The Natural Drain Cleaner for Your Clogged Drain

3 Materials
$1
2 Minutes
Easy

It happened again last week -- my drain got completely clogged after cleaning up from dinner. Commercial cleaners can be really caustic on pipes, besides being toxic, so when my sink or tub stops draining, I reach for some trusty eco ingredients, like baking soda and vinegar to unclog that drain.
Here’s my clogged kitchen sink. Ugh, right? This is one of my least favorite issues to deal with.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials
All I needed for this drain cleaner was vinegar, baking soda and a cup of boiling water. Step 2: Add the Baking Soda
I poured about a fourth of a cup of baking soda right on top of the drain. Some of it settled into the drain and some swirled around the water. Don't worry - this will work regardless! Step 3: Add Vinegar
Next, I poured about half a cup of vinegar right in the drain, too. That's when the fun began...
See that? That's my favorite chemical reaction! Beautiful, frothy foam taking care of my mess for me.
When the drain cleaner has pushed through the gunk, air bubbles start coming up through your drain. If your sink doesn't start draining, just repeat steps 2 and 3 until it does. Step 4: Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain
I poured about two cups of boiling water down the drain to further clear out any leftover gunk that might have survived my foam cleanse. This also left my sink sparkling!
I love using green products to solve common household problems, and, bonus, it’s cheap, too!
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Suggested materials:

  • 1/4 C. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 C. Vinegar
  • 2 C. Boiling water

Have a question about this project?

20 questions
  • Hillela G.
    on Aug 4, 2016

    Does this cause a vinegar-y smell?

  • Barb Lesiak
    on Aug 6, 2016

    I see you have a stainless sink. This doesn't hurt the stainless - does it? My new sink is stainless and it came with all sorts of warning. I'm almost sorry I bought it.

    • Diane Hans
      on Aug 6, 2016

      I also have stainless sink. Use this idea all the time. It does not bother sink. \

    • Nancy Gramm
      on Aug 6, 2016

      I have a Blanco Quatrus stainless sink and not only do I use this as a drain cleaner, I also use a similar concoction to clean it. First I spray with vinegar, then sprinkle on baking soda and wipe clean. After rinsing, I spray on a small amount of Pure Magic Citrus Air Freshener and wipe the sink down. Shines beautifully.

    • BDB
      on Aug 6, 2016

      I have used this to clean my Blanco sink for over 20 years. It leaves the sink so lovely and polished at the end. NEVER use things like steel wool on a stainless sink though.

    • Cherie
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Please love and use your stainless steel sinks. They are pretty much indestructible and so easy to clean/sanitize! Most states require. stainless steel sinks, work tables, equipment, etc in restaurants.

    • Donna
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Vinegar is a great overall cleaner - it does not harm stainless steel at all.

    • Christine
      on Aug 6, 2016

      I do this all the time in my stainless steel sink. No problems. it leaves it nice and clean too.

    • CK
      on Aug 6, 2016

      No problems with vinegar/baking soda solution on stainless. In fact it'll make the sink appear much cleaner.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      It does not bother the sink

  • Beverly Crews
    on Aug 6, 2016

    Would you think this could work on a toilet that is clogged? Or flushing slow?

    • Larry
      on Aug 6, 2016

      I'd suggest a good plunger.

    • Elaine
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Also check the float and flapper inside the actual tank.

    • Gil4420701
      on Aug 6, 2016

      It worked on my toilet! I put hot water vinegar, soda and dish soap. Put seat down, left it for an hour before flushing. Easy!

    • Vicki
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Just put a full cup of dawn in the toilet and let it sit for an hour before flushing.

    • Barry Dingle
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Before your toilet gets to the point that it flushes too slowly or not at all, try this tip. Wear rubber, latex or nitrile gloves for this free fix, but it's important that you do it before it's too late. Under the top ring of porcelain around the bowl there is a series of holes that allow water to flow down the inside of the bowl. It doesn't look like much water compared to the main flow that gushes through the bottom, but if that flow is impaired it can and will cause a slow or weak flush. Those small holes will eventually be partially blocked by mineral deposits causing a partial blockage. A piece of wire, such as a section of coat hanger wire or an appropriate sized nail will serve as a sufficient tool to push into each hole to dislodge the minerals that are partially blocking those holes, but metal can leave scuff or scrape marks on the porcelain. Those marks can be polished out, but that's adding more work to an already unpleasant job. Use a piece of plastic, nylon or other polymer such as an appropriate length of string trimmer, (weed whacker), line to open the holes. A test to see if the problem is due to insufficient flow from above or restricted drainage below, use a bucket and a gallon or two of water. Dump the water into the bowl quickly to see if it passes through easily or backs up. DO NOT do this if the water level in the bowl is already above the normal level. You'll have a good idea of which will happen by paying attention to a normal flush. If the water in the bowl rises to an uncomfortable level, you have a blockage problem and need to clear it. If the previously mentioned suggestions failed to clear it, you may need a "snake" and probably the services of a plumber to effectively and efficiently use that "snake". If the flush is just slow or weak and not backing up the water into the bowl, there's a better than good chance that clearing those holes to restore the flow from the top will solve your problem. (A friend of mine who is a plumber told me about this trick several years ago when I couldn't get the drain "clear enough" to flush like it should. He told me to try that before I consider paying anyone, (including him), to "open" a drain that wasn't really clogged. Slow flow can cause a slow flush. (An occasional cup of vinegar added to the tank), may help to avoid that mineral accumulation, but I haven't tried that yet, it takes a few years for the blockage to slow the flush to the point that it becomes a problem). Now that I know the symptoms and how easy the fix is I just don't worry about it. The frequency depends on your water quality; Hard water, (high mineral content), will cause the problem more quickly than "good" water. We are on municipal water but still have a fairly high mineral content, don't try to judge by your source. Some well water is better than some municipal water and some well water is extremely high in iron, lime and other minerals. If you choose to use the baking soda, vinegar and / or Dawn dish detergent method, the bucket of water method for a quick, powerful flush may give the extra boost that might be needed to push the remnants of the clog the rest of the way through the trap.

    • Deborah Ceora Pack
      on Aug 6, 2016

      @Barry - I have had a horribly slow almost non flushing spare toilet room for almost a year. Tried snakes, tried cleaning w baking soda, check the exhaust pipe on roof, etc... I found the {bucket of hot water, goes down, clean/clean toilet holes/drain/flushing power solution on the internet} and now the toilet flushes like a charm! I did pour the bucket of hot water into the toilet at least 3 different days, prior to finding this solution... so that may've helped a lil, but as soon as I gloved up and cleared those holes - BAM - I was a really happy Mom.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      Yes, just don't do the hot water step.

  • Nancy
    on Aug 6, 2016

    Would this work for hair in shower -tub drains?

    • Camille Strate
      on Aug 6, 2016

      not so much. Best to try to pull that nastiness out first, THEN clean with this method.

    • Denise J. Swick
      on Aug 7, 2016

      I've actually started using drain strainers (can't think of a better term) - they catch hair & other things that may build up, to cause clogs.

    • Hillela G.
      on Aug 7, 2016

      I used this in my shower- but first I opened the drain and tried to get out as much hair and gunk on my own first. The combination solved the problem

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      It will get the water moving if it stops, but you will still need to pull out the hair after the hot water step.

  • Mar2439468
    on Aug 6, 2016

    Will this vinegar, baking soda & water formula work on hair clogged drains

    • CK
      on Aug 6, 2016

      Yes...sort of. The bigger the clog the more times this method will have to be used to unclog the hair. If the hair clog is bad, you'd be better off getting a drain snake to try to get the clog out. It's gross to see what's down there! You may have to remove the trap under the sink to do this. Be ready with a bucket to catch any water that'll come out as you do this. You can google "unclogging a drain using a snake". That'll give you all the info you need.

    • Merilee
      on Aug 6, 2016

      There's a commercial product named Thrift. That stuff will open almost any drain. There are others like Thrift on the market but I try and keep it on hand all the time.

    • Dougal
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Personally I would rather use something else to unclog hair. Walmart, Home Depot etc all sell a long piece of either wire or plastic with barbs on it. Those work really well, even if what comes up is quite disgusting

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      It will get the water moving if it stops, but you will still need to pull out the hair after the hot water step.

    • Mar2439468
      on Aug 8, 2016

      Thanks so much for all the feedback

  • Sam
    on Aug 6, 2016

    What vinegar is used.... White or Apple Cider vinegar?..

  • Sam
    on Aug 6, 2016

    Which vinegar is used ?. White? Apple Cider ?..

  • Carleta
    on Aug 6, 2016

    Does this work on hair clogs in the shower?

    • Dougal
      on Aug 7, 2016

      It can but your best bet is to buy a mini "hair snake". It's basically a long piece of plastic with barbs on it. They cost about $2-$3 and work wonders. Just be aware that what you pull out may not be quite what you were expecting - a smelly back hairy goop

    • Katie
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Straight bleach for 1/2 hour. Then copious hot water. May have to repeat a few times. Melts the hairs. Think bleach blondes.

    • Gemlady11
      on Aug 7, 2016

      This does work on shower drains, can't think of anything more repulsive than pulling out a nasty dirty hairy mess Yuch

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      It does to start getting the water through but then after the boiling water you need to get something to pull that hair out.

  • Mandy walker
    on Aug 7, 2016

    my sink is unclogged now but there are no sparkles left on sink. How did you get that to happen?

  • Cherie Preston-Jarboe
    on Aug 7, 2016

    Can you use this on a clogged toilet?

    • Ben Di Gaudio
      on Aug 7, 2016

      The baking soda may work, but I'd be very careful about the boiling water. Specially if your commode is cold. The boiling water will crack the porcelain. I found out very rudely when I was in extreme hurry to finish a plumbing re-pipe and inadvertently crossed my water pipes leading to the bathroom. As soon as I flushed to check for leaks, the commode cracked. Lost time and money.

    • Gemlady11
      on Aug 7, 2016

      To unclog a toilet squirt some washing up liquid into the pan, then flush away the blockage.

    • Phil
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Blocked toilet, as above, good squirt of detergent plus a kettle of hot water (no longer boiling). Let sit for 5 mins and flush. If need be repeat. Unless you've got tree roots in your system it works a treat.

    • Forestine Jackson
      on Aug 7, 2016

      I do this a few times throughout the year . . . Just for the good of the order.

    • Kenneth Joyner
      on Aug 7, 2016

      The baking soda and vinegar mixture makes a great toilet cleaner. Just let it sit for about 5 minutes and then scrub. Vinegar kills the germs. Plus this is much cheaper than toilet bowl cleaners and works better in my mind.

    • Caroshina
      on Aug 7, 2016

      What about a good old plunger? Works at my house.

    • VonnieBach
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Plunger works at my house, too for a clog. If I want it sparkly, a baking soda and vinegar soak works great. Don't need hot water, only a toilet brush

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      yes, just with out the boiling water.

  • Pea7330954
    on Aug 7, 2016

    Is baking soda bicarbonate of soda in England, or baking powder

    • Adu8149554
      on Aug 7, 2016

      bicarb

    • Gemlady11
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Bicarbonate of Soda

    • Vel9008475
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Bicarbonate of Soda. This is good information when baking or cooking with a new recipe.

    • Liz Gillham
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Arm & hammer sell it in orange box or wilkos also sell Bicarbonate of soda. It is not the same as baking powder or washing soda.

    • JMichna
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Baking soda is merely sodium bicarbonate; baking powder is sodium bicarbonate & cream of tartar. Baking powder is double-acting (two "rises" or releases of CO2) while baking soda is single acting.

    • Gra7525857
      on Aug 7, 2016

      No cream of tartar in baking powder. Check the ingredients . When making my yummy snicker doodles cream of tartar has its own container.

    • VonnieBach
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Baking powder is a solid mixture that is used as a chemical leavening agent in baked goods. It can be composed of a number of materials, but usually contains baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3), cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate, C4H5KO6), and cornstarch. (A base, an acid, and a filler respectively.) Ingredients checked. My Cream of Tarter has its own container too... And it is an ingredient in baking powder...

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      yes

    • Brigitte Nelson
      on Aug 8, 2016

      Natrium chlorid

    • Gra7525857
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Thank you vonniebach! I didn't know that cream of tartar was potassium of bitartrate. I learned something new! Guess I should have read my cream of tartar container.... Any how my snicker doodles are wonderful! Lol

    • Gra7525857
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Thank you vonniebach! I didn't know that cream of tartar was potassium of bitartrate. I learned something new! Guess I should have read my cream of tartar container.... Any how my snicker doodles are wonderful! Lol

  • Fc07057725
    on Aug 7, 2016

    What is exactly "baking soda"? Thanks very much for your answer

    • Forestine Jackson
      on Aug 7, 2016

      This is baking soda. U can buy it everywhere even the dollar store. Any brand will work. My dad also used this for cleaning walls before painting and keeping the stove clean. His mom taught him this. Dad died at age 103. It works! Old school. Very safe too.

      the natural drain cleaner for your clogged drain, appliances, cleaning tips, go green, This is baking soda
    • JMichna
      on Aug 7, 2016

      Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Has a hundred household uses.

    • Gail
      on Aug 8, 2016

      Back in the day...folks used baking soda with toothpaste for whitening!!!

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 8, 2016

      you might call it soda bi-carb?

    • Gayla Voss
      on Aug 10, 2016

      It is also used to bake with

    • Katie Hammond Myrice
      on Aug 11, 2016

      when I was a kid,my grandpa use to take a teaspoon of baking soda & wash it down with a glass of water for his acid reflux.. worked for him everytime.

    • Debra Bigger
      on Aug 12, 2016

      still works; i use it!

    • CarlaI
      on Aug 12, 2016

      You also use it in baking mixes to get the bubbles out of cake mix or cookie mix so they don't have large air bubbles.

    • CarlaI
      on Aug 12, 2016

      You also use it in baking mixes to get the bubbles out of cake mix or cookie mix so they don't have large air bubbles.

  • Kimberly Sinkovic
    on Aug 8, 2016

    I'm confused about why you have the stopper in though ? Should we take that out ? If I put my stopper in my sink the water won't go down, that's why the stopper is for.

  • Jayme Love
    on Aug 8, 2016

    Will this work on the bathroom tub? It has the drain that you push down to plug up the tub.

    • Tone
      on Aug 8, 2016

      Yes I have used it in the bathroom tub.. Your plug should unscrew then you can put the baking soda and vinegar down the drain.

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Yes, safest thing for the tub

    • Hum9175747
      on Aug 10, 2016

      ...unacrew the plug...there is probably plenty of hair trapped in your drain

    • Linda Holland
      on Aug 12, 2016

      I do this to kitchen sink, about 1 time a month. Since I don't cook too often. If I did would do 1 time a week.. Garbage disposal I fill with Ice Cubes, turn on it cruses the ice and freezes the YUCK that clogs up and gets under the rubber ring. then I pour hot water down drain. A plumber told me this trick. also once a month. Fist time might take a couple fillings of ice cubes to clear.

    • Forestine Jackson
      on Aug 13, 2016

      I do the same thing. I buy a bag of ice from Burger King. The ice only cost $1 and the cubes are smaller and fit easier into the disposal.

    • Gabrielle Falk
      on Sep 13, 2016

      Every time I boil the kettle for coffee, I always put extra water in, and after pouring the water for my coffee, I then tip down the kitchen sink, the rest of the boiling water. Do the same for the shower drain, and sink drain. I every so often, put a handful of bi.-carb. (can buy cheaper at a swimming pool shop), pour cleaning vinegar, over the bi.-carb., which frothes up, and follow that with a big pot, or kettle of boiling water. Easy.

