Getty Images
July 16, 2015 3:18 PM EDT

It happens a number of ways. Maybe you took off your wedding ring to wash your hands. You placed it on the counter, but then accidentally knocked the ring in the drain.

Despite your cat-like reflexes, you couldn’t catch it in time. GASP! Don’t worry — it’s not a total lost cause. Before calling a plumber, follow these steps to recover lost jewelry from the drain.

Bathroom or kitchen sink

1. Try the magnet trick

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, see if you can capture that long lost jewelry with a strong magnet. Tie it to a string, and lower the magnet into the drain. If your magnet fishing isn’t fruitful or your jewelry is silver or gold — which aren’t magnetic — go to step two.

2. Turn off the water supply

Use the shut-off valves under the sink for the hot and cold water, or turn off the main water supply to your home.

3. Take apart the P-trap

The P-trap is a U-shaped pipe under the sink. Most have drain plugs. Place a bucket under the P-trap to keep your rescue from becoming a mess, and if your trap has a drain plug, remove it to release the water. Take apart the trap by loosening the slip nuts on either side of the pipe’s bend. Dump out any remaining water, and your lost artifact should be there with it.

Garbage disposal

1. Power off

Always use caution when trying to retrieve anything from the garbage disposal. Switch the power off to the disposal at the electrical breaker box.

2. Try the magnet trick (noted above)

3. Retrieve

If the item is visible, try to retrieve it with tongs, wooden spoons or some other long utensil. Shine a flashlight down the disposal to check. Never stick your hands inside the disposal.

4. Call in reinforcements

If the item is caught in the grinder, chances are it damaged your disposal. Call a plumber to remove.

5. Check the P-trap

If you don’t see the jewelry in the disposal, it could be in the P-trap. Follow the third step under the “Bathroom or kitchen sink” header above.

Shower drain

1. Remove the drain cover

If you don’t see any screws holding the drain cover on, you should be able to just pop it off. Wedge a screwdriver behind it, and pull up at an angle. If it has screws, remove them before popping off the drain cover.

2. Retrieve

If you can see the jewelry, remove it with a flexible retrieval tool, which can be found at a hardware store.

3. Vacuum

If you can’t see the jewelry, you can try sucking it out of the drain with a wet-dry vacuum. Turn the vacuum on using the wet setting, and insert the open end of the hose into the shower drain until it reaches the bottom. With the vacuum still running, remove the hose, holding it straight up in the air. If the jewelry is caught in the hose, it will fall into the vacuum tank. Turn the vacuum off, remove the top of the tank and dump the contents onto an old towel. Sift through the debris to find your jewelry.

4. Put the drain cover back on

Be extremely careful if the drain cover needs to be screwed back in. The screws could easily fall down the drain, too.

Above all else, don’t make a huge mess if you don’t understand what you’re doing. You want to avoid damaging your plumbing system accidentally. If any of these tasks prove to be daunting, hire a highly rated plumber to help.

This article originally appeared on Angie’s List

More from Angie’s List:

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Contact us at

You May Also Like