7 Brilliant Ways to Unclog a Drain (Photos)

We’ve all experienced the warning signs: water pooling at your feet in the shower; sink water draining just a tad bit slower. And then slower, and slower still. Until one day you can’t ignore it any longer, you’ve got to unclog the drain. It’s always best to take preventative measures, but we’re all human so that doesn’t always happen.

There’s also different severities of clogs, and just as many ways to treat them. But don’t feel overwhelmed, here’s a list that will guide you through the rising tide in your bathroom.

Baking Soda and Vinegar


This method probably won’t work on your toughest clogs. But if you’ve got less than 100% blockage, this is a safe and effective technique that also spares you from having to physically fish the clog monster out of your drain and meeting it face-to-face.

1. Boil a pot of water and then slowly pour it down the drain. Leave one cup of the boiled water in the pot for later.
2. Immediately dump in 1/3 cup of baking soda and let it sit for five minutes.
3. In the pot, mix a cup of vinegar into the hot water. Pour the mixture into the drain. Watch it fizz! Let it sit for 20 minutes.
4. Flush the mixture down with an additional pot of boiling water.

Related story on Yahoo Makers: 5 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar

The Wire Hanger


It doesn’t get more simple than this. And for simple clogs, it also doesn’t get more effective than this.

First, unwind the neck of the hanger. Then straighten out the two elbows as much as you can. But leave the hook! That’s the part that’s going to do the dirty work.

At the end opposite of the hook, bend the last three inches to give yourself a handle. If the hook can’t fit through the drain’s cover, you’ll first have to remove the cover. Lower the wire down until you feel some resistance down there. Now, push down and pull up about five times. Then pull the wire all the way out of the drain, and hopefully you’ll be saying, “Gross.” Because that means you’ve successfully pulled the nasty clog out from its lair.

The Millipede


This little guy can really work wonders. Disgusting wonders. Just uncoil it and stick the grasping end down your drain. Now crank it a few times, then pull up!

The Zip-It


This option is effective and costs next to nothing. All it is is a single-use plastic stick with some upward-facing barbs on it, but it works. Especially for hair clogs. Just stick it down your drain, pull it right back up, and you’re done.

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The Wet/Dry Vacuum


If you’ve got a particularly stubborn clog or just have a hankering for really showing your drain who’s boss, then look no further than the trusty wet/dry vac. There are even clog cleaning attachments available.

Since there are many variations of these vacuums, you’ll need to follow the specific instructions of your particular model for this job. But suffice it to say, these vacuums have a good deal of power and barring a clog made of set concrete, you’ll have full drain clearance in no time.

The Toilet Bomb


This technique is just for your toilet, but it’s too cool not to mention.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups baking soda

  • ¼ cup Epsom salt

  • 9 tablespoons liquid dish detergent

  • Muffin tin

  • Muffin liners

First, put your muffin liners into the tin. Mix together baking soda and Epsom salt. Then slowly stir in the detergent, just a tablespoon or so at a time. Now scoop the mixture into the liners and dry overnight (at least eight hours) at room temperature.

Remove one of the bombs from its liner and put it in your toilet. Then pour five cups of hot water in after it. Now wait at four hours. Then flush! Voila.

This is a really effective, cheap and actually kinda fun way to unclog your toilet that doesn’t involve harsh chemicals like sodium hypochlorite or hydrochloric acid. And you know have extra pre-made bombs for your next backup.

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The Bellows Plunger


These mini plungers can exert some pretty impressive force that’ll get your clog moving right along. The bellows design builds up pressure behind the clog and after a few pumps shoots the clog right down your drain. This is another no-mess option that’s both cheap, effective and chemical-free.

One final note: When it comes to clogs, many people will go straight for a bottle of Drano. Well, this should be avoided. If you’ve got plastic pipes, it’ll eat away at them pretty quickly. And if you’ve got metal piping, it can corrode those, too. Also, they’re quite toxic for humans and the environment. To top it off, they’re often not that effective on the type of clogs you see most often in the sink or shower. Now that you’re familiar with so many perfectly effective alternatives, there’s no real reason to resort to resort to harsh chemicals.

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