hole, diligently clean it out afterward. Depending on the substance, you might be able to get the job done with regular tap water, but you might need boiling water, baking soda, and/or white vinegar. 

Overflow Hole Still Clogged?

Most likely, following the steps above will allow you to clean out the overflow bathroom sink hole effectively. However, intense clogs may not be cleared using water and other everyday cleaning supplies. 

If you can’t get your overflow hole to come unclogged, you might want to contact a professional, especially if there is a foul odor. Something may be stuck inside that you can’t remove. The professional will be able to determine why your overflow hole is clogged and clean it out.

Final Thoughts 

We hope that this article has helped you learn how to clean sink overflow holes. In most cases, boiling water will do the trick, but sometimes you may need the power of baking soda and white vinegar too. 

So that your sink stays clean in the future, too, don’t let water and other substances get inside this hole. More so, clean the hole every time you clean your sink. This will prevent it from getting clogged or smelling up your bathroom. 

If you can’t seem to unclog your overflow hole, contact a professional to help you get the job done fast and efficiently. 

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