How to Unblock a Drain Effectively: 4 Different Methods

A blocked drain can be a minor inconvenience or a major disruption, depending on its severity. However, not all blockages require an immediate call to the plumber. With the right approach and tools, you can effectively clear a blocked drain yourself. In this post, we outline several tried-and-tested methods to unblock your drain, ensuring the smooth flow of water.

4 Different Ways to Unblock a Drain

Plunger on a shower floor with gloves on top of it

1. The Power of Boiling Water

Boiling water is an easy and straightforward solution for dislodging minor blockages, especially those due to grease or soap.

  • Boil a pot of water.
  • Pour it slowly down the blocked drain in two to three stages, allowing the hot water to work for several seconds between each pour.

2. The Dynamic Duo: Baking Soda and Vinegar

When facing a stubbornly blocked drain, the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar can provide the necessary force to clear it.

  • Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by an equal amount of vinegar.
  • Cover the drain to direct the force downwards.
  • After waiting 15-20 minutes, rinse with hot water.

3. The Salt and Baking Soda Mix

A mixture of salt and baking soda can also produce a reaction strong enough to break up the obstruction in your drain.

  • Combine half a cup of table salt with half a cup of baking soda.
  • Pour the mixture into the blocked drain.
  • Wait for about 20 minutes and then rinse with boiling water.

4. Twist and Turn: The Plumber’s Snake or Hand Auger

For more severe blockages, a hand auger, also known as a plumber’s snake, can be a lifesaver.

  • Insert the flexible end of the auger into the drain.
  • Rotate the handle to reach further into the drain and break up the blockage.
  • Once you feel the blockage give way, withdraw the auger, which should bring some of the blockage material with it.

Tips for Keeping a Clear Drain

Shower drain with water droplets around it

Keeping your drains clear and running smoothly is easier than you might think. With a little bit of regular maintenance and care, you can avoid severe blockages and the need for intensive cleaning methods. Here are 5 handy maintenance and cleaning tips:

  1. Dispose of Grease Properly: Never pour cooking oils or grease down your sink. When it cools, it solidifies and forms stubborn clogs. Instead, collect it in a container and dispose of it in the trash.
  1. Mind What You Flush: Be mindful of what goes down your toilet. Avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper. Items like sanitary products, wet wipes, and diapers should be disposed of in the trash.
  1. Install Strainers: Use sink and shower strainers to catch larger debris, like food particles or hair. These items are much easier to throw in the trash from a strainer than they are to extract from a blocked drain.
  1. Run Hot Water: After using your sink or shower, run hot water down the drain for a minute or two. This can help to clear away any residue that might otherwise stick to the sides of your pipes and cause a blockage over time.
  1. Regular Cleaning: Once a week, try a preventative regular cleaning method. This could be as simple as pouring boiling water down the drain, or using a mild homemade solution like baking soda and vinegar.


Tackling a blocked drain might require some perseverance, but with these methods, you can often clear the obstruction yourself. If the blockage persists, however, don’t hesitate to call a professional to avoid damaging your pipes.

In the meantime, remember that overall cleanliness contributes to a healthier home. That’s where SweepSouth comes in. As South Africa’s #1 home services platform, we provide top-tier professional home services tailored to your requirements. A sparkling home and a smoothly flowing drain contribute to a more comfortable and worry-free living environment. Schedule your SweepSouth cleaning service with a vetted SweepStar today, and let us handle the cleanliness of your home while you focus on other essential tasks.

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