3 Essential Drain Cleaning Tips You Need to Know

Cleaner in rubber gloves shows clean plughole protector of a kitchen sink

Whether your home is being overcome by strange and foul smells, which you can’t seem to find the source of, or you’ve noticed that your drains aren’t working as efficiently as they once were, you may want to consider cleaning your drains. 

Not only are dirty, clogged drains a fast-track way of spreading foul odours throughout your home, but they can also unleash dangerous bacteria into the air. If you want to keep your drains clean whilst maintaining a healthy drainage system, we thoroughly believe that prevention is the best cure. 

In order to avoid having smelly drains and a less efficient drainage system, we recommend staying mindful of what is being poured down your drains – making sure to regularly flush your drains with drain cleaner in order to prevent a buildup of foul-smelling grease and debris.

Below, we explain how to clean your drains like a pro, making sure that you keep them clogged and odour-free for as long as possible

Step-by-Step Drain Cleaning Guides 

Some of the most common drains that face the buildup of organic materials, clogs, and foul odours are the drains in the bathroom and kitchen. This is due to the fact that not only are these drains the most used in any property, but they transport the greatest flow of water or waste. 

If you have a slow-draining sink or shower, you may notice how much of a nuisance it has become – especially if the drain never used to drain as slowly as it does now. In order to prevent slow draining fixtures and foul smells from occurring, here are our top 3 methods for cleaning drains throughout your home effectively. 

Method 1: How to Clean a Sink Drain From Bad Smells

Man using plunger to unclog sink drain in kitchen, closeup

If you’ve noticed a bad smell in your home, and it is more prominent whilst you’re in your kitchen, the odours may be coming from your kitchen sink. Below, we explain how to clean a sink drain to eliminate bad smells from permeating your home. 

The drain cleaning tools you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • A kettle
  • Biological drain cleaner
  • Ice
  • Lemon peels
  • Coarse salt

Treating Your Drain to Eliminate Odours

By using white vinegar, baking soda, and hot water to treat your drain, you can eliminate the bad smells caused by a buildup of bacteria, grease, and organic materials within your drain. This can also clean out residue further into your drainage system, helping to prevent a future clogged drain from occurring. 

  1. Pour ½ of a cup (118 ml) of baking soda down your drain, followed by ½ a cup (118 ml) of white vinegar. 
  2. Immediately cover or plug the drain and let the mixture sit for up to 15 minutes.
  3. Boil some water in a kettle, and pour the boiling water down the drain. 

Regular preventative treatments are also a great idea. Following the above, treat your dirty drains with a biological cleaner to keep your drains smelling nice whilst also eliminating any potentially harmful bacteria and mould, and preventing future clogs. Using biological cleaners is an environmentally friendly and safe method of cleaning your drains. 

They are also safer for your septic system than chemical cleaners – working not to disrupt the delicate balance within your septic tank’s ecosystem. Simply follow the instructions on the package to use these products properly. 

If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, you can scour out the smelly garbage disposal with a mixture of ice, salt, and lemon peels. Simply fill the disposal with a few cups of ice cubes, a handful of coarse salt, and a few lemon peels. Switch your garbage disposal on and allow it to grind this mixture to scour out any organic material buildup without damaging the internal workings. 

Method 2: How to Clean a Shower Drain by Removing Clogs

blocked shower drain

Drain cleaning equipment you’ll need:

  • A plunger
  • A plug or washcloth
  • Barbed plastic drain cleaning tool
  • Gas or water-powered cleaner
  • A heating pad
  • Dish soap

Drain Cleaning to Remove Clogs

Plungers are a great tool when it comes to unclogging drains. Whether you’ve got a blocked toilet, a clogged shower drain, or a sink that won’t drain properly, a plunger can be the solution that helps that blockage to move on out of your drainage system. 

  1. Simply fill the sink or bathtub with enough water to cover the drain and bottom of the shower, bath, or sink. 
  2. Press the plunger firmly down over the drain to create a tight seal.
  3. Give the plunger several quick pumps.

Some tips for plunging your drains:

  • Bellows-style plungers may work best depending on your type of sink, shower, or bathtub.
  • If you have a double-bowl sink, you will need to close one of the drains so that the air and residue don’t come out of the other drain. Simply cover with a plug or a washcloth before plunging to create a complete seal. 
  • Keep a separate plunger for the toilet for hygiene reasons. 

An alternative method to a plunger is to use a gas or water-powered cleaner to blow the clogs out of your drain. Aerosol drain cleaners use compressed air or gas to blast clogs out of drains throughout the home, whereas water bladders use pressurised water in order to achieve the same result. 

  • For gas-powered cleaners: make sure the device fits over your drain properly – you may need an adapter to create a good seal, otherwise the blast could be redirected at you. 
  • For water-based drain cleaners: these devices typically attach to a garden hose, however, adaptors do exist that allow you to attach it to an indoor faucet. 

Additional methods for clearing clogs involve using heat pads to melt grease clogs and biological cleaners to resolve slow or partially clogged drains. 

If you have a grease clog and have a heat pad going spare, you can wrap the pad around the trap pipe located underneath the sink. Turning the pipe to warm and running hot water and dish soap into the drain after a small amount of time can help to dissolve the grease. 

