A Guide to Replacing Sink Strainers in Kitchen Sinks

Replacing a faulty or clogged sink strainer is an easy DIY project that can be done in just a few minutes. Kitchen sink strainers perform the important task of keeping food scraps and other debris from falling down the drain and causing clogs. Over time, the strainer basket can get damaged or overly grimy, necessitating replacement. Following the steps below will have your sink draining freely again in no time.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before getting started, you’ll need to gather the following supplies:

  • New sink strainer assembly that fits your sink drain size
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Rag or towel
  • Bucket

Make sure to check the dimensions of your existing strainer before purchasing a new one, as you’ll want an exact replacement fit. The most common drain sizes are 1-1/2″ and 3-1/2″, but it’s best to physically measure just to be certain.

Shut Off Water Supply and Drain Pipes

Before removing the strainer, you’ll want to prevent any water from interfering. Locate the shut-off valves connected to the hot and cold water supply lines under the sink and turn them clockwise to shut off the water.

Place a bucket under the sink drain pipe to catch any remaining water. Unfasten the nut connecting the curved drain pipe (the trap arm) to the bottom of the strainer using your adjustable wrench. This will drain any standing water in the pipes into the bucket. Detach the drain pipe from the strainer once drained.

Remove the Existing Strainer

There will likely be a thin rubber gasket adhered around the strainer rim where it meets the sink basin. Carefully pry this off with your fingers and set aside. This gasket seals the strainer-to-sink connection and keeps water from leaking.

Use the wrench to loosen and remove the retaining nut and locknut from the strainer body underneath the sink. Pull the strainer up through the sink hole to fully remove it. Inspect the sink drain area and use a rag to remove any grime or old putty remaining.

Install the New Strainer Assembly

First, ensure the sink drain hole area is clean and dry. Press the new gasket evenly around the rim of the new strainer. Apply some plumber’s putty around the underside of the strainer rim if the instructions call for it. This helps create a tight seal when mounting it to the sink.

From underneath the sink, feed the strainer body up through the hole. Make sure the strainer basket aligns properly in the sink. Reinstall the locknut and retaining nut and tighten with the wrench to secure the strainer tightly against the sink.

Reconnect the Drain Pipes

With the strainer firmly in place, realign the drain trap arm with the strainer outlet. Hand-tighten the slip nut to secure the connection. Avoid overtightening with the wrench.

Turn the shut-off valves counterclockwise to turn the hot and cold water back on. Check for any leaks and tighten any connections if needed. Give the strainer basket a test by letting some water drain into the sink.

Cleaning Tips for Sink Strainers

To keep your new sink strainer working properly:

  • Empty the strainer basket regularly and rinse off debris.
  • Use a small brush to scrub the basket with hot, soapy water if needed.
  • Remove and clean out the strainer body periodically.
  • Rinse food particles from the sink bowl before they go down the drain.

Taking good care of your kitchen sink strainers will help prevent nasty clogs and keep water flowing freely down the drain. Be sure to periodically check for any leaks around strainer connections as well. Following this guide, you can easily replace a worn-out or defective sink strainer yourself in just a few minutes, saving the cost of a plumber.

Frequently Asked Questions About Replacing Sink Strainers

Replacing a faulty kitchen sink strainer is a fast and easy DIY job. Here are answers to some common questions about the process.

What are sink strainers and how do they work?

Sink strainers are the small perforated plates that cover your sink drain opening. They feature a removable basket that catches and prevents food scraps and other debris from falling down the drain where they could cause clogs. Water can drain freely while the basket traps solids.

Why is my kitchen sink strainer constantly clogging?

Frequent clogging usually means it’s time to replace your sink strainer. The perforations in the basket can get stretched out and worn over time, allowing smaller and smaller particles through. A damaged or ill-fitting strainer basket can also be to blame.

How do I know if my sink strainer needs to be replaced?

Signs that you need a new sink strainer include water not draining well, constant clogs, loose parts, and corrosion or rust. Strainers with bent or warped baskets that don’t sit flush should also be replaced.

Can I replace a sink strainer myself?

Yes, replacing a sink strainer is an easy, straightforward DIY project. With a few common tools and following the proper steps, you can remove the old clogged strainer and install a new one in just a few minutes. No plumbing experience is necessary.

What size sink strainer do I need?

Check the drain diameter of your existing strainer and get an exact replacement. Standard sizes are 1-1/2 inches and 3-1/2 inches. You can precisely measure the diameter or take the old strainer with you to find a matching replacement.

How do I install a new sink strainer so it doesn’t leak?

To prevent leaks, make sure to replace any worn out gaskets and use plumber’s putty if called for. Tighten the strainer assembly securely underneath using your wrench. Don’t overtighten the drain connections. Periodically check for any small leaks just to be safe.

How can I keep my new sink strainer working properly?

Be diligent about emptying the strainer basket and rinsing it regularly before debris accumulates. Remove and scrub out the strainer body every so often as well. Avoid letting food particles go down the drain. Follow these tips and your new strainer should have a long service life.


Replacing old and damaged sink strainers using the steps outlined above is an easy and inexpensive way to restore proper draining function to your kitchen sink. Paying attention to your strainer assembly and cleaning it regularly will help extend its lifespan as well. With the right techniques, you can swap out a defective strainer with a new one in virtually no time at all. Just be sure to completely shut off water supply lines before removal, then follow the instructions for smooth installation of the new strainer. In no time you’ll be on your way to unclogged drains.