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How To Unclog A Drain

how to unclog a drain

Throughout the day, it is amazing how much we wash down our drains. Whether it’s scraps from dinner down the kitchen sink or rouge hair balls after a shower, we put our plumbing through the ringer. Inevitably, things are going to get backed up. But before you go out and buy harsh chemicals to use, your solution is right there in your own house. Here are some tips on how to unclog a drain.

If you have serious clog or blockage, contact A-1 Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration today!

The most important thing to keep in mind is what is actually causing the clog. Fat, oil and grease from food (being the #1 source of most clogs), hair, soap scum and mangled bits of food from the dish disposal are often the cause. A simple online search will immediately point you to the old baking soda, vinegar and hot water method. Unfortunately, while that might work for small backups or slow-draining sinks, it lacks key factors that the bigger clogs need: a de-greasing agent and power. Next time, save your time, money and patience and try one of these methods instead:

A Plunger

A standard (unused!!) toilet plunger will do just fine, preferably the rubber bottom kind. Fill the sink or tub halfway with warm water and give it a few good pushes. This works great with hair clogs in the shower and food particles in the sink that get stuck in the curvy part of your drain. After, flush it with hot water. Repeat as necessary. This is great because it uses sucking followed by pressure to dis-lodge the clog, no chemicals needed!!

Tip: You want to make sure that you are using a new/unused plunger. You definitely don’t want to use the one in your bathroom after Thanksgiving dinner.

A Wire Hanger

We all have one of these lurking in the closet. If you have a clog in your shower, this is a great way to clear the blockage. Simply untwist the hanger and straighten the body out. Next, make a small hook from the part that is supposed to hang; the tighter the better, this is going down the drain. Once you have removed the drain cover (an adventure all on it’s own), slide the hook down the drain and twist it around, collecting any hair or gunk down in there. Please note: you will want to wear gloves for this one. Even if the actual gunk doesn’t gross you out, the smell might and you definitely DON’T want that smell on your hands.

Liquid Dish Detergent

This is great for clogs caused by greasy foods or your family members obsession with coconut oil. The same reaction dish detergent has on your dishes is the appeal to trying it with a clogged sink. Boil a large pot of water on the stove and add a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Slowly pour this mixture down the drain and then rinse it down with hot water from the same sink. You might have to repeat a few times, but it’s better than dangerous chemicals. The hot water will soften the greasy substance and the soap will help loosen it from the pipes. Obviously, stay clear from using dish-washing machine soap, you need hand-washing dish soap.Testimony: if it can clean oil off cute little ducklings and baby sea otters, it can probably help with bacon grease.


Is there anything that salt isn’t good for?! This is another helpful way to remove grease clogs if you’re down to your last bit of dish soap. Pour 1/2 cup of salt down the clogged drain, followed by a pot of boiling water. Rinse with hot water. Again, you might have to repeat this 1 or 2 more times, but it’s totally worth it. The abrasive texture of the salt will help scrub the gunk off the pipes while the hot water softens the grease and helps flush it all down. Keep in mind: the average price of maximum strength drain cleaner is around $10 (you will easily go through 2 bottles of it for a large clog). Salt is around $0.80. It’s worth a shot.

Most of the time, a clogged drain is a simple fix. Next time you notice your drain in backed up, take a look around for common household items. If you have a serious clog or blockage, contact us today! A little extra time and some elbow grease will save you effort and money in the long run. We hope this latest addition to Smiley’s Tips taught you how to unclog a drain properly.

Have any other suggested methods? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Elizabeth on February 16, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I want to start by saying I NEVER leave comments for anything, but I have to say a huge THANK YOU for writing this! I have been dealing with a very stubborn clogged bathroom sink that has been stumping me for 2 months. After a culmination of gallons of popular and expensive drain cleaner (didn’t do anything at all) and hours of plunging (to get it to finally slowly drain but in a few days is clogged again). I started with the salt and plunging which didn’t do a whole lot at first. I added the boiling water and dish soap combined with a lot of plunging and whala, my family can finally brush their teeth in the bathroom sink again. My daughter was so excited that “mom fixed the sink”. I could seriously hug the person who wrote the article. A thousand thank you’s.

    • Plumber Jacksonville on February 17, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      We are so glad you were able to fix the sink! Little tricks of the trade are always helpful when in a tight spot!

      Thank you so much for your comment- we hope you have a wonderful day!!!

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