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DIY drain cleaning tips

With festivals and celebrations in full swing, you have cleaned your house from top to bottom.

Your house is decorated to the best, you have invited friends over for a small get together and everything, from food to lighting to music is set for a lovely evening.

Imagine the embarrassment when after multiple hand washes, the water level in your washbasin just keeps rising, instead of draining. You have to bring your plunger out and use it, in all your festive finery. Do not worry. It has happened to many households. Clogged drains are such a common problem. No amount of cleaning can ever cloud over the shock that is a clogged drain. And if it happens when your house is full of guests, it is like a nightmare come true.

It is not possible to call a plumber every time you have a clogged drain. Especially during festivals and holiday season. There is only one way to make sure that a clogged drain does not catch you off guard. You have to clean it regularly.

Often we clean our houses daily and then deep clean it during festivals and holidays. But drains are some of the most neglected assets of our homes. We think that as long as things are draining, what is the need to clean it. However, what we do not realise is that while draining, things also tend to stick and fester. This leads to a build-up that will clog in time and catch you completely unawares.

It is, therefore, imperative to clean your drains regularly to get rid of the build-up. There are several drain cleaning solutions and powders available in the market. These are made up of various types of acids and unclogging solutions that are supposed to disintegrate the build-up and clear the drain. However, these products may or may not be environmentally good. They may also be a health hazard by creating a harmful odour that may affect people badly.

We are going to list out a few tips and tricks to clean clogged drains. These also include natural homemade solutions that can work wonders in clearing up the build-up in your drain as well as are not any form of health or environmental hazard. More importantly, the ingredients in these DIY solutions are so simple and common that they can be found in your kitchen.

1) Baking Soda and Vinegar

One of the most common cleaning solutions is a mix of baking soda and vinegar. While in any commercial drain cleaning solution, you have to make sure that the chemical does not disintegrate the plastic or fibre piping or even affect the steel or aluminium piping, this natural solution can be used without any such worry.

Step 1: Simply pour half a cup baking soda into the drain.

Step 2: Follow it by pouring half a cup of distilled white vinegar.

Step 3: Wait for an hour and then pour some boiling hot water into the drain. This effectively lets the chemical reaction reach all the corners of the drain, taking down any grease or build up and clearing the clog all the way down.

You can repeat the process a few more times to make sure that all of the clogs have been removed. Once you make sure that you have achieved a good drain flow, simply let some water flow. As this solution does not affect your piping system, it can be used multiple times with great effect.

Tip: If your drain is giving off a bad odour, you can substitute vinegar here with lemon juice. It will clear the clog, clean your drain and leave a lovely citrusy odour in your basin.

2) Salt, borax and vinegar

Sometimes, food particles can form a huge build-up in the drain that may not come off with simple cleaning solutions. It can not only clog the drain but also create a bad odour that can waft throughout the house. This is where a solution with salt comes to the rescue. Salt is a great odour destroyer.

Step 1: Make sure that your drain is dry before you try this solution.

Step 2: Pour ¼ cup salt into the drain

Step 3: Follow it by pouring ¼ cup borax and then half a cup of vinegar. Salt, along with borax, works to eliminate odour by disintegrating the food and grease build-up.

Step 4: Pour boiling water on top of the two solutions and let this sit for an hour. Finally, open your faucet in full swing to let a good amount of water flow.

3) Cream of tartar and baking soda

Step 1: Mix half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt together in a bowl.

Step 2: Then add two tablespoons of cream of tartar (which is essentially tartaric acid) to this mixture.

Step 3: Stir well so that all the ingredients are mixed well together.

Step 4: Scoop out half of the mixture and pour it down the drain. Make sure that the drain is dry before you pour the mixture as water droplets may simply turn the mixture into a paste.

Step 5: Then pour a cup of boiling water down the drain and let it all sit for an hour.

Step 6: Turn on the water for some time to let the residue reach everywhere to clear the drain well.

This particular solution is best for bathroom or toilet drains, as these are clogged by more than the usual food particles. The tartaric acid is a chemically sound product to disintegrate bits of hair, plastic or paper, mulch and grime, which are typically what causes bathroom and toilet drain to clog.

4) Sugary Sodas

While the above techniques definitely work, sometimes one may not be able to get their hands on said materials to make a solution. This is where some unconventional tricks come to your rescue. Sugary soda drinks that are carbonated work just as well as the above-mentioned homemade solutions.

Simply pour a cup of carbonated drink down the drain and let it sit for an hour. Watch how the solution dissolves most of all the gunk in your drain and clears it up in no time. Let the water flow through the drain after an hour. Repeat if necessary, but most drain gunk clears up in one or two uses of soda.

Sugary soda drinks contain almost similar chemical composition as that of the homemade drain cleaning solutions suggested here. Notably, they contain phosphoric acid, which is also one of the primary ingredients in commercial drain cleaners. This is why the phosphoric acid eats away at the gunk in your drain and clears it up for a good water flow.

5) Hot Soap Water

Sometimes your drain may not really have a lot of gunk in it, but it still stinks and gives off a bad odour. It can be off-putting to use it while so. A trick that can work in dealing with bad smell and can be used almost weekly is that of hot soapy water.

Step 1: Boil water in a vessel with a spoon of soap in it. It can either be detergent or liquid dish soap or even your shower gel. A good fragrant shower gel could work very well too.

Step 2: Once the water is hot enough, mix it well with the soap and pour directly into the stinking drain. Be sure to hold your hand and face away from the drain as the hot water can bubble over or even give hot steam that could cause burns.

Let this sit for an hour and then run tap water normally. Repeat this process once a week to keep bad odour at bay. You can also add orange peels or lemon peels or even essential oils to the hot water mix to give off a good fragrance.

A personal tip that I follow is to add a drop of essential oil (lemongrass, tea tree or eucalyptus) to all the solutions mentioned above. You can also add these when you let the faucet on to allow water to flow freely. This helps in leaving the bathroom or washbasin smelling wonderful.

Whatever solution you may try to clean your clogged drains, it is best to keep at it regularly to avoid an overflow or clogged situation. Cleaning your drains regularly can also help in keeping the piping system well and intact. Invest in a good plunger that works in removing any debris while you clean.

With these tips, you can not only ensure that your drains are unclogged and clean, but also that your cleaning solution is gentle on general public health and environment. As they say, cleanliness is Godliness, and a house is never spotless until you make sure that its most neglected assets like drains are squeaky clean.

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