There’s no doubt about it, a clogged drain can be a serious time zapper. Food and gunk stick to the side of your slow-to-drain sink or tub, forcing you to clean it several times a day. If you’re like most moms, you want the quickest route to a free-flowing drain. However, you don’t want to sacrifice your family’s safety to get there.
Unfortunately, commercial drain cleaners contain toxic chemicals like sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, lye, bleach, caustic soda and sodium silicate. Sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid can even cause cutaneous burns that require skin grafting. However, there are non-toxic ways to clear your drain. There are even some natural, homemade solutions that can work for small jobs including baking soda & vinegar, hot water & dish soap and enzyme cleaner.
Though popular, the baking soda & vinegar and the hot water & dish soap methods both typically require boiling hot water to be effective. However, boiling hot water is too hot for most pipes.
Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit; yet CPVC pipes melt at 200 degrees and PVC pipes melt at 140 degrees. Many people don’t know what kind of pipes they have. This means every time you pour boiling hot water down your drain, you risk melting your pipes. Because of this, it’s important for consumers to realize that, in many cases, a plumber is the only person who can clean out a clogged drain.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
This solution doesn’t work on severely clogged drains or drains clogged with FOG, (fat, oil and grease).
In the baking soda and vinegar method, the combination of sodium bicarbonate with water and acetic acid creates carbon dioxide bubbles. It also turns the water in the recipe into a mild acid as well. Most recipes call for boiling hot water, followed by baking soda, vinegar and more boiling hot water. The natural pressure from gravity, boiling hot water, carbon dioxide and mild acid can loosen light hair clogs and non-greasy clogs like toothpaste etc.
However, keep in mind that many natural soaps and personal care products contain fats and oils like olive oil, Shea butter, coconut and argan oil. Therefore, most clogs are FOG clogs.
Hot Water and Dish Soap
Many DIY’ers have found a combination of boiling hot water and plain dish soap to be effective for some FOG clogs.
The hot water creates pressure and melts the grease. The detergent contains a surfactant that washes away the leftover grease. Therefore, with this recipe, it’s best to use a dish detergent that cuts grease. The baking soda and vinegar method doesn’t contain surfactants. It will coat FOG clogs without removing them.
Enzyme Drain Cleaners Offer Hope
Homemade enzyme cleaners offer hope to clear mild to moderate clogs sans boiling hot water. They work to clear all types of clogs including FOG clogs.
Without boiling water, the baking soda and vinegar and dish soap methods are useless. Even with boiling hot water, they still aren’t as effective as most commercial cleaners. However, even small exposure to commercial drain cleaners can still pose a safety risk.
Inhaling a little drain cleaner while cleaning your drain, or getting a little on your skin could cause you or your family to experience symptoms like throat swelling, breathing difficulty, burns and physical collapse.
Make your own batch by mixing orange/lemon scraps with yeast, water and brown sugar; letting the mixture ferment for two weeks and shaking daily. Strain the liquid and blend the pulp with baking soda to create a powerful cleansing scrub. Undiluted, the liquid is a strong enzymatic cleaner and drain opener. You can use various combinations of the pulp, the undiluted liquid and water to create a variety of other products including all-purpose kitchen and bath cleaner, laundry and dishwasher detergent, vegetable and fruit wash, facial cleanser and toner and much more.
By following these methods, you’ll be able to unclog your drains at home without worrying about the damage to your health or the environment. Better yet, with these quick-fix solutions, you’ll be able to spend much more time enjoying the chaos of family life.
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