Fast and Natural Remedies That Are Probably in Your Pantry Right Now

A clogged drain is one of life’s little imperatives and, often, one of its biggest inconveniences.

It’s not a problem that you can let sit for a couple of days, especially in a high-use area like the kitchen sink or bathroom shower.

The understandable instinct to fix it quickly means many people resort to a “fast acting” chemical drain cleaner from their local grocery store. However, these conventional drain cleaners contain toxic ingredients such as sodium hydroxide, the active ingredient in chlorine bleach. Inhaling these fumes can cause breathing difficulty and nausea, and skin contact with the product can lead to burns.

Additionally, if these drain cleaners come in contact with ammonia, another popular household cleaner, the mixture can produce a form of chlorine gas, which was used as a chemical weapon in the first world war. Not to mention the damage these potent chemicals can do to your pipes.

Here are some effective and natural remedies to unclog your pipes while protecting them from damage and even giving them a nice, fresh scent!

1. Baking soda, vinegar and hot water

  1. First, boil 3 to 4 cups of water. Pour one cup each of baking soda and white vinegar into the drain, followed by the water. Wait for it to bubble its way down.
  2. Try it a second time for really tough clogs.
  3. Don’t panic! The white foaming bubbles percolating up from the drain is a good sign, it means the BSV reaction is working. Plus, it makes a pretty cool home science experiment, so call the kids in to see it!
  4. If two rounds of BSV and hot water rinse don’t do the trick, escalate the assault with a closet auger or a plumber’s snake, which are sold at most hardware stores.
  5. Between each round of clog probing, run hot water down the drain and use firm up-and-down strokes with a plunger to further loosen the blockage until water drains through easily.

2. Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar

You’ll see a pattern evolving here—ingredients most of us have in our pantry. If you don’t have vinegar, try baking soda and Cream of Tartar (its fancier name is potassium tartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. Look in the baking or spices aisle.) Cream of Tartar is great for cleaning metals while baking soda releases carbon dioxide, helping to break up small clogs.

a. Mix together two tablespoons of Cream of Tartar and two cups of baking soda.

b. Pour two cups of boiling water into the drain, followed by the cleaner, and let it sit for one hour.

c. Flush out your drain with a boiling pot of water.

3. Baking Soda and Salt

  1. Use a combination of ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of salt.
  2. Dump the mixture down your bathroom or kitchen sink and let it sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours.
  3. Flush out your drain with a boiling pot of water.

4. Borax, Salt, and Vinegar

If you don’t have baking soda, you can try Borax, salt, and vinegar.

  1. In a pot of boiling water, combine:
    • 1/4 cup Borax
    • 1/4 cup salt
    • 1/4 cup vinegar
  2. Let this combination sit for one hour (you will notice the mixture becomes clear). Afterward, pour it down the drain and flush it out with hot tap water.

5. Dish Soap and Hot Water

This method is excellent for breaking up pesky grease clogs.

  1. Mix 3-5 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with two liters of boiling water.
  2. Gently pour the mixture down the sink, keeping an eye out for any splashes.
  3. Depending on the grease clog, you may need to repeat the method a few times.

The truth about lye…it works!

Lye -- also called caustic soda sodium hydroxide --is a substance frequently used to make soap. It’s available in liquid, pellet, flake or powder from most home improvement or hardware stores. It is an effective substance for use in unclogging drains and is often one of the active ingredients in commercially available drain cleaners. Lye has caustic properties that help it dissolve hair and grease, the root cause of most challenging drain clogs. For this reason, you’ll need to take a few extra safety precautions when using it.

  1. Put on gloves, eye protection and a mask before opening the lye. Lye can burn your skin on contact.
  2. Place 2 to 3 tsp, of lye directly into the clogged drain.
  3. Turn on the faucet for one to two seconds to dispense enough water to wet the lye. Only 1 or 2 tbsp. of water is required, so do not allow the faucet to run for more than a few seconds.
  4. Open any nearby windows or turn on the ventilation fan. Leave the room, and close the door to the room to contain the fumes.
  5. Allow the lye solution to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Run clean, hot water through the pipes for one to two minutes to rinse all traces of the lye out of the pipes.

If you get to this point and you’re still wrestling with the clog, it’s time to call in the professionals at Ben Franklin Plumbing. We’ll come tackle that pesky pipe problem and be gone before you know it, cleaning up to a shine before we go!

One question we often get: Can a mixture of baking soda and vinegar be made and stored for faster use when needed? Unfortunately NO, the reaction is temporary and will dissipate soon after, leaving your “fast access” mixture useless. It’s better to keep the two ingredients separate, but available, so you can achieve maximum clog and cleaning power when the time comes.

When it comes to tackling really troublesome clogs, we recommend you let the trained, licensed and experienced professionals of Ben Franklin Plumbing do the job. Especially if these simple, natural methods aren’t proving effective for your drain pain. We have the advanced tools and know-how to get to the epicenter of the clog and remove it. You don’t want to risk damaging your pipes or disposal and pay more for repairs for what could be a relatively easy fix for us.

If you put “Best Plumbers Near Me” in your search engine, we’re at the top of that list, now let us be at the top of yours! Be it an emergency or routine plumbing service, we’ll respond quickly, quote fairly, and talk to you honestly. Our monthly service and product specials can also save you money!

Visit or call our 24/7 customer service line today 800.471.0809.