Tips for Unclogging Your Drains

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

Getting together with friends and family to celebrate a holiday is a fun tradition. With all of your loved ones gathered in one room, you can’t imagine anything ruining the magic of the moment. Then, as you’re washing the dishes, you notice that your sink won’t drain.

A clogged drain is never a pleasant experience, but you don’t have to let it ruin your holiday. There are several options you can try yourself to remove the clog quickly. If they don’t work, don’t risk harming your pipes by trying more invasive practices-call your plumber.

Natural Drain Cleaners

When you encounter a clogged drain, your first thought will likely be to run to the store and grab a bottle of a chemical drain cleaner. Unfortunately, these products contain caustic substances that can damage your pipes and your health.

Commercial drain cleaners work by using high concentrations of corrosive chemicals like sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid to eat through the clog, but they can also eat through your pipes.

Furthermore, drain cleaners will cause injury if they get on your skin or splash into your eyes. Keeping them in your home in general poses a health risk, particularly if you have young children, as ingesting drain cleaners can be fatal.

Instead of spending money on these dangerous products try some other substances you likely already have around the house. Since you’ll pour these cleaners directly down the drain, you’ll need the sink to be clear of water, meaning these options are best if your sink is draining slowly rather than completely stopped up.

1. White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Dump a little bit of baking soda (about ¼ cup) down the drain, and follow it with a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain so none of the solution leaks into the sink. The reaction of the two chemicals with break up the clog and push it down the drain. Wait for about half an hour, then pour a few cups of boiling water down the drain to wash everything out.

2. Vinegar and Salt

If you don’t have any baking soda on hand, or you don’t want mess with the reaction in your sink, add a cup of salt to a cup of vinegar. Mix until the salt absorbs the vinegar, making a thick paste, or add some extra vinegar to make a thinner solution that will run more easily through the pipe. The abrasive mixture should cut through the clog. Finish by rinsing with boiling water.

Vinegar is acidic, but not at the same level as commercial drain cleaners. You likely already use it for cooking and cleaning. Although it is a safer option, make sure to protect yourself while you’re pouring it into the drain.

Manual Tools

If your sink is full of standing water that won’t drain, you may need to manually break up the clog or pull it out. There are several tools you can use to do so.

1. Plunger

You probably have a plunger that you use to unclog your toilet, but you can use it for your sink as well. Seal it against the top of the drain and plunge several times until the water starts to move again.

2. Auger

Snaking a drain requires slightly more skill, so only take on this task if you have a good idea of what to do. Purchase an auger, a coiled piece of metal with a handle on one end, if you don’t have one already. Slide the auger into the drain until it hooks on the clog, then work the wire through the mass. Break the clog up as much as you can, then pull out the material.


If neither of these solutions unclogs your drain, you will need to enlist professional help. Call Rakeman Plumbing as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your drain.

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  • North Las Vegas, NV 89030
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