Next time your kitchen sink backs up, think twice before you reach for a bottle of chemical drain cleaner. Common ingredients include lye, hydrochloric acid and trichloroethane—toxins that can corrode plumbing and linger in the water supply. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to keep your pipes flowing freely.
The simplest cure for major clogs? Prevention.
• Use drain strainers and empty them regularly.
• Avoid getting grease in kitchen drains and don’t let hair accumulate in bathroom drains.
• Flush drains weekly with boiling water to eliminate grease and soap buildup.
• Maintain clear drains with monthly treatments of natural drain formulas that use either enzymes or bacteria to gobble up residues that build up in your drain.
Succor for Slow Sinks
• Pour 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Cover the drain tightly until bubbling stops and flush with a gallon of boiling water.
• For hair clogs, pour a cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate) into the drain, followed by a gallon of boiling water.
• Take the plunge. Try mechanically unclogging the drain with a plunger or plumber’s snake.
• Choose natural drain cleaners that use enzymes or bacteria rather than caustic chemicals to dissolve solid waste.
• Stubborn clogs may require a licensed plumber. Tree roots are a common source of backups; for those, you’ll need a professional root-removal service.