A clogged drain is one of those obnoxious things that you simply can’t avoid forever. By their very nature, drains will eventually clog up as hair, scum, and other types of waste accumulate in the drain line. However, while we do recommend a professional drain cleaning service as by far the most effective way of eliminating a clog for good, there are a few things you can try that might help you at least temporarily get rid of your clog problem. The best news is that, for the most part, these DIY tricks all utilize common household items that you probably have laying around. In a pinch, one could help you avoid an emergency until you can schedule a full drain cleaning. Here are five DIY drain cleaning tricks you might be able to take advantage of.
The Elementary School Volcano TrickDid you ever make a “volcano” in elementary school out of paper mâché? The “eruption” you simulated used an incredibly common chemical reaction that creates a lot of foam and pressure: baking soda and vinegar. Believe it or not, you actually can use this reaction to clean out drains and dislodge clogs. Simply pour one-half cup of baking soda down your blocked drain. Have your drain plug at the ready and then pour one-half cup of vinegar down as well. Quicky plug the drain and let it sit for one hour (you might want to use a heavy pot to help hold the drain plug down in order to prevent air from escaping during the chemical reaction). During the cleaning, the pressure created by the two chemicals reacting can actually dislodge the blockage in your drain line. Once an hour has passed, pour a cup of boiling water down the drain to wash away the residue and your drain should be clean and moving again.
The Boiling Water TrickBoiling water is one of nature’s most powerful cleaners, and it does wonders on clogs, particularly in your kitchen. The boiling water trick is simple: bring a pot of water up to boil and then pour it straight down your blocked drain. However, be careful if your drain is moving slowly: pouring too much too quickly could cause water to splash back, and boiling water can cause severe burns in just a few seconds’ exposure to bare skin. Blockages that consist of things like fats, oils, and other common types of food waste will quickly melt under the extreme heat of boiling water, causing them to fall apart and wash away. You’ll be back to enjoying your kitchen sink in no time!
The Household Tool TrickIn the plumbing section at home improvement stores, you’ll find a number of tools. Snakes and augers are common, but there’s one particular tool that’s inexpensive and incredibly effective at taking care of nasty hair-based clogs like what you’ll find in your bathroom drains. This tool, known as a drain weasel, is a plastic rod that has a bit on the end that’s designed to hook onto hair and other debris stuck in these drains. Simply lower this tool into the affected drain until you feel resistance, then start to spin the handle so that the hooking bit in your drain line begins collecting all of the hair that composes your clog. Once you feel you have collected enough, simply pull the weasel up, and all of the hair and grime will come with it. Be forewarned, this is not a pleasant job. Have a trash bag ready, and we strongly recommend wearing safety glasses and disposable latex or rubber gloves. However, it’s incredibly effective, and drain weasels usually cost no more than about five or six dollars to purchase.
The Good-Smelling TrickHate the smell of vinegar? You’re not alone. For a lot of people, this odor is downright revolting, and most will do anything they can to avoid it. Rather than deal with vinegar, you can take advantage of the cleaning power of citrus and enjoy a fresh-smelling drain at the same time! Pour half of a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half of a cup of lemon juice. Then plug the drain and let it sit for an hour. Just like with the volcano trick, finish it off with a pot of boiling water, and your drain should be moving smoothly again, with the added benefit of smelling great!
The Baker’s Special TrickIf you’re an avid baker, there’s a good chance you have all of the necessary ingredients for this one lying around. You’ll need:
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup salt
- 2 tbsp. cream of tartar