Cleaning supplies - How To Clean A Clogged Drain Effectively

Whether it’s your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or even the shower drain, dealing with a drain clog can really dampen your day. But fear not! Learning how to clean a clogged drain isn’t as daunting as it seems.

Start with some good old baking soda and white vinegar – this dynamic duo can work wonders. Just sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda into the drain, followed by a generous splash of vinegar. This vinegar method creates a fizzing action, helping to break down the soap scum and food particles causing the blockage. After letting the mixture sit for a while, carefully pour some boiling water to flush it all down. This simple trick is a great way to clean drains and prevent future clogs.

But what if the clog is a bit more stubborn? Time to break out the drain snake or the trusty sink plunger. These mechanical devices from your local hardware store can be lifesavers. For kitchen sinks with a garbage disposal, make sure it’s not the source of the problem. A drain snake, also known as a closet auger, can be gently fed into the drain to dislodge deeper clogs. For toilet clogs, toilet plungers with proper techniques can provide enough water pressure to clear the blockage.

And remember, regular drain cleaning with simple methods like running hot tap water mixed with dish soap can prevent the hassle of dealing with slow drains. If all else fails and you feel resistance, it might be time to seek professional help to ensure your drain plumbing and pipes stay in tip-top shape.

Understanding Clogged Drains

Dealing with clogged drains in your sink drain or floor drain? Understanding the culprits is key. Hair in the bathroom tangles and clumps in the drain pipes, acting like a blockage. In the kitchen, grease cools down in your sink drain, becoming sticky and trapping debris. Food particles can also accumulate, causing issues. To tackle these, try baking soda and vinegar, a great duo for simple clogs, or pour boiling water to dissolve grease. For tougher problems, liquid drain cleaner from hardware stores can help, but use it with care.

clogged drain

If mechanical action is needed, sink plungers or a toilet plunger can be effective, especially when combined with running hot tap water afterwards to flush out the system. Cover any overflow hole with a wet rag while plunging to increase the water pressure produced, making it easier to unclog a drain. Regular maintenance and understanding these tips can help you keep your drain system free from common blockages.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure, so staying alert for early warning signs of a common household drain clog is crucial. By spotting these signs early, you’re well-equipped to take proactive steps to prevent clogs. Here are some essential preventive measures and regular maintenance tips to keep your drains clean and flowing smoothly:

  1. Regularly clean drain covers and screens: Hair, soap scum, and other debris can accumulate on drain covers and screens, leading to clogs. Regular cleaning of these components helps prevent clogs in your drains.
  2. Use drain strainers: These are great for sinks and showers, catching hair, food particles, and other debris before they enter the drain. Empty the strainers regularly to keep them effective.
  3. Avoid pouring grease down the drain: Grease can solidify in your drain pipes and trap other debris, creating clogs. Instead, collect grease in a container and dispose of it in the trash.
  4. Dispose of food properly: Scrape food scraps into the trash or compost bin rather than down the sink to avoid blockages in kitchen drains.
  5. Flush drains with hot water: Regularly run hot tap water or pour boiling water down your drains to dissolve any buildup, particularly in kitchen drains prone to grease and oil accumulation.
  6. Use enzyme-based cleaners: These natural cleaners can effectively break down organic matter in your drains, helping to prevent clogs caused by hair, soap scum, and food particles.
  7. Avoid excessive use of chemical cleaners: While these can clear clogs, they can also damage pipes if used too frequently. Use them sparingly and follow instructions carefully.

Do’s and Don’ts to prevent clogging:


  • Regularly clean drain covers and screens.
  • Use drain strainers to catch debris.
  • Dispose of grease and oil correctly.
  • Flush drains with hot water.
  • Regularly use enzyme-based cleaners.


  • Don’t pour grease down the drain.
  • Avoid putting food scraps down the sink.
  • Limit the use of chemical drain cleaners.

By adopting these preventive measures and following these do’s and don’ts, you can significantly lower the risk of clogged drains. A bit of maintenance and awareness can go a long way in keeping your drains clear and your plumbing in top shape.

6 DIY Methods How to Clean a Clogged Drain

Here are several ways to clear a clogged drain using items you probably already have at home.

lemon juice for cleaning clogged drain

Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a natural drain cleaning method, turn to the tried-and-true baking soda and vinegar combo. This dynamic pair is great for when you need to unclog drains. Just pour baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) down the drain, followed by a mixture of vinegar and hot water. The reaction between baking soda and vinegar can help break up the gunk in your clogged drain.

Boiling Water and Dish Soap: Easy and Effective

Another simple solution involves boiling water. Heat up some water until it’s boiling and pour it down the drain. Adding a bit of dish soap can also help break down grease and other residues. This method works well for lighter blockages and is particularly effective in the kitchen sink.

Lemon Juice

Want to freshen up your drains while cleaning them? Try lemon juice. It’s a great natural cleaner and leaves a pleasant scent. Just mix it with baking soda and pour down the drain for a fresh take on drain cleaning.

Drain Bladder

When dealing with tougher blockages, a drain bladder might be necessary. These different mechanical devices can be inserted several feet into the drain and expanded to apply pressure and unclog a drain.

Plunger Allowing Air Pressure

Don’t forget the trusty plunger. By creating a tight seal around the overflow opening and plunger allowing for effective air pressure, it can dislodge clogs a few inches down the pipe.

Wire Hanger

If you’re in a pinch, a wire hanger with a protective sleeve can be used to slowly push through the drain. This can be particularly useful for pop up assembly in sinks or porcelain toilets.

