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Unstopping a Clogged Drain- Naturally

The drain in the kid’s bathroom has been slow the last few weeks.

I wanted to find a solution to unclog the drain that didn’t include calling a plumber- too expensive.

And didn’t include Drano- too toxic.

I did a Google search on “How to Unclog a Drain Naturally” and found my old friends and cleaning champions-  Baking Soda and Vinegar at the top of the list.

I could hardly wait to give them a try.  This process works with a slow drain, I don’t think it would work with a drain with standing water in it.

Here’s what I did:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 large pot of boiling water

(I removed my pop-up drain stopper first.) Carefully pour the baking soda down the drain.  Follow with 1 cup of white vinegar.  Let it stand for about 15 minutes.  Then I poured a pot of boiling water down the drain.

It was moving a faster, but still a bit slow.  So I repeated the process.

The second time worked like a charm, I heard a gurgling noise (which sounded encouraging) and when I poured the boiling water in, it really went down fast.  Now it drains as fast as when it was brand new.  Totally amazing.  And to think, I just used what was in my pantry, no $$$ out the door.

***** A quick update:  It does help to put a rag or stopper into the drain to make the bubbles go down instead of up.
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20 Responses to “Unstopping a Clogged Drain- Naturally”

  • Haley:

    Excellent! My bathroom sink is slow; can’t wait to try this!

  • Stephanie:

    I tried this on a slow drain last weekend. I was successful after the second try as well. The second time around I placed a rag in the drain after I poured the vinegar to encourage the bubbling effect to go down the drain. I loved that I used something natural and inexpensive to clear the drain.

  • I’ve had that problem with a slow drain, too, and found the vinegar and baking soda fix to be very useful. I’ve also coupled it with using a plunger on the sink. It works almost as well on a sink drain as a toilet drain! I’ve used it for the tub, too, and many times I haven’t had to move on to the vinegar/baking soda. I only have to remember to block the overflow holes with a rag before plunging. And then clean the sink well afterwards. ;-)


  • Did it make a volcano of bubbling baking soda when you poured the vinegar in? My mom used to do this to clean the kitchen sink drain and let me watch, cuz it’s pretty cool to a kid. I will have to try this in the bathroom with the boiling water!
    My other favorite natural trick is killing weeds with boiling water, especially when they’re growing up between bricks. It like cooks them, then they brown and shrivel up! No RoundUp needed!

    • I can hardly wait to give the weed solution a try… come Spring. Simply brilliant. As for the volcano, yes, it did bubble up especially the first time, when the drain was most plugged. My kids thought it was great fun. We’ve done a few of those experiments in the kitchen ourselves, but it never looses it’s thrill.

  • It’s amazing what those two can do. I have a book, Greener Living for the Home (or something like that, I can’t find the title online), and it has so many great easy cleaning solutions.

    If you’ve got standing water, you can make your own drain snake out of a wire hanger. Unbend it so it’s nice and long, then make a hook out of one end that will fit into your drain. Shove it down there and wiggle it around a bit, then pull it out (have the trash can handy, maybe gloves too). I have looooooooong hair so I’ve had to do this a few times. I just rinse it out in the tub then store it under the sink.

    I love your blog Calli!

  • Very cool! I’ll have to try that on our downstairs bath… it drains SO slowly.

  • I’m going to try this out! Vinegar is one of those products that is multifunctional! I use it in my laundry/rinse cycle all the time!

  • Holly:

    Cool trick! I’ll have to try this on our guest bathroom sink. I also like commenter #4′s trick for weeds – we could definitely use that here!

  • Oh great tip! I will be trying that on all my drains this evening! I don’t know how we do it, but ours are always getting clogged.

    #7 Denise what does vinegar do for your rinse cycle?

  • Woohoo! Much better than drano…

  • Vinegar/Baking Soda is an awesome oldie but goodie. I live in a 100+ year old house so I’m all about maintenance. I went to our local hardware store and they suggested using the powder version of the Enforcer Drain Care. It works super for drain maintenance. Here’s a link with more information. http://www.colehardware.com/hotline/2002/01/draincare.htm

  • Sally:

    Love all this info…I use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning all the time. I have a small organic chicken farm for eggs and for meat. I use vinegar for all cleaning of my eggs, over 100 a day and it works great. We also sell duck eggs, which by the way is the a great cook secret to great cakes, pies ect, because of the rich yolks, but ducks are messy and vinegar really does the trick. Thanks for all the information, I like to keep things “simple” as well.

  • catrina:

    Another great tip is taking a lemon and cutting it into 4 pieces and putting them down the garbage disposer and running it with water running to clean and freshen the kitchen drain…and I know because my hubby is a plumber.

  • I’m trying this right now with a perpetually slow drain that my husband keeps pouring Drano down. I know it’s got a lot to do with our hard water so this method makes a lot of sense.

  • Nancy:

    I have used this method for many years and I love it. The only difference? I heat the vinegar before pouring it down the drain, then 15-20 minutes later I follow with boiling water.

  • Bob:

    I tried this vinegar and baking soda. Did’nt work for me.

  • nun:

    maybe pouring the vinegar slowly works better than fast

  • KGB:

    Excellent, seems the problem was located above the trap, some kind of black mold accumulating in vent causing the slow draining?

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