What to Use/Not to Use for Clogged Drains

Clogged drains are a pain for homeowners and renters alike, with shared sewer lines and uncooperative housemates ignoring the simple rules of what not to put down your drain. Clogs are a fact of life, but dealing with them involves many angles of attack - some more effective than others. Here's what we'd recommend you should use to unclog your drains and a few techniques to avoid.

Approved Methods

Wires and Boiling Water

For the most surface-level clogs, the only tools you may require are a bent wire clothes hanger and a pot of boiling water. By removing hair or debris from the drain's surface or bend, it'll let more water to enter the drain on the short-term. Just be sure to be careful and avoid putting the wire all the way down the drain, or you could damage your pipes. Hopefully the clog is only surface-level, but to help things move along, pouring boiling water down the drain should do the trick.

Remember, though - if you have PVC pipes, the boiling water may do damage to the joints in your pipes. Opt for warm water instead.

Homemade Drain Cleaner

Non-corrosive drain cleaner is pretty easy to make, actually. If you know that your clog is due to a build-up of grease, mixing together vinegar and baking soda will break down the grease and flush it out of the system.

This is a great recipe to use in your clogged drain. Using a half-cup of baking soda to start, pour 1/2 cup of vinegar after it and cover the opening so the mixture is forced downward. Use the second half after the fizzing stops and wait about 15 minutes, then flush with a gallon of boiling water.

Use a Snake

A revolutionary tool in the plumbing world, a snake inserts from the drain's opening and "snakes" through the pipes in your home, grabbing around the edges and removing any debris it comes across. A snake with a crank mechanism will get through to deeper clogs, so continue to push the cable through and remove it, rinsing and repeating (seriously, clean the line as you pull - it'll likely be a messy operation).

Don't forget! If your sink includes a disposal, disassemble and clean it before you attempt to unclog your drain. Here's a handy guide to disassembling your disposal and using a snake without interfering with the mechanism itself.

Methods to Avoid


An end-all, be-all solution to clogged or slow drains, Draino and other industrial-strength clog removers are meant to be a simple and effective method of clearing clogged drains. Unfortunately, many of these chemical cleaners are corrosive to your pipes and bad for the water supply, so we wouldn't recommend them unless every other method has failed.

Using a Toilet Plunger

Toilet plungers are designed for toilets - hence the name. Sinks and sewer drains have plungers designed for that purpose, so look for a plunger with a cupped or bowl-shaped head to ensure a proper seal. Toilet plungers don't get the right seal and could further complicate your problem if the clog isn't cleared. Plus, it's gross to use a bathroom tool in the kitchen, so just avoid that entirely. 

Using Sharp Objects

Don't try and put sharp objects down your drain in an attempt to unclog debris. Regardless of how ineffective it is, it can actually cause damage to your pipes and you may accidentally drop the item down the drain itself, further complicating your issue.

If these techniques aren't enough to get things moving again, it might be a bigger problem and require professional assistance. Pioneer Plumbing and Heating can expertly assess the problems with your drains and pipes and head-off any issues that could cause further damage down the road. Give us a call or use the contact form to get in touch.

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