How to Unclog a Drain Pipe

Clogged drains can be a real hassle and an expensive hassle to unblock. Not only will it cost you money to fix the issue, but it could lead to other plumbing complications in the future as well.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your drains clear and prevent them from backing up. These DIY cleaning techniques will save you the expense of calling a plumber for more extensive work.


A plunger is an invaluable plumbing tool that helps clear clogged drains. It works on sinks, tubs and showers alike – so if your pipes are backed up, this should be your go-to tool!

Before plunging your toilet or sink, it is recommended that you seal the overflow opening to create better suction. Without doing so, a plunger won’t have much of an impact.

You may also use a drain weasel, which is an ergonomic handheld device with a patented microhook system on its flexible wand that spins and pulls solids out of the drain pipe. This method is much quicker than chemical clog removers and safer to use on pipes.

Another option is to pour boiling water down the clogged drain. This will break down soap scum and other buildup.

If this doesn’t clear the blockage, baking soda and vinegar is another option. This solution works on drains that have not backed up, but it may take 15 minutes for it to break down clogs.

For stubborn clogs, you can try using a closet auger or plumber’s snake. These tools fit inside the toilet and feed a cable through without scratching it.

When plunging a sink or tub, the plunger must first be tucked into its dome. Otherwise, it won’t work.

At The Home Depot Tool Rental Center, you can rent heavy-duty drain cleaning tools like a power auger or electric snake to tackle deeper drains than standard snaking tools can reach. Furthermore, these safer alternatives to caustic cleaners that may damage metal pipes and have an adverse effect on the environment are available for rent.

Wire Snake

Unclogging a drain pipe is easy with a wire snake, which are available in various sizes from most home improvement stores.

Once you have the right wire, feed it into the drain and crank the handle to push it down. You may have to jiggle and apply pressure for any tight bends, but this process should work.

Once it reaches the clog, its rotating tip can either break it apart as it passes through or grab hold of it and pull out. However, if the blockage is solid and resists movement of the wire, more force may be applied.

Continue turning until you feel resistance from the clog, at which point you can stop extending the snake and start pushing it back up. This will grab hold of the blockage and hold it while you remove it.

Depending on how stubborn the clog, you may need to repeat this process several times before clearing it completely. After the clog has been eliminated, be sure to flush the drain with water in order to prevent buildup from reoccurring.

After each use when snake a drain, it is essential to thoroughly rinse the snake cable with a rag, as this collects gunk during its journey. Barrows suggests holding a rag loosely around the cable while retrieving it; this prevents any water clinging onto it from entering the drum and rusting it prematurely.

Once the snake is clean, lay it flat on a newspaper or towel and use a high-bristle wire pipe brush to scrub away any remaining particulates in its crevices. After that, you can return the snake back to its storage spot.

Dish Soap

One of the most effective drain cleaning methods is using liquid dish soap to break up clogs. Dish soap contains enzymes which break up proteins, grease and other substances in your pipe.

Dish detergent is a gentle choice that won’t damage your pipes. Plus, it’s ideal when you don’t want to use harsh chemicals on skin or lungs that could potentially cause harm.

This method works best when the clog is mostly grease or other oily substance. Once this grease has been dissolved, other elements of the blockage will start flowing down the drain quickly, allowing you to quickly clear it away and resume normal sink cleaning operations.

To use this method, simply pour some dish soap into your sink and then pour boiling water down the drain. The hot water will break down grease while the dish soap works its magic.

Another effective method for unclogging a drain pipe is mixing baking soda and vinegar together. Once mixed together, these substances react to neutralize each other and create carbon dioxide gas, which usually helps remove even stubborn clogs in pipes.

Add this mixture to the drain and leave for an hour before flushing with hot water. It is highly effective at clearing away mildew, slime, soap scum and other clogs in your pipes.

Once all residue has been flushed away, pour boiling water down the drain one more time for maximum effectiveness. You can repeat this procedure as many times necessary until your drain is clear and running smoothly again; it works on kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets and bathtubs alike.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is a commonly-used DIY trick to unclog drains. Unfortunately, this approach rarely works for most types of clogs and could potentially damage your plumbing. If your pipes are made of PVC, boiling water will soften and melt them – leading to leaks and the need for replacement of those made with copper pipes.

Clogged sink or shower drains are typically caused by hair and soap scum that buildup on the walls of the pipe, restricting water flow. If you find that your pipes are frequently clogged, it could be indicative of a larger issue that needs professional intervention to resolve.

The quickest and easiest way to unclog a sink or shower drain is by pouring boiling water down the pipe. This will dissolve mildew, slime, and other types of clogs.

If your clog is due to grease or soap scum buildup, boiling water and salt is another solution. The hot water will melt the grease that has narrowed your pipes, while salt acts as a natural scouring agent and pushes any build-up out of your drain.

This technique may take a bit of time, but it’s the fastest and most reliable. Simply boil the water before pouring down your drain, then wait until it cools for four to five minutes.

Another solution for clearing a blocked sink or shower drain is baking soda and vinegar. This works great on grease and soap clogs, but won’t get rid of any other obstructions in your pipes.

Final Tip: Use a plunger or wire snake to unclog a drain pipe if other methods don’t work. This may help avoid calling an expert plumber for assistance.


Vinegar as a drain cleaner is an effective way to keep your pipes clear without risking damage. It’s non-toxic and can help eliminate buildup from grease, soap scum, and other residue that can clog pipes over time.

Vinegar is a liquid that contains acetic acid and it has been used in cooking for thousands of years around the globe. It adds tart and tangy flavors to salad dressings, sauces, and other dishes.

Vinegar also has antibacterial properties and can help prevent or treat coughs and colds. There are various varieties of vinegar available, such as distilled white, apple cider, balsamic, rice and sherry vinegars.

Vinegar can be used to clean a drain pipe by pouring it down the line. The acetic acid in vinegar helps loosen any clogs and makes them easier to remove.

Vinegar is generally safe to use, but mixing it with other chemical drain cleaners should be avoided as the combination could create a hazardous reaction that could harm your pipes and the materials inside them. Furthermore, vinegar corrodes rubber and plastic used in making drain pipes, leading them to break down over time and increasing their vulnerability to clogs.

Another way to use vinegar is to create a homemade mixture with salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. This inexpensive but effective method for unclogging drains requires mixing all the ingredients in a jar with vigorous shaking before pouring down your drain and leaving for an hour or so. After that, rinse your pipes with boiling water to clear out any obstructions.

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