Chemical Drain Cleaners: The Good, The Bad, and The Safety Tips

Chemical drain cleaners can be a convenient option for clearing stubborn clogs, but it’s important to understand their pros and cons before using them. Here, we will discuss when it is appropriate to use chemical cleaners, their benefits, potential risks, and provide safety tips for their usage.

chemicals for cleaning clogged drain

When to Use Chemical Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners should be used as a last resort when other natural and DIY methods have failed to clear the clog. If you’ve tried vinegar and baking soda, wire hangers, boiling water, plunging, and using a plumbing snake without success, then it might be time to consider using a chemical drain cleaner. It’s important to note that chemical cleaners are best suited for organic clogs such as hair, soap scum, and food particles. They may not be as effective for solid obstructions like tree roots or mineral buildup.

Benefits of Chemical Cleaners

One of the main benefits of chemical drain cleaners is their ability to dissolve and break down stubborn clogs quickly. They are designed to work on contact, removing blockages and restoring the flow of water in your sink or floor drains. Chemical cleaners are also readily available and easy to use, making them a convenient option for homeowners. Additionally, they can be relatively inexpensive compared to professional plumbing services.

Potential Risks and Safety Tips

While chemical drain cleaners can be effective, they do come with some potential risks. The chemicals used in these cleaners are often strong and caustic, which means they can cause harm if not used properly. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using chemical drain cleaners:

  1. Read and follow the instructions carefully: Each chemical cleaner has specific instructions for usage and safety precautions. Make sure to read and understand these instructions before using the product.
  2. Wear protective gear: It is essential to protect yourself when handling chemical drain cleaners. Wear gloves, safety goggles, and long sleeves to avoid contact with the chemicals.
  3. Ventilate the area: Chemical drain cleaners can release fumes that may be harmful if inhaled. Open windows and doors, or turn on fans to ensure proper ventilation while using these products.
  4. Keep children and pets away: Store chemical drain cleaners in a secure location that is out of reach for children and pets. Ensure that the area is inaccessible to them while using the product.
  5. Use in moderation: Avoid overusing chemical drain cleaners as they can damage your pipes with prolonged use. Limit their usage to stubborn clogs and follow the recommended dosage.
  6. Consider alternative options: If you have concerns about using chemical drain cleaners or if you have older pipes, it may be best to consult a professional plumber for assistance. For example, a clog in a porcelain toilet may require a different approach, and dish soap could be a gentler alternative for minor blockages.

By following these safety tips and using chemical drain cleaners responsibly, you can minimize the risks and maximize their effectiveness in clearing clogs.

Remember, chemical drain cleaners should only be used as a last resort and with caution. If you’re unsure about using these products or if you’re dealing with a persistent or severe clog, it’s always best to consult a professional plumber who can provide expert assistance.

When to Call a Professional: Signs and Benefits of Professional Drain Cleaning

While there are many DIY methods to clean clogged drains, there may come a time when it’s necessary to call a professional plumber for expert assistance. Here are some signs that indicate the need for professional help and the benefits of professional drain cleaning.

cleaners of clogged drain

Signs that indicate the need for professional help

  1. Recurring or persistent clogs: If you find yourself dealing with frequent clogs that keep coming back even after using DIY methods, it’s a clear sign that there may be a more serious underlying issue. A professional plumber can diagnose the cause of the clogs and provide a long-lasting solution.
  2. Slow drainage: If your drains are consistently slow to empty or if you notice standing water in your sink or bathtub, it’s a sign that there is a blockage in your pipes. Professional plumbers have the tools and expertise to locate and remove the obstruction efficiently.
  3. Foul odors: If you notice unpleasant smells coming from your drains, it could be a sign of a sewer line blockage or a buildup of bacteria and debris. Professional plumbers can identify the source of the odor and take the necessary steps to eliminate it.
  4. Gurgling sounds: If you hear gurgling noises when water is draining from your sink or bathtub, it could indicate a partial blockage in your pipes. This can lead to further damage if left untreated. A professional plumber can assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Benefits of professional drain cleaning

  1. Thorough inspection: When you hire a professional plumber for drain cleaning, they will conduct a thorough inspection of your plumbing system. This includes checking for any hidden issues, such as leaks or cracks in the pipes, that may be contributing to the clogs. By addressing these underlying problems, you can prevent future clogs and costly repairs.
  2. Advanced equipment and techniques: Professional plumbers have access to specialized tools and equipment that can effectively clear even the toughest clogs. They also have the knowledge and expertise to use these tools safely and efficiently. This ensures that your drains are properly cleaned without causing any damage to your plumbing system.
  3. Long-lasting results: DIY methods may provide temporary relief from clogs, but they often fail to address the root cause of the problem. Professional drain cleaning ensures that clogs are completely removed and that your drains are restored to their optimal function. This results in long-lasting results and prevents future clogs from occurring.
  4. Time and cost savings: While professional drain cleaning may seem like an additional expense, it can actually save you time and money in the long run. By hiring a professional plumber, you can avoid the trial and error of DIY methods and the potential for causing further damage. Professional drain cleaning also helps to prevent future clogs, reducing the need for frequent repairs and replacements.

By recognizing the signs that indicate the need for professional help and understanding the benefits of professional drain cleaning, you can make an informed decision about when to call a plumber. Remember, it’s always best to consult a professional when dealing with persistent or severe clogs to ensure the health and longevity of your plumbing system.

About the Author

Mark Wyatt is a contributing writer at AlpineMaids, they do expert house cleaning Denver loves to talk about.