If you are shopping for a new kitchen sink strainer, you need to know everything about the different types and sizes. Otherwise, you could end up with a poorly fitting strainer for your kitchen sink. In fact, if the diameter of the strainer is too big or too small, food can get stuck in your sink pipe. And who wants that?

Below, you’ll find all the information you need to know about kitchen sink strainers, including the types, sizes, and how to find the best one for your sink.

What Are Kitchen Sink Strainers?

Kitchen sink strainers are metal sieves or fine mesh strainers that go into the sink. Their purpose is to keep gunk and food away from the drain. You can empty these strainers by simply lifting them up and dumping their contents into the garbage can. As a result, you won’t have to purchase a new strainer after one single use.

Should I Get a Kitchen Sink Strainer if I Have a Garbage Disposal?

While garbage disposals are very useful, it’s important to remember that not every type of material is safe to put into them. For instance, utensils like forks will either block your garbage disposal or damage it beyond repair. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have an extra barrier to make sure that nothing unwanted falls down into your sink.

Are Kitchen Sink Strainers a Standard Size?

Although some sink strainers might look similar, it’s essential to note that they are not a standard or universal size. Actually, their size depends on the drain opening diameter of your sink. Even so, strainers are designed to fit most kitchen drains that have a standard size ranging from 3 ½ inches to 4 ½ inches.

The Main Types of Kitchen Sink Strainers

Kitchen sink strainers are available in various types, such as back nut, double cup, basket, flange, and many more. And though they serve a similar purpose, they differ in functionality, material, and sometimes size.

1. Back Nut Strainer

Back nut strainers get their name from the back nut that holds all the components in place. They feature a removable cap that collects debris, allowing you to dispose of them quickly. You can also use the cap to restrict the flow of draining water by rotating it using the back nut. And the rubber seal that closes in the space between the sink and the strainer helps prevent water leakage.

However, what makes this type of strainer special is that you need to connect it to the plumbing system. More specifically, instead of just placing the strainer over your drain, you’ll have to plug it into the pipe itself. While that might sound a bit inconvenient, it helps prevent any debris from getting into your plumbing system. The only real drawback is that sometimes debris can jam the strainer, which prevents water from flowing as it should until you remove it completely.


  • The installing process is pretty straightforward
  • Easy to remove and clean
  • Prevents all debris from clogging your pipe
  • Can be used to restrict water flow


  • It can jam once in a while

2. Double Cup Strainer

Double cup strainers consist of two cups. One of them is usually fixed to the drain opening and may sometimes be screwed directly into the plumbing system. The other one is positioned on top and can be removed for cleaning. In other words, the bottom cup acts as the holder, while the top cup is the stopper.

Even though it is similar to a back nut strainer, this variant has a narrower shape and can be a bit harder to install. However, it is still very effective at preventing debris from entering your pipe. You can also rotate the top cup to stop the drainage water flow completely whenever you desire. And since you can always remove the upper part, you won’t have any trouble cleaning the strainer.


  • Extremely durable
  • Prevents debris from entering your pipe
  • Easy to clean
  • Can stop drainage water flow completely


  • Can be harder to install

3. Flange Strainer

If your sink’s plumbing has a flange, you might be unable to use most types of strainers. In that case, you’ll have to rely on a flange strainer, which securely connects to the flange in order to filter out food particles. It also features a protective rim connected to the sink’s end, whose purpose is to prevent water leakage.

When it comes to functionality, a flange strainer can both collect debris and stop the flow of drainage water. Removing it is also simple, as you won’t have to unscrew it to clean and remove food particles. Unfortunately, flange strainers tend to be quite expensive, depending on which material you go for. As a matter of fact, if you want the most durable and reliable flange strainer, you might have to spend up to $60.


  • An all-in-one strainer
  • Easy to install and remove
  • It can fit some sinks that are connected to a garbage disposal


  • It is a bit expensive

4. Basket Strainer

Basket strainers are one of the most common types of strainers. They are usually made from metal or mesh and have a shape similar to that of a basket. Unlike most strainers, these sit in or on the drain without attaching to it. As a result, you can install and remove them very easily.

While basket strainers can block large amounts of debris, they are not as reliable as other strainers. More often than not, you’ll notice small particles of food that go through the strainer. Additionally, you can’t use it to restrict the flow of drainage water, which can be a deal-breaker for some.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Can fit most sinks


  • Can’t be used to restrict drainage water flow
  • Doesn’t block every food particle

5. Level Strainer

Level strainers are simple filtration devices that can block food particles. They don’t feature any complex systems or rubber technology and only rely on a durable net. Some level strainers might include an extra rim for restricting drainage water.

