Many drain clogs are the result of a buildup of grease and oil that traps debris. Rather than buying a toxic chemical drain cleaner, many people want a healthier, safer, and more effective way to clear a clogged drain. Chemical drain cleaners have limited success; they may do nothing, or just push the clog deeper down into the pipes. If you are searching for a recipe for a homemade drain cleaner, you may have read about the baking soda and vinegar method. Heads up – this method will not work on grease-related clogs.

Homemade Drain Cleaners: What Really Works?

While the baking soda/vinegar method is mentioned or even promoted as effective in countless DIY blogs, it is not effective for many drain clogs. Grease buildups – very common in kitchen sinks and showers – are not resolved with this DIY recipe. Why? The mixture does not have the capacity to melt and flush away grease and oil. The science behind why it doesn’t work is simple. While the combination of the two ingredients will produce an impressive amount of foam, the mixture cannot cut through grease – at all. For grease to mix with water (critical), you need heat and a surfactant – simply a product that makes it possible for oils to mix with water – like soap!

Freeing a grease-clogged drain requires melting away the buildup of solidified grease so it can be washed down the pipes and your drain cleared. You can expect much better results with a simple pot of hot water poured carefully and directly into the drain. Add some dish soap to help with the process. Clog doesn’t release? Repeat it. It may require several treatments to melt away a serious grease buildup.

One fun fact is people who promote natural drain cleaner made from vinegar and baking soda will tell you to finish the job by pouring hot water down the drain — that’s the part that actually melts the clog, so just go ahead and skip the vinegar and baking soda – it is doing nothing to help you.

Homemade Drain Cleaners: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Many people are far more aware of the dangers posed by chemicals in the home and are turning to natural mixtures to keep the home clean and sparkling — including homemade drain cleaner. However, there are some combinations that you should avoid when creating your own “green” cleaner. One such example is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You have now created an acid that can harm your skin, eyes, and can corrode your counters or other surfaces. That’s just one example of how mixing certain “safe” ingredients that can be dangerous. Always get the facts before you create your own cleaning products!

Professional Drain Cleaning

Nothing is more effective in a seriously clogged drain than a professional drain cleaning. No chemicals, completely effective, and risk-free. At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Eastern Iowa, our customers count on us to help them keep their drains flowing as they should. If you can’t resolve a clogged drain on your own with simple hot water and a bit of soap, give us a call. We’ll get to the bottom of it in no time, and with no chemicals involved!