Plumbers Advice How to Clean Drains At Home Yourself

The Short Answer Is: First, try using a plunger to create a seal and apply forceful up-and-down motions to dislodge the clogged drains. For sink drains, remove the P-trap and clean it out, removing any debris. Additionally, a mixture of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda can help dissolve grease and grime in the pipes, followed by a flush with boiling water to clear the obstruction. If these methods fail, a drain snake or auger can be used to reach and remove deeper clogs, and for persistent issues, professional plumbing assistance may be required. Avoid using a chemical drain cleaner if possible.

Panic sets in fast when you find a clogged drain in your bathroom sink or your kitchen sink drain. There are many ways to clean drains in your home yourself without having to call a plumber. While professional drain cleaning is helpful to alleviate a stubborn clogged drain and maintain your home’s plumbing lines, there are some DIY methods to use as well.

The ways to clean drains discussed below help you safely remove simple clogs and improve drainage in your home. Also, learn the drain cleaning methods to avoid.

4 Ways How to Clean Drains

The top ways to clean a slow draining sink that are easy for homeowners to perform include:

  1. Plunger
  2. Drain Cleaning Tools
  3. Augers
  4. Natural Solutions


One of the most well-known and commonly used ways to clean and unclog drains involve the use of plungers. Plungers are essential for clearing clogs from toilets, but many homeowners do not realize that plungers are also helpful for clearing clogs in bathroom drains, kitchen drain for your garbage disposal and bathtub or shower drains.

There are two main types of plungers, and each help you clear drains in different plumbing fixtures:

  • Cup plungers are useful to clear clogs in sink, bathtub, and shower drains. They consist of a rubber cup at the end of the plunger handle. 

  • Flange plungers are toilet plungers. They have a rubber piece at their end with a rubber cup and flap, which fits down into the hole of a toilet bowl. The flap folds up into the cup, so the plunger also functions as a cup plunger for use on sink, tub, and shower drains.

To clear clogs from sinks, tubs, and showers, use a cup plunger:

  1. Fill the sink or tub with a few inches of water. If you have a double sink, tightly cover the drain of the second sink.

  2. Fit the cup of the plunger over the drain.

  3. Move the plunger up and down firmly for approximately 20 seconds. As you do so, roll the plunger cup, which forces water into the drain.

  4. Remove the plunger and see if the remaining water exits through the drain.

  5. Repeat plunging if needed.

To clear clogs from toilets, use a flange plunger:

  1. Insert the flanged portion of the plunger down into the hole of the toilet drain, with the cup of the plunger covering this exit.

  2. Make sure the toilet bowl is filled with enough water to cover the head of the plunger.

  3. Firmly push the plunger down and quickly pull up to loosen the clog. Keep a good seal over the drain as you repeat the plunging motion 15 to 20 times.

  4. Remove the plunger and see if the remaining water in the bowl moves down the drain. If it does, flush the toilet to see if the flush cycle returns to normal.

  5. If not, repeat plunging as needed.

Drain Cleaning Tools

Another one of the ways to clean drains involves the use of a barbed drain cleaning tool. These tools are available at your local home improvement store, which is a long plastic piece with barbs along it. Tools like this are great ways to clean drains that have material gathered close to the drain’s opening, such as hair in a tub or shower drain.

  1. Remove any stopper or strainer installed on your drain, and remove any debris caught on it.

  2. Insert the drain cleaning tool down into the drain.

  3. Retract the drain cleaning tool to capture clog material and pull it out of the drain.


Ways to clean drains of deeper clogs involve the use of a plumbing auger. An auger is best used for deep clogs near your septic system or sewer clogs. Many homeowners prefer to have a plumber use professional tools for this job, but augers are available from home improvement stores for DIY use. 

  1. The head of the auger is fed down the drain line until resistance is met.

  2. Turn the auger’s crank to bust through the blockage.

  3. Retract the auger to pull out any captured debris from the drain.

  4. Run some water or flush the toilet to test drainage.

  5. Repeat the process if necessary.

Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Boiling Water

Another one of the ways to clean drains that is popular amongst homeowners is to create a safe and natural-drain cleaning solution. The following solutions are safe for your home’s plumbing lines and are effective for the removal of minor clogs from the line.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Some ways to clean drains also help eliminate odors – baking soda and vinegar are ingredients that help freshen your drains when used to clear clogs. 

