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Five Steps to a Greener, Cleaner Drain

Posted Aug 05 2010 11:50am

  Let's face it, clogged or slow moving drains are a bit of a drag. They leave a mess in the sink and actually stink if you wait too long to clean them up. 

Most people hastily grab the nearest (and nastiest) drain cleaners they can find, hoping for instant gratification. But you're not "most" people, are you? You'd like to find an alternative to  sodium hydroxide , also known as lye, the active ingredient in common drain cleaners. Sodim hydroxide can burn skin and aggravate the respiratory system if it's not handled properly. It can also induce vomiting and cause stomach problems if kids accidentally swallow it, so it needs to be stored safely, preferably under lock and key.

A wide variety of alternatives claim to be eco-friendly because they use enzymes or "natural" bacteria, but to tell you the truth, those products haven't worked for me. Here's what does: 

1) Pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain.

Drain snake 2) Get a thin, flexible wire plumber's snake (straighten out a metal coat hanger if you don't have a snake handy) and thread it down the drain until it reaches the clog.

3) Work the snake back and forth and up and down to loosen as much of the stuck material as possible.

4) Pour a half-cup of baking soda into the drain. Follow with a cup of vinegar and immediately plug the drain. The vinegar will interact with the baking soda to dissolve whatever materials are still clogging the drain.

5) Flush with two kettles full of boiling water, one right after the other; probe with the snake to make sure the clog is gone.

This sounds like a lot, but it actually only takes ten minutes at most (compared to 30-45 minutes if you had to go to the store and buy drain cleaner). Once your drain is clear, keep it that way with a weekly flush of boiling water. It also helps to put a trap over the drain to capture soap flakes, hair, nail clippings and anything else before they get swept into the drain and become a nuisance.

For more green (and cheap) cleaning tips, start here .

NOTE: Have you joined the One in a Million campaign ? You can add this green drain cleaning solution to your balance sheet.

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