How to Keep Your Drains Clean and Free of Odors and Bacteria

Dirty drains are a fast-track way to spread foul odors and dangerous bacteria throughout your home. Regularly cleaning your drains can keep them clog-free and free of smelly organic buildup like hair, food waste, soap scum, and oil.drain cleaning

While the methods outlined in this article are effective in removing clogs and odors, they are not appropriate for serious, long-term blockages and will likely require professional help. Call The Woodlands Plumber for professional expertise.

Salt is an inexpensive household ingredient that can be combined with boiling water to create a natural drain cleaner. This combination works well on organic clogs such as hair, soap scum, and grease. It also breaks down and dissolves mineral deposits that build up in your pipes. This home remedy can be used regularly to prevent clogs and reduce odors.

The theory behind this DIY solution is that pouring a large amount of coarse salt down the drain will somehow act as a scouring agent to break up whatever is clogging the pipe. While this might work in some cases, it is unlikely to clear a serious drain clog. Moreover, salt and hot water will not be effective against a tree root that has grown into your sink or toilet pipes, nor will they dislodge a blocked sewer line.

To make this homemade drain cleaner, combine half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt with two cups of boiling water. Slowly pour the mixture down the drain. Allow the solution to sit for at least two hours so that both the baking soda and salt have time to interact with and break up any clog material. Then, flush the drain with hot water to see if the clog has been fully removed.

If it hasn’t, try again with a fresh batch of the solution. If your clogged drain is still unresolved, consider using a commercial chemical drain cleaner that’s safe for all pipe types. Alternatively, use a drain snake or plunger to remove the clog.


No household should be without a reliable plunger. These inexpensive, simple-to-use tools can often solve common drain problems without calling a plumber. They are also great for preventing future clogs and making sure your pipes stay clean and unobstructed. There are different types of plungers, however, so it’s important to know which type of plunger you need before buying.

If you’re not comfortable using a plunger, there are many chemical drain cleaners available. But these products can be dangerous to your health and the environment. They also usually require the use of protective equipment such as gloves and masks to avoid exposure to their toxic chemicals. If these chemicals get in your eyes or on your skin, it’s important to wash immediately with soap and water. Moreover, unused chemical drain cleaners can seep into soil and waterways and cause contamination.

The best commercial drain cleaners we’ve found are enzyme-based products, such as Bio-Clean. These cleaners are safer for your pipes than traditional chemical drain cleaners and typically work within 30 minutes to dissolve organic clogs like hair, food, and grease. However, they may not clear complete blockages and can sometimes take multiple treatments to dislodge stubborn clogs.

Another option is a caustic drain cleaner, such as sodium hydroxide (KOH). These harsher chemical cleaners are great at clearing hard clogs that include grease and hair, but they can be harmful to your plumbing and are not recommended for use in garbage disposals.

Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a common kitchen ingredient that can work wonders on stinky and clogged drains. It dissolves mineral deposits and organic materials such as grease, and it has slight disinfectant properties to combat odor-causing bacteria and fungi. This is why it’s worth trying to clear a smelly sink or clogged garbage disposal with baking soda before resorting to chemical drain cleaners or disassembling the drain trap.

Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, slowly pour one cup of vinegar down the drain as well. The baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction that loosens the gunk that’s blocking the drain. You should notice a lot of foaming as the chemicals work their magic. If your clogged sink is especially stubborn, you can repeat the process a few times.

When the carbon dioxide created by the chemical reaction mixes with water in the drain pipes, it forms bubbles that break up and loosen tightly packed debris. The addition of boiling water to unpressurized pipes creates a flush that also helps to push down and loosen whatever goop is stuck in your drains.

This DIY drain cleaning solution can often take care of small clogs, but larger ones will likely require professional intervention from a plumber. For best results, try to use this trick a few times per week. It will prevent buildup and help you avoid costly drain repairs down the road.


A mixture of baking soda and vinegar is one of the most effective drain cleaning products for greasy buildup. This is because the acidity of vinegar can help dissolve grease and emulsified fats. The mixture of the two ingredients creates carbon dioxide gas that can break apart even a thick grease clog. It is important to use a ratio of equal parts when making this solution. Using too much vinegar can damage your pipes.

Baking soda and vinegar are nontoxic and do not contain the corrosive chemicals found in many store-bought drain cleaners. They are also safe for use on PVC pipes. However, it is important to note that this method does not work on all clogs. If the clog is made up of solid materials such as a hairball or a toilet paper roll, it will likely require the help of a professional to be removed.

Before pouring the mixture down your drain, be sure to remove any excess water that may have accumulated around the drain or sink. This will allow the baking soda and vinegar to make direct contact with the clog. After the chemical reaction occurs, wait a few minutes to let the gas bubbles clear. Then flush the drain with two cups of boiling hot water.

Vinegar is a useful, inexpensive product that can be used for several different household tasks. From cleaning floors to cooking up a barbecue sauce, there are many ways that you can put this kitchen staple to work. The next time you encounter a blocked drain, try the baking soda and vinegar hack. It is a safe, natural, and inexpensive alternative to commercial drain cleaners.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is one of the most effective natural cleaners. It is a great alternative to store-bought drain cleaning products and has the added benefit of smelling good and being safe for natural materials such as wood and fabric.

Bottled lemon juice that does not require refrigeration goes through a process called pasteurization, which means it is heated for a set amount of time to kill any harmful microorganisms in the juice. This makes it safe to pour directly into the drain, but you may want to use this method only after you have tried other methods.

Unlike baking soda, which has a pH level of around 7, lemon juice has a low pH reading of between 2 and 3. Adding acid to a neutralizing base creates a chemical reaction that can break up grime in the drain. Baking soda is a great choice for this because it is available anywhere and cheap, but you can also use vinegar or borax in the same way.

To use this technique, remove any clog-causing items from your sink and empty the drain completely. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow it with 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for an hour, then rinse with boiling water.

Besides tackling stubborn clogs, this mixture can also remove mineral buildup from your shower head and tub. It can also be used to remove stains from stainless steel appliances, such as coffee pots and tea kettles. Simply slice a lemon and place the slices in your sink to soak up any bad smells in your fridge, and it can help erase heat stains from metal utensils.