Clearing Blocked Drains By Hand

| 6/29/2010 10:36:14 AM

It’s a gross problem, and nobody likes to talk about it. At one time or another, however, we’re all likely to encounter drain clogs. In my house, it’s an ongoing issue. My husband often regards me as a mutant, as my ability to clog a shower drain once a week is beyond his understanding.

I have a special talent for losing and regrowing my hair. I have about twice as much of it as a normal woman (my hairstylists seem ready to phone the local news station every time they approach my mass of hair), and it falls out constantly. I’ve learned that this isn’t unnatural – humans can lose up to 100 hairs in a single day (Medline Plus). Still, my husband, with his buzz cut, hardly understands the fact that hair-clogged drains are commonplace in our house.

Up until now, we’ve been relying on harsh chemicals to solve this problem. They cost too much, their fumes are bothersome and I constantly fear that my cat, who adores playing in the shower, will be curious enough to ingest some Drano one day. She eats plastic bags, so drinking chemicals might not be a stretch.

I found an article from 2007 called How to Unclog Drains Without Chemicals that has convinced me to stop buying bottles of nasty chemicals to fix our clogs. This piece has in-depth instructions for clearing blocked drains in sinks, showers, toilets and garbage disposals. In my case, the biggest problem has been a lack of understanding for how all of these drains and pipes connect and function. Thanks to Steve Maxwell’s crystal-clear tutorials, it all makes sense now.

And if you'd like to keep your showers, as well as your drains, chemical-free, check out this blog on natural hair care.

Lindsey Siegele is the Senior Web Editor at Ogden Publications, the parent company of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on .

Robert Bowers
7/5/2010 3:40:56 PM

I have some other methods for sink drains. Bathroom sinks have an overflow hole which must be blocked in order to use a sink plunger on them. I put duct tape over the hole, then use the plunger as the article describes. If that doesn't work, my a/c came with a small round brush on the end of a long flexible plastic handle to clean the condensate line. These can be found at stores selling HVAC stuff. It reaches far enough to get to the trap under the sink and clear it. If that doesn't work, I put a cup of laundry bleach in the drain, let it sit for an hour, then pour a pan of boiling water down the drain. Sink snakes often don't work in bathroom sink drains as the drain stopper linkage often get in the way. This is easily removed temporarily, but can make a mess if the hole on the drain tube is not sealed while using the snake.

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