Is your sink or bath tub draining slowly? Do you hate using nasty, harsh chemicals to clean out your drains?
While this can be a temporary fix to unclog a drain, using chemical drain cleaners causes more problems than positive outcomes!
Chemicals that are strong enough to clear a small clog in your drain are more than capable of damaging your skin and eyes, not to mention the environment.
Reasons for Choosing Eco-Friendly Ways to Unclog Drains
Drain cleaners with chemicals get washed into the sewer system and eventually, the local waterways.
These chemicals can damage plant and animal habitats and cause genetic mutations in their offspring. The chemicals can outright kill sensitive species.
In addition, many chemical drain cleaners contain lye and sulfuric acid that create hazardous fumes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Just take a look at what a typical chemical drain cleaner does to this sponge in the video below, and you’ll never want to release those chemicals into the environment again!
Commercial drain cleaners also cost much more than natural solutions.
And if you use a chemical cleaner and it damages the pipe (which is not uncommon in homes with PVC pipes), the cost of using chemicals to clear out a clog could be much more.
Instead of using chemical cleaners, you should opt for a greener solutions for drain cleaning.
There are several inexpensive and non-toxic methods you can use to unclog the drains in your home, with ingredients you probably already have in your cabinets.
Check out these 4 effective ways you can unclog your drains while using no harsh chemicals.
Ways to unclog your drain without using chemicals
1. 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.
It’s 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 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. 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. 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:
- Remove any visible debris from the drain opening
- Pour ¾ cup dry baking soda down the drain
- Pour ½ cup vinegar down the drain and cover immediately with a rag or plug
- Leave it in there for 30 minutes, and prepare boiling water
- 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 chemical free!
4. 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
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 it’s 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, there is a tub-sized version called the Tub Shroom as well.
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By using these natural methods, you can avoid pouring toxic chemicals down your drain.
This article was originally published in 2012, and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.