How to prevent and tackle clogged drains

When a drainpipe starts gurgling and bubbling, the water no longer drains away or a nasty odour rises from the drain, it quickly becomes clear that the drain is clogged again. This happens when residue from hair, soap and shower gel builds up in the pipes, meaning that the water can no longer drain away. While a clogged drain such as this is annoying, you can normally remedy the problem with a few simple steps and the right cleaning utensils.  

How to prevent and tackle clogged drains
A clogged drain can be very annoying (photo:

Cleaning with a plunger

While there is nothing pleasant about cleaning the clogged drain of a sink or toilet, it can be done quickly with a few simple steps. Most of the time, there is no need to call a plumber or use chemicals.

What is the best way to clean? The first thing you can do is remove the largest bits of the debris with hot water and a special long brush that reaches deep into the drain. If this doesn’t solve the problem, take the plunger and try to loosen the accumulated debris deep in the pipe.

To do this, first close the drain, placing the plunger directly over it. Then fill the sink with water so that the rubber part of the plunger is fully submerged. You can block the overflow with a cloth. Now vigorously move the plunger up and down and repeat this motion a few times. Once finished, remove the plunger and the cloth from the overflow and let the water drain away. If the water now drains away with ease, the problem has been solved and the pipe has been successfully unclogged.

However, if the water still doesn’t drain away, the next step is to unscrew the curved pipe (also called the p-trap) under the sink in order to remove the debris and thoroughly clean the seals. It is advisable to place a bucket under the drain so that any escaping water doesn’t lead to flooding.

Cleaning clogged drains without chemicals

Besides cleaning with your hands, you can also unclog a drain using home remedies. For instance, bad odours in drainpipes can be eliminated with two tablespoons of salt. Pour the salt down the drain and let it work for a few minutes before rinsing with hot water.

Baking soda is another great remedy for cleaning drainpipes without using chemicals. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a salt derived from carbonic acid, which is ideal for cleaning. When mixed with water, the white powder forms a strong alkaline base that has a fat-dissolving effect. You can find baking soda in pharmacies and from various online retailers. To clean the drainpipe with this, put two tablespoons of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain, let it work for a few minutes and then rinse with hot water.

How to prevent and tackle clogged drains
Baking soda – a gentle cleaning agent for clogged drains (photo:

You should be careful when cleaning with soda because it is classified as an irritant, making it very unpleasant if it comes into contact with the skin. Always use gloves and make sure it does not come into contact with your eyes, nose or mouth. Furthermore, soda should not be poured into the sewage pipes in large quantities as it damages the environment.

If the problem persists

If cleaning by hand and with home remedies hasn’t helped, then it is time, for better or worse, to bring out the big guns: drain cleaners. But take care – agents such as these can be damaging to the environment under certain circumstances. Make sure you use environmentally-friendly cleaning agents that do not contain chlorine additives and are biodegradable.

How to prevent clogged drains

So that you never need to resort to the methods mentioned above, there are some tips to prevent clogs. It stands to reason that nothing should go down the drain except water.

  • Make sure that no food scraps are washed down the drain when cooking. Oil is also bad for pipes, so you should really clean a greasy pan with kitchen paper rather than with running water.
  • When washing your hair, prevent it from going down the drain. You can do this by placing a small filter over the drain, for instance. This will catch hair and is easy to clean.
  • Never flush tissues, cotton buds, sanitary products or other items down the toilet.