By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | July 8, 2008
Back when I wrote “Ten Ways to Green Your Bathroom,” I seem to have been woefully negligent on how deal with drains. So in the spirit of making amends, let’s now talk about them. Drains. And how to keep them clear. And if they’re not clear, how to clean them out without killing the fishies and changing the sex organs of frogs.
Traditional chemical drain cleaners are very caustic and often degrade older plumbing pipes, causing a bigger problem than you started out with. They also contain harsh chemical irritants and can bother your skin, eyes and nose and can poison children or pets who accidentally ingest them. In addition, those chemicals are getting washed right down the drain and into our waterways, thereby polluting things for everybody, everywhere.
The easiest way to keep things moving before clogs develop, and also when drains are draining slowly, is with our old friend baking soda: pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, and then follow with three cups of boiling water. For more scrubbing and fizzing power, and lots of fun, add one cup of white vinegar at the end. Repeat one or two more times for maximum effectiveness. I’ve found that this method works well to keep drains clear, but doesn’t work so well once clogs are noticeable– if your water is already draining slowly, then this mixture is going to drain slowly as well. So try it as monthly preventative practice, instead of an emergency measure.
For more stubborn clogs, you’re going to need to get a little more hands-on. Some people recommend filling the sink with a few inches of water, then using a small plunger to dislodge the clog. I’ve not tried this so I can’t attest to the effectiveness, so if you have plunger experience, let us know in the comments how it works.
A method I have used is the plumber’s snake, given to me by my dad, who definitely believes in gender equity when it comes to totally gross household tasks. This method is nearly always effective, produces zero waste, is reusable, and will always, and I mean always, squick you (me?) out. You extend a long metal coil down the drain and spin it with a hand-crank to jam it into the clog– then you pull the coil up out of the drain, et voila, here comes the grossest mess of hair and other unidentifiable goop you’ve ever seen. And you now have a clear drain. Take the time to clean the snake off well, and it will last you for years to come.
A cousin of the snake is the Zip-It tool– seems like it might be slightly easier to use and it is reusable, but it’s made of plastic, which we’d prefer to stay away from. Also, it doesn’t extend out as long as a snake, and so will only grab clogs which are closer to the surface.
What natural solutions have you used to clear out your stubborn cloggy drains?
[Image by DW Stucke via Creative Commons]
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.