How to Clean the Drain

Whether it’s in the kitchen or bathroom, a clogged sink is incredibly annoying. It’s not really something you can ignore – at least for a long time – because you probably don’t want to accidentally flood your floor or lose the ability to use your sink, bath, or toilet. So what should a homeowner or renter do?

Cleaning the drain is not always easy. Before calling a plumber, try these tips:

Rinse with boiling water

One of the first and simplest things you can do is simply flush the drain with a pot of boiling water . It is not guaranteed to clear physical or fatty blockages, but if you have a slow drain that you think is caused by little or no blockage, a good boiling water rinse can clear it up with minimal effort. Wait for water to completely drain out of the sink or bathtub, then rinse with water.

A word of caution, though: The boiling water trick works best with metal pipes. If you have PVC pipes, water hotter than 175 degrees can soften or melt the joints in your pipes. If you don’t know, don’t use boiling water – just use hot water or water that is as hot as you would normally get from the tap.

Make your own sewer cleaner

Some sewer cleaners are only effective for certain types of blockages. You can run out and buy a bottle of an industrial sewer cleaner, but even many plumbers will tell you that this should be a last resort. If you know grease is causing the blockage, try making your own sewer cleaner using vinegar and baking soda.

The Bonzai Aphrodite blog has a great guide to making a sewer cleaner out of baking soda, but it’s pretty simple: half a cup of baking soda and siphon it straight down the drain, as deep as possible. Then add half the vinegar. Be careful, it will sizzle and bubble, so cover or cover the drain to get as much of that sizzle down the drain as possible, not up towards you. For toilets, just skip this step and rinse out immediately after adding the vinegar. Once it dies down a bit, add the rest of the vinegar. Leave everything on for half an hour (or longer if you have one) and then flush the drain with hot water.

You can also use multiple Alka-Seltzer tablets to get a similar effect, albeit not as powerful .


Nobody likes to deal with a household plunger, but when the drain gets clogged, you need to know how to use it. Most households have cup tubs that you can slap on the sink or sink in the tub and start diving. For best results, place a strip of duct tape over the drain hole at the top of your sink or tub. This will cause air or water to be forced down the drain and into the plug rather than through the drain.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a cup piston handy, you can get the same effect with an empty juice or milk bag – just flip it over the drain and squeeze so that the air from the box directs the air straight down. drain. If something gets stuck in the way, this might help.

However, you will need a different tool for the toilets. Cup pistons are simply not the best shape for getting into a narrow toilet sink, so you’ll need a flange or toilet , which you can buy at any hardware store. You don’t have to worry about flushing your toilet, but since the flanged piston is shaped specifically for toilets, you’ll have a lot more luck flushing a clogged toilet with a flange piston than anything else. Just make sure you have a good seal between the piston and the drain hole before you get started.

Build or Buy a Drainage Snake

As for small blockages, you can take your sewer cleaning game to the next level by heading to a department store and grabbing a small gutter snake or long pipe cleaner to see if you can break through or pull out whatever is blocking your drain. This is especially useful if you think the drain is clogged with hair. The FlexiSnake Drain Milipede ($ 5.28 at Amazon ) is a good option for small blockages.

Alternatively, you can make your own mini snake or use a wire hanger to make your gutter. Just be very careful when doing this because you don’t want the tool you make or use to inadvertently damage the pipes or drain you are trying to unclog. If you’re feeling really dodgy, try making your own drain cleaner from a plastic bottle, or pressurize the drain with a plastic bottle or empty milk bag .

Again, it’s worth noting that homemade snakes and the most affordable house snakes are made for small blockages and light duty, not deep in the wall of greasy blockages from the kitchen sink. However, they are worth trying for hair clogs or lost soap bars in the shower or bathroom sink.

If you really enjoy getting your hands on yourself, you can buy a manual drain auger , which is essentially a lightweight, manual version of the power snake that plumbers use. Fortunately, they are inexpensive, many cost around $ 20, and are convenient to carry around at home if you frequently deal with slow or stuck drains.

When all else fails

Yes, you can use chemical sewer cleaners, but as we said earlier, in some cases they can do more harm than good, and if you’re trying to be environmentally friendly, they are definitely not green. The bigger problem with chemical drain cleaners is that they are not very effective at fighting blockages, which you will need a snake or plunger to remove anyway. And if they don’t work, you’re left with a sink or toilet that is clogged, clogged, and now filled with drain cleaner. Nobody wants that.

If none of the above methods helped, it’s time to call a plumber. You may have a deep blockage somewhere in your walls, or a reserve that most household tools cannot handle. Your pipes are best placed in the hands of a professional.

This story was originally published in 2011 and has been updated on 11/15/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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