Chemical drain cleaners are dangerous, bad for your pipes, and unusable if you have a septic tank. Natural drain cleaners solve these problems, but it can be tough to find a recipe that is sufficiently effective. Using them frequently is one way to help keep your drain clear, but you still may have to try several recipes to find one that works well. Understanding how good recipies work will help you spot them before you go shopping.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
The basic component of most homemade cleaning recipes is either baking soda or vinegar. In this case, you need both to get the results you are looking for. If you are unfamiliar with working with these ingredients, you might have used them when you were younger to make a model volcano. It's that bubbling and foaming action you are looking for. It acts to scrub the sides of the pipe and loosen up accumulated soap scum and gunk.
Because the key is the reaction when the two ingredients come in contact with each other, you need to keep them separate until you get them inside the drain. The best way to do this is to start by pouring the baking soda as far down the drain as possible, and then adding the vinegar. A cup or two of baking soda is plenty-- too much and the reaction will be blocked from working its way down the drain.
The next element in your drain cleaning solution is going to be lots of hot water. This comes after the foaming action of the baking soda and vinegar has worked it's magic and loosened up all the grime stuck to the sides of the pipe. Running large amounts of water through the pipes will allow the drains to do what it is supposed to do and carry away the loosened grime, as well as the remnants of the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar. While it won't damage your pipes, the smell of vinegar is unlikely to be something you want hanging around in your bathroom for longer than it needs to.
The temperature is another important factor in this equation. Heat increases chemical reactions, including the one between the baking soda and the vinegar. It also helps to melt away soap scum, as hot water can absorb more material than cold.
Borax, Kosher Salt, and Lemon Juice
Every home recipe has its own little special touch to it. For many, experimenting with these additional ingredients is most of the fun. While there is a bit less room for experimentation in your drain cleaner recipe, there are still a few things that you can play with.
Using natural drain cleaners does mean cleaning your drain out more regularly, but because they don't do any damage, this is hardly a problem. Instead, you can be sure that your cleaning solution will do its job, and your plumbing won't break down from the abuse of chemical cleaners. Now that you know what to look for, you can find recipes that will give you the performance you are looking for in a drain cleaner. If the clog doesn't react to these cleaning solutions, contact a professional like Doctor Fix-It.
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