Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Drano Alternative

I don't know about you, but it seems we are constantly having to buy Drano. Part of the problem is that our shower/tub drains do not have the little grate to catch hair. You know how you lose a lot of hair right after having a baby? I swear we were using Drano every other week! We also have a couple of sinks that were draining slow lately so I decided to give a homemade option a try! 

It is SO simple! Here is what you need:
Baking Soda, Vinegar and a measuring cup

Here is what you do:
If your drain has a stopper like this, twist it until you get it off. If you don't it will be MUCH harder to get this stuff down the drain.

 Add 1/2 cup of baking soda. See how I poured it a little to fast so it didn't go down? Whoops. If that happens just do this:

You need to get as much of it as possible down the drain. I used tweezers the first time and a wooden skewer the second time to poke it down in there, but just use whatever you can find that fits to help work the baking soda down.
After you get as much down as possible replace the stopper so that you will be able to close the drain. Like this:

Now for the fun part :) Seriously, gather the children this is cool. It made me feel like a mad scientist...

 Pour in 1/2 cup of vinegar

It will fizz up like this. Unclogging your drain now qualifies as an entertaining science experiment for your kids! ;)

Close the drain when you pour it and wait for the fizzing to chill out a bit. This step basically eats up what bit of baking soda is in the sink so that the rest of the vinegar can go down easily to react to the vinegar in the pipes below instead of just what it in the sink. When the fizz looks more like a glass of sprite, open the drain allowing the vinegar to go down and when it is all down, close the drain.
Leave the drain closed for 15 minutes.

 Now flush it down with hot tap water. I will admit when the sink filled up with water from turning the faucet on high, I thought I had just wasted my time, my vinegar and my baking soda. Then I heard a bubble noise and the whole sink drained!
And now it is draining like a charm! WooHoo!

Price Comparison:
Drano: $3.98 at Walmart
Homemade: About 50 cents!!

If this does not work on the first try, you should consider using a plumbing snake to push or pull out the clog. We had to do this on our tub/shower because of the massive amount of my hair that was in it. I am hoping that now that it is clear I can just use my homemade drain solution at the first hint of slow flow to keep it that way. 

So, I wrote this after the first time that I did this but wanted to do it a couple more times before posting so that I could have more tips on how to do this best. Most important thing I have learn is that it is easiest to pour the baking soda down when the drain is dry and do it SLOWLY. Do not dump the whole 1/2 cup down at once. Dump a little, make sure it goes down, use a wooden skewer or something that shape to knock it down, then pour some more. 

Another thing, when you take the stopper part off, if you can see hair (or in my kids' tub hair and grass, ew) go ahead and pull it out if you can with a wooden skewer or screwdriver or whatever you can find. It will stay unclogged longer if you pull that stuff up instead or push it down. 

I have found that doing this is not only cheaper than the store bought solutions, it works better. We had gotten to the point in our shower that we were having to clean it out WAY too often. The pulling the hair out is gross but makes a massive difference no matter what you use. 

**Random tidbit***
I just saw on Pinterest that instead of getting helium balloons for birthday parties you can use baking soda and vinegar! Put baking soda in a bottle, pour vinegar in a balloon, then seal the balloon over the mouth of the bottle and stand it up pouring the vinegar from the balloon to the bottle and it blows up the balloon!! How cool is that?
**Update: really bummed to find out that this does NOT make balloons that float. Darn you Pinterest! I guess it turns out you CAN'T trust everything you read on the internet. ;) However if you want to blow a balloon up in a cool way, click here for instructions.

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