Homemade Drain Cleaners

Category Bathroom
There are common household products that can make a safe drain cleaner. This page is about homemade drain cleaners.


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Clean out clogged pipes with three kitchen ingredients.


  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 qt boiling water


  1. Remove any standing water.
  2. Pour in salt (this usually fills the drain).
  3. Pour on baking soda.
  4. Pour on white vinegar.
  5. Pour on boiling hot water.
  6. It doesn't take effect immediately. Wait an hour, if it still has standing water add about a half a cup more vinegar.

I have used this on two sinks and one bathtub and it works.

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May 12, 2004

Buy a box of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar, dump the soda in your drains, followed by vinegar, let bubble out about 15 minutes, then run clean water down sink.


By Linda

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To keep sink drains smelling good: once a month, sprinkle 1/4 cup baking soda into drain, follow with a cup of white vinegar. Let this bubble up and work for about 5 minutes. Next pour a cup of boiling water into drain Leave for another 5 minutes, then flush down with running water.

By ruthvalleygal from Harlingen, TX

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December 6, 2007

You can unclog your sink, shower or tub with 3 antacid tablets and 1 cup of vinegar. Works wonders!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 8, 2006

I would like to know if there is a homemade way to clear drains instead of having to buy Draino or another name-brand clog remover? I have some trouble with my bathroom sink not draining properly at times.


By Cadensnana of Delaware (Guest Post)
March 9, 20062 found this helpful
Best Answer

A plumber once told me to periodically pour a cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid down the drain followed by a pan of hot water. The Dawn is a grease-cutter and the hot water helps it do its job. It seems to help our sluggish drains.

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March 9, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Why not clean out your drain by taking it apart? You probably have it clogged full of hair. We never use any chemical to try to eat out the clog rather, we just open up the drain and clean it out.


Why buy "garbage" chemicals, like drano, that don't work anyways?

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By ash33 (Guest Post)
February 23, 20071 found this helpful
Best Answer

I'm sorry folks but if you mix equal parts vinegar (dilute acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, base) the two will neutralize each other, i don't think the chemcial reaction is gonna do anything to break up hair/soap/gunk, all you are gonna get is salt water

Editor's Note: It's true that they do neutralize each other but the fizzing loosens the gunk. I've used this many times with great results. Just keep pouring in vinegar until it stops fizzing, then run hot water and out the clog goes. If it is a hard clog, like something solid stuck in the pipe, it won't help but it is particles of food, hair and oils, it works very well.

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By Bubba (Guest Post)
April 23, 20080 found this helpful
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If I could pour anything down my drain it wouldn't be plugged! Get a drain snake aka 'drain auger'.

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July 18, 20090 found this helpful
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(Submitted via email)

I was looking for a home made substitute for draino, to safe some money and not to use harsh chemicals. I tried the advise from different ladies, to use salt, vinegar and baking soda and it worked.Thank you girls. my beloved one

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Answer this Question...

Can you clean drains with salt?

Pete from Aurora, CO


December 10, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

Drain Cleaner: For light drain cleaning, mix 1/2 cup salt in 4 liters water, heat (but not to a boil) and pour down the drain. For stronger cleaning, pour about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain.


After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Caution: only use this method with metal plumbing. Plastic pipes can melt if excess boiling water is used. Also, do not use this method after trying a commercial drain opener--the vinegar can react with the drain opener to create dangerous fumes.


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Can you use baking soda and salt to open slow moving drains? If so, how much of each?

By Sharon from Mackinaw, IL


March 14, 20100 found this helpful

Not table salt, use baking soda and VINEGAR.

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August 17, 2017

A natural solution for clearing a drain is using vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water. While effective on moderate drain clogs, you must make sure all of the baking soda is flushed from your drain or it can create an even worse clog when it dries and becomes hard.

A jar of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar.

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November 30, 2018

While exceedingly convenient, indoor plumbing can require some routine maintenance not only to keep it clear, but also to reduce the possible odors that result from mold growth on debris lodged in the pipes. This is a page about cleaning sink drains.

Water going down the sink drain.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 13, 2010

To safely clean drains, I pour baking soda into the drain followed by table salt. If the clog isn't bad, I just use cold water to flush it down. If the clog is bad, you will need to use boiling water. Since this will not harm pipes or the environment, you can use this weekly to keep drains from becoming clogged.


