When households experience a blocked drain, their first port of call may be to use strong chemicals and thick bleach products. However, there are plenty of natural remedies to use to fix them. Unblocking sinks doesn’t have to cost a fortune and in most cases, Britons can do the task themselves to avoid unnecessary call-out costs. Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to three experts on how to naturally unblock clogged drains.
According to James Roberts, Director at Sanctuary Bathrooms, the most common cause of blockages is a build-up of hair, grease and soap scum. He warned: “This can cause slow draining water, which can leave a slippery surface to your bath or shower, creating a potential hazard.”
The first “effective” at-home remedy to unblock drains is to use boiling water. Sue Caldwell from the award-winning, eco-friendly cleaning brand Clean Living International, said: “Often, simply using boiling hot water will effectively remove any blockages, particularly if it is due to soap scum rather than food wastage.”
She instructed that Britons simply fill their kettle up, bring it to the boil and pour the hot water directly down the sink drain in three or four quick “blasts”. She added: “This method is usually more effective in bathroom drains, which are more likely to become clogged with soap scum rather than grease and food particles.”
Anthony West, plumbing expert at Housetastic.co.uk also agreed with using boiling water to clear drains. He said: “Pouring boiling water down your drains is an effective method for unclogging your kitchen and bathroom drains as it loosens off the soap scum and grease clinging to your pipes. If you have a slow draining sink, this is a good first step to take.”
READ MORE: ‘No scrubbing’ method to remove mould from washing machine drawers
James claimed that this combination of cleaning agents is a “great place to start” when it comes to clogged drains. He said: “You can try some simple household items to break down the problem.
“Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a great place to start, and most households will have this lying around. Pour boiling hot water down the drain, followed by eight tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda.
“Follow this with about 250ml of white vinegar, and leave this for around 10 minutes. Finally, flush away with more boiling water.”
Anthony noted that this is an effective method as it will lift off any debris that is clinging to the pipe. He said: “Pouring equal measures of baking soda and white vinegar down your drains is a popular, natural method to unblock drains.
READ MORE: Dissolve ‘stubborn’ kettle limescale with just one kitchen staple
“Start with a cup of baking soda first and follow this with the vinegar. The fizzing action it creates can help to lift off debris that’s clinging to your pipework. Once the fizzing has stopped, rinse with boiling water to wash away the loosened particles.”
For those struggling with hair blockages that cannot be reached by hand the experts advised using a plumber’s snake. James said: “If the blockage remains, you can use a plumbers snake (or toilet jack), which you can find in most hardware stores.
“This is a long flexible cable with a useful handle which, when fed down a problem pug hole, can be really effective at removing deep blockages in your drains. Move it side to side once inserted, and pull up slowly to bring up the source of the blockage.”
Anthony agreed as he claimed that this is sure to break up any blockages. He said: “Another good tool for chemical-free drain unblocking is a plumber’s snake. This is a long, coiled cable made from metal.
“You basically feed it down your bath or sink drain until it hits the blockage. You then turn the cable to break up whatever’s causing the blockage. Run a little water down the drain to help move the debris as you turn.”
For those who don’t want to purchase a plumber’s snake, Sue recommended using an old coat hanger. She said: “If you’re struggling with a blockage from hair, which is all too common in bath drains, you may need to physically remove the blockage.
“It isn’t the most pleasant of jobs, but an easy way to do this with a common household item is to use a bent wire hanger, simply straightening it out and creating a small hook at one end, which can be used to fish the blockage out. You can also purchase specialist hair remover tools and clog grabber tools – just try to avoid plastic and opt for more eco-friendly alternatives.”
Once households have cleared away any blockages, they should keep them clear by investing in drain covers and using a regular drain maintainer. Sue said: “Clean Living’s Biological Drain Maintainer features a unique blend of live cultures and healthy bacteria to literally eat away at organic waste, grease and grime that may build up in drains. Importantly, the formulation is completely toxic-free and is not harmful to aquatic life, nor will it damage pipework, sealants or surrounds. Simply pour the solution down the drain and leave it overnight.”