Blocked drainages are a home owner’s nightmare. They are not only smelly but can also stop you from using any water facilities in your home for fear of a backfire. To prevent clogging, many people either hire a plumber to clean their drains or do the cleaning themselves. (but as with all things, professionalism is the best option)

Many people use drain cleaners to do this to avoid clogging the toilets. But while these cleaners offer relief, they are a temporary solution with adverse effects on your plumbing system. Drain cleaners are toxic and corrode the pipes over time, destroying them in the long run.

For safe and durable cleaning of drains, here are the ten best drain cleaner alternatives.

Dish soap and hot water

This simple solution effectively cleans the drains, which makes it a great alternative to drain cleaners. Boil a few tablespoons of dish soap in water. Pour the hot solution down the drain and rinse it with clean hot water when it boils. Doing so eliminates clogs that result from grease.

Vinegar, salt, and borax

Borax, commonly known as sodium borate, is a cleaning product found in most grocery stores. To make an excellent drain cleaner, mix a quarter cup of borax, a quarter cup of salt, and vinegar. Mix these four items and pour them down your drain. After, follow them up with hot water. This will create a chemical reaction that unclogs your drainage.

Use a coat wire hanger

Can coat hangers work as drain cleaners? Yes, they sure do.

When you have an obstacle in your drainage that won’t just move, you will have to give it a push to do so. You can use a drain snake (call your plumber) or improvise by straightening out your coat wire hanger if you want to do this yourself. After straightening it, insert it in the pipe to break up some blockages.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a multi-faceted kitchen item. You can use it in baking, cleansing your face, and cleaning your drainage.

Another great thing about it is that it works with different things to clean your drainage. You can combine it with vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Mix a half cup of baking soda with a half cup of any of the above items and pour them down your drain.

A popular alternative to drain cleaners is the mixture of half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar. Pour it down your drain, let the solution sit in the drain for an hour, and then rinse your drains or flush them out with hot water.

Enzymatic drain cleaners

Unlike chemical drain cleaners, the enzymatic drain cleaners are totally safe for you and your drains. They are chemically free and environmentally friendly drain cleaners that contain bacteria or enzymes that feed on the organic waste in the drainages.

They don’t only work on the food that clogs your drains. As they feed on the waste, they reproduce and multiply, spreading throughout your septic system, breaking down waste build up in your sewer system, making them a great alternative drain cleaner.

Baking soda and cream of tartar

If you are looking for a quick and safer alternative to drain cleaners that thoroughly clean your drains, baking soda and cream of tartar will do the magic.

Mix a quarter cup of baking soda, a quarter cup of cream of tartar, a quarter cup of salt with little water.

Pour the solution down your drain and leave it for 30 minutes. Then pour two cups of boiling water and let it settle for an hour. This time lag allows the chemical reaction that breakdown the clogging. Then flush your drainage with warm water.

Sodium hydroxide

Commonly known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide is another great alternative to drain cleaners—mix three-quarters of a gallon of cold water with three cups of caustic soda in a bucket. Stir the solution with a wooden spoon. Once the solution starts to heat up and fizz, pour it down the drain. Leave it for an hour or overnight, and after that, flush with hot/boiling water.

Note: Dress up with PPE like eyeglasses and rubber gloves to prevent chemical burns.

Wet and dry vacuum your drain

Yes, vacuums are great at unclogging drains. All you have to do is to set your vacuum to a “wet and dry” setting. Then cover the drain and turn on your vacuum to the highest setting. This will draw up the clog from the pipe into the vacuum bag.

Note: This works for minor blockages.

Boiling water

If the clogging is due to grease buildup, boiling water is the way to go. Boil a lot of water or use a heater and slowly pour it down your drain. Do this in stages to allow the water to break down the fat. This is the easiest way to unclog a drain.

Use a drain snake

Most clogging in the sink can be removed using a 25-foot drain snake. The drain snake completely breaks down the blockage, allowing it to pass through the pipes. After using the drain snake, flush out the drains with hot water to effectively remove any residues.

Note: Although you can use the drain snake on your own, it is better to get professional help. Otherwise, your pipes may end up getting damaged if you don’t know how to use properly.

Use a plunger

Plungers are a great drain cleaner alternative. You can use them to remove a clog from your toilet and sinks in a home. You can use the flange plunger for the toilet and a flat bottomed plunger or cup plunger for the sink.

Why are chemical drain cleaners bad?

Chemical drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction in your drain pipes. This reaction creates heat which melts whatever stuff is clogging your drains. However, the same chemical reaction causes corrosion in your pipes.


These safe ways of cleaning your drains will increase their durability. Although you can do most of these alternatives yourself, it is better to employ the services of a trusted expert for proper diagnosis and solutions.

Finally, one of the best alternatives to drain cleaners is a hydro jet (pressure washing). To learn more hydro jetting, Follow this link

Emma Chen

Emma Chen holds a degree in Public Health from the University of Washington and has dedicated 13 years to promoting healthy and sustainable cleaning practices. Since joining us as a freelancer in 2020, Emma has shared her expertise in non-toxic cleaning solutions, indoor air quality, and allergen reduction. Her experience includes working in community health programs and as a health educator, which shows in her writing. Emma is a yoga instructor in her free time and participates in community clean-up drives.

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