How to Unclog a Drain

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Clogged drains are a common nuisance caused by a variety of substances like hair, grease or soap. When these accumulate and cause backed-up sinks or showers, it can prohibit normal use. Fortunately, fixing a clogged drain is usually fairly straightforward. Catering your fix to the type of clog is the best way to clear it quickly.


How to Unclog a Drain
Image Credit: AndreyPopov/iStock/GettyImages

Before You Begin

Before you attempt to flush the drain, remove any cover or grate with a screwdriver. Use a flashlight to look inside the drain. If you see a visible sign of the clog, such as a clump of hair or accumulated soap, clean it out by hand. Try running a small amount of water through the drain once again. If the sink or tub continues to back up, you will likely need to try a different approach.


Unclogging with Chemicals

Commercially available chemicals are a good choice when it comes to unclogging a drain. You should always follow manufacturer instructions, which often require that you pour half of the bottle down the drain and wait about 15 minutes before using the sink or shower. Then, you may be instructed to flush the drain with hot water. If the clog is not fixed at that time, you should use the rest of the bottle and repeat the process.

Many plumbers caution against consistent use of products designed to dissolve clogs, as they can be harmful to pipes and cause corrosion. In addition, these chemicals may not dissolve all types of clogs.


Unclogging with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Some clogs can be resolved without the use of harsh chemicals. Using baking soda and vinegar to clear a drain clog is a more environmentally friendly way to get the job done. In addition, it is safer for children and pets, and costs less than commercial products.

To clear a drain with this method, first pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. Next, pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, immediately followed by a solution of one cup of water and one cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a plug and wait five to 10 minutes. Then, flush the drain with boiling water once again.


Unclogging Manually

It is also possible to clear a drain manually using a pipe snake or other plumbing tool. These are long, bendy tools that can be inserted into a pipe from the drain end and maneuvered around inside to catch any debris within. Small versions of these tools are often sold with chemical drain cleaning agents. You can also purchase them at a hardware or home improvement store.

Another method for clearing a drain is to use a plunger in the same manner you would in a toilet. Repeated pressure on the top of the drain can sometimes work wonders on basic clogs.



Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (

View Work