Alternatively, you can use an enzymatic or bacterial drain cleaner, or similar drain cleaning products, overnight to resolve slow draining or partially clogged drains. Simply follow the directions on the package to the best use. Some tips for biological cleaners: 

  • They are slower to work and less effective than chemical cleaners, however, they are safer to use for you, your plumbing, and the environment. 
  • They may also require a number of treatments in order to prove effective. 

How to Clean Hair from a Shower Drain

One of the best ways to clean hair from a shower drain, bathtub drain, or any other drain is to use a barbed plastic drain cleaning tool. Barbed drain cleaners are a fantastic solution for logs near the drain opening – such as a buildup of hair and soap scum. Simply slide the tool into the opening of the drain and pull it out. 

The back-angled barbs are designed to pull out hair and any other materials which have built up in your drain and caused foul smells to occur.

Blockbusters Drain Cleaning Services

If you find that the above methods are not working for you when it comes to clearing clogs or removing bad smells from your drains, or if you simply don’t feel confident in your DIY skills to handle the problem yourself, we highly recommend calling in a professional to prevent the problem from getting worse. 

Contact Blockbusters today

Method 3: How to Clean a Sink Drain from Deep Clogs

Plumber repairing sink with a plumber's snake.

Augers, also known as plumbers’ snakes and drain cleaning rods, are a fantastic tool that enables the user to clear deep clogs – blockages that can’t be eliminated or moved by other conventional means. If you don’t want to buy one, you may be able to rent one from your local hardware store. 

Cables on a coiled auger spool come in many different lengths, however, a 25-foot (7.5m) cable should be plenty for most household needs. 

Drain cleaning tools you’ll need: 

  • Cable auger, plumber’s snake, cleaning rod
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective goggles
  • Wrench
  • Channel-lock pliers
  • Bucket

How to Clean a Shower Drain and Remove Deep Clogs With an Auger

Before using the auger, you’ll need to prepare the drain you’re putting it into, and this means removing the trap under the sink if you have one. As many sinks have a built-in strainer, removing the trap will allow you to access the clog easier. 

  1. Some sink traps can be removed by hand, however, you may need to use a wrench or channel lock pliers in order to remove those which cannot be undone by hand. Additionally, it is a good idea to place a bucket underneath the trap whilst you’re removing it in order to catch any water that drains out of the pipe.
  2. After removing the trap, slowly push the auger cable/plumbers’ snake into the pipe opening. Once it is a few inches, simply crank the handle whilst pushing the coil firmly into the pipe itself. This will cause the auger to slowly drive deeper into the pipe until it finds an obstruction.
    Please note that, if your pipe has any sharp bends, you may need to wriggle the auger wire or crank it a bit more firmly in order to get further into the pipe.
  3. If, when you are cranking the auger, you meet resistance, the wire may have encountered a blockage that is too big to break up. Simply crank the handle a few more times to lodge the wire firmly within the clog – following this up with a gentle wriggle will help to loosen the blockage.
  4. If you believe the blockage to be successfully unblocked, turn the crank the other way to withdraw it from the pipe. If successful, this should draw out the blockage from the drain. Simply clean the debris off of the end of the auger and dispose of it.
  5. Run a bit of water down the drain to see if it works properly and better than before. If not, try following the auger steps above again and repeat as necessary.
  6. If the blockage is still persisting after multiple uses of the auger, it may be time to call in the professionals. Overusing an auger could eventually cause damage to your drains, resulting in a more extensive and expensive fix. Contact Blockbusters today

How to Clean Drains Outside & Inside to Prevent Clogs, Smells, and More

We always say that prevention is the number one way of avoiding having to deal with drain clogs, blockages, and foul smells being emitted from your drains. Below, we detail 3 of the best ways of ensuring your drains stay in their best condition for longer. 

  1. Use a drain screen to prevent clogs:
    A drain screen will let water and smaller drainable particles flow through your drain while keeping out hair, soap scup, and larger particles of food from entering your drainage system.
    This helps to ensure you have a clean bathroom sink drain, a clean shower drain, and other drains in your home that are clean and free of clogs for as long as possible.

  1. Keep FOG (fats, oils, grease,) waste out of your drains:
    By pouring grease down your drains, you can cause a buildup in your plumbing which leads to clogs and foul odours. Additionally, if they don’t affect your drains directly, they can contribute to the buildup of a fatberg in your local sewer system.

    We suggest never pouring cooking grease, fats, or oils down your drain, instead opting to wipe down greasy dishes with a paper towel prior to washing them, and then using plenty of hot water and dish soap to break up any leftover residue.
  1. Maintenance and cleaning of drains and stoppers:
    By pouring a few gallons of boiling water down your sink drains once a week as part of your regular cleaning routine, you can eliminate the build-up of grime and clogging materials accumulating in your drains and built-in sink stoppers.

Got a Blockage? Contact Blockbusters Today

If you’re experiencing a blockage that can’t be dealt with by yourself, our plumbers are available round the clock to provide drain unblocking services at any time of day. They are experts in providing high-quality fixes when you’re experiencing a plumbing emergency and are always upfront with their drain cleaning costs. 

Whether you’re dealing with an overflowing toilet or a severely blocked drain regurgitating wastewater, Blockbusters are able to provide a same-day service that almost always ends with solving the problem at hand. 

Don’t wait around for the problem to resolve itself, it’ll only get worse and more costly to fix in the long run. For 24-hour emergency plumbers with no call-out fee, contact Blockbusters today.

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