Clean Your Pop-up Drain Stopper | Super Blog

Clean Your Pop-up Drain Stopper

Time: 1.5 - 2 hours

Your sink’s pop-up drain stopper turns your sink into a tiny tub, but all the gunk you put down it collects over time. If your pop-up mechanism has lost some of its pop it might be time to give the mechanism a good scrubbing. So clean your pop-up drain stopper to keep it popping.

What's in it for you?

  • Fix a jammed pop-up drain stopper
  • Speed up a slow drain
  • Reduce mold and mildew growth in your bathroom

Materials Needed

  • Vinegar
  • Scrub pad or old toothbrush
  • Bowl
  • Pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Permanent marker


Clean Your Pop-up Drain Stopper

  1. Turn off the water, just in case. You could probably skip this, but better safe than sorry. Find the sink shut-off valve (not the main water shut-off valve) at the back of the cabinet under the sink. Turn the knob (or knobs) clockwise to shut off the water supply to the sink.

  2. Disconnect the horizontal ball rod from the clevis. Grab a flashlight and shine it just below your sink. You’re looking for the horizontal ball rod, a metal rod that goes between the drain pipe and the clevis (psst...that’s the metal strip with multiple notches in it). Found it? Pinch the V-shaped spring clip that’s holding the rod in place and scooch the clip all the way off the end of the rod. Easy!

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to mark the notch in the clevis when you’re disconnecting the horizontal ball rod — it’ll make it easier to reinstall later.

  1. Take the horizontal ball rod out of the drain pipe. Lefty loosey the retaining nut that’s holding the horizontal ball rod to your drain pipe until it’s fully unscrewed — you should be able to do it by hand but you can use an adjustable wrench if it’s too tight. Pull the horizontal ball rod out of the drain pipe. You might see a few plastic rings fall out when you do. No worries, just make sure to put them back where they belong when you’re done.

  2. Remove the stopper, then ditch the mess. PSA: You might want to plug your nose for this part. The stopper is now free as a bird, so give it a good tug and pull it out of the drain. It’s likely covered in hair and other gunk — throw that nastiness away and sleep easier knowing it’s no longer slowing down your sink drain.

  3. Soak everything in vinegar and scrub it clean. Grab a bowl or bucket, fill it with vinegar and let the stopper sit in it for at least 15 minutes. Toss in the horizontal ball rod while you’re at it since it’s probably pretty gross. Grab a non-abrasive scouring pad or old toothbrush and scrub-a-dub-dub until everything looks as good as new. Rinse the parts off in the tub or in another sink.

  4. Put the stopper back in the sink drain. Position the stopper so it’s flat side up. Rotate it clockwise (or counter-clockwise) so the hole sticking out on the bottom faces the wall and aligns with the hole in the drain pipe. FYI: The tab with the hole might be off-center — if it is, make sure the hole is as close to the wall as possible. Hold the stopper in this position as you slide it back into the drain.

  5. Reinstall the horizontal ball rod. Get back under your sink with the horizontal ball rod in hand. Stick the short end of the rod through the drain pipe and into the hole in the stopper, replacing any of the plastic rings that may have fallen out earlier. Feed the rod in as far as it’ll go. Check your work by pushing down on the free end of the horizontal ball rod (like a lever) and watching the stopper — if you did everything right, the stopper will pop up as you push. Righty tighty the retaining nut until it’s snug, but not tight.

  6. Reattach the clevis. Put the clevis between the prongs of the spring clip so the holes line up (you marked the hole on the clevis earlier, right?). Stick the free end of the horizontal ball rod through the spring clip and clevis sandwich. Reposition the clip so it’s about an inch or so in from the end of the rod. Turn the water back on, run your faucet for a second, and watch the water swirl down the drain.

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