Five things you didn’t know could unclog a drain

Whether it’s Saturday morning or Christmas Eve, plumbing problems are always inconvenient. Calling an emergency plumber during off-hours can result in a hefty bill, so it’s beneficial if you learn some DIY skills.

One of the most common plumbing issues is a clogged drain. Even if you don’t have any traditional unclogging tools on hand, like a plunger, auger or store-bought drain cleaner, you can still fix the problem. Here are five household items you likely have on-hand to assist you.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

The combination of baking soda and vinegar will act as a natural clog removal by cutting through grease, debris and food.

Pour ⅓ cup of baking soda down the clogged drain. Add ⅓ cup white vinegar. The solution will begin to fizz and bubble. Let it sit for approximately five minutes, then clean away with hot water. You can repeat this process again for a stubborn clog.


It’s not a bad time to be a soda drinker, as the phosphoric acid in the drink can clear most drains. Pour a two liter bottle of cola down your clogged drain. Allow it to sit for an hour or longer before washing it away with boiling water.

Bonus: the phosphoric acid can even help prevent mold and bacteria from growing in the pipes.

Wet-Dry Vacuum

If you can’t cut through the clog, you can try to suck it up with a wet-dry vacuum, a tactic suitable for minor clogs.

  1. Set the vac to vacuum liquids and cover the vent to prevent a mess.
  2. Place the hose through a piece of plastic, or most effectively, close off the space around the hose.
  3. Put the vacuum on its highest setting.

Seal the drain as much as possible when using this method.

Wire Hanger

  1. Straighten out an old wire hanger to use as an auger.
  2. Bend one end of the hanger to create a small hook.
  3. Remove or push through the drain cover and extend the hanger into the pipe as far as possible.
  4. Rotate the hanger to grab on to any debris and pull the hanger back to the surface.

Repeat this process as needed until the clog is cleared.

Dish Detergent and Boiling Water

Dish detergent can act as a lubricant to loosen clogs.

Pour ¼ cup of detergent down the drain and allow it to set for 3-5 minutes, then pour boiling water on top of the soap. Once you’ve poured all the water, use a plunger to loosen the residue. If you don’t have a plunger, use a wire hanger to remove the loosened clog.

These five methods for cleaning your clogged drain are not only helpful in a tight pinch, but they’re also chemical free, so they won’t affect the local water supply.

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