When facing a clogged drain, many people go straight for the harsh chemicals. It’s pretty understandable – you want that clog gone! But have you thought about where those chemicals are going? There are better ways to clear a drain.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is my favorite way to unclog a sink once the water has drained. Pour about a cup of baking soda down, and follow it with a half cup of vinegar. Let it work for several minutes then pour down a pot of boiling water.
This unclogs drains much of the time. I like it because it’s cheap, doesn’t have that chemical stink, and you aren’t using anything dangerous to your family. No need to keep those chemicals out of reach of children other than to avoid a mess.
Washing soda is another good choice in the place of baking soda if you have it available. It’s stronger.
A Zip-It is a little strip of plastic with teeth on it. Put it down the drain and pull back up. It will bring hairs and all kinds of gunk up with it on the teeth. This only works for clogs near the drain, as it’s not very long. It also has to have something to catch, so greasy clogs are out of its league.
The one trouble is that the manufacturer considers it a single use item. Not a fun thing when it’s plastic.
Plunger or Auger
Sometimes the baking soda and vinegar just don’t cut it, or it’s a toilet clog where they really can’t get down to the mess. You still don’t need to reach for the chemicals. You can attack the clog directly with a plunger or plumber’s snake.
To use a plunger, put it over the drain with the best seal you can manage. Work it up and down to see if it can push the clog through. Especially if you’re unclogging a toilet, give the plunger a rinse after by flushing the toilet and holding it in the middle of the water.
A drum auger can take a bit of extra work. You put the end down the drain and turn a crank to help it work its way down the pipe. This can be hard to do, and it takes a bit of work to get around bends sometimes. But if you can reach the clog, a snake does an excellent job. Just be prepared for a little frustration if you aren’t used to using an auger, and sometimes even if you are.
Clean Out the Trap
There’s nothing saying that you can’t just get under a sink and clean out the part that’s probably clogged anyhow. Have a large pan or bucket under where you’re working to catch any water that comes out. This takes some effort, but no chemicals and you might be amazed at what’s caught in there.
Finally, don’t forget to take precautionary measures if you have a drain that tends to clog. Pour a little vinegar and baking soda down the drain regularly, let them work, and rinse. Better to stop a clog before it gets serious.