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Unclog a Drain (w/o Drain Cleaner)

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It’s often the case that when you get a clog the only drain cleaner on hand is you – there is no “new and improved clog-fighting action” waiting under the sink to come to the rescue, and it's not like you can tip it over and shake it until the gunk comes loose (although, as you can see, we do like to dream).

So, what do you do?

Barring a trip to the store, the short answer is that you snake and/or rely on other common household items to make up for not having a commercial drain cleaner at your disposal. Below are some tips you can try to unclog your drain without killing your wallet or the environment with caustic (and costly) store-bought drain cleaners:

Tip #1: The Plunger

For standing water, try using a plunger to loosen things up before moving down this list. Just place the plunger over the drain and use it as you would in the toilet. Hopefully, it will dislodge your clog so that it gets sucked to its watery grave.

Tip #2: The Homemade Snake

If the plunger fails, reach for your trusty wire coat hanger. Straighten the neck and jam it down the drain. Wiggle it around and try to get it down as far as you can before moving on to Tip #3.

Tip #3: The Household Mix

Mixing baking soda and vinegar together in the drain is a good, eco-friendly way to get things moving if you have a little time to wait for the mix to take effect and you’ve had some luck draining the standing water.

Shake a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it with a cup of vinegar and then plug the hole if you have a stopper. If it clears, flush it with hot water, repeat the mix application and call it a day.

Tip #4: The Solo Soda Solution  

If you don’t have any vinegar, but you’re well stocked in baking soda, shake a cup of it down the drain and follow it with a pot of boiling water.

In fact, if Tip #3 bears only so-so results, you can use boiling water in that application as well to add more power to your mix.

Tip #5: The Trap

If worse comes to worst, you might have to grab a bucket and a wrench and open up the trap (the U-shaped pipe below the sink). First, place the bucket under the pipe and make sure the water is turned off at the tap. Loosen the slip nuts and remove the trap.

Stand up and look down the drain from above. If you can’t see the bucket below, jab through to it with your coat hanger. If you can, that means the clog is in the trap (easy enough) or further along the pipe, which may require a plumber.

You can try clearing it with your coat hanger or a drain snake that's made for the job, but you’ll have to reattach the trap and turn on the water to see if you dislodged the clog.

ATGStores.com hopes this helps you save time and money the next time your drain clogs.

If you have access to an exterior water line and a hose, you can say goodbye to store-bought drain cleaners forever with a Drain King from G.T. Water Products, which dislodges clogs with the use of water pressure. 

Take the preventative route against clogs with a new strainer drain like this all copper model from Sierra Copper.

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