These quick fixes will get those drains running without the use of damaging chemicals.

Drain clogs are something that can creep up on you without any notice. One day everything is fine, the next water is pooling in the sink. Hair, grease, and cosmetics can all build up over time causing clogs and slow drains. Your first instinct is to pour a drain chemical down the sink. But what if you have small children and you don’t keep those kinds of chemicals in the house? There are other ways to deal with clogged drains without compromising safety and damaging the environment.

Drain Snake

This inexpensive tool comes in a variety of sizes and materials and is your first line of defense against clogged drains. It even comes in disposable versions, so you can throw the whole mess away when you’re finished. If you can’t get to the hardware store, you can also use an old wire hanger.


Most people are familiar with the bell-shaped plungers used to unclog a toilet. Before those came into existence, a basic plunger with a flat bottom was used as a cure-all for toilets, sinks, and drains. You can find them at any hardware store for as low as $3 each. Just place it over the drain and plunge until the drain is clear.

Baking soda and vinegar
Courtesy Christa Emmer

Baking Soda and Vinegar

These household items are great for cleaning, deodorizing, and guess what else? Drain clearing. This works better for slow drains than for clogged ones. First, boil a pot of water and reserve one cup of liquid. Pour the hot water down the drain followed by one-half cup of baking soda. Wait five minutes and then pour one cup of vinegar down the drain. You will hear and fizzing sound and hopefully 20 minutes later the drain will be flowing freely again.

Liquid Dish Detergent

This method works best for kitchen sinks because it removes grease. Boil a pan of water and put it down the clogged drain. Next, pour one-half cup of degreasing liquid dish detergent down the drain and wait. You may have to do this several times, so while you’re waiting on the drain to open, boil another pan of water. You can also try adding the liquid dish soap to the boiling water before pouring it down the drain.

If none of these options work, it is probably time to call in a professional. After you get the drain cleared, it’s time to concentrate on prevention. Use a basket stopper in your kitchen sink drain and install hair catchers in your bathroom sink and shower drains.