5 Drain Cleaners You Can Make at Home
Clean your drain for a fraction of the cost using pantry staples.
There’s nothing quite like realizing the water level has crept up to your ankles halfway through your shower. Ew! Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us. Next time you’re a victim of the drain (sink or shower), use household ingredients you have on hand to solve the problem in a snap. I’m sharing five drain cleaners you can make at home, using everyday staples.
Before trying any of these, be sure to first remove your drain screen or stopper and wipe out any visible blockages with a paper towel.
Baking Soda + Vinegar
Unclog Slow Drains
Before you go the chemical route to clear a slow drain, try baking soda and vinegar! Shake a cup of baking soda into the drain, then heat up a cup of vinegar and pour it into the drain. After several minutes, flush with lots of hot water. Repeat as needed. *do not use on a clogged drain
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Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar down drain. Plug drain, and let sit for one hour. Then, pour a pot of boiling water down drain. Repeat if necessary.
Baking Soda + Lemon Juice
Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup lemon juice down drain. Plug drain, and let sit for one hour. Finish with a pot of boiling water.
*If you’re working with a clogged kitchen sink and prefer the smell of lemon to vinegar, consider this method instead of the first method. Do know that lemon juice costs a bit more than vinegar, though.
Baking Soda + Salt
Mix 1/2 cup table salt and 1/2 cup baking soda together, and pour down drain. Let sit for about 30 minutes (or overnight if it’s a tough clog), and follow with a pot of boiling water.
Baking Soda + Salt + Cream of Tartar
Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup salt and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar in a jar that seals. Close jar, and shake to combine ingredients. Pour half the jar’s contents down drain, and save the other half for later. Follow the solution with a pot of boiling water. Let drain sit for one hour. Then, run tap water to rinse any remaining solution down.
Salt + Borax + Vinegar
Cleaning a Garbage Disposal
If you’ve cleaned your sink and it still smells like something died in there, your garbage disposal is the most likely culprit. While your disposal is off, dump a cup or two of ice into it. Then turn on the water and run the disposal. This should dislodge gunk that has stuck to the blades. After the ice has disintegrated, turn the disposal back off and turn off the water. Then dump half a cup of baking soda into the disposal and follow with a cup of vinegar. You should absolutely get the “science project effect,” but that pop and fizz will help clear out any remaining particulates in the disposal. Finally, after the science project has been washed down the drain by some nice hot water, grind a cut-up citrus fruit down the disposal (if you want to eat the fruit, even just the rind will do). The citrus acidity will chew away anything that dared remain, but the real upside is how nice a smell-turnaround your disposal will have made!
Pour 1/4 cup salt, followed 1/4 cup Borax down drain. Then, pour 1/2 cup vinegar down. Finish with a pot of boiling water. Let sit for one hour or until it clears; then, run hot tap water to rinse any remaining solution down.
Kitchen: Sink Area
Raw meat, raw fish, what’s left of dinner — the sink has plenty of growing bacteria. Give it a scrub with baking soda, then follow up with a white vinegar soak. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar to warm water, or place vinegar-saturated paper towels in the sink for 15 minutes to completely sanitize.
Every Room: The Walls
While you're at it, go ahead and give all of your walls a good scrubbing. Wipe off any loose dust with a soft cloth, then gently scrub off any dirt with an all-purpose cleaner that's safe for your walls. (Test in an inconspicuous area first if you’re unsure.) Don’t forget the molding!
Kitchen: Garbage Disposal
The garbage disposal can also produce a foul odor if not cleaned regularly. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes; then pour a bucket of hot water down the drain to rinse. Grind half a lemon in the disposal for extra cleaning power and a fresh scent.
Home Office: Computer Keyboard
You touch your face. You type an email. You reach for your lunch. You type a report. You get the idea. To clean your computer's keyboard, unplug it first. Next, gently wipe with a 1:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water, but make sure not to get your keyboard too wet.