Cleaning Hacks

No Plumber, No Problem: Conquer Drain Clogs With These 4 Cleaners You Can Make From Pantry Staples

Photo: Getty Images / Westend61
There are few things more annoying than clogged, smelly drains. If there's one thing that's worse, it's actually having to do something about said smelly drain. Calling a plumber is expensive and inconvenient. Commercial drain cleaners can be full of harmful chemicals that are bad for your body and your plumbing. And standing in water up to your ankles while you shower is hardly a sustainable scenario.

The good news is you can make your own homemade drain cleaners for very little cost using natural household products. Here are some proven home remedies for keeping your drains free of clogs and foul odors.

The benefits of natural drain cleaning solutions

Eco-friendly drain cleaners are safer than toxic chemical-based cleaners. Synthetic cleaners have sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid in them. Those harsh chemicals will eat away at your pipes over time. In the long run, they will cause you more problems because they'll erode your plumbing. "We never recommend pouring chemicals down your drains because the fumes can be dangerous, and there are safer and more efficient solutions," says Brian Parmenter, a master plumber with more than 46 years of experience.

Natural, DIY drain cleaners are safer, easy to put together from items you already have at home, and are very cost-effective. In the big picture, you're helping to protect the environment by avoiding harsh commercial drain cleaners. Win-win-win?

Keep reading for 4 homemade drain cleaners you can make from ingredients found in your kitchen.

Natural Drain Clog Solutions
Photo: Getty Images/Geo-Grafika

1. Freshen drains with baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are like PB&J or matcha and oat milk for do-it-yourself cleaning: They go together perfectly. Using the duo is very easy to do and can keep your sinks clear of harsh, foul-smelling chemicals.

Mix 1/3 cup baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar and pour down the drain giving you trouble. "Close the drain up and let the concoction foam up inside the drain," says Parmenter. "After about a half-hour, pour a lot of hot, not boiling, water down the drain."

For stubborn clogs, repeat the process. If you perform this method once a month on a regular basis you will keep your drain clear and fresh.


2. Cream of tartar drain fix

Bob Vila (the OG of home repair) suggests another combination to dissolve stubborn bathroom clogs of hair and soap scum.

Combine two cups of baking soda with 1/8th cup of cream of tartar (approximately two tablespoons) and a half cup of salt. Mix the solution in a jar by giving it a good shake. Pour two cups of boiling water down the drain and add your homemade mix. Let everything sit for at least an hour. The salt and baking soda will work on the clog, while the cream of tartar cleans metals.

If it’s still clogged, pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar down the drain, followed by two cups of boiling water. Let it work overnight to clear the drain.

3. Dishwashing detergent and hot water

For those who love using coconut oil in your beauty routine, you might notice your drain has been slow. It’s possible you have a grease clog in your drain. There’s also the “oops” factor of accidentally pouring or spilling grease into your kitchen sink after cooking.

We’ve got you covered. Put two tablespoons of dish washing detergent into a pan of boiling water, then slowly pour the hot water into the drain. This is especially effective at breaking up fatty grease clogs because you are returning the fats to a liquid state, then the detergent helps move the grease out of the drain and down the pipes. Greener Ideal recommends doing this once a week, which might make sense if you cook with a lot of greases or use beauty oils that could clog your drain.

4. Borax, salt, and vinegar

Here is another homemade drain cleaner recommended by Parmenter. Start with 1/4 cup of salt and a 1/4 cup of Borax with a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Pour the solution into the drain followed by a pot of hot water. Let it sit for at least an hour before rinsing with hot tap water.

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