DIY Drain Cleaners
Skip the harsh, store-bought version and make your this simple solution at home using just two common kitchen ingredients.
Photography: Addie Juell
Source: Healthy Home 2008, Spring 2008
The secret to making a powerful drain cleaner—and by powerful we also mean a non-toxic alternative to the harsh chemical-laced versions you get at the store—is likely sitting in your kitchen pantry.
This simple recipe—made from a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar—can help remove blockages of all kinds from your bathroom and kitchen drains. The acidic properties in the vinegar loosen food residue and other clog-causing debris, and form an even more powerful cleaning agent when combined with baking soda. The bubbling reaction created by mixing the two ingredients together can dislodge most blockages on its own, but you may need to use an auger, or snake, for more stubborn clogs like hair.
The most effective way to use a baking soda and vinegar solution is to line your drain with baking soda first, followed by the vinegar. The more time you allow the mixture to sit, the better. Cover the drain with a plug or a cloth rag while the solution works its magic. The vinegar will immediately begin to break down caked-on fats in your drain, turning much of it into harmless salt and gas.
To avoid clogs entirely, there are several preventive measures you can take. Start by making sure your drain has a screen in place to trap solid materials and keep them from making their way into your pipes. In the kitchen, never pour fat or grease down the drain. Once they harden, a clog is all but inevitable. In the bathroom, brush hair before getting into the shower to minimize the number of strands that slip down the drain. And go easy on soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, especially those that contain oil.
Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar, down drain, and cover with a plug or rag.
Flush with boiling water. Repeat as neccessary.