How to Prevent Clogged Drains

Unclogging a drain is a long and painful process that can require renting a snake, replacing pipes, and other plumbing services that can be quite expensive and time consuming. The best way to deal with clogged drains is to never have them at all. With a few simple steps and techniques, you can prevent your drains from becoming clogged and save yourself many future headaches.

  • Avoid placing food waste in the sink. Thick liquids, like grease or fat, should be stored in empty containers and thrown out with the trash, while other fine materials like coffee grounds, sugar, and flour should be thrown away immediately. Also be sure to buy a strainer for your sink drain, as this can help you remove larger chunks of food before they become stuck in the plumbing.
  • Clean out the pipes regularly. You can do this by washing baking soda down the drain with hot water. This prevents oil and grease from building up inside your plumbing, and also helps break down things like hairs and food fibers that can form a blockage. Doing this every month or so should be more than enough to keep things flowing smoothly.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, avoid using it for solid objects like eggshells and bones, as these tend to form small shards that can easily clump together and clog up your drain. A good alternative to using your garbage disposal is to start a compost bin, where you can place all your solid organic waste to make great fertilizer for your garden.
  • If your garbage disposal becomes clogged, you can drop in ice cubes and vinegar, and turn on the disposal so that it grinds up the ice cubes and spreads the vinegar around. Vinegar is acidic, and will eat away at any greasy buildups or hair and other types of organic protein that have become stuck in the disposal. Other types of mild acids, like citric juices, can also work well, though vinegar tends to be much stronger.
  • Every month, you can use a non-corrosive cleaner (careful, as corrosive cleaners can corrode metal and damage your plumbing) to break down any buildups if they do occur. It's not absolutely necessary, but if your drain seems to clog anyway despite the above measures, it may be a step that needs to be taken. Be sure to use the cleaner at night, when heavy water usage is not occurring, because otherwise the water will wash away the cleaner and it won't be as effective.