Chemical drain cleaners are hard on your pipes, bad for the environment and expensive. Perhaps this is why many homeowners are turning to more natural methods for cleaning their drains and clearing clogs. These tips will help you use natural, environmentally friendly products to clean your pipes and prevent clogs.
Vinegar is a natural cleaner. When flushed down a slow moving drain, vinegar eats away at old organic matter and washes away clogs in slow moving drains. Vinegar is an excellent product for a homeowner who is attempting to clean his or her pipes, but is not powerful enough to remove a total clog from a fully stopped drain.
Baking soda is an excellent product for removing baked on grease and sticky foods. When coupled with vinegar, baking soda produces an impressive foamy chain reaction. Like vinegar, baking soda is not strong enough to flush away a total clog, but it can be helpful in unsticking partial clogs. Baking soda has deodorizing properties, so it's useful for cleaning out drains that get smelly--like the drains found in dishwashers and garbage disposals. Finally, baking soda is an excellent product for cleaning out old pipes and preventing clogs from forming.
Boiling water liquifies cold grease and can help remove coagulated foodstuffs like butter and oil. Boiling water prevents clogs by flushing away these foodstuffs.
Together, baking soda, vinegar and boiling water form a perfect trifecta for cleaning slow drains and preventing clogs. To keep your drains clean, pour vinegar into your drain and follow it with boiling water. Next, sprinkle baking soda into your drain, and follow that with a second round of boiling water. This will help keep your drains clog-free and free of odor.
Drains that have completely clogged require a tough tool like a manual auger. Manual augers are like the electric snakes used by plumbers, but are powered by hand cranks instead of electricity.
An auger looks like a long, stiff cable with a corkscrew on the end. When inserted into a drain, the auger is drilled deep into the pipe until it encounters a clog. Once the corkscrew end of the auger pierces the clog, the auger is removed and the clog is pulled out with it.
Of course, some clogs are beyond the reach of the manual auger and are unphased by boiling water, vinegar and baking soda. When this happens, your best bet is to call an experienced, certified plumber.