If you’re dealing with a clogged drain but really want to avoid chemical cleaners, there are plenty of alternatives. Whether you’re concerned for your health or the environment, these are some of the best non-toxic drain cleaners that could be the solutions you’re looking for!
Reasons to Avoid Chemical Cleaners
While chemical drain cleaners are extremely effective and work fast, they can be less than beneficial for several reasons:
- If they come in contact with your skin, they can cause injuries or burns.
- If breathed in, they can cause a burning sensation in your lungs, as well as nausea.
- If accidentally swallowed, they may cause serious problems, like chest or abdominal pain, damage to organs, and shock.
The cleaners can also affect your home’s pipes. Some acidic properties can slowly eat away at the plumbing, which can be harmful, especially if your home or pipes are older.
Of course, there is also the fact that anything you pour down the drain goes out into the environment, affecting local wildlife and plants. The chemicals found in these cleaners are toxic to animals and may also contribute to smog.
If you do end up using a chemical cleaner, make sure there is no ammonia in it, a common ingredient. The reaction caused by mixing chemicals can create chlorine gas, a toxic combination that attacks the lungs, eyes, and skin. Some chemical reactions can even be deadly.
Things to Know Before Using Non-Toxic Cleaners
Do-it-yourself (DIY) and alternative drain cleaners are great alternatives! Note: They’re not meant to be used once a drain is clogged, and they can sometimes take up to several hours to work. It’s important to use these cleaners regularly to prevent problems. Keeping on top of the maintenance of your drains can prevent major issues!
Before trying out the suggestions below, see if you can clear the clog out with your hand (Wear gloves!) or with a drain snake. If the blockage remains, these efforts can still make the cleaner’s job easier.
Option #1: Baking Soda and Cider Vinegar
Baking soda is actually one of the most common alternative drain cleaners! It’s also very effective for routine maintenance and doesn’t take long at all to prepare.
For the best effect, mix a cup of baking soda with a cup of cider vinegar. Pour it down the drain with hot water. If you see results, keep repeating!
Cool Fact: Baking soda works so well with vinegar because baking soda is a base, and vinegar is an acid! The intense, bubbling reaction can do wonders for your clogged drain.
Option #2: Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
This DIY mix is similar to Option #1 (one cup baking soda, one cup lemon juice), but it can be more expensive. It’s still a great option because of the much more pleasant smell. It works best in kitchens and has another use as well: Lemon scents keeps gnats away! You will need to run the hot water to really get this mixture working.
Option #3: Alka-Seltzer®
Don’t have baking soda on hand? Raid your medicine cabinet, and there’s a good chance you have Alka-Seltzer or a version of it.
Drop two to three tablets into the sink, and follow up with cider vinegar. You should wait for about two minutes for the Alka-Seltzer to start reacting, but once you see it happening, turn on that hot water all the way. It smells nice too! It may not work for the worst of clogs, but it can be great for smaller ones.
Option #4: Boiling Water
The other alternatives have all required hot water, but boiling water on its own can work too! This does especially well in the kitchen sink on fats and oils. They can become solid if left too long.
Put the kettle on, and make sure to pour the steaming water directly down the drain.
Option #5: Salt, Borax, and Vinegar
This DIY cleaner may take a while to react, so you will have to let it sit before testing the results. Mix ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup borax, and ½ cup vinegar. Pour the mixture down the drain, and, again, add hot water.
Option #6: Enzymatic Drain Cleaners
This is not a DIY recipe, but it is an environmentally safe and chemical-free cleaner that you can find in certain stores, online, or purchase from C&W Plumbing. Enzymatic drain cleaners contain bacteria that feed on organic waste, which is perfect for clearing out hair or food. The bacteria actually reproduce in the drain, spreading throughout the system and removing any organic clogs. Enzymatic cleaners are ideal to use in septic tanks and will keep you from having to pump the system too often.
Still Having Problems?
If you’ve tried one, a few, or all of these alternative options, and your clog hasn’t budged, there are a few other things you can do.
- Try to use the drain snake again — It is possible that one of your attempts actually broke down the clog, and it just needs that final little push to come free.
- If you only tried one recipe, repeat the process — Some of these alternatives will take a few runs to really have an effect.
If there still seems to be no improvement, it may be time to call a plumber. If you live in the North Texas area, we would be happy to help! C&W Plumbing specializes in drain cleaning and using tools like cameras, sewer snakes, smoke, and hydrojetting. We can get to the bottom of your clogged pipes! We can even offer you an ongoing supply of enzymatic cleaners for use on your septic system or for your home drain maintenance program.
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