Follow this process to clear clogs from toilets, sinks, and bathtubs:

  1. Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain.

  2. Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the drain.

  3. Cover the drain opening and allow the mixture to sit for at least one hour – for stubborn clogs, leave the mixture overnight.

  4. Boil one pot of water.

  5. Pour the boiling water into the drain to flush the solution and remove the clog.

  6. If necessary, this process can be repeated.

Hot Water and Dish Soap

Dish soap mixed with hot water is helpful to break up greasy deposits in your drain lines. Simply mix 2 tablespoons of dish soap in a pot of boiling water. Next, slowly pour it down the drain.

The Trouble with Commercial Drain Cleaners

There are many chemical cleaners on the market which are touted as safe for the quick and easy removal of clogs. However, their use contributes to damage to home plumbing lines and they may not even get the job done.

Commercial drain cleaners consist of various harsh chemicals, including hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid eats away at your plumbing pipes from the inside as well as ruin enamel and fixture finishes. Persistent use of these drain cleaners leads to damage and pipe collapse, that requires professional repair.

Exposure to commercial drain cleaner fumes can be toxic. Direct contact with these solutions causes chemical burns to skin, and exposure irritates the eyes and nose. Inhalation of drain cleaner fumes can also lead to lung issues. Not only are they unsafe for your body and your plumbing, but these chemicals are not good for the environment. The leftovers tossed when the bottle is thrown away can enter water sources and poison wildlife.

When to Call for Professional Drain Cleaning

Beyond these ways to clean drains, it’s important to know when to skip DIY methods and call in the pros. The ways to clean drains mentioned above help homeowners eliminate minor clogs and drain odor issues, but often are not suitable to remedy major drainage issues in your home. Professional services address more complicated issues to protect the integrity of your drains and plumbing system.

Call your plumber for professional drain cleaning in the following situations:

  • Professional drain cleaning doesn’t just address clogs and odors – it helps maintain your home’s plumbing lines. Professional ways to clean drains should be performed once each year to keep your drains healthy and extend the service life of your plumbing.

  • If you are not confident using the ways to clean drains mentioned above, it is always better to leave it to a professional. Improper use of drain cleaning tools and methods has the potential to cause damage to your plumbing fixtures and pipes. It doesn’t matter how minor the clog, we are always happy to help with services that protect the integrity of your home’s plumbing.

  • Except in the case of toilet clogs or foreign objects stuck down a drain, drain clogs rarely pop up out of nowhere. Typically, slow drainage becomes an issue well before the drain stops altogether. When you notice a drain in your home that is slow, call for professional drain cleaning services right away to eliminate buildup in your drain lines and restore proper drainage.

  • If you notice slow drainage throughout all plumbing fixtures in your home, there is likely a clog or other issue such as a broken pipe in your home’s main sewer line. This issue is out of your reach with DIY ways to clean drains. Your plumber is able to identify sewer line issues and remove deep clogs or make repairs needed to restore drainage throughout your home’s plumbing fixtures.

  • Foul odors from your home’s drains are a possible indicator of sewer line issues. When the smell comes from just one drain, the ways to clean drains discussed above are helpful to remove odors – but when you have odors from all drains, it’s a whole home issue. Your plumber is able to diagnose and repair these complicated issues to ensure the health of your plumbing system.

At Mr. Plumber, we have ways to clean drains that go beyond what you are capable of doing at home. Our professional tools allow for safe and effective removal of clogs and odors from your drain lines. The use of camera inspection tools allows us to look into your plumbing pipes to identify the location and material of clogs, as well as assess your pipes for damage the clog may have caused.

Call Mr. Plumber for Drain Cleaning Services

Protect your home’s plumbing system, remove clogs, and eliminate odors with professional drain cleaning services performed by Mr. Plumber. Our licensed plumbers use safe, professional methods to clear stubborn clogs and eliminate deposits in your drain lines that cause odors in your living areas. Call us today to schedule drain cleaning for your Indianapolis home!

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