Natural Homemade ‘drain-o’, or How To Unclog Without Harmful Chemicals

June 24th, 2009 - filed under: The Farm » Home



If I were to write a love ballad, it would be all about baking soda. It might go something like, 

White as snow/ and powdered fine/ clean anything/ to make you mine

I didn’t know/ we’d never start / ’cause vinegar/ has got your heart

But seriously, this stuff is out of control. Baking soda and vinegar are the foundation of DIY cleaning. Don’t be fooled – it really is that simple.

And this recipe is easy enough, but I swear it works like a charm. You don’t need complex, carcinogenic compounds lurking around your cabinets! Baking soda, baby, and a liberal splash of vinegar.


img_0953That’s powdered gold, my friends, white gold from cleansing heaven.


Drain De-Clogger Recipe:

1/2 cup baking soda

1 cup vinegar

1 gallon boiling water

Carefully siphon all the baking soda down the drain. Pour in 1/2 of the vinegar, covering the hole so the fizz is forced down, not up (omit this for toilets, please!). Add the second half of the vinegar, following the same procedure. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so, and then flush with an entire gallon of boiling water.


I have used this method in my shower and my toilet, and it has never failed me. For particularly troublesome stoppage, you may have to administer multiple applications. For instance, I recently had to go three rounds with my janky bathtub drain. It was a mighty battle, but my baking soda came through for me!


img_0970The magic is in the fizz.


Enjoy, and happy green cleaning!


  • Likwid Cirkel

    Drain-o is made primarily of lye – pure sodium hydroxide. It’s very corrosive, yes, but I’d hardly consider it a toxic chemical. It dissipates and dilutes and really isn’t very bad. It might be news to most, that soap – ALL soap, is made by mixing sodium hydroxide with oil, so if you’re against Drain-O, you must be also against soap – ALL soap. Yes. ALL soap is made with starting with pure sodium hydroxide – the same stuff as drain-o. If you don’t believe me, look it up. Ask Lush and crafty people who make their own soap from scratch – not from soap flakes. It might be a bit nasty to store, especially if you have kids, because it is corrosive, but corrosive does NOT imply toxic or environmentally harmful. There are all kinds of “natural” compounds which are poisonous and corrosive. Toxicity has to do with persistence, not breaking down, and bio-accumulation, and none of this applies to the active ingredient of commercial drain uncloggers.

  • Maarten Gubbens

    This is very awesome and very creative mind involved it, thanks for the recipe…

  • Jasmin

    i dont have any vinegar.. can i use lemon juice? or would that be a bad idea?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Naw, it wouldn’t work the same way. Sorry. =(

  • Shannon

    AMAZING!!! I had to bail out all the water standing in my kitchen sink first
    (it smelled suspiciously like the Drano I poured down there last night). Considering the full bottle of Drano failed and an attempt with a plunger failed I didn’t have high hopes for this. However having all the ingredients on hand I thought I didnt have much to lose. THIS WORKED LIKE A CHARM ON THE FIRST SHOT!!!! … hands smell slightly of vinegar but i’ll deal with it. Btw in my experience mixing drano and the vinegar and baking soda my kitchen just smells like vinegar nothing toxic smelling. That was my experience anyways… Many thanks this was an excellent idea. Good luck to those reading this :-)

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  • Kathryn Grace

    Powdered gold is right! I had a massive sink blockage and could not get a call-back from the landlord. Waited eight hours for the water to trickle out so I could do your treatment and half an hour later, voila! Drain clear. This method hasn’t worked so well for me in the past, but I did not think of stopping up the vinegar/baking soda so they could foam entirely in the drain. That just may be the secret key that unlocks the whole process. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Nikki

    This worked wonders… I didn’t use as much as the recipe asked of but it still worked… I gave it a little nudge with a plunger also and now my bathtub is unclogged!!

  • elipoo

    will white vinegar work? thanks!

  • Sayward Rebhal


  • Miss Puddin Tame

    GET a butter knife and use it. OR, get a pair of needle nose pliers to get it out. Why ask a stupid question.

  • Apocalypse Guide

    I have never tried this but alka seltzer tablets followed by white vinegar does the trick amazingly!

