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A clogged drain can be a major inconvenience, to say the least. Whether you find yourself desperately trying to unclog a kitchen sink before guests arrive for dinner, or you suddenly notice your shower is overflowing with water and will not drain – it’s a scenario we’d all prefer to avoid.
It might be tempting to immediately reach for the phone and call your local plumber or grab the toughest-looking drain unblocker in your nearest hardware store, but unclogging a drain might not always call for such drastic measures.
First, put down the phone for now, and toss out the harsh chemicals! These toxic ingredients can be extremely damaging to your pipes and the environment, not to mention the numerous health issues that they can cause. Instead, read on to find out how to clear a clogged drain efficiently without the help of a plumber or the use of any toxins or chemicals.
Let’s start by looking at each of the methods before figuring out which one is likely to be the best fit for your needs and the type of clog that you are working with.
How to Clear a Clogged Drain: Tools and Methods
These are four of the most effective all-natural drain unclogging techniques. Each method uses easy-to-find tools and ingredients and won’t cause any unnecessary damage to your plumbing or the environment.
A plunger is often a go-to tool when it comes to unblocking drains and it’s true that plungers can be really effective in dealing with some blockages. Simply half fill the sink or tub with some warm water and then go in with your plunger until the blockage releases and the sink begins to drain at normal speed. Rinse with hot water to finish off.
2. Long Hook Tool
Having a long wire or plastic hook lying around for drain blockages is a really great idea. The hook tool can be used to manually remove the item or items that are causing the blockage, although it’s definitely not the most glamorous method!
Remove the drain cover before taking your hook tool and digging around to dislodge the blockage, pull the blockage out of the drain and repeat this a few more times until the drain is cleared.
This option can be pretty gross – so definitely wear gloves and be prepared for some potentially nasty surprises (think lots of hair and gunk matted together).
If you don’t have a hook tool lying around, a wire coat hanger can easily be fashioned into a makeshift one!
3. Hot Water and Dish Soap
For this method, simply heat a large pot of water to a boil and stir in around half a cup of your chosen natural dish soap.
Very slowly pour the mixture into the drain. It’s super important that you do this slowly to avoid air bubbles from forming which may cause the boiling water to splash back up at you. Also, be sure to wear gloves to prevent from getting burned.
You might need to repeat this method a few times before the sink begins to drain normally. Finish by flushing once again with your hot water tap.
4. Hot Water and Salt
For this method, pour half a cup of salt down the blocked drain and then follow by slowly pouring down roughly a gallon of boiling water (again, take care to do this very slowly).
The hot water will loosen dirt and debris and the salt will work as a light abrasive to lift away the blockage.
Again, you might need to repeat this method a few times before getting the full effects.
Choosing the Right Method for You – What is Causing the Clog?
The only way to identify the best course of action when it comes to unclogging a drain is by figuring out exactly what is causing the blockage. Different tools and techniques will work well for different blockages, so it is important to choose the right one.
Listed below are some of the most common drain blockers matched with the most suitable un-blocking method.
Food debris is a common cause of kitchen sink blockages. The particles become trapped in the pipe’s U-bend and can quickly cause blockages.
For this kind of blockage, you’re likely to see the best results from using a plunger as it will dislodge the particles and allow them to pass down the pipes.
Fat or Oil Buildup
Another common cause of kitchen sink blockages, fat, grease, and oil are frequently poured down drains while hot but quickly cool to create an extremely hard and sticky substance that will block the drain.
For fat or oil blockages, use hot water and detergent or salt methods. Both will work to cut through the fat buildup and loosen the blockage.
If it’s a shower or bathtub drain that is blocked, hair is the most likely culprit. Loose hair goes down the drain and becomes trapped under the filter or lower down in the pipes and will combine with any soap scum or other debris to form a solid blockage.
To remove this kind of blockage, opt for the wire hook tool. The hook can be used to pull out the hair and remove the blockage quickly.
Soap scum is another frequent blocker of bathroom drains. Like fats and oils, the soap scum will form a coating on the edges of the pipes and can build up over time to form a serious clog.
To deal with this, use the hot water and salt method to cut through the greasy residue and unclog your drain.
How to Stop Drains from Clogging in the Future
Never put food waste, fats, oils, or grease down your drain. Instead, dispose of any debris in the trash and allow fats and oils to cool before also scraping them into the trash. Allowing greasy substances to be rinsed down the drain may seem quick, easy, and harmless, but as soon as they cool in the pipework they will become hard and cause serious blockages.
Install a hair catcher on your shower or bathtub drain. These work by catching any loose hair before it is able to make its way down the drain. You can then remove the filter, dispose of the hair buildup in the trash can and clean it before setting it back in place.
Use a saltwater rinse on kitchen drains every four to six weeks. Simply use your hot water and salt method to periodically rinse the drains and prevent buildup and blockages.
A clogged drain might be inconvenient and unpleasant to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be a source of great stress and in many cases, it can be de-clogged without using harsh chemical ingredients and without paying for the assistance of a plumber.
While there may be times when a drain specialist or plumbers services are required, particularly if you are dealing with a more complex blockage or underground pipework, most household clogs can be removed using basic tools and products that you are likely to already have lying around your home.
By using the prevention methods listed in this article, you should be able to reduce the chances of your drains becoming clogged and the unclogging techniques we have mentioned will enable you to quickly and painlessly deal with any clogs that do arise in the future.