Helpful Cleaning Tip: Vinegar and Baking Soda Drain Cleaner

Harsh chemical drain cleaners are bad for the environment and hard on your wallet. A better solution is to use vinegar and baking soda which is both cheaper and environmentally friendly.

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Vinegar and Baking Soda Drain Cleaner

Vinegar and baking soda are wonders of the cleaning world. They are environmentally friendly, cheaper than most chemical cleaners and better for your family as well. I’ve found yet another fantastic use for them that I never expected.

Clearing the Drain

Most of us have, at one time or another, had to deal with either a slow moving or a completely clogged drain. Usually, the only solution to this problem is to buy a harsh chemical drain opener that is not only environmentally unfriendly, but potentially dangerous as well. Many of these chemical drain openers contain sulfuric acid or hypochlorous acid which are both dangerous and, under the right conditions, can damage your pipes.

A Greener Solution

I have found that a better solution is to use baking soda and vinegar. This works quite well in general, although it is ineffective at clearing a completely clogged drain. Vinegar and baking soda create a weak acid called carbonic acid. This acid breaks down fats and other deposits which when combined with hair or other detritus can clog a drain. The great thing about this is that carbonic acid, once created, begins to break down immediately into carbon dioxide and water, unlike some other acids. You’ll know it’s working when you see the bubbles. That’s the CO2 being released from the reaction!

The Process

Like everything else there are steps that a person should follow in using baking soda and vinegar to clear a slow moving drain. First some precautions:

  1. Vinegar and baking soda by themselves are not dangerous. They are also pretty benign when mixed together. However, the reaction is very energetic, so be careful to wear eye protection and rubber gloves when clearing your drain. It shouldn’t hurt you to get any on you, but it’s better to be safe.
  2. As noted before the reaction is very energetic. When you pour the vinegar down the drain, don’t stand over the drain. The material that makes up the clog can be blown up out of the drain and into your face.
  3. Do not mix vinegar and baking soda together in a closed container. The reaction could cause the container to burst.
  4. Wait at least two weeks before using vinegar and baking soda if you’ve previously used a harsh chemical cleaner. Some cleaners can sit in the pipes for a very long time.
  5. Do not use for clogged or slow running toilets. The reaction can actually break the porcelain and than you have a much bigger problem.
  6. NEVER add chlorine bleach to the mixture. Chlorine bleach and vinegar can combine to create dangerous fumes.

Now for the fun part.

  1. Run hot water down the drain to clear any material that can be cleared by hot water. Some people suggest using boiling water, but very hot water works just as well.
  2. Take a cup of baking soda and pour it down the slow moving drain. You can mix it with hot water if you choose which works well for slow moving drains especially. One cup of baking soda to two cups of hot water is fairly effective.
  3. Take two cups of white vinegar and pour it directly down the drain after letting the baking soda sit for five minutes.
  4. Cover the drain immediately with a piece of cloth to keep detritus from coming out of the hole.
  5. Let stand for fifteen minutes.
  6. Run very hot water down the drain. I would recommend at least a gallon of very hot water.


The above process should work well for any slow moving clog. If necessary a person can repeat the process several times a week until your drains are as clear as if they were new. Good luck and happy cleaning!

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