Banish Clogged Drains with These Simple Home Remedies

updated Nov 15, 2023
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Have you ever started the shower and then gotten in only to realize you were about to take a bath instead, thanks to a clogged drain? (People with long hair — I know you feel me on this one.) Drains can clog at the most inopportune times, usually in the bathroom (generally due to hair clogs) or in the kitchen (because of grease clogs).

But don’t run out to buy a commercial drain cleaner just yet. You can clear the drain yourself with some ingredients you’ve probably already got at home.  I spoke to Tanya Klien, CEO of Anta Plumbing in Toronto, Canada, to get her tips on the best clogged drain home remedies.

Quick Overview

How to Clear a Drain Naturally

  • Method 1: Pour baking soda, salt, then vinegar individually down the drain. Wait 15 minutes, then pour boiling water.
  • Method 2: Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain quickly so the chemical reaction helps dislodge any gunk. Let it sit for an hour, then wash it down with hot water. 
  • Method 3: Pour baking soda and salt individually down the drain. Wait 15 minutes, then pour boiling water.
Credit: Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty Images

What You’ll Need

Cleaning your drains naturally requires a few ingredients you may already have on hand in your pantry.

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Boiling water

How to Use Your All-Natural Drain Cleaner 

Klien shared with us three simple methods for clearing drains.

Method 1: Use all the ingredients separately.

Pour the ingredients down the drain separately, starting with the baking soda, then salt, and vinegar. Wait 15 minutes. Then, pour the boiling water down the drain. Et voila! Clog no more.

Method 2: Pour baking soda and vinegar together for the chemical reaction.

In general we don’t recommend using a solution of baking soda and vinegar as a cleaning agent because the two cancel each other out. However, we do recommend one exception because when baking soda and vinegar are combined the immediate chemical reaction produces bubbles that can physically dislodge obstructions.

Pour baking soda into the drain and then pour in the vinegar over it. Let this solution sit for an hour and then wash it down with hot water. Klien notes this method is particularly effective for hair clogs.

Method 3: Use baking soda, salt, and boiling water.

This works the same way as the first method, but leaves out the vinegar. The mixture of ingredients “creates a strong chemical reaction that will unblock most clogs in the kitchen or bathroom,” Klien says.

How to Prevent Your Drain from Clogging in the First Place

Here’s the good news: You can prevent a grease clog in your kitchen sink pretty much any time you wash the dishes. Just use an anti-grease dish soap. Klien says it will naturally keep grease clogs at bay.

Otherwise, you can use method three above once or twice a year, but don’t do it more than that. “Overuse will cause the chemical reaction to damage metal pipes,” Klien says, but plastic or similar pipes will be able to handle it just fine. So as long as you’re aware of what type of plumbing you have, you could be clog-free for life.

A version of this story was first published on April 30, 2007.