  • Markypc3

    Another tidbit after pour the stuff down is that instead of clogging the drain its better to take a plunger to the drain while the baking soda does its magic. Better and faster results, especially when you feel like you did it and it didn’t work…

  • Emberlea McCulligh

    You really should learn to be nicer. Not everyone is experienced enough to think of everything or even creative enough. I was just thinking the same thing (how do I get the Baking soda down the drain with a stuck plug). And, there are no stupid questions.

  • Brandon Leighton

    If you want to get really technical, everything around us could be considered chemicals. Including air and water. Chemical: composed of chemical substances: composed of or involving the use of substances produced by the process of chemistry. Now, chemistry is chemical properties of something: the chemical composition, structure,
    and properties of a substance, or the chemical aspects of an activity. So be careful next time you buy a bottle of water, its nothing but a big bottle full of a chemical, and that chemical is shown to slowly kill 100% of everything that consumes it.

  • Tammi

    I found that you also have to plug up the over-flow drain too – I just used a wet washcloth and stuffed it into the hole as much as I could. Remember to take it out again before you put the boiling water down. I had to do it a few times to my bathroom sink before it cleared. Love this idea!

  • Dont Be Stupid

    There is one stupid here. The standing water is because of the clog. The stopper is one in the sink that is permanent, and can not be taken out, impeding putting a powdered baking soda down the drain. Miss Puddin Lame, lets not get stupid here.

  • DebsSweet

    It has worked for me!

  • Peter Boos

    this wont do much in case of serious clogged pipes, the problem once the caustic soda has cooled down (which it does quite quickly) it wont be an effective fat remover as compared to drano. Drano starts a chemical heat reaction with fat so you wont need to work around with hotwater water chemicals to start the chemics Please dont use above blog it can seriously harm you if you are not carefully

    I would suggest you to remove your post, because hot caustic soda is much more dangerous to handle then drano. Please dont put people at risk. From a biolagical view there are also not greener then green solutions, i mean its all chemicals, and household chemicals can make very dangerous stuff especially for people who are not aware of the risks.


    yyyyyyeeeeeessssssss this definitely works if you just follow the directions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and remember to PLUNGE PLUNGE PLUNGE AS SOON AS U PUT THE HOT WATER IN!!!!!!!!!

  • Rob

    Thanks this worked in my shower!!

  • maria

    I just tried this and it works AMAZING!! Thanks :)

    In Tehachapi

  • akmom

    it really works awesome!

  • Stop being mean

    Personally I knew exactly what Lisa meant when she said “No chemicals”. She means No harsh, patented, fake, non natural type of chemical which is basically almost every cleaning agent in the stores. She was excited that she didn’t have to use Drano or corporate crap…just plan ole natural chemicals. No one here had to explain in such a nasty way that they are chemicals. Yes they are but not the ones we are all use to. I think those putting Lisa down for just being excited to find a Natural cure for stopped drains is stupid. I knew what she meant…why didn’t you??? And why did you feel the need to have to explain something so simple? As my dad would say…your making a mountain out of a mole hill!!! Poor Lisa…just excited to learn something new and you all made her feel like shit

  • hk

    um learn the difference between then and THAN… idiot sheep

  • kamz

    I did it on my sink drank and when pouring the hot water in at the end, the water didn’t seem to go down easily, slowly but surely, which probably meant the drain still had an obstruction. So I decided to help the process by pumping the stopper up and down vigorously (I wasnt about to use my toilet plunger on my sink!) and then the hot water immediately started to go down the drain quickly. So I think this natural way does work, but you may need to help the process by pumping it. Thanks Sayward!

  • Eric

    Why be an ass, Puddin?

  • Kacy

    When pouring the baking soda down the drain, I mixed it with water so it would be easier to go down. Both the tub and the drain is nasty so I don’t want to be touchin it with my bare hands. (reason why the tub is nasty is cause I didn’t want to clean it until we got these ingredients…)

  • Zed Tompkins

    It worked for me. It’s a great way to use up old baking soda.

  • John

    Amazing how a little sixth grade chemistry can solve a multitude of common household problems, isn’t it! I have another idea that I learned by accident. Use the same baking soda and vinegar to scrub your tub. It works beautifully. In fact, my tub nearly sparkled afterward (not exaggerating). This is for after the drain is unclogged, of course. :) Here is how it works.

