Easy Ways to Unclog a Drain

Clogged drains are a common plumbing issue that most homeowners will encounter. While it can be frustrating, there are many easy and affordable ways to try clearing a clogged drain yourself before calling in a professional. By having a few basic tools like a plunger and drain snake on hand, and taking advantage of natural cleaning solutions like baking soda and vinegar, you can often get things flowing again with some patience and elbow grease. More advanced methods like drain bladders or motorized augers can tackle tougher clogs if needed. However, if you’re unable to clear a stubborn drain clog through multiple attempts, it’s best to call your local plumber who has the right equipment like hydro jetters to resolve the issue quickly and prevent any further water damage. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared the next time you encounter a clogged drain in your home.

Clogged drains can be an inconvenient household nuisance. But there are effective and straightforward methods available to unclog a drain without calling in an expensive professional plumber. With just a few simple tools and techniques, it is often possible to clear a blockage yourself and restore proper water flow. Natural remedies like baking soda and vinegar as well as plumbing tools like drain snakes and plungers offer many ways to clear clogs caused by hair, soap scum, food particles or any other debris in drains. Unclogging your drain can save both money and potential water damage by helping prevent further build-up and damage to its infrastructure. By taking proactive steps and responding swiftly to clogs, you can maintain an efficient plumbing system and prevent further complications down the line. No matter if it’s slow draining sink, shower, or tub clogs; solutions exist that are straightforward and accessible for most common drain clogs.

Simple Steps to Unclog a Drain

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A classic homemade drain cleaner relies on the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar to unclog drains. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down your blocked drain before following up with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar poured down it. Use a drain plug or dry cloth to cover your drain opening in order to contain the fizzing reaction caused by baking soda and vinegar combining to produce carbonic acid, which will break down hair, soap scum, grease and any other organic matter clogging up your drains. Allow this mixture to work for 15-20 minutes as its carbonic acid-forming capabilities help break down hair, soap scum, grease or any other organic debris causing blockages in your pipes. Once time is up, flush the drain with boiling water to push through any loose debris through its pipes. For tougher clogs, repeat this process several times; using baking soda and vinegar is an affordable and eco-friendly solution that’s safe to use on kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room drains alike.


Never underestimate the effectiveness of a plunger for clearing away drain clogs. A cupped plunger can be particularly effective at clearing sink, tub, and shower drain clogs – just make sure that its overflow hole is covered by wet fabric to maximize suction and seal. Fill your sink about 1/3 with water to create an airtight seal between your plunger and drain opening, and maintain consistent pressure and suction with rapid up-and-down plunging movements of your plunger. Keep pressure consistent as you plunge quickly between each direction while maintaining consistent suction pressure levels. Plunging may need to be “burped” occasionally by breaking its seal and allowing more water and air into it, for optimal performance. Plunging requires some strength but remains a simple, cost-free solution for unclogging drains before other methods may be used.

Drain Snake or Auger

When basic drain cleaning methods fail, bringing in heavy-duty equipment is necessary – in particular a drain snake or auger. Designed to reach deep into drain pipes and grab on to stubborn clogs that conventional plungers cannot dislodge, drain snakes/augers provide effective support when basic methods fall short. To use, first remove any drain covers or strainers. Next, feed the snake through the drain opening with its hand crank clockwise as you push it down the pipe. As soon as you encounter resistance from a clog, continue cranking while applying firm downward pressure so as to grab hold of any debris in its path. Drain snakes come in different lengths and diameters to address clogs in sinks, showers, tubs and main sewer lines; it is best to lubricate them first for optimal results.

Wire Coat Hanger

In a pinch, an old wire coat hanger can make an effective basic drain cleaner tool. Carefully unwind it until it forms a long rigid wire with one bend curved into a hook shape to capture debris. Insert this wire as far into your drain as it will go and twist and push it until you feel its impact against clogging debris; use its hook end to gently move back and forth across it as much as possible until hitting it against obstruction causing blockages; repeat until it hits all obstructions caused by obstruction clogging in time if necessary – although its effectiveness may not match that of real drain snakes when dealing with minor clogs quickly enough compared with real snakes alone. Just take care not scratch or damage any part of it during its use!

Boiling Water

If your sink, shower, or tub drain just won’t drain, boiling water could be the solution to getting it flowing again. Start by emptying any standing water from your basin using a cup or bucket so as to give maximum exposure of the drain itself. Start by heating a kettle or pot of water until it comes to a rolling boil, and pour all of it directly down the clogged drain opening. Be careful, though: do not splash any hot liquid around! Heat can help dissolve and loosen soap scum, hair, grease or other organic debris clogging up drains. In cases of stubborn clogs, repeat this process several times or use a plunger after boiling water has been poured down drains; just avoid pouring boiling water directly down PVC or plastic drains as its high temperatures could potentially damage or warp the pipes.

Baking Soda and Salt

An affordable DIY drain cleaner made up of baking soda and salt is also available, creating an effective abrasive agent while the mild cleansing agent of baking soda acts as a gentle cleaner. Begin by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda directly down your clogged drain. Once mixed with baking soda, pour half a cup of table or kosher salt onto it and allow this abrasive mixture to sit overnight so the salt has time to break up any obstructions in your pipework. At dawn, use boiling water to flush your drain, which should help dissolve any remaining baking soda while pushing salt mixture and debris through your pipes. Baking soda deodorizes while salt scrubs; making this method an easy and natural way to unclog drains naturally.

