How To Clean The Drains In Your Home (The Right Way!)

How To Clean The Drains In Your Home (The Right Way!)

Anthony Barnes

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If you’ve ever had a clogged drain, then you know how annoying it can be. The problem usually occurs when hair, soap, and food particles build up over time, causing blockages. While some homeowners try to fix their plumbing problems themselves, others hire professionals to get things done correctly.

There are many ways to clean drains in your home, but not all of them work as well as they should. Some methods may even damage the pipes or cause other issues that could lead to bigger problems down the road. 

How To Clean The Drains In Your Home

So if you want to avoid any potential disasters, we’ve got some tips for cleaning drains at home, and also how you can prevent them from getting clogged. 

A Guide On How You Can Clean Your Drains

Clogged drains can really make the running of your home a nuisance. A clogged up shower drain could have you flooding your bathroom in minutes, and a clogged kitchen sink can really smell foul. 

This article is going to give you some step-by-step tips on how you can unclog these drains and how you can prevent them from becoming clogged up. 

Number 1: Remove Items Clogging Your Drains

If you notice that there’s something stuck in your drain, you’ll need to remove it before attempting anything else. You might see hair, soap scum, or even food particles, depending on the kind of drain you are focusing on. Try using a plunger to dislodge the object first.

Simply hold the plunger down on the drain firmly and fill the area with water. Once there is a sufficient amount of water, use some quick pumps with the plunger to get rid of the blockage. 

If this doesn’t work, or you simply don’t have a plunger, you can use some other methods. You can use a barbed cleaning tool. These have angled barbs, and they work by pulling out materials that are blocking your drains. 

You can also use a biological cleaner for tougher blockages that won’t budge. These are used by pouring them down the drain and leaving them overnight to work their magic. It is important to note that these cleaners take longer to work, but they may be needed if you’ve got a tough blockage. 

Number 2: Get Rid Of Unpleasant Odors

Blockages are very likely to leave some unpleasant odors, especially if they have been blocked for some time. While removing the blockage will ensure water runs smoothly through your drains, you’ll still need to get rid of any odors that have been left behind. 

There are a few ways you can do this. 

1. Use Vinegar, Baking Soda, And Hot Water

Using vinegar, baking soda, and hot water, is an effective way at getting rid of foul odors in drains. It is also effective at removing any grease, bacteria, or build-up that has formed in drains. 

Vinegar is a powerful odor eliminator, and baking soda is good at dissolving grease and other unwanted substances. The heat from the boiling water will also get rid of harmful, unwanted bacteria.  

This mixture works best for drains that are clogged with grease or fats. Simply pour half a cup of the baking soda down the selected drain, and then pour the same amount of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let that mixture do its work for around 15 minutes. Then pour some boiling water down the drain, you can use your kettle for this. 

2. Pour Apple Cider Vinegar Down The Drain

Apple cider vinegar has natural enzymes that break down fats and oils. Just pour a cup of apple cider vinegar down the drain, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then flush it away. 

3. Add Lemon Juice To The Bathroom Sink

Lemon juice is an effective way to eliminate bad smells in sinks. Simply add the juice of half a lemon to the sink, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then flush the sink away. If you’re looking for a more powerful solution, just add more lemon juice.

4. Use A Biological Cleaner

Biological cleaners are also great at removing foul smells, as well as preventing any buildup of grime, mold, or bacteria. While the above are natural ways of doing this, a biological cleaner may be a good option if the smell is quite foul and natural remedies aren’t helping. 

Biological cleaners contain ingredients that kill bad bacteria, and they are an eco-friendly option to cleaners that contain bleach. While bleach is an effective cleaner, it can produce harmful toxins in your home. 

5. Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Ice, Salt, And Lemon

Your garbage disposal is a drain that is often the cause of any bad odors in your home. It is quite common for this drain to get clogged up, but preventative measures are the best way at solving the issue.

This method works best when dealing with a garbage disposal that is working properly but has an unpleasant smell. The ice helps to cool the motor, while the salt removes grease and debris. Finally, the lemon juice helps to clean the blades of the disposal, while also giving it a nice smell. 

