You go to run water in your bathroom sink and it just isn’t going down very fast. You’ve got a clog. A commercial drain cleaner might work, but maybe you want a more natural and safe solution. Maybe you’ve heard that you can unclog sinks with baking soda and vinegar, but you aren’t sure how. We’ve done the research for you, and we have the answer.
You can often clear a bathroom sink that is slow or clogged with a simple solution of baking soda and vinegar. The great part of this is that there is a good chance you already have everything you need on hand. Here are the steps:
- Pour hot water down the drain
- Add 1 cup of baking soda to the drain
- Pour a mixture of vinegar and water into the drain
- Cover the drain with the stopper for at least five minutes
- Flush the drain with hot water
- At this point, you can turn on the hot water on the faucet for a couple of minutes to flush everything down your clog-free drain.
This is a great way to clean your clog quickly. It does not require a trip to the store for chemical products, and it is much safer. We get into the details for each step below, so make sure to continue reading.
Unclogging A Bathroom Drain With Vinegar And Baking Soda
Clogs in the bathroom drain can be annoying. And if you dump a chemical cleaner down your drain, it smells the room up for hours, and the fumes may not be safe to breathe in. It’s even worse if you have a septic system, because some chemical drain cleaners may not be safe in a septic system.
Luckily there is a more natural solution that you can try before you resort to a harsh chemical cleaner. Baking soda and vinegar are both safe for you and your septic system, and they won’t emit any harsh fumes. And there’s a good chance you already have these two products in your home.
The process is fairly simple, but you need to make sure to have these items before you begin:
Miroco Electric Kettle
That’s it! No drain snakes, no rubber gloves, and no bottles of strange chemical concoctions.
Steps For Unclogging Your Drain
Here are the steps to clean your drain with vinegar and baking soda:
The first step is to heat a pot of water. This can be in a pan, an electric kettle, or whatever else you have handy.
You’re going to need most of a full pan or kettle for this. Don’t worry too much about the specific amount, but you’ll need several cups of hot water to make sure. The water needs to be very hot, but not quite to the boiling point. You don’t want to pour boiling water down your drain, as it may cause damage. If you boiled the water, let it cool a little before use.
Set aside one cup of this water for use later.
Pour the remaining hot water down the drain.
Add Baking Soda
The next step is to dump one cup of baking soda down the drain. It may not all go in, and that is fine. Just get as much down there as you can.
You may have a pop-up stopper on your drain. A lot of people do in their bathrooms. If you have one of those, do your best to get the baking soda past it and into the drain itself. You should be able to get quite a bit past the stopper if you keep at it.
Add Vinegar And Water
Remember that cup of hot water you set aside earlier? You need to mix that with one cup of white vinegar. If your water has cooled some, or if you forgot to set some aside earlier, that’s fine. Just substitute a cup of very hot tap water.
Pour the vinegar and water mixture down the drain. You will probably see some bubbling, which is from the vinegar and baking soda reacting with each other. That is what we want, so that is good.
Wait Five Minutes
Now you need to wait five minutes or more to let the vinegar and baking soda work. For the best results, you need to put the stopper in the drain. It will help make sure all the foaming goes down into the drain, not out of it. The process will still work without the stopper, but the stopper may help.
Now would be a good time to heat more water for the next step. You should be ready to pour it down the drain by the time the water finishes heating.
Flush With Hot Water
After waiting the necessary five minutes or more, pour more hot water down the drain to flush the baking soda and vinegar, as well as anything they helped loosen, on down the drain.
You should have a clean drain at this point. You may want to go ahead and run your hot tap water for a few minutes, just to make sure everything flushes out well.
This video shows the same basic process used on a kitchen sink:
Will Baking Soda And Vinegar Unclog Hair In A Drain?
The general opinion on whether vinegar and baking soda will unclog hair in a drain seems to be a strong maybe. It’s going to depend on how tough of a clog you have and how much of the clog consists of hair. Vinegar and baking soda won’t actually dissolve hair, but it could still help clear away a clog that is at least partly a build-up of hair.
If you have a slow drain and suspect hair is clogging it, you can try the baking soda and vinegar method. It’s easy, safe, and doesn’t take too long. There is a chance that it will clear away the rest of the gunk that is holding the hair in place, which could allow the hair to flush on down the drain.
If the clog in your drain is mostly hair, vinegar and baking soda may not work. It might be worth a try before you move on to a chemical cleaner, but you may need to use the chemical drain cleaner in the end.
Can You Leave Baking Soda And Vinegar In A Drain Overnight?
You can leave baking soda and vinegar in your drain overnight with no problems. There is nothing in the two that should cause any issues with your plumbing. Mixing the two will create carbon dioxide, sodium acetate, and water. None of these are harmful to your drain, even when left overnight.
Is Vinegar And Baking Soda Safe For A Septic Tank?
Vinegar and baking soda are both safe for your septic system. Vinegar and baking soda are non-toxic and biodegradable, and there is nothing in them that will prevent your septic system from operating properly.
A septic system requires a certain amount of bacteria to work properly to break down the wastewater. Harsh chemical cleaners can damage these bacteria, reducing the effectiveness of your septic system. Vinegar and baking soda are not harmful to these bacteria, making them a much safer choice.
What Can You Put Down The Drain To Make It Smell Better?
If you have a smelly drain in a rarely used sink, one possibility is the water in the trap part of the drain has evaporated and it is now allowing gases to escape up into the room. In this case, just run some water down that drain every few weeks and it should take care of it.
If that doesn’t take care of the problem, or if you use the drain more often and it still smells bad, then your problem isn’t just sewer gases coming back up the drain. There are some things you can try that are easy and safe.
Heat some water to a point that is very hot, but not boiling, then add a few drops of dish liquid to the mixture. The dish liquid can help break down the oils and greases that may be clinging to the inside of your drain and causing the smells that are escaping.
Pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes to work. After around five minutes, run the hot water for a few minutes more.
If that takes care of your smelly drain, great. If not, move on to the next step.
Baking Soda And Vinegar
Baking soda makes a great odor neutralizer, and it will work on your drain as well.
To deodorize your drain with this method:
- Flush the drain with hot water.
- Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain.
- Pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of hot water in the drain.
- Let this sit for up to an hour.
- Rinse the drain well with hot water.
This is very similar to the method that we described above for unclogging a bathroom sink.
To prevent smells in the future, try adding a tablespoon of baking soda to the drain every few weeks. If the smelly drain has a garbage disposal, you could try tossing a lemon peel down the drain now and then to help with the smell. Or put ice cubes and a generous amount of salt in the disposal to loosen oily and greasy deposits.
There are also a number of commercial products that will deodorize your drain. Some of these are sticks you drop in the drain, some are liquids. If you don’t want to try either of the methods mentioned above, or they aren’t working for you, you might try something like one of these:
Green Gobbler Bio-Flow Strips
Plink Fizzy Drain Freshener
Biocleaner Enzyme Drain Cleaner & Odor Eliminator
If you have a clogged or slow-moving sink in your bathroom, one non-toxic and biodegradable fix you can try is vinegar and baking soda. These two products may already be in your home, and when mixed properly in your drain, can help unclog it. Together with hot water, they flush many tough clogs away and are safe for all plumbing systems, including septic systems.
Before you go, check out these other kitchen articles that may be of interest to you: