clogged drain

Have you ever had a drain clog that just wouldn't clear? Most people have dealt with the stubborn drain problem more than a few times. Whether it's the kitchen sink full of food debris or the tub drain packed with hairballs and soap residue, sometimes it seems like no matter what you do or try, water still pools up every time you run the faucet. If you've tried plunging, scraping, and maybe even those pipe-harming harsh chemicals to no avail, it's time to try something drastic. Let's make a drain volcano.

When All Else Fails

The problem with drains is that there are dozens of different ways a drain can get clogged. What it's clogged with and why is a major part of solving the clog unless you're willing to get a plumber's snake and simply force the clog out no matter how deep it goes. Many people turn to harsh chemical drain cleaners because that's what is commercially available and suggested but these can simultaneously fail to fix your clog, damage your pipes, and give you a headache all at the same time so we suggest you steer clear. As it turns out, you have everything you need to solve most clogs sitting in your kitchen.

What You'll Need

  • Wire Coat Hanger
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 1 Pot of Boiling Water
  • Drain Stopper
  • Salt
  • Liquid Dish Soap


Start With the Coat Hanger

The best way to take on a clogged drain is with a multi-front offense. First, bend your coathanger into a a long narrow hook. This should allow you to thread it down through the drain. Do your best to catch and hook any clogs you can reach and pull them up out of the drain. Where possible, this is the best solution because it ensures that the clogging materials don't just wash further down the system and out of reach before contributing to another clog.

Time to Make a Drain Volcano

Set your pot of water on the stove to boil, then grab your baking soda, vinegar, and drain stopper. Start by pouring the entire cup of baking soda down the drain. Drain-stopper in hand, quickly pour in the vinegar and firmly stop the drain so that nothing can come back up out of it. If the stopper doesn't seal shut, you may want to set something slightly heavy on it to keep it down.

Anyone familiar with the school volcano trick will know what happens next. As the vinegar and baking soda touch each other, they will form an explosive bubbling reaction that will scrub your pipes and put cleaning downward pressure on the clog. The drain stopper means that any bubbles that would have exploded up into your sink or tub will be forced to explode downward instead.

Wait twenty to thirty minutes with the drain plugged, then open it up and pour in your boiling water slowly to avoid splashing yourself. When all the boiling water goes down the drain, run the tap to see if your drain still appears to be clogged. The vast majority of the time, this will have done the trick. If not, try it a second time.

The Backup Plan

As cool as the volcano trick is, you may need additional materials depending on exactly what it is clogging your drain. Kitchen drains, for instance, may have an especially bad grease problem in which case, you will want to use salt or liquid detergent. To use salt, pour the salt in first, then hot water after it. For liquid detergent, boil water and mix in a few tablespoons of dish soap and pour it in together.

Of course, if the clog is really nasty and refuses to be broken up by indirect means, you can always call a professional to break out the snake and get to the bottom of the issue.