• May 15, 2007

Clearing a Drain the Organic Way

A trick for unclogging your drain without using harsh chemicals

How To

I’ve been ignoring the fact that our bathtub drain has been draining slower and slower each day. I blame it on all the expensive bath oils, bath salts, organic soaps, lotions, hair masks, hair conditioners, and hair shampoos that Heather uses. (Ok, ok. I admit it. I use those products too.)

My first inclination was to just buy some industrial strength drain clearing liquid and pour it down the drain. That is, until Heather said “I don’t want you to use those harsh chemicals because it will ruin our pipes”. So harsh chemicals were not an option.

Instead, I jumped on the internet and searched for an organic way to clear a drain (yes organic. I don’t know why, other than the fact that “organic” is the hot buzzword in LA). Luckily I found a very easy, natural and safe way to clear a clogged drain:

1. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain.
2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water down the drain.

The boiling water changes the chemical properties of the baking soda to make it more alkaline, and the fizzing action of the baking soda helps to loosen debris.

I did this process three times and now the drain works perfectly. Nice!

If this process doesn’t work for you, check out some of the other methods on the Care2 Greenliving website.

Comments { 6 }
  1. Josh

    I’ve had good results with old school / organic drain cleaning, too. My method involves putting baking soda down the drain then adding white vinegar for a powerfully expansive foaming reaction. Then I flush the pipe with boiling water to clear what the cleaner loosened.

  2. John

    Pretty cool. I’ve heard that baking soda and vinegar work too.

  3. Jill

    I have also had some success with the same 2-to-1 ratio of baking soda and hot white vinegar. Heat Using your proportions, substitute white vinegar for the baking soda. Heat the vinegar in the microwave. Pour the baking soda into the drain and follow with hot vinegar. Do NOT lean over the drain, as it will bubble like mad.

    While this is going on, boil a big pot of water. When the fizzing stops, pour the boiling water down the drain.

    This works for normal slow drains. I had a galvanized pipe in my basement that I wasn’t able to clear this way, but when I had it replaced, this 2″ pipe had only 1/4″ of clearance in it. At that point, NOTHING will clear it.

    The baking soda/vinegar method can be done weekly to keep drains clear.

  4. ann

    My favorite non-chemical tool is a mini-drain blaster – http://www.improvementscatalog.com/home/diy/backed-up-drain

    It can be a little messy(water will spray around) if you don’t have a tight connection – but it works amazingly well.

  5. scott

    Unless there is some reason that this wouldn’t be a desirable way of cleaning a drain, using a snake is very effective. They make ones that can be attached to a drill and will spin them to (hopefully) clear whatever the constriction is. Which coincidentally can be very useful with hair. Actually our toilet was having problems and used the snake and I pulled out some dental floss> I subsequently told my wife not to put dental floss down the toilet. I know it sounds so harmless and there was probably more to the clog than that but, the point is the snake fixed it.

    After it was done, I cleaned the metal marks with some toilet bowl cleaner and one of those green scrub pads.

  6. PJ

    That’s a good way. You can mix some vinegar in with that water too if you wish.

    If you have a drain that is resisting draining, after you do the above, put the plug in and put quite a bit of water (a gallon or two) into the sink or tub. Then pull out the plug all at once. The ‘weight’ of all the water’s sudden momentum often helps, especially when something has helped dissolve some of the clog already.

    I used to use an electric snake to spin out the tree roots that get in the big underground pipes in my backyard but it turns out that makes them worse in the long run (doesn’t get them all + encourages growth). There is a product called RootX that will kill the roots in a pipe but will not hurt the tree. It’s not instant (snake might still be needed in bad cases) but over a period of months will really help clear out pipes.

    There are also ‘organic enzymes’ that help. The antibacterial soaps etc. that we use kills off bacteria that used to actually help with plumbing, eating away at the sludge that sticks to pipes. There are sources of stuff that will help put some of that back.

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