So, if you want a reliable and affordable strainer, you can’t go wrong with it. Just keep in mind that, since it doesn’t have a way to attach to your drain, sometimes the strainer might float, especially when there’s too much water in the sink.


  • Very affordable
  • Durable net and body
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Can block any debris, no matter its size


  • Can’t be permanently attached to your drain

6. Stopper Strainer

Stopper strainers are complex strainers that feature a built-in stopper. Typically, their construction includes a center pin that engages and disengages the stopper. When the plug is down, the water stays in the sink. If the plug is up, water flows freely while the strainer catches any debris as it goes.

People usually use stopper strainers as an alternative to flange strainers. That’s because the former is cheaper and fits more sinks. Additionally, stopper strainers are very easy to install; all you need to do is put them on the drain and press hard until the strainer attaches firmly to them.


  • Easy to install and remove
  • Price is reasonable
  • Best strainer if you want to store water in your sink


  • Doesn’t fit all types of sinks

7. Drain Strainer

Last but not least, drain strainers are a basic type of sink strainer. They are extremely reliable and can catch food waste and other solid particles before they go down the drainpipe. Drain strainers feature a heavy-duty screen or mesh that is made from solid metal.

The main appeal of this type of strainer is that it is the easiest strainer to use. Just place it on the drain, and it will filter food without a hassle. However, you should note that drain strainers can’t restrict the flow of water. So, if that’s an important feature to you, it’s best to go for an alternative like a stopper strainer.

Additionally, similar to level strainers, they might float when your sink is flooded with water, as there is no way to permanently attach them to your drain.


  • Easy to install and remove
  • Can stop even the smallest particles of waste
  • Extremely durable


  • Can’t be permanently attached to your drain

Choosing the Right Size Kitchen Strainer

Kitchen drains, sinks, and even plumbing systems will vary from home to home. So, before you purchase a strainer, it’s essential to take a moment to consider the size of your drain.

Measuring Your Sink Strainer Opening

When shopping for a conventional strainer, such as a basket or flange, you can use the measurements of your old strainer. But, if you don’t have it anymore, you’ll need to measure your drain opening. However, doing so involves more than just placing your measuring tape diagonally across the opening. In fact, there are a couple of steps you need to follow:

  • First, aside from a measuring tape, get a pen and some paper to write it all down.
  • Start by taking the measurement of the top of your circular drain. If you are struggling, you can estimate the distance from one point of the circle across to the other. But make sure that you are measuring the widest part of your drain, and not something else.
  • Then, hold your measuring tape vertically and slip it inside the drain. You will have to write down the measurement of the shallow depth to ensure that the body of the strainer will fit perfectly.
  • Repeat the process a couple of times until you are certain that you have the right measurements.

Once you have the measurements, you need to search for a strainer with a greater diameter than that of your drain opening. The body of the drainer also needs to be a bit smaller than your drain’s vertical length, so it can fit properly.

Measuring Your Sink Strainer Plug

If you already have a strainer and just want to replace its plug, you’ll still need to take some measurements. You can use your old plug by measuring its diameter and depth. Or, if that’s not possible, you’ll have to measure your drain to know which size to shop for.

Just hold your measuring tape across the sink bottom to get the diameter of the space for the plug hole. Remember that you need to account for the metal ring around the drain when measuring. You can also just measure the inside rim, but you’ll have to repeat the measurements a couple of times for more accuracy.

How to Replace Your Sink Strainer

Do you want to replace your sink strainer but don’t want to spend money on a plumber? Then here’s what you need to do:

  • You should first check if your sink is leaking. To do that, you need to place a towel between the sink and the drain. Open the tap and let the sink fill with water. If your towel gets wet, there is a leak, and you’ll have to call a professional. Otherwise, you can continue with the next steps.
  • Use slip-joint pliers to remove the locknut that holds the strainer in place. Be careful not to apply too much force, as you could damage other components of your drain.
  • Then, have someone hold a screwdriver between the strainer and the pipe connection. In the meantime, you’ll have to remove the components of the strainer and prepare your new device.
  • Next, apply some plumber’s putty on the top or lip of your drain opening. You can then attach the bottom part of your new strainer to the putty and press it down. During this process, you can add the other components of your strainer.
  • Finally, screw the locknut again and test for leaks, just like you did before removing your old strainer.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, strainers are a small addition to your kitchen equipment that can save you a lot of headaches. They not only prevent debris from entering the pipe and eventually clogging it, but they also keep the sink clean and odor-free. And while there are a variety of strainers out there, all of them will do their job just nicely.

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