Use non-toxic drain de-cloggers
January 30, 2013
Between multiple heads of hair, toddlers tossing toys in toilets, and older kids dumping food down drains, clogs are an inevitable incident in a family home. Still, conventional drain cleaners are some of the most caustic, toxic chemicals you can buy. (Read the caution label and you’ll get a sense of how dangerous it is.)
The main ingredient of most drain cleaners is either sodium hydroxide or sulphuric acid and they make for some mean stuff. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Drain cleaners contain very dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to your health if swallowed or breathed in (inhaled). Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Damage continues to occur in the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the drain cleaner was swallowed. Death may occur as long as a month after the drain cleaner was swallowed.”
If it gets on your skin, it can burn you. If it splashes up into your eyes, it can blind you. And, if it mixes with other chemicals (maybe something else you poured into your drain), it can cause an explosive reaction potentially harming you and others nearby.
Don’t risk it. Try these non-toxic drain cleaner and de-clogger methods to safely keep your plumbing in tip-top shape.
Tactic One: Plunger
A simple first course of action is using a plunger on the drain. It works the same way it functions in a toilet – using pressure to push the gook through. If you don’t like the idea of using a tool that’s been in the toilet, pick up an extra one to have on hand for sink and shower clogs.
Tactic Two: Clog-busting concoctions
• Baking Soda Drain Cleaner
Mix 1 Cup Salt, 1 Cup Baking Soda, and 1/4 Cup cream of tartar in a bowl. Using 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, pour it down the drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Wait at least one minute before repeating. The boiling water changes the chemical composition of the ingredients and makes it strong enough to eat through grease and grime. This method may take few tries, but it often does the trick!
• Washing Soda Drain Cleaner
Here’s a recipe from queen of green cleaning, Annie B. Bond: “Pour a cup of washing soda over the drain area and let it set for a while to work its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, use the baking soda method, above. Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, with a pH of 11. You never want to use washing soda if a commercial acid drain cleaner has recently been used in the drain, as they will strongly react with each other. You also shouldn’t overuse washing soda if you have PVC pipes, as the caustic nature of washing soda can slowly damage the plastic.”
Tactic Three: The Snake
Plumbers often use a drain snake (auger) which a tool that you manually insert and twist down the drain to loosen all the crud and clean up the drain. There are homeowner-friendly snakes available at hardware stores (ranging in price from about $5-$30). Just be sure to read the directions very carefully.
Tactic Four: Pipe Removal
If you have a garbage disposal, the pipe below it might be backed up with food bits. If you have modern PVC pipe under the sink, it’s fairly easy to take apart (it just has rings you unscrew). Just put a bucket under the pipes, twist apart the main curved one, pull off and watch all the mess empty into the bucket. Then you screw the pipe back on and voila!