6. Run Some Bleach Through Your Kitchen Sinks

Bleach is one of the most commonly recommended solutions for getting rid of bad smells in kitchen sinks (see also ‘How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain‘). However, using bleach isn’t always the best idea. When used in excess, bleach can damage pipes and plumbing fixtures. This means that it’s not the right choice for every situation.

If you’re having trouble getting rid of a bad odor from your kitchen sink (see also ‘How To Unclog A Double Kitchen Sink With Standing Water‘), try running some bleach through it once a week. Make sure you only run enough to cover the bottom of the sink, and make sure to rinse out the sink after cleaning it. 

Number 2: Prevent Future Clogged Drains

Number 2: Prevent Future Clogged Drains

While there are many things that can go wrong with your drains, there are several steps you can take to prevent future problems. 

1. Invest In Drain Screens

A drain screen is a device that is placed on top of a drain. It allows water to pass through, but does not let debris or other larger particles get past the drain. They are usually made from metal, rubber, or plastic. 

These are great for preventing any blockages in drains, and as they would not get blocked when using this, there is less of a chance of there being a foul odor. 

2. Do Not Pour Grease Down Your Drain

As tempting as it is to rinse off any greasy dishes or trays in the kitchen sink, (gurgling) grease can harden over time and can cause serious clogs in your drains, and can even clog up sewers. You must be mindful to never intentionally pour grease down drains. 

It is vital to ensure you are wiping greasy dishes before rinsing them in the sink. This will reduce the amount of grease that is being poured down your sink. You should also use plenty of dishwashing soap and hot water when cleaning them. 

3. Carry Out Regular Maintenance On Drains 

Ensuring to clean and unclog your drains on a regular basis will really prevent any build-up and odors from forming in your drains. 

Try using the baking soda, vinegar, and hot water method once a week, or even just pouring boiling water from your kettle down your sink will make a difference. You could try pouring hot water down the kitchen drain each time you wash your dishes. 

You should also do this for your shower drain. Once a week, use vinegar and baking powder down the drain. If you are using drain screens, be sure to wash those frequently as well, as they can become unpleasant as they are keeping hold of all the grime that isn’t getting to your drains. 

How To Prevent Your Toilet From Getting Clogged

Kitchen and shower drains aren’t the only parts of your home that can get clogged up, your toilet is part of the equation too! 

While sometimes it can be the toilet’s fault, very often, clogging happens because items are being flushed down the toilet that shouldn’t be. 

You should never flush any sanitary products down the toilet. These can get caught in the system, causing a blockage to form. 

Cleaning wipes, Q-tips, and cotton balls are also a big no no. While some of the items resemble paper towels (see also ‘Can You Flush Paper Towels?‘) that normally get flushed down the toilet, they are not the same thing and can lead to serious damage and blockages. 

The best way to prevent issues with your toilet is to solely flush your number 1s, number 2s, and toilet paper. Everything else is off limits. 

If you have been following this rule and your toilet is still clogging up, then it is best to call a plumber so they can determine what the cause of the issue is.  

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the best way to look after your drains is to use preventative measures.

You should make sure to clean your drains at least once a week using any of the methods mentioned in this article. If you don’t have the ingredients needed, then pouring some boiling water from your kettle once a week will do some good, and using drain screens will really help too!

If there are funny odors even after unclogging the blockage, then a few drops of lemon and vinegar will really make a difference. 

If you have a garbage disposal unit, make sure it is working properly before using it on food waste. Food particles can become lodged between the blades and cause the motor to stall out. This will require an expensive repair, so it is best not to risk it. 

Make sure you are paying attention to this device in your home, and be sure to clean it up once a week using the ice, salt, and lemon method. 

When it comes to your toilets, be sure to only flush what can be flushed. Any extra items can cause damage to your pipes. 

If you are using all the preventative methods mentioned here, and are still experiencing issues, then you should contact your plumber straight away. These are trained professionals, and they will know what course of action to take.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age