    (1) Use some water to wet the surface of your tub.
    (2) Sprinkle baking soda all over the tub (think carpet freshener style)
    (3) Use a spritz bottle to cover the tub in thin mist of vinegar.
    (4) Let sit between 15-30 minutes
    (5) Use a brush and scrub the tub
    (6) Rinse tub with water after you are done (notice that that baking soda and vinegar will be going where? :) Down the drain).
    (7) Get sunglasses because you may be in for the shock of your life. (Okay, okay. That was a bit of an exaggeration, but remember how dull your tub looked when you tried conventional tub cleaner. Make the mental comparison.)

  • John

    I believe you are confusing baking soda with caustic soda (aka “lye” or “sodium hydroxide”). The two are not the same thing. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Cheers. Readers, you can ignore this person’s post. He is confusing two very, VERY different kinds of “soda”

  • tk

    Thank YOU – ! my husband wanted to go get Drano – so I quickly ran to my computer to see what alternative I could find. I had just enough baking soda in the house. So glad it worked – ! I could see the bubbles while I poured the boiling water and a couple minutes later I heard some glug glugs and then the amazing sound of water running down the drain. GOOD BYE DRANO – !

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  • Charlotte

    About to try this! I used Drano last night with very little improvement…hopefully, this won’t lead to as chemical reaction. I think I’ve flushed enough water down for it to not be a problem, though. On a side note, I wash my hair with baking soda and condition with cider vinegar! They really are cleaning basics!

  • wowtheinternet

    This is extremely helpful…and the comments section… it’s amazing how nasty people can get in the comments section of a post on clearing a drain. Seriously…can’t people give the benefit of the doubt and a little grace anymore? I was pretty surprised….enough to comment. We could all stand to be a little kinder.

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  • Deedee

    Just done this in my kitchen sink….AWESOMENESS!!!!! Thank you!

  • Tanika

    This worked like a charm! Thanks for the info! I’ll never purchase draino again! I think I’ll even include this once a month when I clean to ensure the drains are clear!!!

  • Phoebe

    I had a clog in my sink so I tried this. But even if I put the baking soda in the drain and put the vinegar it didn’t really work for me. I don’t know why but the baking soda was starchy and couldn’t be dissolved by the vinegar. Only the top part could be dissolved. I had to use a chopstick to move the baking soda around in the drain. But otherwise it worked after a long time in there.

  • disposable

    You are idiots!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dan Vincent

    They are talking about a stopper that is connected and not removable. Stupid…

  • gggirl1987

    I was getting frustrated with my tub! I used draino twice and it still did not unclog… I tried this after the second draino fail and this cleared it up nicely! I plunged it a little to help the gunk to flow through the pipe… NEVER BUYING DRAINO AGAIN :) Thx!

  • Mia

    I just tried it on the toilet in the kids bathroom and i must say, this was the fastest, cheapest and easiest way I have EVER unclogged my toilet!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  • Lino

    Thank you this works like a charm my abnormally high butt crack is finally come in handy

  • Lucy

    it absolutely worked! Thank God! I hate having standing water in my kitchen sink and having to stick my arm inside to clear up any gunk. This took care of it EASILY.

  • lzw

    I have a very stubborn clogged toilet… Tried everything, including using a snake… but that just made it worse. I want to avoid using Drain-O… and calling a local plumber. How embarressing!!

    Question: So… How do you “siphon” baking powder into your toilet?

  • Candyinky

    Thank you so much for posting this ! Just tried this today and it worked !! My bathtub was stopped up. I had to do this 3 times and on the 3rd time I left it set in after I poured in the vinegar for about 1/2 hr. I then turned the water on very hot and the drain was clear! Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time! Try a few more times. I also removed the screen/stopper in the bathtub so I could get the baking soda down in there much better.

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  • May

    tried it, repeated a few steps and then two plunges with a plunger. Black stuff came up. Very nice. I think it just takes a bit more trying or time to eat through that stuff.

  • Cindy

    Thank you for this recipe – It worked great! Unclogged my shower drain the first time :)