    • Jane Jameson
      on Jan 9, 2017

      The plain vinegar trick works on a stopped up toilet too!

    • Jane Jameson
      on Jan 9, 2017

      Let it stay there overnight.

    • Jane Jameson
      on Jan 9, 2017

      Let it stay there overnight.

    • Dolores Dee Hughes
      on Apr 20, 2017

      Thank you, Jane Jameson for answering the question that I was going to ask about the toilet also!
  • Marie Oriol-Lavalle
    on Aug 11, 2016

    We are on a septic system. Is this okay for use with septic systems??

  • Marguerite leonard
    on Sep 18, 2016

    Does it have to be white vinegar or can it be Apple cider vinegar?

    • Shawna Bailey
      on Sep 19, 2016

      In this recipe white works best.

    • Marguerite leonard
      on Sep 19, 2016

      Thank you..

    • Roxanne Lopp
      on Jun 8, 2017

      This may sound stupid. But, my shower, I want to keep it from clogging can I still do this. And my shower is not tile.
    • Nicole Loughman
      on Jul 7, 2017

      I would assume not, since kitchen clogs are usually slimy food clogs and showers are soap scum and mostly hair. Neither ingredient would seem to be effective on hair clogs.
  • Sus16374416
    on May 13, 2017

    Live in a rural area and have septic tanks. Will the baking soda harm the septic tank?
  • Cassandra Thomas
    on Aug 14, 2017

    will this work on hair in the drain?
    • Myrna Sanders
      on Sep 20, 2017

      Yes but good to have a plastic fixture to go down the drain and u pull up on it and it brings the hair and slug
    • Glenda Moore
      on Oct 25, 2018

      I found a small drain cleaner “snake” at Dollar Tree. It is small, flexible, and I didn’t (couldn’t) take out the stopper. It cleaned out LOTS of hair and gunk. Now it runs freely. All for only $1!!!

    • Pallet Man
      on Jan 8, 2019

      No, Hair in the drain needs to be removed mechanically by pulling it out. Hair in the bath sink drain will not be removed by any chemical action because the hair is far above the water line. Only clogs in the trap with dissolve with chemicals.

      This baking soda and vinegar hack is a hoax. Use one or the other, not both. They neutralize each other. Vinegar is a mild acid that can dissolve some clogs in the trap or outlet. Baking soda can do the same.

      Together, they dissolve NOTHING. They just make dramatic bubbles. Those bubbles are not scrubbing bubbles.

      There is not enough acid in vinegar to cause bubbles when in contact with calcium carbonate (hard water residue).

    • Ladyonyamind
      on Jan 28, 2020

      It didn't get rid of the hair for me although it did make it easier for me to pull it out. However I don't think I got it all because drain is still slower. But worked amazing in my other sinks, shower and toilet. Also I put vinegar and baking soda in a bag and tape it around the shower head. I also make a baking soda paste and spread it under the rim of my toilet. Then pour 1 cup in the toilet. I leave on for 1-2 hours. I put a couple drops of essence oil in the back of the toilet. So when flushed you get a nice soft scent. I put vinegar in a good spray bottle and start spraying the rim of toilet letting it clean deep. Wipe with sponge rinse and wipe dry.

  • Mary Ann Schetlick
    on Sep 17, 2017

    Can I use this solution if I have a garbage disposal attached to the drain?
  • Ang28350828
    on Aug 20, 2018

    putting boiling water down your drain does not thin the rubber seal underneath the sink?

Join the conversation

3 of 101 comments
  • Cbe27936732
    on Jan 22, 2019

    it doesn't work, because you neutralize the baking soda with acid ( vinegar ) the Hydrogen of baking soda is eliminated from the acid produces a neutral salt.

    Just use Salt instead.

  • Marilyn
    on May 2, 2019

    I tried that 4 times and o luck. I'll be moving on to some other options :(

    • Ladyonyamind
      on Jan 28, 2020

      If you find something natural that works on hair please let me know. My daughters hair is forever clogging drains

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