Back when I was single and lived in an all-female household, the answer to a clogged drain would be simple: Pick up the phone and call a plumber. These days, however, I can usually deal with clogged drains myself — it saves us a bundle, not to mention that few professionals would actually venture out here.
The simplest and most obvious thing is prevention: try not to let your drains get mucky in the first place. Clean plates thoroughly before placing them in the sink, especially plates with lots of fatty or oily residue, and try to catch hair and other gunk before it slides down your bathroom drain.
It is preferable not to let a drain clog completely, but deal with it as soon as you notice draining gets a little slow. The sooner you get to treating the problem, the less likely it is you’ll have to revert to harsh measures. Here are some simple methods that nearly always do the trick:
Boiling water. Things don’t get simpler than this; boil a kettle of water and pour it down the drain all at once. Often it’s enough to clear up whatever is blocking the drain. Run the tap for testing.
Baking soda, vinegar, and hot water. Pour some baking soda down the drain and top off with vinegar and hot to boiling water. This should start a nice fizzy reaction that does wonders at clearing drains. You can even do that once in a while on a regular basis as a preventative measure.
Mechanical methods. This can get yucky, but it’s still pretty straightforward and very effective when dealing with a blocked kitchen sink. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, grab a bucket and place it underneath the sink piping. Unscrew the trap where it curves into a U shape and let the spills and gunk collect in the bucket. Fish a bit in the upper part of the pipe for any remaining debris and discard those too.
For unclogging bath drains, you may wish to use a long metal hook to fish out any hair that had been stuck in the drain.
Caustic soda. When nothing else works, I revert to caustic soda (also known as lye and used in soap-making). It’s an extremely corrosive substance, so be careful and wear protective gear. Pour about 1/3 cup down a clogged drain and top off with a kettle of hot water. Back off to avoid toxic fumes and check the result once the reaction cools off. This has never failed us yet.
Image source: Creative Commons
Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.