Walk down the home aisle of a grocery store, or visit a hardware store, and you'll find plenty of chemical drain cleaners. Although these products can be effective, they also contain dangerous chemicals—just check out the numerous warnings listed on the containers—that can harm your family, wear down pipes, and contaminate groundwater, possibly affecting the pH levels of local lakes, rivers and water supplies. You can fix a clogged drain, even one with standing water, using common household substances and a plunger.
Before attempting to unclog the drain, use a bucket or cup to remove as much of the standing water as possible.
Remove any items you may find in and around the clogged drain. These can include pieces of soap, globs of hair, soap scum, lumps of undissolved hair gel or toothpaste and even small toys.
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the clogged drain. Follow that with 1 cup of vinegar. Baking soda and vinegar dissolve grease and oil. Let the clogged drain sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Slowly pour a kettle of boiling water into the drain to help loosen the partially dissolved clog. If the pipes are PVC (plastic), use hot water instead. Wait another 10 to 15 minutes.
Apply a layer of petroleum jelly around the lip of a plunger. The jelly will help make a seal between the plunger and the surface of the drain. Place the plunger directly over the drain. If you're working on a sink drain, use one hand to cover the overflow before you start plunging.
Press the plunger all the way down slowly to create a seal. Then, pull the handle of the plunger up quickly. Continue to press the plunger handle up and down rapidly for a few minutes.
Run water into the drain to see if the clog is gone. If the water runs freely, you're done. If the drain is still clogged, or it runs slowly, repeat all the steps.