In the event of a clogged pipe, you may reach for one of many choices available at any big box store or you may reach for a more natural alternative. For those who reach for the more natural choice, they desire to save money, save the environment or avoid chemical smells and fumes. These are all valid reasons to create your own drain cleaner from household materials, but do they really work?
The first factor to consider is what is causing the blockage in the first place. If you have a foreign object, such as jewelry or large pieces of food, a homemade drain cleaner is certainly not going to help you, and a more costly chemical cleaner wouldn’t either. Of course it isn’t always possible to know what caused the clog, but when you do know you’ll want to choose a cleaner or method that corresponds accordingly.
The next factor to consider is what other methods you have already used in order to break down the clog. First try using a plunger on the drain. In the event that this does not dislodge the blockage, try using a sewer snake, or auger. Be sure to also clean the sink’s trap. Once you’ve exhausted all these efforts, you are ready to try a drain cleaning product.
A homemade drain cleaner is usually a mix of several ingredients, mainly: baking soda, vinegar, hot water and/or salt. These products will often produce the same results as commercial products, but you will need to allow for more time and more applications. It does seem that homemade drain cleaners are more suited for preventative measures than for damage control because once a large blockage of organic gunk has accumulated it may be too much for baking soda and vinegar to work through.
In the event that you’re ready to give drain cleaners a try and you don’t know whether a homemade concoction will work, it doesn’t hurt to try and then move on to something stronger if needed. They do cost less and make fewer impacts on the environment.