Clogged drains can be quite a nuisance, especially if you have no idea how to fix them yourself or where to find someone who does. Luckily, clogged drains are relatively easy to fix with the right tools and know-how.
No matter the cause of your drain problems, we’ll show you ways to unclog a drain easily. And you don’t even have to be an experienced DIY-er or plumber yourself to do these! Let’s find out more about these easy drain-unclogging methods.
How to Unclog Drains
Even if you’re the kind who usually has no problem tackling minor plumbing issues on your own, a clogged sink drain is not something you should play around with at home. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could accidentally make the problem worse or even damage your pipes.
If this sounds like something, you want to avoid, read on to learn easy ways to unclog a drain.
Use boiling water
Boiling water is one of the easiest and most common ways to clear clogs. However, refrain from pouring boiling water directly into PVC pipes and porcelain sinks. The water might be too hot and only cause damage to the pipes.
Pour boiling water down the affected sink drains and let it sit for about fifteen minutes. Then pour an entire pot of cold water after the hot water to cool off the pipes and ensure any loosened debris is washed away. Repeat if necessary.
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Pour white vinegar
Pour two cups of white vinegar into the drain (1). After ten minutes, turn on the faucet until all the vinegar has drained.
The acid in the vinegar will help eliminate any clogs that form. And what’s great about this method is that it is cheap. You can get a bottle of vinegar for a dollar or two. Plus, it’s also safe for the environment.
If you hate the vinegar smell, consider pouring lemon or lime juice down the drain to give it a fresh, citrusy scent.
Use a bent wire hanger
The bent wire hanger is the most common item in any home, and it’s also one of the easiest tools for clearing a clogged sink drain or a bathroom sink. Like a drain snake, it is also extremely effective in removing hair clogs!
Just bend a wire coat hanger into the shape of an L and push it down the pipe or bathroom sink until you feel resistance. Then pull back up quickly to dislodge whatever is causing the clog. Depending on your deep clog, you may need to do this process more than once, but it should work on shallow or moderately deep drains.
Use a plunger
Plungers are not just for your toilet bowl or bathroom sink. You can also use them to push and pull with vigor and free any clogs in your pipes.
These plungers come in different forms. The toilet plunger is the most popular and is widely used to remove clogs in the toilet bowl or bathroom sinks.
To use a plunger to unclog a shower drain or kitchen sinks, follow these steps:
Step 1: Cover the opening.
The small opening at the top of the sink prevents flooding. Doing this prevents air from escaping the vent. If you want to exert more pressure, insert a wet rage in the opening and seal it with duct tape.
Step 2: Remove or add water if needed.
There may be standing water, but if there’s none, fill the sink’s bottom with water to cover the plunger.
Step 3: Insert the plunger into the water.
When positioning the plunger, put it into the water at a 45-degree angle. Then start plunging straight up to a 90-degree angle.
Step 4: Repeat the process.
Push downward a few times to create pressure and loosen the clog. Repeat if needed until the water drains.
Step 5: Clean the sink drain.
Clean the kitchen sink and rinse the plunger with clean water. Let it dry before putting it back in the cabinet.
Use baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda is another natural cleaner that effectively removes grit and grime. Pouring this ingredient into a clogged drain will usually produce some chemical reaction that can help break up whatever is causing the blockage.
Dry off the sink first using a dry rag. Then pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain and leave it there for at least 30 minutes before pouring in more baking soda if needed. Push the powder into the drain using a cotton swab if needed.
Follow it with one cup of vinegar. The mixture will react and foam up, which is good because it works. Let the mixture bubble for about 20 minutes. Cover the drain with a wet cloth for ten minutes. This will seal in the solution and make it more potent.
Next, remove the cloth and pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. This will wash away any traces of the clog. Be careful when pouring hot water. Don’t pour it too fast because it may splash and hurt you.
Run water in the sink again to rinse it. Repeat the steps if needed to clear drain clogs.
Pour dish detergent into the clogged drain
Dish detergent is an effective product you won’t be scared to use because it doesn’t cause any harm. But before using this method, know that there are some things you need to know. If water is stagnant, you can’t use this product because it won’t reach the clog. In that case, you need to use other solutions.
If you wish to get rid of clogs using dish detergent, you can use it with the ingredients in the previous method. Don’t worry; this product is safe and non-corrosive, so it doesn’t have any corrosive impact on the pipes. You can use this method as often as possible until the clog is cleared.
