A homemade drain cleaner can get you out of many pipe-related situations. We have all been there. A hair clog, grease build up, or uncanny food waste thrown down the garbage dispenser undoubtedly clog your drains and pipes. But chemical drain unclogging solutions are quite expensive, and so is calling the plumber.
Fortunately, we have an alternative: homemade drain cleaner. We rounded up 10 powerful homemade drain cleaner recipes to help you clean the drains and successfully remove any clogs. Each of these recipes is very cheap to put together. Moreover, you have the opportunity to get rid of the toxic chemicals usually lined up on the ingredients list of any commercial cleaning product.
1. Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar Homemade Drain Cleaner
Most DIY drain cleaners use baking soda as a potent solvent and anti-bacterial substance. When the drains seem to be clogged and the water isn’t flowing as it used to, use this homemade drain cleaner recipe as a quick remedy.
Before we get started with the ingredient list and the how to make homemade drain cleaner using those ingredients, let’s talk about the benefits. You will brew a homemade concoction that’s safe to use for the kitchen drains, the bathroom drains or the garbage disposal drain, as well as plugged pipes. Moreover, it costs very little to make and it’s ideal for weekly use as it doesn’t corrode the pipes.
Here’s what you need to make this homemade drain cleaner for hair, grease or food debris.
- Baking soda – one-quarter of a cup.
- Salt – one-quarter of a cup.
- Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) – one-quarter of a cup.
- Boiling water – 2 cups.
- Paper towel.
Let’s put these to work. Here is how:
- Start by taking out the drain trap. This is the first barrier in debris’ way. As such, while it may be a little gross, it’s certainly necessary to give it a thorough clean. Use a paper towel to wipe clean any food, hair or other visible remnants around the drain.
- Then, mix the cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add just a bit of water to make the composition creamier.
- Pour the creamy homemade drain cleaner down the pipes. Let it act alone for about 20 minutes. Then, pour the boiling water down the drain as well.
- Let the whole thing sit for about one hour. If you hear some sizzle and fizz, take it as a good sign. That’s the power of the mixed ingredients working their magic on any junk deposits lining the drain and the pipes.
- After one hour, rinse with cooler water. As much as possible, try not to use cold water. If the drain clog is caused by a grease deposit and the homemade drain cleaner de-clogger hasn’t worked thoroughly the first time, cold water may make things worse.
You will notice a change immediately. However, if the water still isn’t flowing as it should, repeat the procedure. This time, let the homemade clogged drain cleaner sit overnight.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Unclog your drains and pipes with the classic homemade drain cleaner recipe. It might remind you of the science class volcano. Nonetheless, it’s a tried recipe that has worked for generations.
Here’s what you need:
- Baking soda – three-quarters of a cup.
- Vinegar – half a cup.
If you’re wondering how just two ingredients can unclog drains and pipes, here’s how:
- Pour the baking soda down the drain. Let the powder settle.
- Pour the vinegar right after sprinkling the baking soda.
The two ingredients will cause a fizzy reaction. To make sure it is contained inside the drain, cover it with the drain plug, a towel or a plate. Let the magic homemade drain cleaner work for about 30 minutes. Remove the plug or drain cover after 30 minutes and use hot water to rinse it off. If your drain is seriously clogged, you may need to repeat the procedure again.
However, routinely cleaning the pipes and drains with vinegar and baking soda keeps your plumbing clean and fresh. Vinegar cancels nasty odors caused by junk buildup, while baking soda acts as a powerful disinfectant and anti-bacterial substance. The days when you had to call a plumber to do the dirty job are gone thanks to this homemade drain cleaner recipe with vinegar and baking soda.
3. Citrus Fruit Peels, Vinegar and Baking Soda
This homemade drain cleaner recipe is one step up from the previous one. This is due to citrus peels and the citrus peels infused vinegar which works even better to unclog pipes. Not only does it smell divine, it also a natural drain cleaner alternative for all the fragrance (yet toxically fuming) commercial cleaners. Here’s how to make it. First, gather the ingredients:
- Citrus fruits peels (as many as you can get from the oranges, lemons and grapefruits you’re eating).
- Baking soda.
- Boiling water.
Infusing vinegar with citrus peels is really simple, despite the complicated ring this procedure name has. All you need to do is get a tight lid mason jar, stuff the citrus peels inside and pour vinegar almost to the top. Cover with the airtight lid and let the concoction sit for about two weeks. Then, follow these steps:
- Pour the baking soda down the drain.
- Immediately after, pour the citrus peel infused vinegar down the drain.
- Cover the drain with the drain plug to keep the fizzy foam contained.
- Rinse with hot water (even boiling) after 30 minutes.
The acid in the vinegar and the citrus peels breaks down almost any residues and deposits on the drain and the pipes. This is why it’s key to let the vinegar and baking soda homemade drain cleaner work for half an hour or more. In the end, you’ll have a fresh citrus fragrance and super clean pipes.
Also, if you’re looking forward to using this homemade sink drain cleaner on the garbage disposal drain, here’s a pro tip: use the citrus peels as well. After following the same procedure outlined above, run the peels through the disposal. This step will release the essential oils still left in the peels so that you will get rid of all the nasty smells that may have accumulated in time.
4. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Using baking soda for the drains and pipes in your home is already known as a miracle worker. However, the benefits of using lemon juice are less known. One cup of lemon juice will work better than vinegar when it comes to unclogging the pipes and drains. How so? Lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar. It may be slightly more expensive to squeeze out one cup of lemon juice than to pour one cup of vinegar down the drain. Nonetheless, the after-smell is better and the cleaning properties of this homemade drain cleaner are enhanced.
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice
Use baking soda and lemon juice in the same manner you would use baking soda and vinegar. This homemade drain cleaner without vinegar works perfectly to remove various types of fats that build up on the drain and pipes.
5. Salt, Borax, and Vinegar
Salt is a mild corrosive and anti-bacterial ingredient which can efficiently clean the drain. Vinegar is already a commonplace ingredient used in homemade house cleaning products. Borax has been a household staple used for its cleaning properties for ages.
Here’s how much you need of each ingredient to make the magic happen:
- Salt – one-quarter of a cup.
- Borax – one-quarter of a cup.
- Vinegar – half a cup.
As vinegar acts as the catalyst for this homemade drain cleaner, it’s wise to pour it down the drain lastly. Alternatively, you can mix the three ingredients slowly in a large bowl (to prevent the fizzy reaction from over-spilling most of the mixture). Once the fizzy reaction is somewhat settled, pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with hot water and enjoy the easy flow of the liquid.
6. Ammonia and Boiling Water
Ammonia is another potent cleaning compound. While some may be put off by the pungent smell of ammonia, this compound has been tested and proved as a powerful homemade drain cleaner.
- Boiling Water
All you need to do is mix it with boiling water and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for about half an hour. Use a plunger to loosen any clogs that may still be lining the pipes. Use a kettle of boiling water to rinse off everything.
7. Lemon Essential Oil and Baking Soda
This homemade drain cleaner works effectively on slow running drains. As it lacks the acid component typically in the form of vinegar, it may not work as efficiently to remove clogs or large fat and oils deposits. However, this soft scrub and cleaner work wonder on its own.
Here’s what you need to make it:
- Baking soda.
- Liquid Castile soap.
- Lemon essential oil.
It won’t just smell fresh and clean, but it will effectively remove all the stains, hard water spots and surface dirt lining the drains, bathtubs, toilets, showers or sinks. The lemon essential oil adds a strong antibacterial punch to the mix.
8. Fizzy Homemade Drain Cleaner: Kool-Aid Pack
It’s amazing to know how many uses Kool-Aid can have. In addition to being a readily made soda powder, it seems that it can also work as a homemade drain cleaner. Sometimes, drain clogs can be due to hard water and calcareous deposits on the pipes and drains. We’ve all battled the annoying hard water marks and rings on the sink, in the shower cabin and bathtub or in the toilet bowl.
Well, Kool-Aid is a great help in getting rid of these and dissolving the calcareous deposits.
- 2-3 Kool Aid packs
One pack of the fizzy drink powder costs about 25 cents and effectively cleans one drain. You won’t need to scrub for hours on end or use other toxic products. Just pour the powder down the drain, let the citric acid inside it work for half an hour and wash it down with hot water.
9. Plain Old Bleach
We left bleach for last as it’s one of the most toxic substances you can use as a homemade drain cleaner. However, when a drain is severely clogged, bleach may be your only hope.
Compared to other homemade drain cleaner recipes on our list, this one contains more harmful chemical ingredients. As such, we recommend the use of gloves and goggles throughout the time you are using the product.
If you’ve tried the above DIY drain cleaners yet the residues are still there, pour bleach down the drain and let it sit for one hour. Use hot water to rinse it off and push down all the clogs.
10. Soda, Pepsi or Coke
We are aware of the myth busters’ kind of imprint on this homemade cleaner for drains. Nonetheless, we tried cleaning the drains and unclogging pipes with fizzy drinks like these ones and it worked.
- All you need is a large bottle of soda at room temperature.
Pour the liquid down the drain and let the phosphoric acid work its magic. It can dissolve calcareous deposits, greasy buildup and much more. However, if this improvised solution doesn’t work, we recommend using the classic snake tool to remove large clogs beforehand.
11. Caustic Soda
Also known as lye or sodium hydroxide, caustic soda was the best drain cleaner available for decades. Even though there currently are more corrosive products on the market, caustic soda still is a reliable and popular solution for a clogged drain.
- wood, glass, or plastic container (NOT metal)
- 3 cups of lye
Fill the container with water, then add the caustic soda and stir with a wooden spoon. Then, with great care, take the solution and slowly pour it into the drain without splashing. Leave it for at least 30 minutes and then slowly pour a bucket of hot water to rinse off any gunk.
Having a handy homemade drain cleaner recipe never hurts. When trouble kicks in, use any of these powerful drain cleaners to fix any clogged drains with a homemade, natural drain cleaner. The only thing you should mind is that any homemade drain cleaner should be used routinely. The old housewife’s tale saying that prevention is better than treatment applies to the pipes and drains in your home as well. Before you risk a clog disaster, use these homemade drain cleaner recipes and remove grease build up, hair clogs, and food debris in no time.