The most ignored part of any household plumbing system is the drain. As long as it still does its job, we don’t really pay much attention to it. When we see water disappear from the sink, it’s a good sign that the drain is working. The real problem, however, lies in a blocked drain. Pipes that often get more than just water – like food residue and other solid wastes – get blocked due to the accumulation of these solid objects. When this happens, it’s difficult for the water to drain. It will eventually reach a point when the water doesn’t drain anymore from your kitchen sink.
Whenever we are faced with blocked drains, we are faced with the temptation to use the most powerful chemical drain cleaners in the market. Sadly, they do more harm than good due to their strong chemical nature. They can harm your plumbing system, you and your loved ones and the environment.
Instead of chemical drain cleaners, there is a gentler and more effective way to clean clogged drains, and all you will need are the following household items: bicarb soda and vinegar.
How does it work, one might ask?
Clean clogged drains with baking soda and vinegar
Blocked drains can happen anytime and all it takes is one more piece of meat or a small piece of a wet wipe to complete the wall of gunk that will completely stop the water from draining. It happens to the best of us, I suppose.
Cleaning clogged drains with bicarb soda and vinegar seems like a very weird idea, but it does its job better than any commercial drain cleaner.
Here’s how you do it the easy way (before your drain becomes a clog monster):
How to clean clogged drains with baking soda and vinegar
- Pour boiling hot water down your drain.
- Dump in about 1/2 cup of bicarb soda. Let that sit for a few minutes.
- Then, pour a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup of very hot water down on top of the bicarb soda.
- Cover with a drain plug in order to keep the reaction below the drain surface. Let the reaction sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the drain plug and flush it down with one more pot of hot water.
- As one final touch, you can pour in a solution of lemon water (lemon juice + water) to make your sink smell really nice.
Why could baking soda and vinegar clean clogged drains?
The science behind this particular DIY drain cleaning solution is the nature of vinegar and baking soda – vinegar being an acid and baking soda being a base. From our science lessons, bicarb soda and vinegar react because of the acid-base reaction. bicarb soda is a bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and vinegar is an acetic acid (HCH3COO). When you mix an acid and base together, you get something new: carbonic acid (H2CO3).
When bicarb soda and vinegar react, they fizzle and sizzle and they expand. This is why they are able to remove clogs from drains. The pressure from the expanding product shoves the clog down as it moves along. The vinegar solution (vinegar plus water) can remove soap residue that clings to the walls of the pipes.
The hot-water rinse is simply to wash off the remaining residue that weren’t washed down by the vinegar-bicarb soda fizzle.
Washing soda can also clean clogged drains
Washing soda, or sodium carbonate, can be found in the market and is the same family as baking soda, only more caustic or alkaline (with a pH of 11). While it has no harmful fumes, you still need to wear gloves when you’re handling washing soda.
When water is not going down the drain, you can use washing soda and let it set to work as it makes its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, you can follow it up with a bicarb soda-vinegar method. Because it’s more alkaline than baking soda, you don’t want to use this if you’ve recently used a commercial acid drain cleaner because there will be a strong reaction. The reaction can harm the PVC pipes.
How to avoid clogged drains
Prevention is always better than any cure, and you can always avoid clogged drains instead of having to remove blockages.
- You can purchase strainers for your drains that will prevent items from entering the drainage pipes. Strainers are also usually referred to as hair catchers and food catchers.
- After you use the kitchen sink or bathroom sink, wash it down with hot water. Hot water will always wash away the fresh buildup so the residue doesn’t stick to the sides of the pipes.
- Brush your hair before and after showering. This will allow you to remove the majority of loose hair – the loose hair that gets showered down and ends up in your drain.
- Buy and learn how to use a plunger or an auger (also known as a drain snake). Clogs happen no matter what we do. Small clogs can be dealt with before they turn into bigger clogs with the help of these two plumbing apparatuses.
Now you know why bicarb soda and vinegar work as drain cleaners and there’s science to back it up. In case the clog is very difficult to remove, call a plumber. They have the equipment needed to remove those pesky and persistent clogs. Hopefully, you won’t be using commercial chemical drain cleaners anymore.