How to Fix Slow Drains in the Home | 4 Natural Drain-Cleaning Methods
It's not good for your pipes or the environment to unclog a sink or shower with harsh drain chemicals. Choosing a naturally biodegradable solution, such as Bio-Clean, or a homemade remedy is not only effective but also responsible.
Natural Home Remedies for Slow Drains
Here are four ways you can potentially clear your clogged drain without having to call a plumber or resort to using harmful chemical drain cleaners:
1. Dish Detergent and Near-Boiling Water
While you may have read or heard about a baking soda, vinegar, and boiling solution for slow drains, it’s actually not a very good idea. Baking soda can be corrosive to your pipes and boiling water may cause pipe distortions. And it’s definitely not a good idea to use a chemical drain cleaner combined with baking soda and vineger, as this can cause a harmful chemical reaction.
Instead, we recommend using regular dish soap and near-boiling water to help clear FOG (fat, oil, grease) clogs. Simply heat up around 2-3 liters of water to a near-boil and stir in a few tablespoons of natural dish detergent. Slowly pour this solution down your slow-running drain, and flush it with some hot tap water for a minute or two. Repeat as necessary.
The dish soap and near-boiling water method is probably best for kitchen drains where FOG buildup is probably the main cause of the clog.
Warning: Do NOT use boiling water. The Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) requires water to be no hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit in ABS pipes. DOn’t worry about small amounts of boiling water, as when you drain your pasta or dump hot coffee down the drain. This would not be enough to cause any damage to your plumbing.
2. Biological Enzyme Cleaner (Bio-Clean)
We’ve already written about the wonders of Bio-Clean, our pick for biological cleaners for slow drains. It works by using enzymes to biodegrade organic material in your pipes. Each spoonful of Bio-Clean contains millions and millions of bacteria. According to the Bio-Clean website, “each one will eat its weight of waste every 60 seconds.” We like it because it is safe and effective to use on all of your drains.
Bio-Clean works best on organic-based clogs, such as grease, soap, and hair. Simply follow the directions on the package and within the hour you should have clear-running drains again. Use the product at night when the drains aren’t being used.
Using a plunger on a slow sink drain will help loosen any lodged goop or debris, such as hair. Be sure to cover the sink overflow hole with a rag, creating a seal around the plunger head. Then run a bit of water.
Next, place the plunger over the drain and gently, but with force, plunge up and down for several strokes. If the water drains out, you've succeeded in fixing your slow drain. Once the drain has opened up, run hot or near-boiling water down the drain, just as you would with the previous home remedies.
4. Drain Snake
If none of the above methods work, or you do not have the required ingredients at home, you can always try the snake method. If you have a small hand-snake, then you can use this to unclog the drain.
How to use a plunger’s snake:
- Put the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle until you feel resistance. You may have to remove the drain trap for the snake to fit.
- Continue to turn the handle until you feel it loosen. Sometimes the clog comes out attached to the snake, while other times it flushes down the pipe. The rotating action is what catches or chops up the clog.
- If you cannot rotate the snake any further, pull it out. The clog will often come attached with it.
- Once you are done, run the hot water full force for a few minutes.
- Repeat as necessary.
If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can use a long metal wire or bent hanger. Using a long, substantial piece of wire, snake it down into the drain and try to feel where the clog is. Wiggle the wire to loosen it up. Make sure the end of the wire has a little hook to help pull out the clog, which is especially useful for hair clogs. Learn the step-by-step process for unclogging hair clogs in bathroom sinks.
Once you've loosened the drain, run hot or boiling water into the drain to help clear out more of the debris.
Clear as you go: Drain Maintenance Tips
Drain clogs happen over time, and are bound to happen eventually. If drains are cleaned periodically, you are less likely to have to deal with a bad clog. Keep your drains flowing with these maintenance tips:
Use drain catchers - catch hair and large objects before they make their way down your drain with drain catchers and guards, sometimes known as hair filters.
Never pour FOG (Fats, Oil or Grease) down a drain - grease and fats should never be put down your drains or garbage disposals. This is one of the most common sources of drain clogs and “fatbergs” in municipal plumbing systems. Learn what you should never put down garbage disposals.
Weekly hot water cleanse - Once a week or so, pour a large pot of near-boiling water down the drain. This will flush the drain keeping debris from building up into an inconvenient clog.
Monthly enzyme bath - Using an enzymatic cleaner will keep your drains clean and clear. Enzyme cleaners break down organic matter, melt away grease buildup and keep your drain from a slow flow.
Protect your disposals - Throw some ice cubes or citrus peels down the disposal for a fresh way to clean and sharpen your disposal blades. When your disposal is working well, your kitchen sink is less likely to clog.
If one drain is clogged, then your plumbing problem is centralized. But if any of your drains are running slow, then there may be a bigger issue with your septic tank. If you think your septic tank may be backing up, contact a professional at Gold Medal Service to perform plumbing repair on your sewage and drain system.
To help keep you safe and save you money, Gold Medal's Total Care Club ensures that your home’s plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are safe and up-to-code.