Unclogging Drains without Toxins
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners more than a clogged drain, besides maybe day-old scrambled eggs caked on a stainless steel frying pan.
Our bathroom sink was backing up a few weeks ago. Like all men, I ignored it. My wife also ignored it. She ignored it better than I did, so I took it upon myself to fix it. It had been a while since I had to deal with a clogged drain, so I evaluated my options.
Option 1: Call in the plunger
This method doesn’t use any toxic chemicals, but it does require elbow grease. The plunger is often more effective than chemical drain cleaners. The trick involves filling the sink with water so the lip on the plunger is submerged. This way you will be forcing water down the drain rather than air.
Option 2: Call in the enzymes
There are commercially available enzymatic drain cleaners. These are much safer than chemical drain cleaners. I have heard these types of cleaners work really well to prevent clogs, but may not be the best choice to unclog a drain.
Option 3: DIY
Make your own drain cleaner. I’ve seen several homemade drain cleaner “recipes.” A common one is a handful of baking soda mixed with a half cup of vinegar followed by a cup or more of boiling water. Learn more about this method here.
Option 4: Get the tools
Use a tool to either pull the clog out or break it up and push it down the drain. One option is a tool like the “Zip-It,” which is just a narrow piece of plastic with barbs on it. You feed it down the drain and pull it back up, hopefully bringing the clog up with it. You can also use a plumber’s snake, but these can cause an injury if used improperly. If you need to use a plumber’s snake, it might be time for Option 6.
Option 5: Call in the plumber
This might be the most expensive option, but it is bound to fix the problem–for a small pile of cash.
So what did I do? I decided to try mechanical methods first. If that didn’t work, I would opt for enzymatic cleaners. It turned out to be a pretty easy fix. I pulled out the drain plug. It was coated with a totally disgusting conglomeration of hair, soap, grease and general yuckiness. Fortunately however, cleaning the plug was all it took to unclog the drain.
Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppies.