How To Keep A Drain Clear And Prevent Blockages

How To Keep A Drain Clear And Prevent Blockages – To prevent a drain becoming blocked, always use a sink strainer to prevent bits of food clogging it. Never pour grease down the drain. Instead, pour it into an old tin or other disposable container, let it harden and throw it in the dustbin. Oils should go into empty bottles. Coffee grounds can also block drains. Strain them into a sieve and put them in the dustbin.

Once a day, pour a kettleful of boiling water down the drain to dislodge any grease lurking inside it. Once a week, disinfect the drain. All the following methods avoid using harsh, environmentally unfriendly chemicals. All will readily biodegrade. Try one of the following methods:


  • Pour a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the plughole and slowly dribble warm water into it.
  • Make a solution of soda crystals (one teacup to a liter of hot water). Flush the drain with hot water, pour down the soda solution, then flush with hot water again.
  • Flush with very hot water, sprinkle 1 tbsp household borax down the drain, slowly pour through a teacup of hot water and leave for a couple of hours. Flush with plenty of hot water.
  • Mix together 4 tbsp bicarbonate of soda, 4 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp cream of tartar. Place in a jar with a lid, close it tightly and shake until the ingredients are well mixed. Pour down the drain, followed by a kettleful of boiling water. After one minute, rinse with warm or cold tap water.

Use an enzyme-based drain disinfectant. Flush the drain with hot water, add a capful of the cleaner and leave for at least an hour. It fizzes dramatically but removes smells. These products contain a small amount of phosphates.The active ingredient is sodium percarbonate, a bleaching agent. Unlike chlorine bleaches, which leave chemical residues, it decomposes into oxygen, water and soda ash when it comes into contact with water.

unblock a drain

How to unblock a drain?

The commonest cause of blockages is food particles, followed by grease. Hair, fibres from clothes (if, say, you do a lot of washing by hand), limescale and soap scum can also block pipes. If you follow the maintenance tips, this should not occur, but if the drain does become blocked, here is what to do:

If the drain is clogged (water is running through, but slowly), first bail out any standing water. Slowly pour one cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, then slowly add a cup of vinegar. The mixture will fizz in a satisfyingly dramatic manner. Cover the plughole with the upturned cup and leave to fizz for about five minutes. Rinse the drain with boiling water. If the water is still running slow, treat again.

If the drain is totally blocked (water will not run out at all and collects in the sink), bail out the standing water and check to see if a wad of food or hair is blocking the drain. If this does not work, use a plunger to remove the blockage from farther down the pipe.

If none of these methods work, use a chemical drain cleaner. The strongest ones are very caustic, dangerous to use and very environmentally unfriendly. Less startling are foaming drain cleaners. Use them as a last resort, only when all else has failed. The best way to avoid using them at all is to prevent blockages in the first place.

Tags: drain cleaning, how to clean

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