We all know how infuriating it can be to have a clog in our drain. Whether you’re trying to shower, wash your hands or do the dishes, a backed-up drain makes everyday tasks huge inconveniences. A persistent blockage can even cause a backup of water or other damage to your home! So, when it does happen, how do you fix a clogged drain?
Chemical Drain Cleaners
Most homeowners keep store-bought drain cleaners on hand, but the chemicals used in these cleaners can be extremely dangerous. Because these liquids are designed to break down the toughest of blockages, any contact with your skin can result in serious chemical burns. Even the fumes from the chemicals are harmful to inhale. There are protective materials such as gloves, goggles and masks to help you prevent harming yourself, but chemicals can still cause you harm in other ways.
Drain chemicals must be very corrosive to allow them to eat away at tough items such as grease and hair. The same severe chemicals will damage the inside of your pipes and other parts down the line made of materials like rubber. The corrosion of your pipes over time can cause far more serious problems and result in a bigger expense. Chemicals can even linger at the openings of your drains, posing a physical danger.
Also, chemical cleaners typically don’t fix the problem in the long term. They will eat a hole through the clog, temporarily allowing water to pass through. However, the clog won’t be entirely clear and will become fully clogged again in no time. Left unaddressed, the clog can start to cause bigger problems.
Natural Drain Cleaners
To safely attempt to unclog your drain, there are more natural substances you can use – most of which are common household items! Here are a few alternative ideas to clear that stubborn clog.
By far the easiest solution to a blockage is using boiling water. Simply bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, pour ⅓ of it down the drain at 30 second intervals. This technique may work to dislodge and dissolve more simplistic clogs.
Baking Soda, Vinegar & Hot Water
Using a couple more household ingredients makes this method better for more complicated clogs. Baking soda and hot water are great at loosening grime at the bottom of a clogged drain. Adding the vinegar causes the solution to fizz and helps clean the drain. Here are the steps to use this method:
- Pour a pot of hot water down the drain.
- Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain.
- Wait several minutes.
- Mix one cup of vinegar with another cup of hot water and pour down the drain.
- Cover the drain with a plug and wait 10 minutes.
- Pour one more pot of hot water down the drain to rinse it.
If you don’t have vinegar on hand, you can use salt in combination with baking soda and water. Just mix the salt and baking soda together before pouring it down the drain with hot water. Wait 30 minutes and follow with hot water again.
Vinegar Ice Cubes
One clever solution – for kitchen sinks especially – is to use vinegar ice cubes. This method is great for removing built up grease inside your sink and disposal.
- Fill an ice tray halfway with vinegar.
- Fill the rest of the ice tray with water.
- Remember to mark the tray to keep anyone from accidentally using it.
- Freeze the cubes in the freezer.
- Once they’re frozen, dump them down the drain and turn on the disposal.
- The cold water and acid of the vinegar should remove grease.
Dish Detergent & Hot Water
Another great kitchen sink unclogging method is to use dish detergent or soap. This solution is specifically meant to be used on tough greases, so it should help down the drain as well.
- Use a ½ cup of dish soap for small clogs and one cup for more difficult clogs.
- Pour the detergent down the drain and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Pour a pot of hot water slowly down the drain.
- Repeat both steps if needed.
This method works well in both sink and bathtub drains. All you need is an old wire hanger!
- Straighten out the wire hanger.
- Bend a hook into one end of the wire.
- Use the hooked end to remove grime and hair stuck in the drain.
- Be careful to always pull out and not push the clog further into the drain.
To gain access to your bathtub drain you will need to unscrew the drain cover and any stoppers your drain has before using the wire hanger method.
If you cannot clear your drain with any of these methods or feel uncomfortable trying these ideas, contact a professional plumber. Mission AC & Plumbing is always happy to help with your drain cleaning. We’ll even give you tips on how to avoid drain blockages and keep your drain in working order. Contact us today for all your plumbing needs!