Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unclog your Drain without Barfing!

Tips and Tricks Thursday: 
I thought since being a house wife isn't always as glamorous as baking cinnamon bread and making people's tummy happy... although I would love if that is all it entailed! Sometimes there are dirty jobs around the house. Once a week I am hoping to give you a fun tip that I have learned to clean up and keep that house a home!
This week we are talking about the drains...
(yes I started with one of the worst! sorry)

The bathroom is one of my least favorite places to clean! GROSS... I wish I had a cleaning lady for just that room! (oook and maybe the laundry...) Being that I have long hair, our shower drain has the inevitable quarterly clog. 
It is bad... as soon as you start to notice the water not draining as fast as it used to you are in trouble. I like to try and catch it early.. but those snakes for the drain are so foul! I hate pulling the glob of disgusting-mess out of the drain! (Chad won't do it... "its your hair"-Chad and I guess I don't blame him!) 

There are a few tips for avoiding this:
I use drain-o once every other month and it seems to keep the clog away. I also brush my hair in the shower so that my comb catches most of the loose hairs that would otherwise go down the drain, this slows the process for a clogged drain but doesn't stop it! TMI I know... 
Hair Stopper - Drain Protector / Strainer
Image from amazon.
Getting a vent: one of those  Drain cover things help in the bathroom... but that still means cleaning up hair. Unfortunately My drain is not the kind with a big hole like the ones used with these:


Unfortunately we can do lots to try and avoid this altogether but it is typical to have to deal with the clogged drain in the kitchen, the toilet an the shower/tub... 
 Thankfully there are some tricks to unclogging the drain when precautions just don't cut it and its stopped up!

1st: Flushing 
Remove as much of the water that’s backed up in the sink/tub as you can. Toss 1 cup of baking soda into the drain then pour a large pot or kettle of boiling hot water over top. If the sink/tub empties completely, pour another kettle of boiling water to give it another clean flush and then let cool water run from the faucet for a couple minutes.

2nd: Vinegar Flush 
This tried and true method really works!
 Remove as much water as you can. Toss 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then pour down a cup of household vinegar, plug with the sink stopper then let sit for half an hour.
 After about 30 minutes, unplug the sink and pour a kettle full of hot water on top. This truly works and I have found that is even works with water still in the sink, just add double the baking soda and vinegar and allow extra time for it to work. Once the water in the sink has fully emptied, flush with fresh batches of boiling water 2 or 3 times to completely clear out the gunk.  
I like to follow it up with some bleach as well so that vinegar smell is not there any longer.

3rd: Plunger! 

We must not forget there is the trusty Plunger!

Use a sink plunger to try forcing the drain to clear. You’ll need a few inches of water in the sink to help make a vacuum seal for the plunger and a few forceful plunges to make this work. You can buy a sink plunger that’s about a 1/3 of the size of a regular toilet plunger. These are only a couple bucks, need very little room and they’re great to keep under the kitchen sink just in case. you can use a full sized sink or toilet plunger if you can’t find a small sink plunger. (just sanitize!)

I use this for the Sink when I get a clog there as well as the toilet (of course never for myself, I am not willing to admit that haha) and the shower.. this works wonders but must be done carefully.. lets not cause hernias

I learned recently that you can put petroleum jelly around the rim on the plunger and it will add suction and help with plunging when submerging into water.

I tried it when I got sweet potato skins stuck in my sink and had to plunge the sink twice (on both sides) as it made its way through the pipes! 
*don't put sweet potato skins down the sink.. you think they will get shredded in the disposal but they don't, BIG MESS!!

4th: The Snake
These are gross, and seriously smelly sometimes! 
make sure to be careful and to always wear gloves... we aren't savages here, lets keep some dignity!
IF snaking from the top of drain is not working you can always take it apart and open and remove the trap or (clean-out plug) underneath the sink to try clearing the clogged mass. Use a plumber’s snake or a wire coat hanger to poke into the drain and break apart the clog. You’ll need an empty bucket on hand to catch all the water as well as eye goggles firmly in place. This is messy and must be done smart, don't hold me accountable if you make it worse than when you started!

5th: Commercial Drain Cleaners
 The drain-o, plumber clearer... and products alike are always helpful. just be careful if using chemical commercial drain cleaners, wear eye goggles since the water can splash back up at you. If you’ve used a commercial cleaner and it didn’t clear out the clog, call a plumber. You don’t want to add anything to the backed up water that might react badly to the chemicals in the cleaner. Also don’t try removing the drain trap since the chemical water can splash into your eyes and face. A professional is better equipped to handle this situation.

If all else fails just call the plumber already! 
there is no shame in that! 

Hopefully this is helpful!
Remember to always check the drain in your tub to make sure it is open before freaking out! And be careful when unclogging pipes... 
have a happy Thursday!


  1. I agree with tip # 6: Plumber! If all else fails, you still have your last and best resort, which is to hire a reliable plumber. Aside from saving time, money, and effort, you can also be assured of a quality result. Do you best, but don’t overdo it or you might end up damaging your sink.

    -Darryl Iorio

  2. I feel your frustrations in cleaning the bathroom! I love relaxing at the tub, but the last thing I would do is to clean the bathroom! Good thing my house chore is the living room. ^_^ However, my roommate will be on vacation for a week or so. It’s good that I stumbled upon this post. Meanwhile, I consider calling Mr. Plumb man as the curative step while all the rest sound preventive. Thanks Janelle! Take care.
    -Carmella Vancil

  3. Your post is a great help, Janelle! ^_^ I read your post last week and was actually hesitant to do the vinegar flush because it might smell in the house. Upon further research, I found out that vinegar is volatile so it will evaporate soon. So, I gave it a try. It works. The baking soda extinguished the smell of the vinegar. It even seemed to whiten the surface of my tub so I tried applying it on surfaces of my kitchen. It all started with this post, so keep the posts coming.
    Lovella Cushman


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