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15 Tips and Tricks for Faucets and Sinks

Fight bad odors, stains and other issues with these handy tips for cleaning and maintaining your sinks and faucets.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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woman pouring dish soap into dispenser on counter next to sinkfamily handyman

No-Mess Refills for Sink Soap

Crawling under a kitchen sink to refill the soap dispenser was a hassle, so I tried filling it from above. But when I did, the soap formed an air-lock bubble and overflowed, creating a mess.

That’s when I came up with the idea of inserting a drinking straw in the bottle to relieve “bubble block.” Now when I refill the dispenser, the air escapes through the straw and the soap stays where it belongs. — Paul Snyder.

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woman using a pool noodle to fill a bucket on the floor from the kitchen sinkFamily Handyman

Pool Noodle Water Hose

If you need to fill up a bucket that won’t fit under the faucet in your sink, bust out a pool noodle. Set the bucket on the floor, slip the noodle over the faucet and run it down to the bucket.

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hands cleaning out bathroom sink drainfamily handyman

Clog Claw

Every homeowner should have a flexible-shaft pick-up tool for grabbing stuff from hard-to reach spots. They’re also great for yanking clogs out of drains!

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15 Tips And Tricks For Faucets And Sinks Spray BottleFamily Handyman

Spray-Bottle Pipe Pump

When soldering a fitting onto a copper pipe, you have to get the water out of the pipe or the solder won’t melt. But removing the water from vertical pipes is tricky.

That’s when I grab the spray nozzle from a plastic bottle. I just stick the plastic tube down into the pipe and pull the trigger a few times. It helps to have a small cup to shoot the water into. — Dean Debeltz.

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hands with a lemon in a bag around faucet to remove hard water buildupfamily handyman

Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a Lemon

To get rid of hard-water buildup on a faucet, try this natural solution: Cut a fresh lemon in half. Use your thumbs to gently open up the center of one of the halves. Then press the lemon onto the end of the faucet.

Put a small plastic bag around the lemon and secure it around the faucet with a tightly-cinched rubber band. Leave the lemon in place for a few hours to allow the citric acid to work its magic.

After you remove the lemon, you may need a gentle scrubbing pad to remove any loosened hard-water buildup. Then wipe the faucet with a damp cloth to remove leftover lemon juice, and your faucet will be squeaky clean — without harsh chemicals!

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cleaning sink drain with zip tiefamily handyman

Simple Bathroom Sink Drain Cleaner

Next time your bathroom sink gets clogged, use a long zip tie. Cut several notches on the end of the zip tie. It’ll hook the hair clog, allowing you to pull it out. Problem solved. The eye of the zip tie should be big enough to prevent you from inadvertently pushing it past the stopper.

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plastic bag with cabinet hardwarefamily handyman

Under-Sink Archives

Don’t file away the manuals and spare parts that came with your kitchen and bath fixtures. Instead, put them right where you’ll need them, in zip-lock bags hung on hooks at the back walls of cabinets.

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man repairing a garbage disposal under a sinkfamily handyman

Handy Helper for Under the Sink

To replace a garbage disposer, I used the scissor jack from the trunk of my car. That not only saved heavy lifting but let me precisely adjust the height of the disposer. Scissor jacks can help out with other heavy lifting too. I used one to position a heavy shower door. — reader Mike McCleish.

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close up view of hand cleaning hair out of a bathtub drainfamily handyman

Suck Out Drain Clogs

A wet-dry vacuum slurps clogs out of plugged drains. Even plumbers use this trick sometimes. If you need to increase suction, seal around the nozzle with a wet rag.

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man laying on ironing board to repair under the sinkfamily handyman

Ironing Board Back Saver

Working under the sink on your back isn’t exactly comfortable, especially when the sharp cabinet edge cuts into your shoulder blades. Make it more comfortable by lying on an ironing board.

Set one end of the board inside the cabinet and support the other end with a scrap piece of 2×4. It won’t make the repair any easier, but it’s definitely easier on your back.

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15 Tips And Tricks For Faucets And Sinks Free Flow FaucetFamily Handyman

Restore Free Flow to a Faucet

When a kitchen or bathroom faucet loses pressure or starts spraying to the side, it’s usually due to a dirty aerator screen. Luckily, cleaning a screen is an easy job.

Start this fix by closing the drain plug so you don’t drop parts down the drain. Then remove the aerator with a rag or masking tape so you don’t mar the finish with your pliers.

To remove the sand and other deposits, soak the aerator in vinegar, then scrub it with a toothbrush. This usually solves the problem. If you have to disassemble the aerator to clean it, lay out the parts in the order you removed them so you can reassemble them correctly.

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hand cleaning a sink faucet with a toothbrushfamily handyman

Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush

A cheap electric toothbrush adds a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle helps you access hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease.

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Lemon peels in kitchen sinkfamily handyman

Deodorize Your Stinky Disposer with Citrus

If your disposer developed an odor, it may contain bits of rotten food. Here’s how to clean them out:

  1. With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
  2. Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
  3. Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.
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A wire clothes hangerHalfdark/Getty Images

Clothes Hanger Drain Cleaner

Hair clogs in the drain are inevitable, and they’re more likely if there are longhaired people in your home. I’ve found a wire coat hanger is the most effective tool for removing them.

First, untwist the wire under the hook. This leaves the hook at one end and a miniature “auger” at the other end. Push the auger end down the drain up to the clog. Bend the free end 90 degrees, forming a handle. Crank the handle so the auger bores into the clog. Then pull it out.

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Wax Faucet Fh13jun 539 07 016 Jveditfamily handyman

Wash and Wax Your Faucets

Every three months, use CLR Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover and an old toothbrush to clean all the faucets. Then apply an automotive car wax like Turtle Wax and buff after the wax hazes. Your fixtures will look like new.