Everyone has experienced a clogged drain at one point or another. Whether you rent or buy, you’ll eventually be faced with a clog that either causes your pipes to drain slowly or completely prevents the flow of water, causing nasty backups.
One of the first things we tend to do - unfortunately - is resort to chemical drain cleaners. However, this only provides a temporary fix, and chemical cleaners can often cause more harm than good. The harsh, corrosive chemicals in these products are dangerous for your skin, eyes, and respiratory system. They’re also extremely toxic to the environment. Eco-friendly drain cleaning is better for the planet, safer for your home, and can also be much cheaper in the long run.
Cleaning a Drain without using Harmful Chemicals
Snake and Plunger
One of the go-to methods for clearing a clog is using a plunger. You probably have one is a closet or utility room, and they’re actually fairly effective for treating minor clogs. However, always make sure you have two plungers in your home: one for the sinks, and one for the toilets. This will prevent bacteria from your toilet from contaminating the place you wash your dishes. There are also plungers specifically designed for sinks as the standard toilet plunger may be difficult to use. Sink plungers are able to maneuver in tight spaces and can be stored under your sink.
To use a plunger properly, make sure that it seals the opening of the drain and pump it slowly. Increase the pressure or force as needed, until the clog frees itself and water flows down the drain.
If plunging doesn’t solve the problem, you can try snaking the drain with a straightened wire hanger. Insert the hanger gently into the drain to break up the clog, then push the hanger in and out until the clog loosens.
When snaking your drain with a wire hanger, make sure you’re careful not to scrape the bottom of your toilet bowl (this is just one reason why a professional plumber is recommended).
Dish Soap and Water
Believe it or not, you can actually use dish soap to clear a clog. However, be warned that this method only works well with clogs caused by grease, like those you’ll find in your kitchen sink.
To clear the clog, squirt a generous amount of dish soap down the drain, followed immediately by and a pot or kettle full of boiling water. Dish soap is formulated to be tough on grease, and the hot water will help wash it down. You may need to repeat this process. What’s more? You can help prevent clogs and keep your drains clean by doing this weekly.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
As you may know from grade school science class, baking soda is a base, and white vinegar is an acid. When mixed together, they create a chemical reaction that bubbles, creates pressure, and can often power its way through clogs.
To use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain, do the following:
- Remove any debris from the drain opening
- Dry the opening of the drain and the area around it
- Pour ¾ cup of dry baking soda down into the drain
- Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the drain
- Immediately plug the drain tightly with a rag or rubber plug
- Let it sit for thirty minutes. During this time, prepare boiling water.
- Remove the plug and carefully pour the boiling water down the drain.
Be sure to plug the hole tightly in step 5 and keep an eye on this - it can create a bubbly mess if done incorrectly.
Similar to baking soda and peroxide, hydrogen peroxide (H2o2) also creates a bubbling effect that can eat through clogs. Combine one cup of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda. Next, pour the mixture down the drain and watch it foam. Wait a minute or two and then run warm water down the drain.
While these eco-friendly methods are significantly safer than chemical cleaners, you should still follow safety precautions. Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands, and always use oven mitts or pot-holders when handling boiling water. Boiling water steam can burn your skin, so make sure to keep your face back as you pour the water to avoid possible problems.
Also, it’s extremely important to note that you should never combine these methods with chemical drain cleaners. If you’ve already tried one method, it is advised that you wait before trying another as certain chemicals can have unexpected reactions, convert to new chemicals or substances, and become dangerous.
If you’ve tried all of the above options, and your drains are still clogged, it’s time to call a professional La Verne plumber to unclog your drain. What appears to be a simple clog might be something much more serious, like the degradation of your pipes.
After the Clog is Cleared
Cleaning a clog from your toilet or sink is great; however, a clog is a warning that something went wrong with your pipes. Your next priority should be preventative maintenance to reduce the chances of thes clogs from recurring. Here’s how you can keep clogs at bay and preserve the life of your pipes.
Upgrade Your Sink Stopper
If you face clogs in your sink, take a look at the stopper you are currently using. If it lets unwanted materials like hair and pieces of soap go down the drain, you may want to find one that only lets water through.
If your kitchen sink’s drain is the one with the problem, consider investing in a mesh basket stopper - it will grab and collect unwanted food particles, preventing them from entering into your drain.
Know What to Flush
When it comes to your toilet, be mindful of what you’re putting in it. Even baby wipes that claim to be flush-friendly or flushable are common culprits of clogs. Toilet paper is the only product specifically designed to go in your toilet, and even this can create clogs, so it’s important not to use it excessively.
When to Call a Plumber
If you find your drains needing to be unclogged over and over, hire a professional drain cleaning service. Repeated clogging is usually a sign of an underlying problem within your pipes or plumbing system. This is especially true if you notice water backing up into more than one drain in your house. When this type of issue arises, the above eco-friendly methods usually won’t work and a proper diagnosis is required so that the correct repairs can be made.
What’s the most effective method you’ve used for clearing a clog? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!