Dealing with a pesky clog in your kitchen or bathroom sink? Is your shower draining slower than usual? No matter the severity of the situation, a clogged drain is a common household plumbing problem that can be incredibly annoying. As soon as you start to notice a change in your water flow, it’s time for a drain cleaning in your Indianapolis home. Knowing how to clean a drain on your own, as well as how to prevent future clogs from occurring, will prolong the lifespan of your plumbing system and prevent you from having to rely on servicing from a licensed plumber.

How to clear a clogged drain on your own

Before you panic and pick up the phone to call your plumber, we recommend attempting to unclog your drain on your own first. Not all clogs are severe enough to call on the professionals, and with a little bit of direction, you would be surprised at what you can accomplish by yourself!

  • Use a drain snake. Hair, skin, food, dirt and soap scum can easily build up in your drains and cause a clog. A drain snake, also known as a plumber snake, can be found in any hardware store and will effectively break down the gunk in your drain. When using a drain snake, make sure you use gentle hooking and prodding motions to dislodge the buildup. Pushing down on the clog will only make it worse and move it further down the drainpipe.
  • Grab a hanger from your closet. Like a drain snake, hangers are an effective way to remove clogs in plumbing fixtures like showers and bathtubs. Straighten out a wire coat hanger, bend a hook on the end of it and then use the same prodding and hooking motions to break down the clog.
  • Try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. The fizzing power of this concoction can effectively clear up mild clogs. Pour boiling water down your drain and wait for the water to clear. Then, dump half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar mixed with one cup of hot water. Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours and then run hot water from your faucet.
  • Use washing soda. Didn’t have much success with baking soda? Don’t worry — there are other alternatives. Washing soda is stronger than baking soda and is used in different common household cleaning products, making it a powerful cleaning and unclogging agent. First, pour boiling water down your drain opening. Then, pour in a coffee mug’s worth of washing soda. Let it sit for five minutes before running water and clearing the mixture. If the speed of the sink draining hasn’t improved, repeat the process a few more times.
  • Bring out the plunger. If the drain snake and mixtures fail you, you can try to manually unclog your drain with a plunger. Before you get too excited and grab your toilet plunger, it’s important to understand that all plungers are different. The standard plunger will be too big for a small drain opening, so you will need to invest in a smaller one that’s designed specifically for drains. Plunge the drain and then run water to see if the clog has cleared. If it didn’t, repeat as many times as necessary.
  • Unfasten the P-trap. The P-trap is a U-shaped drainpipe under your sink that can be taken apart to check for clogs. Make sure to place a bucket under the P-trap before using a drain snake or other type of tool to remove the clog. The bucket will catch any water or debris that comes out while you clear the clogged drain.

How to prevent clogs

The best way to prevent future clogs in your plumbing fixtures is to limit what you put down your drains. Leftover food, coffee grounds and grease should be thrown out — or put in a compost pile — instead of being put down your drain. Similarly, floss, tissues, wipes and feminine hygiene products should always be placed in the trash, not flushed down your toilet.

Investing in a shower drain catcher is a great way to keep hair, soap scum and other debris from creating a clog in your shower drain. The catcher will effectively collect buildup and keep water flowing so it doesn’t collect at your feet. Once you’re out of the shower, empty the buildup into your trashcan and place the clean catcher back over the drain.

If you have pets, put a washcloth over your shower or bathtub drain before giving them a bath. The amount of hair that your furry friend sheds can cause large backups, and even clog up your shower drain catcher.

How to keep your drains clean

Implementing regular drain cleaning into your daily, weekly and monthly cleaning routines is an easy way to ensure your drains are getting the deep clean they need to operate efficiently and not clog up.

  • Clean your drains once a week. If your sinks have stoppers, pull them out, remove any built-up debris and then clean them off before reinserting. You can also run your drain snake or coat hanger down the drainpipes to ensure any potential blockage is cleared and doesn’t keep colleting.
  • Flush your drains weekly. Fill the sink or tub with hot water and drain it. The hot water will help keep the pipe walls clear of fats and other buildups that contribute to clogged drains.
  • Use bacterial drain cleaners once a month. Unlike chemical drain cleaners, bacterial drain cleaners are non-corrosive solutions that do not damage pipes. The biodegradable properties in bacterial drain cleaners will break down any buildup so you don’t experience another clog again.

Need some help from professional plumbers?

Sometimes homemade clog removers and tricks aren’t effective enough. For bigger clogs or serious emergencies, it’s always best to call in the professionals. If you’re dealing with a big backup in your home or business, give Justin Dorsey Plumbing a call! Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to inspect, diagnose and clear out the problem. With more than 30 years of experience handling drain cleaning calls in Indianapolis, Indiana, no job is too big or too small, and we’ll handle the issue right away so your plumbing can get back to flowing properly.