How to Unclog a Drain Without Harmful Chemicals – 4 Simple Ways

Updated On

We may collect a share of sales from items linked to on this page. Learn more.

Is your sink or bathtub taking longer to drain than it should, prompting you to consider how to unclog a drain without using those common, but caustic, chemical solutions?

Many homeowners, when faced with persistent kitchen or bathroom drain blockages, default to using commercial chemical drain cleaners. These are marketed as a quick-fix solution for clogged drains, which seem convenient in the moment.

However, the reality is that these chemical solutions, while they may temporarily solve the issue of how to unclog drain pipes, often lead to more negative repercussions than benefits. The harsh substances contained within these cleaners are not only a potential hazard to your health, capable of causing harm to skin and eyes upon contact, but they also have long-term detrimental effects on the environment.

What’s more, these potent chemicals, although engineered to clear clogged drains, can corrode your plumbing over time. Therefore, it’s important to consider alternative methods on how to clean drains. These methods can be just as effective, without the associated risks to your health and the environment.

Keep reading for 4 simple strategies on how to clear a clogged drain using methods that are safer for both our homes and the earth.

Reasons for Choosing Eco-Friendly Ways to Unclog Drains

Chemical drain cleaners don’t just vanish after they’ve done their job – they end up in our sewers and eventually flow into rivers and lakes.

Once there, these chemicals can harm the homes of plants and animals and can even cause changes in the animals’ babies. Sometimes, these chemicals are strong enough to kill the more delicate creatures living in these waters.

Plus, a lot of these drain cleaners are made with really strong stuff like lye and sulfuric acid, which can let off nasty fumes that are dangerous to breathe in.

On top of harming nature, these store-bought drain cleaners usually cost more than natural options.

And if one of these cleaners wrecks your pipes, which can happen, especially if your pipes are made of PVC, the price you pay later could be way higher.

Rather than using these harsh chemicals, it’s better to go for greener, cleaner ways to get your drains running smoothly again.

There are plenty of cheap and safe ways to unclog your drains right at home, using stuff you probably already have in your kitchen or bathroom.

Let’s explore four smart ways to unclog your drains that won’t involve any harsh chemicals.

water flowing down drain

Ways to unclog your drain without using chemicals

1. How to Unclog a Drain with a Snake, Wire Hanger or Plunger

These are the simplest, most obvious methods most people use to unclog a drain.

Almost every home in America has a plunger and this is really the first thing you try to clear your drain.

If you’re (understandably) not comfortable using the same plunger in your sink that you use in your toilet, we recommend getting a plunger designed for clearing sinks, like this one.

Sink plungers are easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces, and small enough to store under the sink so it’s on hand when you need it.

The proper way to use a plunger is to make sure that it seals the opening completely and to pump it slowly. The vacuum that it creates can sometimes move a clog, but a blowback of chemicals can occur if the opening is not completely covered.

First, bail as much water out of the drain as possible to avoid creating a big mess.

Then place the plunger over the opening of the drain. Push up and down on the plunger slowly a few times and then pull it up quickly.

This will help to break clogs and get your drain flowing.

If that doesn’t work, you can try clearing the drain with a straightened out wire hanger.

Take a wire coat hanger apart and push it down the drain forcefully to help break up the clog.

Keep pushing the hanger in and out until the clog breaks up.

If your drain is still stopped up, you can try a snake if you have one available.


Drain snakes can be manually operated or mechanically operated with the assistance of a motor. The snake has blades that rotate and cut up any clogs caused by hair, fibrous food material and tree roots.

The blades come in different sizes, so be sure to select the appropriate size of snake for the drain that has the clog.

The snake can also be used with the water and vinegar and baking soda methods mentioned later in the article.


2. How to Clear a Clogged Drain with Dish Soap & Hot Water

Another great natural way to unclog your slow drain is to use dish soap and hot water. If the clog is caused by grease, this method will work very well.

Squirt a good amount of soap down then clogged drain. Then pour a pan or kettle full of boiling water down the drain.

