No one likes a clogged kitchen sink or a blocked bathroom sink. Buildup from hair, dead skin, and grease can all contribute to pesky problems in your household drains and pipes. Slow flowing showerheads can be a signal of minerals blocking the water flow, which is easily solved. Not all solutions require a visit by a plumber; some issues can be fixed with ingredients and materials found right in your own home.
If you are looking for an alternative to toxic, damaging, harsh cleaners found on store shelves, read on.
- If your problem is limescale buildup on a bathroom showerhead, try mixing 1 cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of baking soda in a plastic bag. Attach with a rubber band to your showerhead, wait about an hour, remove the bag, and rinse.
- For pesky drains, mix one cup of baking soda with one cup of cider vinegar. Follow with a long hot water rinse. This may work slower than your typical store-bought product, and you may need to repeat the process.
- When it comes time to shine bathroom and kitchen faucets, this scrubcalls for a simple mix of baking soda, lemon juice, sea salt, and dishwashing soap, along with vinegar.
- Clogged sinks could be helped along by a sink plunger, or you could mixequal parts baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Shake together and pour half down the drain. Pour down 2 cups of boiling water and let it sit for an hour. Rinse thoroughly with cool water.
- A shiny toilet is a breeze with Martha Stewart’s DIY toilet bowl cleaner. Let ½ cup of vinegar sit in your toilet bowl for a few minutes, then brush (unless you have hard water, in which case you should let it sit longer). Add ½ cup of Borax to the water, swish with a toilet brush, and soak overnight for stain removal.
You may want to invest in a sink snake (also called a hand auger) when other methods do not do the job. This tool is used by cranking it into the clog, then breaking it up so you can pull it out. This is good for deep clogs deep in the pipes that are hard to reach. Use a closet auger for toilet clogs. Sink plungers can also work to get rid of stubborn clogs. Teflon tape is helpful to have on hand to seal up joint leaks. An adjustable pipe wrench gives you a good grip on round pipes when you need to dig a little deeper. All of these household plumbing tools can be found at your local home improvement store.
To keep pipes and drains working like they should, remember to never pour grease down your kitchen sink. Use chemical cleaners sparingly, as they can ruin pipes if they are too harsh. Regularly remove pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and tub; wipe off any gunk that has built up and clean thoroughly. Run scalding hot water down kitchen and bathroom drains to break up accumulated junk before plunging, and use a DIY cleaner on a weekly or monthly basis to keep everything flowing smoothly.
If you take a little bit of time to care for your pipes and drains on a regular basis, you may find that you have no major pipe or drain issues related to build-up. Always be aware of what you are putting down the drain. Remember that if it is toxic, it is dangerous to the environment and the water system. When in doubt, conduct your own research or call a plumber for advice.