There are two ways to get rid of drain pipe build-up using dish detergent. We’ll discuss them below.
Hot Water and Dish Detergent
- Boil 1 liter of water and slowly pour it into the drain to loosen up the clog.
- Pour a cup of dish detergent.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Follow it with a liter of boiling water to remove the clog.
- Repeat if needed.
Lukewarm Water and Dish Detergent
- Add 1 cup of dish detergent to a liter of lukewarm water.
- Pour this mixture into the drain.
- Take this route if your drain is not that clogged.
- Do this method at least once a month to prevent grease build-up.
Use caustic soda
Although this method is very effective, using caustic soda poses threats and challenges. The biggest risk is safety.
Caustic soda is corrosive, and if not handled properly, it can cause vision impairment. And at the very least, it can cause a burning sensation in the skin with direct contact. When ingested, the effects are more serious. Aside from chemical burns, the harsh chemicals in this product can cause gastrointestinal ulceration and, worse, death.
So, before starting this method, wear a pair of rubber gloves and goggles for protection.
- Prepare a large bucket and mix 3 liters of cold water and 3 cups of caustic soda.
- Mix it using a wooden spoon.
- Be sure you refrain from using your hands to stir the mixture and do not use the containers and utensils to prepare food later.
- While mixing, you will notice some heat and a bit of fizz.
- Pour it directly into the blocked drain and let the mixture sit for half an hour.
- Next, boil four liters of water and use it to flush and rinse the drain.
- If the drains remain clogged, repeat the process.
Clean the pipes
This is a relatively easy solution. Put an empty bucket underneath the U-shaped trap beneath the sink. The bucket will collect any water that spills. Then use the pipe wrench of a professional plumber to loosen the nuts at both ends of the pipe.
Once the trap is free, remove it and turn it upside down to empty the trap’s content. You may also have to check the pipe to see any debris. Use an old toothbrush to remove any other gunk. Rinse it with water and put it back in its original position.
Pour washing soda
If the above solutions don’t work, washing soda is another stronger drain cleaner alternative.
Also called sodium carbonate, washing soda is commonly used in cleaning products (2). Unlike baking soda, it’s more alkaline, making it a stronger drain cleaner.
To use, pour boiling water down the sink and follow it with a mug of washing soda. Slowly pour boiling water and let it sit for 10 minutes. This should effectively remove any blockage. If the sink still doesn’t drain properly, repeat the process.
If you don’t have washing soda, put 1/2 inch of baking soda into a baking dish, then bake it for one hour. The heat will effectively release the carbon dioxide in the baking soda, turning it into washing soda.
Use a wet/dry vacuum
A wet/dry vacuum can vacuum wet or dry dirt. It can also be used to clear blocked drains, especially if the clog is high up.
- Create a seal over the hole so as not to create a mess.
- Use the liquid setting and put the suction over the hole.
- Switch on the vacuum and leave it there for 2 minutes.
- Turn it off and slowly run water from the faucet to see if the clog has cleared.
Coke isn’t just a refreshing drink you consume when you’re thirsty; it’s also an effective drain cleaner you can use to remove clogs and blockage in your drains. To use, pour 2 liters of coke down the drain, and let it do the work. Wait for an hour before rinsing it with hot water.
Unlike other commercial drain cleaners, coke is milder but more effective. Due to its acidic nature, it can easily remove any grease and grime from the pipes. But note that it can also leave a sticky film in the pipes because of its sugar syrup content. So, make sure you rinse it with hot water.
And if you are only dealing with a minor blockage, it is best to use baking soda instead.
Related: How To Remove Grease From Clothing
Ways to Unclog a Drain FAQ
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about unclogging drains.
How do you unblock a drain fast?
The fastest and easiest way to unclog drains is by pouring hot water down the drain and following it up with one cup of vinegar and baking soda. Cover the drain with a wet cloth after pouring the vinegar and baking soda for better results. To remove hair strands, use a drain snake.
How do you unclog a drain naturally?
The most natural way to unclog drains is by using boiling water and pouring it directly into the clogged drain. Let it sit for fifteen minutes before washing it with cold water. A bent wire hanger or a drain snake can also do the trick.
What’s the strongest thing to unclog a drain?
The strongest things that can be used to break up or dislodge anything stuck in your drain are boiling water and dish detergent. You can pour the dish detergent and boiling water down the sink and allow it to sit for five minutes, then pour another pot of hot water down the sink with more dish soap. This should loosen things up and get your drains flowing again.