WTF is this stuff clogging my bathroom sink?

A while back, my bathroom sink was draining slowly for the first time I could remember in my years in this apartment. Called maintenance, and he loosened the drain “stopper” and used a plunger. Out came this black gritty stuff, almost like tea. Well, I don’t drink tea, especially not over the bathroom sink - just the usual stuff (wash hands, shave with electric razor while cleaning it over the tub, toothbrushing, Listerine, etc.). Well, that seemed to clear it up.

Until recently. I tried going in myself with stiff pieces of cardboard, and the black stuff is back. It’s accompanied by this other black/brownish stuff (not sure if it’s the same) further down that smells rancid when wet (but considering what goes on over the typical sink, I guess that’s not surprising).

Any ideas what this stuff is, and why it’s only shown up over the past year or so?

Have you had new neighbors move in in the past year?

I have the same problem with you, only it’s my bathtub drain. If I forget to close off the drain, I will sometimes discover the same black gritty stuff that looks like coffee grinds, along with other bits of vegetable matter and such. The problem stems from the neighbor whose kitchen plumbing shares a connection in the wall with my bathroom. According to the super, he has a bad habit of dumping everything down his kitchen drain as if it were a garbage disposal (which it’s not), so that when the drain inevitably clogs and he clears it out under pressure, some of the junk will back up into my tub. It’s disgusting. :mad:

The guy gets threatened with fines from the co-op board for abusing the plumbing and stops for a while… but then starts all over again. The super says at this point, since the man is elderly and clearly not of a mind to change his ways, I should just document the occurrences and notify the co-op board if the backed up crap damages my tub liner. sigh

The black gritty stuff in your sink drain is a nice little combination of decomposed hair, soap, and toothpaste grit, for the most part.

I’ve seen gritty gravelly stuff in faucets sometimes, from mineral accumulations, I always assumed. Drains are usually full of a mix of hair, soap scum and mildew; the mildew smells rancid and dyes everything black.

A tip: Pour boiling water down drains every so often. It helps dissolve and flush out accumulated soap, oils and so on, and discourages the mildew. One reason bathroom drains get so nasty is that they rarely have more than lukewarm water run through them, unlike the kitchen sink, which gets a hosing every time you drain pasta.

My bathroom sink plugs up on the average of once about every month and a half. It’s a combination (in my case) of shaving residue (soap and whiskers), toothpaste and plain old soap from washing hands etc. I pour about a third of an 80 oz. bottle of Drano Max GEL down the drain a let it set for between a half hour to an hour. Then run hot water down the drain until it drains free with the hot water on full blast.

The above stuff and some water sources have high magenese in the water that can even turn the water black and it stinks. A smaller amount may add to the black and smell of the sink drain.

An occasional tablespoon of good old fashioned NaOH does wonders to keep them running free. Would I lye? :wink:

If you think the black stuff in your sink drain is gross, don’t look under the rubber garbadge disposal shield in your kitchen sink. :eek:

I pour straight bleach down all my drains about once every three months or so, and then follow that 15 minutes later with boiling hot water. That seems to do the trick.

Too late. I did it, to clean it out because of poor drainage. The sight wasn’t what killed me, but the smell. Oh, LORD, the smell!

A less toxic solution to drain problems is plain old washing soda. Dissolve a 1/4 cup of it in a gallon of hot water once a month and send it down the drain. Washing soda dissolves fat & grease. Buy it in the laundry aisle.

An environmentally safe alternative (well, it works better as a preventative) is to pack the drain with baking soda. I mean really pack it in there. Then slowly pour about 2 to 3 cups of vinegar into the drain. Very slowly. Let sit for 1/2 an hour then rinse with hot or boiling water. It helps clean the gunk out of the pipes before they get massively clogged. It really works if you do it about every 2-3 months. But once the drain is a mess, yeah, I reach for the Drano.