This should take care of any greasy clogs in your drain.

For prevention of drain clogs, do this at least once per week.

3. How to Unclog a Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar

It’s just like those volcanos that would win the science fair in grade school, except now you want to contain all the foam instead of let it out.


Baking soda is a base, while white vinegar is an acid. When these two substances mix together, a chemical reaction occurs that will bubble up and eat through clogs.

To unclog a drain with the power of chemistry, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any visible debris from the drain opening
  2. Pour ¾ cup dry baking soda down the drain
  3. Pour ½ cup vinegar down the drain and cover immediately with a rag or plug
  4. Leave it in there for 30 minutes, and prepare boiling water
  5. Remove the plug and slowly pour the hot water down the drain

It’s that simple. If it doesn’t clear all the gunk out the first time, a second pass should work. And now you can keep your pipes clean and free from toxic chemicals!

4. Clear a drain with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to unclog your drain.

Mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a tablespoon of baking soda. Pour this mixture down your drain and let it foam.

This should help to break up the clog and clear your drain.

When you are using any of these natural methods, it is still important to follow basic safety precautions. Always protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves.

When using boiling water, use oven mitts or pot-holders so you don’t burn your hands.

When you pour hot water down the drain, keep your face back to avoid steam burns.

After the Clog is Gone

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

So you’ve freed up whatever was clogging your drain and now your water is running freely – great! But what can you do to prevent it from getting clogged up again?

Consider swapping out your normal sink stopper for one that prevents unwanted materials from going down your sink in the first place.

If it’s your kitchen sink, it’s time to invest in a new mesh basket stopper to grab unwanted food from making its way into your drain.

If it’s a bathroom sink that’s getting clogged, hair is usually one of the biggest culprits!

We recommend getting a Sink Shroom that will catch all of your hair and prevent you from needing to clear your drain nearly as often. And if it’s your tub or shower, there are appropriately-sized versions for those as well.

By using these natural methods, you can avoid pouring toxic chemicals down your drain.

  • Greener Ideal Staff

    Greener Ideal helps you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips and commentary on the latest environment news. We want to protect the planet and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

  • Ian Andrew

    As the Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greener Ideal, Ian has been a driving force in environmental journalism and sustainable lifestyle advocacy since 2008. With over a decade of dedicated involvement in environmental matters, Ian has established himself as a respected expert in the field. Under his leadership, Greener Ideal has consistently delivered independent news and insightful content that empowers readers to engage with and understand pressing environmental issues.

    Ian’s expertise extends beyond editorial leadership; his hands-on experience in exploring and implementing sustainable practices equips him with practical knowledge that resonates with both industry professionals and eco-conscious audiences. This blend of direct involvement and editorial oversight has positioned Ian as a credible and authoritative voice in environmental journalism and sustainable living.

10 thoughts on “How to Unclog a Drain Without Harmful Chemicals – 4 Simple Ways”

  1. “4 Simple Ways to Unclog a Drain Without Chemicals”…proceeds to list ONE way to do it without chemicals, and 3 other ways using…chemicals.

    Does the author not know what a “chemical” is?

    • Had they changed the name of the article? It is written “HARMFUL chemicals” there. I guess baking soda and vinegar are slightly less harmful than those drain cleaners…

  2. Hi my sink was not plug I just try to use vinegar and baking soda or just to deodorize and the baking soda will not go down it is stuck in my seat no matter what I tried hot water I tried a lot more vinegar someone someone help what do I do it will not go down the bacon soldiers just stuck in there

  3. I like that you consider unclogging without using chemicals. After all, they are quite hazardous. Toilet bowls, drain, and oven cleaners are the most dangerous household cleaning products that can cause severe burns on the skin and eyes. And as for drain cleaners, they are harmful not only for human health but even for pipes. They corrode them. It’s better not to store them in the house at all and use alternative cleaning methods.
    Thank you for sharing such helpful content!


What do you think? Leave a comment!