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Keeping the drains in your home clean and free of clogs is essential for maintaining a healthy and functional plumbing system. While there are numerous chemical drain cleaners available in the market, they can be harsh and potentially harmful to both your health and the environment. Fortunately, there’s a natural and cost-effective alternative: cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar. This powerful combination can effectively remove built-up grime, grease, and debris, without the need for harsh chemicals.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of using baking soda and vinegar to clean your drains, ensuring they remain clear and odor-free.

Understanding the Science Behind It

Before we dive into the step-by-step process of cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar, it’s important to understand the science behind why this combination is so effective. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a mild alkaline substance that reacts with vinegar, which is an acid. When these two ingredients are combined, they create a fizzing reaction that helps dislodge and break down debris, grease, and organic matter in the drain.

This chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide gas, which further aids in loosening and removing stubborn clogs. Also, both baking soda and vinegar have natural deodorizing properties, leaving your drain smelling fresh and clean.

Gather the Necessary Tools and Ingredients

Before you begin the cleaning process, it’s important to gather all the necessary tools and ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Baking soda: Ensure you have enough baking soda to pour into the drain.
  2. Vinegar: White vinegar is the most commonly used type for cleaning drains.
  3. Boiling water: This will help flush out any remaining debris after the cleaning process.
  4. A measuring cup or spoon: This will help you accurately measure the baking soda and vinegar.
  5. A funnel (optional): A funnel can be useful for pouring the ingredients into the drain without any spillage.
  6. Rubber gloves: While baking soda and vinegar are natural and safe to use, it’s always a good idea to protect your hands.

The Step-by-Step Process

Step 1: Remove visible debris

Begin by eliminating any visible debris present in the drain, such as hair or food particles. Use a pair of gloves or a small tool, like tweezers, to carefully pull out the obstructions. This will allow the baking soda and vinegar mixture to reach deeper into the drain.

Step 2: Empty the baking soda into the drain.

Measure about half a cup of baking soda and pour it down the drain. Make sure to distribute it evenly, allowing it to coat the sides of the drain.

Step 3: Pour vinegar down the drain

Measure about one cup of vinegar and slowly pour it down the drain. As the vinegar combines with the baking soda, you will hear a fizzing sound, indicating that the chemical reaction has started.

Step 4: Let the mixture sit

Let the mixture of baking soda and vinegar sit in the drain for a minimum of 30 minutes. This will give it enough time to break down the debris and dissolve any buildup.

Step 5: Flush with boiling water

After the mixture has had enough time to work its magic, boil a kettle of water. Slowly pour the boiling water down the drain, which will help flush away the dissolved debris and any remaining residue. Be cautious while handling boiling water to avoid burns.

Step 6: Repeat if necessary

If you notice that the drain is still not completely clean or the water is draining slowly, you can repeat the process. Sometimes, stubborn clogs require a few rounds of baking soda and vinegar treatment to fully dissolve.

Maintenance and Prevention Tips

Cleaning your drains with baking soda and vinegar is not only effective for removing clogs but also helps prevent future blockages. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your drains clean and clog-free:

  1. Regularly flush drains with boiling water: Once a week, pour boiling water down your drains to help dissolve any minor buildup and keep the pipes clear.
  2. Use baking soda and vinegar as a monthly maintenance treatment: Even if your drains are not clogged, a monthly treatment of baking soda and vinegar can help prevent the accumulation of grease and debris.
  3. Avoid pouring grease and oil down the drain: Grease and oil can solidify in the pipes, leading to stubborn clogs. Instead, collect and dispose of these substances in a designated container.
  4. Install drain screens: Use drain screens or stoppers to catch hair, food particles, and other debris before they enter the drain, reducing the risk of clogs.
  5. Regularly clean drain stoppers and screens: Remove and clean drain stoppers and screens to remove any accumulated debris and maintain proper water flow.
  6. Be cautious with what you flush: Avoid flushing items like cotton balls, wipes, or paper towels down the toilet or sink, as they can easily cause clogs.


Q: How long do you let baking soda and vinegar sit in the drain?

A: It is recommended to let the baking soda and vinegar mixture sit in the drain for at least 30 minutes. This allows sufficient time for the chemical reaction to occur and break down the debris or clog. However, for more stubborn clogs, you can leave the mixture in the drain for a longer period, even up to overnight, before flushing with boiling water.

Q: How effective are baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain?

A: Baking soda and vinegar are generally effective in unclogging drains, especially for minor to moderate blockages caused by grease, hair, or organic matter. The chemical reaction between baking soda (a mild alkaline substance) and vinegar (an acid) creates a fizzy reaction that helps break down the debris and loosen the clog.

Also, the combination has natural cleaning and deodorizing properties. However, it’s important to note that baking soda and vinegar may not be as effective for severe or stubborn clogs, and in such cases, you may need to consult a professional plumber or use a mechanical drain snake.

Q: What is the best homemade drain cleaner?

A: Baking soda and vinegar are considered one of the best homemade drain cleaners due to their natural cleaning properties and the chemical reaction they produce. However, there are other effective homemade drain cleaners you can try, such as salt and boiling water, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, and baking soda and lemon juice.


Cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar is an eco-friendly, cost-effective, and efficient method to keep your plumbing system running smoothly. The chemical reaction between these two household ingredients helps break down debris and dissolve stubborn clogs, while also leaving your drains smelling fresh. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you can easily clean your drains and prevent future blockages.

Looking for something else? Read more detailed kitchen cleaning guides.