How to Get Rid of Black Gunk in Sink

Ooh—What’s That Black Gunk I’m Seeing in the Sink?

What’s that growing in your sink? Blackish sludge or slime or mold or gunk or whatever you want to call it isn’t a good look. Not in a sink, not anywhere. But it doesn’t reflect on your personal hygiene. The fact is, black gunk happens. And when it happens (because it will happen), we’re here to help. This blog covers:

  • What that black gunk you see actually is
  • How to get rid of the black gunk
  • How to prevent the black stuff from gunking up anything again

Yuck, What is that Black Stuff? 

What do you call that black stuff that’s growing around your sink drain or faucet? Gunk, slime, sludge, a creature from the black lagoon, whatever you call it, it is a sign that there is a problem.. Actually, it’s kind of a disgusting problem.

Whatever you want to call it, something abnormal is going on in your sink drain, and it needs to be fixed. The black slime you are seeing might seem like a gross infestation of something, but the truth of the matter is, the black gunk is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it happens in the cleanest of homes.

Black gunk happens!

The black gunk that accumulates in your sink drain is created by a buildup of bacteria living on hair, hand soaps, shaving cream, skin cells, lotion, toothpaste, and phlegm (yuck!). The problem with this black gunk is it will not go away by itself. It isn’t something you can just wash away by opening the faucet at full blast. That is because beneath the black gunk you see on the sink itself lurks a bigger problem besides just looking gross. 

If you see black gunk on your sink stopper, it may already have clogged the drain beneath it. Which means by the time you’ve noticed the black gunk, you probably also noticed your sink isn’t draining as quickly as it used to. Pooling water is not just an annoying convenience. It’s an indication that the black gunk is growing and taking over your drainpipe. Think Night of the Living Dead kind of infestation.

The bacteria in black gunk thrives in water. That’s because household water (especially water from a private well) contains the chemically similar minerals manganese and iron. As pointed out in Tap Score, “black slime is usually due to bacteria that feeds on oxidized iron and manganese in your water supply.” 

So, continuously using your bathroom sink, bathtub, or kitchen sink while there is a mess of black gunk in there will only build up the mass of the black gunk. This will mean when it does become too much of an inconvenience, the clean up job will be a lot harder and a lot messier. This is why it is important to take care of it right away. If you notice sink water draining into the dishwasher, we have some tips for you.

Like any plumbing situation, you have two options. You could call a plumber to get the gunk out of your drains and not worry about handling the cleanup, or you can attempt to rid the drain of the black slime yourself. 

We recommend trying to remove the problem yourself, first. Then if that fails, a professional plumber can resolve it.

Do-It-Yourself Black Gunk Removal

Put on a pair of sturdy gloves and get to work! The reason to wear gloves is that the gunk is sticky and there is a risk it could stick to your ungloved skin. Which would create another clean up mass besides the one you already have!  Also, it’s not a bad idea to don goggles and a breathing mask to prevent this sludge from getting into your eyes or lungs.

There are a number of approaches. We suggest you take them in this order:

  1. Clean the drain stopper
  2. Plunge the drain
  3. Concoct a drain cleaning elixir
  4. All else fails, call a plumber

1. Clean the Drain Stopper

Take out the drain stopper and clean off all the gunk. This will take some time. Typically, the gunk has a tight grip on the stopper. Expect it to take a few hard scrubs to get all the gunk off. Keep in mind that for this exercise, good enough is not good enough. Leaving even a little bit of gunk on the stopper is an invitation for its return. 

Once the stopper is completely clean, put the stopper back in the sink and run the water. Does the water drain quickly? If it does, mission accomplished.

If it doesn’t, unfortunately, the black slime in the stopper was just the tip of the iceberg. You have a clog in the drain itself. Time to get the plunger out.

2. Plunge the Drain

If the black slime backing up into your sink is caused by a clogged pipe, it needs to be plunged. Every household should have a plunger. Why? Because as we have pointed out, a plunger is the best way to unclog a toilet. The same tool can unclog your sink drain. It’s probably not a good idea to use the same plunger to unclog your sink as you use to unclog the toilet. You might want  to acquire a plunger specifically designed for use in sinks.

Put the plunger over the drain and push down gently until you achieve a good seal. Let a little water into the sink.  Pump the plunger up and down with some force, but make sure you maintain the seal. Pull the plunger up to break the air seal. The water should rush down the drain. If it doesn’t, repeat the process. If “try, try again,” doesn’t work, go to the next step.

3. Use a Homemade Drain Cleaner

If plunging doesn’t unclog the drain, you can try using some baking soda and hot water. We do not recommend a commercial drain cleaner as these can damage your pipes. Follow the steps below to apply this homemade remedy.

  1. Boil two cups of water.
  2. Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain.
  3. Pour the remaining boiled water down the drain.
  4. Wait 10 minutes while the baking soda and the hot water work together to unclog the gunk blocking up the drain.
  5. Open the faucet and determine if water is now draining properly.

Note: Some home remedies use vinegar in place of baking soda. Feel free to substitute.

If even that doesn’t work, try using the plunger again in combination with your homemade drain cleaner.

If water still isn’t draining quickly, you still have a clog and a problem. It’s time to call a professional plumber.

4. Get an Expert

A clogged drain is often a symptom of a larger issue. It may be the collection of hard-to-breakdown buildup that has formed a blockage over time. When you’re in need of drain cleaning services, Benjamin Franklin experts are here to help!  During the sewer and drain cleaning process, we locate your cleanout plug in the sewer system and flush out any waste. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing’s Aqua Bright Pipe Rejuvenation system works to remove all dirt and buildup from your pipes. By using hydro jetting, the Aqua Bright Pipe Rejuvenation eliminates the cause of the clog.  After your system has been relieved of residue and clogs, Benjamin Franklin plumbers test the drainage. If the drainage continues to be a problem, we’ll continue our efforts until the problem is fully resolved. We guarantee your home will be free of stoppages the next five years.

Preventative Maintenance

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. Instead of washing hair down the drain, wipe it away with a tissue or cloth and deposit it in the garbage. Try not to overuse shaving creams and soaps. 

Naturally, the bathroom sink is exactly the place where hair shavings, creams and soaps accumulate. A weekly or at least monthly application of the same baking soda (or vinegar if you prefer) solution recommended to unclog a backed up drain should help prevent the return of the dreaded black gunk. You might also consider replacing the sink stopper every year or so. 

Benjamin Franklin Plumbers Fight the Gunk and Other Plumbing Problems

Benjamin Franklin technicians are knowledgeable in just about every kind of plumbing problem and how to resolve them. We take to heart the words of our namesake, Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  We’ve built our company around bringing a higher level of excellence to every customer experience. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and our licensed plumbers proudly offer an on-time guarantee and a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee to meet all your plumbing service needs. Because we’re locally owned and operated, our plumbers are familiar with the plumbing challenges you face. If there’s any delay in providing your service, we pay!

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing answers your service calls 24 hours a day at 415-642-4164. Or go online to request an appointment.