By Kris from New Albany, IN


Safe and Friendly Drain Cleaner

What I have used in the past, is you pour about a cup of baking soda in the drain. It will not all go down, but what you do is slowly pour white vinegar down the drain to rinse the baking soda down. When you can see the drain, stop and let it fizz. Wait till it's through fizzing and flush the drain with water. This works really well. I will try yours though. (02/12/2009)

By Chris t.

Safe and Friendly Drain Cleaner

Unfortunately, none of these methods really do much, especially baking soda and salt. Drains are most often clogged with grease, hair, and solidified soap (aka scum). Neither baking soda nor salt, alone or in combination, has any significant chemical or mechanical action against those three problems.


I also always recommend boiling water after any drain cleaning procedure to melt away any residual grease and soap. Cold water can harden grease further and will do little to flush stuck-on grease down since grease and water repel each other. Liquid grease, however, is carried down the drain by the water.

Vinegar, being acidic, does have a mild effect on grease, and the foaming will allow it to reach the sides of the pipe. Still, the effect is extremely weak and will do little to clean a drain. If vinegar was a good degreaser, you wouldn't want to eat it since our cells are coated with lipids (fats).

To prove my claims, simply do a little experiment. Coat something (i.e. spoon, Popsicle stick) with animal grease (i.e. bacon fat) and put some hair on it. Wait for the fat to solidify. Or you can simply use butter or margarine. Dip it into a baking soda/salt/water or baking soda/vinegar solution for about 30 seconds -1 min and see if the grease or hairs are gone. Usually, the answer is no. Now dip it into boiling water, and you'd see the grease melt and drip off.

Preventive maintenance is the key.

  1. Never pour animal grease down the drain. It will solidify in the cool drains and coat the pipes, much like cholesterol clogs your arteries. Instead, pour the grease into a container to be thrown out with the trash. Vegetable oil remains liquid so it's okay to pour down the drain. Still, it's sticky and can cause hairs and other debris to stick to the sides of pipes so I also prefer to throw it with the trash.
  2. Use liquid soap. Solid soap bars re-solidify down the drain (aka scum) which attracts hair and debris, causing clogs. Liquid hand soap doesn't solidify.
  3. Use a drain protector. These look like strainers and are placed over drain openings. They prevent large objects, including jewelry, from going down the drain. Make sure you empty this daily to prevent the growth of bacterial.
  4. Pour a quart or so of boiling water down your drain weekly or monthly to melt away the grease and soap scum. It also disinfects and deodorizes. If you have a drain protector, pour the water through the the protector to keep it clean.

People with major problems might want to invest in bacterial enzymes to eat away the organic debris, i.e. grease, that coats your drain. This is a natural maintenance solution that sounds creepier than it really is. It involves no more than dumping a powder like substance down your drain with some warm water for activation. Google "drain enzymes" for more info. (02/08/2010)

By bryguy

Safe and Friendly Drain Cleaner

We just had to pay big money to have the sink drain power rodded and blasted. Just the power rodding alone didn't clear the drain as it was totally clogged with grease. Even if you are careful about what you put down your drain, just rinsing off your dishes each day for many years will cause the build-up. My husband tried all sorts of things, but nothing was keeping the drain clear. It would drain some, but then start backing up. I saw what came out and it was not a pretty site.

I asked the guy for some preventative measures and he said, stay clear of chemicals. He said baking soda was only going to help with odors. He said we'll be good for a long time to come with what he did and we did get a 2 year guarantee. In the meantime I am going to be very careful about what goes down the drains and avoid any grease. By the way our house was new when we bought it, but we have lived here 23 years so it did take a very long time for there to be such a problem with the kitchen sink drain. (02/09/2010)

By Debbie Dzurilla

Safe and Friendly Drain Cleaner

Another good thing to use is plain bleach. It will eat a clog in no time. This is good to use on your bathroom sinks and tubs. Put some in your drains at night. Flush with cold water in the morning. Do this once a month and you will have open drains. Remember how by accident splashed bleach on your jeans, it ate a hole in them? That's what it does to hair. (02/09/2010)

By Kenneth G. Berger

Safe and Friendly Drain Cleaner

Please do not use bleach in your sinks or toilet on a regular bases. It will eat at your pipes and septic tank. I work in a daycare and the sanitation inspector told us not to clean with bleach everyday he said every once in a while will not hurt. (02/09/2010)

By Teresa Tart

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