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Cleaning the Drain — DIY Style

Cleaning the Drain

There’s nothing more disgusting than having the water level in the shower up to your ankles. But it happens, no matter how often and meticulously you clean your plumbings.

Drain clogging is one of the most common plumbing issues in homes, and it not only prevents the water from going down the drains but also causes unpleasant smells in your home. Plus, clogged drains can become the breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.

Unless you want to live in a smelly home and swim in the shower, you have to act in time!

Preparing a homemade drain cleaner is your best solution for an on-demand cleaning of the plumbing drainage system. In this article, we provide you with 6 highly effective DIY drain cleaners and instructions on how to prepare each.

How Often Should You Clean the Drains?

Many things end up in your drainage system every day, from hair to soap to food particles. If not cleaned, these things accumulate in the drains over time, causing clogged drains. The best way to prevent it is by regular DIY drain cleaning.

So, how often should you clean the drains?

It depends on the system’s needs. If the drain pipes are small and clog often, once or twice a month is enough. On the other hand, if they are larger and don’t clog, you can clean them at least once a year.

Besides these occasions, you should clean the drains whenever you notice:

  • An unpleasant smell coming out near the kitchen sink or the bathroom
  • Water going down the drain very slowly
  • Water coming back from the drains
  • Your plumbing gurgles as the water goes down the drains
  • Frequent toilet clogs or overflows

Why regularly cleaning drains is important?

Cleaning your drainage system regularly helps keep it clean and increases its efficiency. It prevents drain clogs and pipe blockages and reduces the risk of water backups. It also removes the unpleasant odor in your home.

Additionally, it saves you money by preventing major plumbing problems, which may cost you a lot in the long run.

Why Use DIY Drain Cleaners?

Most people rely on store-bought drain cleaners when cleaning the drains. They believe synthetic products guarantee 100% pipe cleaning success or higher efficacy than any drain cleaner homemade.

However, they don’t take into account the fact that store-bought cleaners contain additional chemicals which may damage the pipes and cause plumbing problems like pipe erosion and weak pipes.

So, why should you use homemade pipe cleaners?

  • They are made of natural ingredients. As such, they are safe to use and don’t pose a toxic risk to you and your family.
  • They are eco-friendly. Made of natural ingredients, homemade drain cleaners break down quickly. They go down the system as soon as you flush out the water, eventually leaving it.
  • They protect the pipes. You can effectively clean your drainage system without damaging your pipes, causing a pipe replacement that could’ve been avoided.
  • They are free. Preparing a drain cleaner yourself costs you nothing because you use kitchen supplies you already have at home.

Unlike homemade pipe cleaners, synthetic ones are made of harsh chemicals such as sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. These chemicals are too potent and can damage your pipes. They may corrode your pipes, eventually eating them away and disbalance the good bacteria in the septic system.

What’s even worse, they are toxic and don’t flush out easily like the homemade ones but stay in the pipes for an extended period. As such, they pose a health risk to your and your family.

And there’s always the risk of being unable to unclog and thoroughly the drainage system.

Homemade Drain Cleaner: How-To Guide

There are various types of drain cleaners you can prepare. Some are made of only one ingredient, while others are made of three. They differ in their potency and effect on the drainage system.

So, how do you know what is the best homemade drain cleaner?

There’s no right answer to this question, as it all depends on your plumbing issue or current plumbing needs.

We know you may need help to make the right choice. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 6 highly effective DIY pipe cleaners.

#1. Boiling water

Boiling water is the simplest and most underrated pipe cleaner of them all. It successfully cleans your drains and helps reduce oil, grease, and fat accumulation in your pipes. It’s a great ASAP choice for pipe blockage.

However, you shouldn’t use it frequently as it may soften and even melt the PVC joints causing you more trouble than good.

Preparation method

  • Boil 4 cups of water or as much as your kettle holds.
  • Slowly pour it down the drain with one or two pauses between pourings.

#2. Baking soda + white vinegar

The baking soda and white vinegar cleaner are preferred among those who chose the DIY clean drain approach. This powerful solution effectively wipes away grease, hair, food particles, and other items in your drainage system.

You can use baking soda or soda bicarbonate, whichever you have at home, as both have the same cleaning effect.

Preparation method

  • Add ½ cup baking soda to ½ cup white vinegar
  • Steer with a spoon until the soda dissolves and the solution is well mixed.
  • Pour the solution down the drains and wait for 5-10 minutes (up to an hour for stubborn clogs).
  • Flush the drain with hot (not boiling) water

#3. Baking soda + lemon juice

If you want your home to smell nice, combine lemon juice with baking soda instead of white vinegar. The lemon scent is refreshing and pleasant, so you can use this combo when cleaning the drains in your kitchen.

Preparation method

  • Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain
  • Pour ½ cup lemon juice
  • Wait for an hour
  • Flush the drain with hot (not boiling) water.

#4. Baking Soda + Salt

Baking soda works miracles on your drains when combined with salt. Salt’s abrasive properties explode when combined with baking soda, creating a potent cleaner.

Preparation method

  • Mix ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup salt
  • Pour the solution down the drain
  • Wait for half an hour, or let it sit overnight if the clog is tough
  • Pour boiling water into the drain to flush the cleaner

#5. Baking Soda + Salt + Cream of Tartar

If you’re dealing with stubborn pipe clogs, such as those caused by hair and soap scum, you need a highly potent solution. Baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar is the winning combo for fighting the hard-to-clean clogs.

What makes this solution ultra-powerful is that it has a double cleaning function. The baking soda and salt take care of the clog, whereas the cream of tartar cleans the metals.

Preparation method

  • Add ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup salt, and 2 tbsps of cream of tartar in a jar
  • Shake the jar to create a homogenous solution
  • Pour the solution into the drain
  • Pour boiling water.
  • Wait for at least one hour
  • Run tap water to rinse any solution remainings

#6. Salt + Borax + Vinegar

The so-called Borax solution is a powerful drain cleaner. It combines highly abrasive ingredients that work miracles in removing clogs in the drains. And it’s easy to prepare.

Preparation method

  • Pour ¼ cup salt and a ¼ cup Borax into the drain, then ½ cup vinegar
  • Flush with boiling water.
  • Wait for one hour, and then rinse the solution remainings with hot tap water.

Concluding Remarks on Drain Cleaning

Regular DIY drain cleaning is crucial for maintaining a clean and efficient plumbing system, as it prevents unpleasant odors, slow water drainage, and major plumbing issues.

A great way to clean the drainage system in your home on demand is by using a DIY drain cleaner. These solutions are natural, easy to prepare, and safe to use.

However, if they don’t help or if you’re facing a serious plumbing problem, it’s best to call a plumber. Experienced plumbers have the expertise and equipment to handle complex plumbing issues effectively. They ensure safety and offer a long-lasting solution to your plumbing issues, preventing further damage.


How long do you let baking soda and vinegar sit in the drain?

In most cases, you should let the baking soda and vinegar solution sit in the drain for 5-10 minutes. However, if the clog is hard to remove, you can let it sit in the drain for up to an hour.

What dissolves hair in a drain?

The baking soda and vinegar solution is the winning homemade cleaner for dissolving hair in a drain.

Do plumbers use hydrogen peroxide?

Most plumbers use hydrochloric and sulfuric acid for effective drain cleaning. Hydrogen peroxide may be used in preparing homemade drain cleaners, but it’s not recommended due to its toxicity.

Will Coca-Cola unclog a drain?

Coca-cola may help remove small clogs. However, it’s not recommended for cleaning drains because, as a sugary soda, it leaves a sugar syrup film on surfaces.

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