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How to Unclog a Drain Without Toxic Chemicals

How to Unclog a Drain Without Toxic Chemicals

When drains get clogged up, traditionally you have only a few choices: a plunger or drain snake that physically removes the clog, or some kind of caustic, toxic chemical like Drano. Even a plumber will either use a plunger, snake or chemical to clear your drain.

And while there is nothing wrong with using a snake (I use a Zip-It to clear hair from my tub drain all the time), drain-clearing chemicals like Drano go right into our waste-water stream where they are NOT filtered out, and eventually end up in our rivers and streams.

The main ingredients in chemical drain cleaners are bleach and sodium hydroxide, or NaOH, a highly corrosive salt. Since NaOH is so corrosive, contact via inhalation, ingestion, skin, and the eyes can cause major irritation, vision problems, vomiting, shock if ingested, and even thermal and/ or chemical burns.

Chronic exposure can cause nose and throat irritation, chest pains, dermatitis, and ulceration of the nasal passages. These effects are very severe and unfortunately much too common, as individuals do not heed the warnings and directions printed on the product’s container.

Too often we reach for the dangerous stuff to get the job done, when there are usually safer and more natural ways to do the job. So, to avoid using caustic chemicals, look no further than your kitchen pantry for everything you need to unclog a drain without causing damage to your health or the environment.

How to Unclog a Drain Naturally


  • A small cloth or rag, plunger or drain stopper to temporarily seal the drain.
  • A tea kettle


  • Small box of baking soda (Get it bulk through an Azure Standard Co-op.)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 quart of water


  1. Bail out any standing water in the sink until the sink and drain are relatively dry.
  2. Dump about 1/2 of a box of dry baking soda down the drain.
  3. Get your cloth or rags ready and at your side. You can also use a plunger or drain stopper for this, but be prepared to hold it down tightly.
  4. Following the baking soda, pour 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain.
  5. Immediately after you pour it in, plug the drain with the cloth, rag or stopper, filling the drainhole completely so nothing can escape.
  6. HOLD TIGHT! The interaction of the vinegar and baking soda will cause a “mini volcano” that will come up and out of the drain if you don’t keep it down there to bust out your clog.
  7. After the initial “volcano” subsides, leave the baking soda and vinegar mixture in the drain for about 30 minutes. While you are waiting, boil a tea kettle full of water.
  8. After 30 minutes, remove the cloth or rag and slowly pour the boiling water down the drain.
  9. On the rare chance that your drain is not clear, just do it again. Occasionally I have had to do it twice in a row, but it doesn’t happen too often.

Between a drain snake or Zip-It for hair, and good old fashioned baking soda and vinegar, you can now unclog a drain cheaply without dangerous chemicals, any time you need to!

Read Standard Disclosures and Disclaimers here.


  1. I almost had it right he first time, except for baking soda, and it got me feeling weird with a vinegar smelling sink all morning.

    Baking soda it is!

  2. Nice article. Easy and Eco-friendly tips on how to clean clogged drains. You can also check There you can find some tips with regards to your drain and other plumbing issues.

  3. Thank you for warning people off things like Draino, I worked as a drainage engineer for years and could not have written a better post about clearing your blocked drain!! Chemicals are a waste of time! Using either natural substances or simple tools to clear blockages is where it’s at!! You’re right, that is all I would use to clear it, and I would charge $60+ a time!!! This post can save people time and money :)!! GREAT JOB

  4. It’s Party Time over at Debt Free Mommy Blog and you are invited! Please come link up anything related to making your space better at and mark your calendars for every Making Space Mondays linky party. Hope to see you there!

  5. These are some things I never thought about. Thank you for sharing with us on Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you’ll join us again this week!

  6. Fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing this tip at Thrifty Thursday!

  7. This is a great tip! I use baking soda and vinegar to unclog drains, too, and I’m amazed at how well it works. However, I never thought to plug up the drain, it worked for me without doing that.

  8. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  9. So simple and easy! Love your natural recipe! Thank you for sharing with us at Healthy 2Day Wednesdays. Hope to see you again real soon.

  10. Great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday! I’m pinning this!

  11. This has to be the most thorough post I ‘ve ever read on natural drain clearance! Thanks for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration! Rebecca x

    • Thanks, Rebecca. You know I have a penchant for thorough. :)

  12. If we can do with out chemicals I’m all for it! I’m going to try this the next time. :)

  13. I hate chemicals and will definitely try this! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Stopping by from WLWW link up! Continued blessings!

  14. This is a great post. I will have to remember this for future reference. I usually just boil some water and pour it down for most stuff. I ma your newst fan. Come by and see us on our blog.

  15. What a great tip. I will bookmark this. Thanks for sharing.
    Gail (

  16. Love the Zip-It for hair clogs. Disgusting to see what comes up, but it works like a charm.

    I’m so glad you mentioned needing to PLUG the drain in order for the baking soda/vinegar to work (I had tried this combo before *without* plugging, to no avail….Will definitely plug it next time!)

  17. What a great post. I love the idea of plugging the drain – I always ‘lose’ the volcanic action quickly with a completely opened drain. Thanks for sharing your tips! :)

  18. Nice tips. For slow bath drains, a great tool is The Drain Claw. You can check it out at It will unclog slow drains because of hair without dangerous chemicals.

    • The drain claw and the Zip-It are very similar tools that work better on hair. The baking soda and vinegar trick works best on regular clogs.

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