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If you're like me, you lose an earring down your bathroom sink about once a year. I used to think that if something fell down the drain it was gone forever; now I know it's probably just stuck in the p-trap.

A p-trap is that curved pipe underneath your sink that is strategically designed to catch anything that falls down the drain by mistake. Okay, it's really designed with a curve in order to preventing noxious gases from backflowing into your house while still allowing waste to wash into the sewage system. Either way, it's one useful piece of plumbing.

Here's how to retrieve your p-trapped valuables:

Let's assume you've dropped a pricey diamond earring down there (scary, I know).

1. The very first step is to turn off the water supply to the sink by turning the shut-off valve, which should be right under the sink. If your sink doesn't have valves, then turn off the water supply to the house, either in your basement or outside by your meters.

Turn the shut-off valve to the right to temporarily turn off the water supply. Photo: Primer Magazine

2. Next, put on some
latex gloves and get under there. Place a bucket under the P-trap to catch water and other gunk that you'll encounter when you open up the pipes.


3. If you have plastic pipes, just remove the p-trap's slip nuts (those two large, raised areas of the pipe) and twist the pipe off. If you have metal piping, you might need to use an adjustable wrench. Once you've removed the pipe section you should be able to easily retrieve your item.

Time to reassemble! Just retrace your steps and screw the P-trap back together. Be sure that it is tight but don't over-tighten. Now, you're ready to turn the water back on and check for leaks.


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  • Dave

    Try this...

    If you have a wet/dry vacuum, set the vacuum up for wet usage and then put the hose over the drain while the vacuum is running. It will suck the water out of the trap and usually the lost item along with it. If a second try is needed, pour a cup of water into the drain and then try again. The water seems to help lift the lost item better than just air.

    A warning is in order here. the trap usually contains some rather nasty accumulations of hair, soap scum, toothpaste residue and other unpleasant debris. Also, the once the trap is empty, there is nothing to keep the gasses from the sewer from flowing back into the house so once the vacuum has done its job, you should pour a cup of water into the trap to prevent this from happening.

    If you can remove the "stopper" from the drain before trying this, it improves your odds of this working.

    In the event that you can not recover the lost item using this technique, you can still dismantle the "p-trap" as suggested in the article.

    Good luck!

  • Joe

    Try the T-Trap. They sell them on Amazon. Simple!

  • Robert N. Davenport

    If you had an ADD-A-TRAP you could not lose anything down the drain.

  • Mak

    After doing this, the NOXIOUS GASES are creeping up and is turning my bathroom into a gas chamber! :( Pouring water into the drain is not working. What do I do now?

  • Bobby

    Mak,, what you're implying is physically impossible. To start with,, things don't get caught in the "P-trap". They are trapped in the J-bend portion which is the curvature of the entire P-trap. The J-bend creates a water trap or a "weir" where harmful gases can't escape back into your home through the sewer system. Each functional plumbing fixture in your home has one including your toilets which is located internally at the base of your china bowl. The only possible way your j-bend's not holding water is if another fixture isn't vented properly sucking your trap dry bringing the water level lower to allow gases back in. If it continues,, call a qualified plumber who knows the deal....

  • Shannon

    This does work! While washing my face one morning, I inadvertently lost one of my diamond studs. I thought it was gone forever, as I figured that it would have been washed completely out of the drain, and I was terribly upset. When I told my husband about it, he followed the above steps and rescued my earring! Thank goodness for a handy husband and a p-trap! Also, to reply to the plumber who said that the customer should be there so that he couldn't be blamed for stealing a valuable, it's sad but true. With the economy in the state it is, I can totally see this happening.

  • kalle

    Couple, three questions.
    1) as shown, why not just take off the drain of the P-trap shown in the first photo. OK to take the P trap off if there is no drain on the P, but why disassemble the whole works when you can simply drain it ? And what about having some new gaskets on hand in case it leaks when you reinstall ? After all, look at the schlock tile work by the installers who, apparently, made their access hole with a hammer with a job that's in plain sight and not even enclosed by a cabinet.
    2) why turn off the water supply ? You're only braking into the drain, not the supply lines, and unless you have a really short memory, you SHOULD be able to remember that there is no drain and thus not to turn on the water.
    3) just WHO the hell did that AWFUL crappy tile installation job?

  • pzahti

    How about not putting on or removing jewelry while standing over the bathroom sink. That's probably your safest bet. Just think, once it's all covered by pipe gunk, do you really still want to wear it?

  • Shannon

    That's why they invented things like alcohol and peroxide to sterilize things. I don't know about YOU, but I could not afford to replace a pair or even a single diamond stud.

  • Gwen Spargo

    Instead of taking anything apart, just go to Home Depot and buy for $9.00 a claw made for this. It fit right down in the drain to the P Trap. I tried it and it does work. No need to take apart your sink.

  • keishasgrandma

    I know all about loseing an earring down the drain..Made me sick because my sister bought the earrings for me..I thought it was gone forever until i looked under my sink and i knew i could get it back my self...And i did...Thank god.

  • Mari-Ann Wise

    What a great idea!

  • Mari-Ann Wise

    I just reported all the sales folks...does that not do any good?

  • Robert N. Davenport

    To virtually eliminate your drain problems all you need to do is install the ADD-A-TRAP.
    1. catches jewelry, contacts and etc.
    2. catches hair and eliminates calling the plumber.
    3. virtually eliminates harmful drain cleaners.
    go to and solve your drain problems.

  • Nina

    Great idea but it didn't work - I lost a saphire and diamond ring that
    way. I took it offf to prepare dinner and it droped down the drain
    while I was cutting onions and pushed the skins into the sink for
    the garbage disposal. All of a sudden I heard a terrible noise when
    I turned the GD on and sure enough the ring was gone when we took
    your advice. Nice try though - - - - -

  • Gabrielle Favata

    Last year while putting in my gas permeable contact lenses in - I dropped one down the drain. I became frantic ...But I was very lucky because my husband was home. And he told me that it was probably stuck in the p-trap. He was able to recover my contact - but there was so much gunk that came out. After disinfecting the lenses I was able to wear it again. Thank God!!!!

  • Laura

    Amen to the P-trap! I accidentally tossed my favorite jade ring into the bathroom sink thinking I had lost it forever and did not mention this to my husband until days later.. that same day, when I returned from running an errand, the onyx jade ring was sitting on my pillow! I guess my husband does listen to me even though he seemed very preoccupied with the sports channel.

  • Ogden

    My good friend Owen had a pet fish named Gefilte.
    While changing his bowl water, Gefilte jumped out
    and down the drain. Owen tried the P-trap recovery
    process but Gefilte was a goner. Gefilte II is alive
    and well and the drain is plugged when he's being

  • rsackett

    If you are fishing for lost contact lenses don't shut off the supply. I pull the trap, and if it isn't there just flush some water throught the open drain into the bucket--four out of five times I get the lens back.

  • Lawsman

    P-traps can be a bit messy for the "unhandy". I have a clear PTrap that has a rotating cleaner. Drop a ring down the sink...just look underneath to see where it is. Turn the knob and bring the ring to the to be easily fished out. Want one? RBUK680@AOL.COM

  • 22 Comments / 2 Pages

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