Drain Cleaners

Sometimes homemade remedies just aren’t enough; in these instances, chemical drain cleaners may be required in order to unclog stubborn drain clogs. Search for products containing sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide or enzymes as these chemically break down hair, soap, food particles, grease and other obstructions to the drain. Always follow proper safety protocols when handling harsh chemicals like gloves and eye protection as well as providing proper ventilation when working with drain cleaners. Read and follow product instructions closely when it comes to dosage amounts and duration before flushing with hot water for best results. While drain cleaners can effectively dissolve tough clogs, use should be undertaken with caution as prolonged exposure could damage older pipes as a result of long-acting chemicals lingering for too long in pipes that do not yet appear clear.

Wet/Dry Vacuum

A wet/dry shop vacuum with a hose attachment may provide enough suction power to unclog clogged drains when other methods fail. First, ensure any standing water from sink, shower or floor drains has been cleared away so airflow and suction directly on drain opening is maximized for maximum effectiveness. Next, create an airtight seal around drain using old towels or rags before turning on wet/dry vacuum with intake valve held directly over opening as close as possible for maximum suction force to pull clog free or at least loosen enough so other techniques work better; care must be taken when unplugging; debris may get pulled into its canister or tank and cause serious disruption!

Drain Bladder

An unlikely-looking plumbing gimmick, drain bladders can actually be effective tools for clearing stubborn clogs. Configured as an inflatable rubber bladder with flexible tubing attached, its use involves feeding its deflated end down into the clogged drain to as far as it will go before deflating again and withdrawing again. As soon as air is added to the tubing, pump it through it to inflate a bladder that expands against the interior walls of your drain pipe and exerts outward pressure against them – this should help dislodge even tough clogs from their places! Once inflated to capacity, the bladder can be deflated and pulled back out again with any luck, picking up debris that was clogging your drains. They come in different sizes to fit different diameter pipes, and may reach farther into drain lines than traditional plungers or snakes can.

Hire a Professional Plumber

No matter your best DIY efforts, some drain clogs refuse to yield. Once all reasonable methods for unclogging the drain yourself have failed, it may be necessary to bring in outside help. Professional plumbers possess access to specialized tools and commercial-grade equipment designed specifically to overcome even the toughest clogs. Their arsenal may include motorized drain augers with cutting heads, high-pressure water jetters and video inspection cameras to locate and clear obstructions. While a plumber will likely cost more, their expertise can quickly and effectively unclog a drain without risking pipe damage by employing ineffective methods. Allowing professionals to tackle stubborn clogged drains could save hours of frustration while preventing larger plumbing repairs down the line.

Drain Stick

A drain stick is an inexpensive, lightweight device made of plastic or zippered fabric designed to dislodge clogs from drains. Simply push it as far into your blocked drain as it will go, twisting and jiggling it back and forth to attempt and break loose the blockage. Drain sticks may be useful tools in clearing away minor clogs in sinks, showers and bathtub drains. Their friction and gentle snaking motion may be enough to grab hair, soap scum and other debris blocking your drain, so you can pull it out. Drain sticks are especially helpful in sinks, showers and bathtubs. Long and skinny drain snakes allow for deeper reach down into drain pipes than your hand or coat hanger wire can reach. Fabric sticks with zippered zipper pulls can grab onto obstructions more effectively while plastic versions feature hooks or ridges which latch onto obstructions more securely. Drain sticks are one of the easiest methods of unclogging, as all it requires is inserting and manipulating this flexible tool up and down. Push in clockwise while twisting clockwise while pushing in, then reverse this action while pulling slowly back out. Do this until whatever is clogging it is removed. Drain sticks are great tools to have handy for everyday drain cleaning needs without harsh chemicals being required to use. While not as powerful as drain snakes, these basic drain cleaning tools are often very inexpensive – often costing just a few dollars each. Their disposable design means it can simply be thrown away after use rather than dealing with an unpleasant snaked clog! Ideal for smaller clogs like minor blockages, drain sticks are a handy solution.

Dish Detergent and Hot Water

Dish soap’s degreasing properties can often help dislodge stubborn grease clogs. Simply apply generous quantities of liquid dish detergent down your drain, letting it sit for 30-60 minutes to cut through grease and food particles, before pouring a kettle of very hot water (as close to boiling as possible without risking damage to pipes) through it, before flushing with hotter water while plunging vigorously for several minutes to flush it all away and clear away soap and debris that has collected in it’s wake. Dish soap helps emulsify oils & fats while hot water creates extra scouring action that pushes it all along; repeating this process may be necessary with extra stubborn grease clogs!

Remove and Clean Trap

Under sinks, bathtubs, and showers lies a U-shaped pipe section known as the P-trap that collects debris over time and may become clogged up. You may be able to unscrew this trap to check for built up gunk inside it and clean it out to eliminate clogs. Have a bucket ready before fully unscrewing the trap, clear out obstructions using wire coat hanger or drain stick and flush hot water through to try dislodging remaining debris before replacing and resealing it back onto its pipe before running water to check whether all drain lines run freely again – regularly cleaning out this P-trap can prevent more serious clogs further downstream in its drainage line! Routinely cleaning out this P-trap can prevent major clogs forming deeper down in its drain line – thus saving time when dealing with serious blockages further downstream in drain line!

Clogged drains are a frustrating yet often common plumbing issue that many homeowners will eventually come across, yet there are several easy and affordable ways to try clearing clogs yourself before calling in the professionals. By keeping some basic tools like a plunger and drain snake handy and using natural cleaning solutions like baking soda and vinegar, you may be able to restore flow more easily with some patience and work. Drain bladders or motorized augers may be necessary to tackle stubborn clogs if necessary. However, if a stubborn drain clog cannot be cleared through your efforts alone, it is wiser to contact a plumber who possesses hydro jetters that will quickly remedy the situation and avoid further water damage. With these tips in mind, you will be ready next time a clogged drain arises at home.