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Vinegar and Baking Soda: A Safer Alternative to Chemical Drain Cleaners?

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Vinegar and Baking Soda: A Safer Alternative to Chemical Drain Cleaners?
You’ve probably seen the commercials.

A picture of a pipe with some ugly gunk in it. But by pouring some magical liquid down the drain, the junk is gone and the pipe is clog-free.

The magic liquid being advertised? Probably Liquid Plumbr, Drano or one of the other chemical drain cleaners available in grocery and hardware stores everywhere.

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But if you’ve ever used these products, you may have noticed the warnings to use gloves and eye protection, not to mention the burning sensation in your lungs if you breathe in the fumes.

So is there a safer solution than these chemical compounds? Yes. And it’s probably already in your pantry.

The Problems with Chemical Drain Cleaners

The drain cleaners you see in most commercials contain harsh, acidic chemicals. It is these chemicals that “eat” away at the junk in your drains.

However, these same chemicals can also be extremely harmful. Just look at this warning, pulled from their label:

“Keep out of reach of children. Harmful if swallowed. Avoid splashing. Injures eyes, skin and mucous membranes on contact.”

Chemical drain cleaners are bad for:

  • Your health – As the warning label describes, contact with the chemicals can cause injuries or chemical burns. Breathing in the fumes can also cause a burning sensation in your lungs.
  •  The environment – The chemicals that go down the drain then make their way into our environment
  • Your pipes – The acidic properties of chemical drain cleaners can also eat away at the plumbing in your home. This can really be a problem if you have an older home.

A Safer, Environmentally Friendly Drain Clearing Solution

If you have a slow or partially clogged drain, rather than turning to the popular chemical drain cleaners, consider going into your pantry. A simple concoction of white vinegar and baking soda can be as effective as the most powerful chemical cleaners.

Here’s how to use vinegar and baking soda to clear a drain:

  • Pour 1-2 cups of baking soda down your drain. If the clog is in a bathroom sink, it is easier if you remove the stopper first.
  • Pour 1-2 cups of white vinegar down the drain and cover it. (Plugging the drain with a rag can work well.)
  • Leave 15-30 seconds while the chemical reaction takes place. Afterward, pour boiling water down the drain to clear out the baking soda, vinegar and the clog.
  • Repeat as needed.

If you don’t like the DIY approach and would rather have something pre-mixed for your drain clearing needs, there are also some environmentally friendly drain cleaners. Look for products that use bio-enzymes rather than chemicals.

When That Isn’t Enough

Sometimes clogs may be too large or too far down the drain for a drain clearing liquid (either homemade or store-bought.) When that happens, it may be time to call a professional plumber for help.

Nicholson Plumbing serves the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. If you have a plumbing, heating or air conditioning problem you need help with, contact us online.

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