Using vinegar is an effective way to clear a clogged drain when it is combined with salt and baking soda. Use only full-strength white distilled vinegar for best results. Vinegar should dissolve most clogs, but major blockages may require the assistance of a plumber.
Vinegar is a natural, safe and effective alternative to chemical drain cleaners. It is cost-effective and may eliminate the need for more expensive and time-consuming measures. Unlike some chemical drain cleaners, vinegar is nontoxic. It is safe to use in households with pets and children. It is also safe for use in kitchen sinks, where food and dishes may be exposed. Additionally, it is environmentally friendly and will prevent sink and drain odors by eliminating bacteria and mildew growth.
Using vinegar alone once a week or twice monthly will help to keep sink drains clear. It is also helpful for minor backups, such as a slow-draining sink. But major clogs or extremely slow drains often require the addition of baking soda and salt. Several treatments may be required to clear a major clog. It that doesn't work you may have to call a plumber.
Clear the drain of all debris. Boil 2 cups of white distilled vinegar. Pour ½ cup salt into the drain, then immediately pour in the boiling vinegar. When the drain empties, flush with hot water, then with cold water. Allow the pipes to drain, and then add ½ cup baking soda. Pour in 1 cup cold or room-temperature vinegar. The drain will begin to foam, loosening any debris remaining in the pipe. Remove the debris that bubbles up, and let the baking soda and vinegar sit for five minutes. Check the drain again for loose debris, then flush with cold water. Repeat if drainage has improved but the clog remains.
If the problem persists after treating the clog with vinegar and baking soda or if the sink will not drain at all, the blockage may be caused by something other than food and hair, or it is too thick to allow the vinegar to penetrate. Turn off the water, and remove the pipe connected to the drain. Check the pipe for obstructions, and remove them. Also check the elbow pipe, as this tends to be a problem area. Replace the pipe and repeat with the salt and vinegar, then with the baking soda and vinegar. If the clog remains, and drainage does not improve, the obstruction may be too deep in the pipe, and a plumber should be consulted.