Eco-Friendly Drain Cleaner: How to Clean a Blocked Drain
The Alternatives: “Green” Drain Cleaners and Do-It-Yourself.
Enzymatic drain cleaners may be a safer alternative to chemical drain cleaners, and they’re easier on the environment. They use bacteria or enzymes that naturally feed on organic waste materials, such as hair and food waste, that often clog drains. These tiny living organisms then digest the waste and reproduce, spreading beneficial bacteria and enzymes throughout the septic system. In fact, enzymatic drain cleaners were originally used to clean septic tanks and wastewater systems. Enzymatic drain cleaners are better for the environment because they don’t contain dangerous chemicals that can leak into soil and water.
However, these drain cleaners do have their disadvantages. They’re not as readily available in stores, and they work more slowly than chemical cleaners — clearing a clogged drain may take hours. These products also tend to have a shorter shelf life than chemical drain cleaners do. And although they’re not as toxic as chemical products, you should still take the same precautions as you would with chemical drain cleaners.
There are also some simple home remedies for clogged drains, including:
- Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Then pour half a cup of vinegar. Wait 15 minutes, and then pour in hot tap water.
- Mix equal parts salt, vinegar and baking soda. Pour into the drain. Wait one hour, and then pour in hot water.
- Mix half a cup of salt and half a cup of baking soda, sprinkle it into drain and then flush with hot water
3 Simple Ways to Unclog a Drain Without Harmful Chemicals
1. Snake, Wire Hanger or Plunger
Sink plungers are easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces, and small enough to store under the sink so it’s on hand when you need it.
The proper way to use a plunger is to make sure that it seals the opening completely and to pump it slowly. The vacuum that it creates can sometimes move a clog, but a blowback of chemicals can occur if the opening is not completely covered.
First, bail as much water out of the drain as possible to avoid creating a big mess. Then place the plunger over the opening of the drain. Push up and down on the plunger slowly a few times
and then pull it up quickly. This will help to break clogs and get your drain flowing. If that doesn’t work, you can try clearing the drain with a straightened out wire hanger. Take a wire coat hanger apart and push it down the drain forcefully to help break up the clog. Keep pushing hanger in and out until the clog breaks up. If your drain is still stopped up, you can try a snake if you have one available. Drain snakes can be manually operated or mechanically operated with the assistance of a motor. The snake has blades that rotate and cut up any clogs caused by hair, fibrous food material and tree roots.
2. Dish Soap & Hot Water
Another great natural way to unclog your slow drain is to use dish soap and hot water. If the clog is caused by grease, this method will work very well. Squirt a good amount of soap down then clogged drain. Then pour a pan or kettle full of boiling water down the drain. This should take care of any greasy clogs in your drain. For prevention of drain clogs, do this at least once per week.
3. Baking Soda and Vinegar
It’s just like those volcanos that would win the science fair in grade school, except now you want to contain all the foam instead of let it out. Baking soda is a base, while white vinegar is an acid. When these two substances mix together, a chemical reaction occurs that will bubble up and eat through clogs.
To unclog a drain with the power of chemistry, follow these steps:
- Remove any visible debris from the drain opening
- Pour ¾ cup dry baking soda down the drain
- Pour ½ cup vinegar down the drain and cover immediately with a rag or plug
- Leave it in there for 30 minutes, and prepare boiling water
- Remove the plug and slowly pour the hot water down the drain
It’s that simple. If it doesn’t clear all the gunk out the first time, a second pass should work. And now you can keep your pipes clean and chemical free!