What do Plumbers Recommend to Keep Drains Clean? A Comprehensive Guide to Drain Cleaning Techniques

Are you tired of dealing with clogged drains? Do you want to keep your home’s plumbing system in top shape? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the drain cleaning techniques recommended by plumbers to keep your drains clean and free-flowing. From chemical drain cleaners to natural remedies, we’ll cover it all. Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional plumber, this guide has something for everyone. So, let’s get started and discover the secrets to maintaining a healthy plumbing system.

The Importance of Keeping Drains Clean

The Consequences of Clogged Drains

Clogged drains can lead to a host of problems that can affect your home and your health. Here are some of the consequences of clogged drains:

  • Backups and Flooding
    Clogged drains can cause water to back up and overflow, leading to flooding in your home. This can damage your floors, walls, and furniture, and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  • Unpleasant Odors
    Clogged drains can also cause unpleasant odors to emanate from your drains. These odors can be caused by the buildup of organic matter, such as food particles and hair, which can attract pests and insects.
  • Health Hazards
    Clogged drains can also pose a health hazard to you and your family. Bacteria and viruses can grow in standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases. In addition, the buildup of chemicals and other toxins in your drains can release harmful gases that can be dangerous to breathe.

The Benefits of Regular Drain Maintenance

  • Prevention of Costly Repairs

Regular drain maintenance can help prevent costly repairs by catching issues before they become more serious. Clogs, corrosion, and other issues can cause damage to your drains, which can result in expensive repairs or even replacement. By performing regular maintenance, you can avoid these costs and save money in the long run.

  • Extension of Drain Lifespan

Drain lifespan can be extended by regularly maintaining them. Drains are subject to wear and tear, and regular use can cause buildup of debris, which can clog the drain over time. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent this buildup, keeping your drains flowing smoothly and preventing damage caused by blockages.

  • Protection of Home and Health

Regular drain maintenance can also protect your home and health. Clogged drains can cause water damage, which can lead to mold and mildew growth. This can be harmful to your health and cause damage to your home. By regularly cleaning your drains, you can prevent these issues and protect your home and health.

Common Drain Cleaning Techniques

Key takeaway: Regular drain maintenance is crucial to prevent costly repairs, extend the lifespan of drains, and protect your home and health from the consequences of clogged drains. There are various drain cleaning techniques available, including chemical drain cleaners, plungers, drain snakes, baking soda and vinegar, hydro jetting, and chemical hydro descaling. Proper disposal of waste and the use of grease traps can also help prevent clogs and blockages. If DIY methods do not resolve the issue, it is recommended to call a professional plumber for advanced drain cleaning methods and proper disposal of waste.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

How They Work

Chemical drain cleaners work by releasing a strong chemical reaction that breaks down and dissolves blockages in the drain. These cleaners come in various forms, including liquid, powder, or gel, and they are typically poured down the drain to be activated by water.

Advantages and Disadvantages

One advantage of chemical drain cleaners is that they can be effective at breaking down tough blockages that other methods may not be able to remove. They are also generally easy to use and can be purchased at most hardware stores.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using chemical drain cleaners. They can be harsh on pipes and may cause damage if used too frequently. Additionally, they can be dangerous to handle and may cause skin irritation or other health problems if not used properly.

Proper Usage and Safety Tips

If you decide to use a chemical drain cleaner, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Always wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid contact with the cleaner, and flush the drain with plenty of water after use to prevent any remaining chemicals from causing damage. It is also recommended to use a plunger or a drain snake after using a chemical cleaner to ensure that the drain is completely clear.


Plungers are one of the most common and effective tools used by plumbers to unclog drains. There are different types of plungers available in the market, each designed for specific drain cleaning tasks. Here are some of the most commonly used plungers:

  • Bell Plungers: These are the most commonly used plungers for clearing sink drains. They have a flared bottom that seals tightly around the drain opening, creating a vacuum to suction away the blockage.
  • Flange Plungers: These plungers have a flange or collar that fits around the drain opening, creating a better seal. They are more effective than bell plungers for clearing larger drains.
  • Toilet Plungers: These plungers are specifically designed for unclogging toilets. They have a flat bottom and a longer handle to reach deep into the toilet bowl.

To use a plunger effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from any bacteria in the drain.
  2. Assemble the plunger by attaching the rubber head to the handle.
  3. Place the plunger over the drain opening and make sure it forms a tight seal.
  4. Apply pressure to the plunger and pull upward to create a vacuum effect.
  5. Hold for a few seconds before releasing the pressure to allow the blockage to dislodge.
  6. Repeat the process if necessary until the drain is clear.

Here are some tips for troubleshooting when using a plunger:

  • Make sure the plunger is fully submerged in water before applying pressure.
  • Use a plunger with a flat bottom for sinks and a flange plunger for larger drains.
  • Avoid using a plunger that is too large or too small for the drain opening.
  • If the plunger doesn’t work, try using a drain snake or call a professional plumber.

Drain Snakes

Drain snakes, also known as drain augers, are long, flexible rods with a spiral auger at the end. They are designed to be inserted into drain pipes to clear blockages by breaking up and removing debris. The auger rotates as it is pushed through the pipe, scraping away built-up hair, soap, grease, and other materials that may be causing the blockage. Once the blockage is reached, the auger can be reversed to break up the debris and then removed, allowing the debris to be removed from the pipe.

Choosing the Right Drain Snake

When choosing a drain snake, it is important to consider the size of the drain pipe. Most drain snakes are available in sizes ranging from 1/4 inch to 4 inches, so it is important to choose a snake that is the right size for the drain pipe. It is also important to choose a snake that is made of high-quality materials that can withstand the pressure and torque required to clear the blockage.

Tips for Using a Drain Snake

Here are some tips for using a drain snake:

  • Use gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the auger.
  • Insert the snake slowly and carefully, being careful not to damage the pipe.
  • Keep the snake moving continuously to avoid getting stuck.
  • Use a bucket or container to catch any debris that is removed from the pipe.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of water or other debris being ejected from the pipe as the blockage is cleared.

Drain snakes are a popular choice for clearing blockages in drains because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. However, they may not be suitable for clearing blockages in older or damaged pipes, or for removing large amounts of debris. In these cases, other drain cleaning techniques may be necessary.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

The Science Behind This Natural Remedy

Baking soda and vinegar have been used for decades as a popular and cost-effective solution for unclogging drains. The reaction between these two ingredients produces a fizzing effect, which helps to break down the grease, hair, and other debris that may be blocking the drain. Baking soda is a base, and vinegar is an acid, and when combined, they create a chemical reaction known as saponification. This reaction creates a bubbly mixture that can help to dissolve and remove the obstruction.

How to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Unclog Drains

To use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the water to the sink to help push the blockage further down the drain.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda down the drain.
  3. Pour white vinegar down the drain, and watch for the fizzing reaction.
  4. Let the mixture sit for several hours or overnight.
  5. Pour boiling water down the drain to help rinse away any remaining debris.

Precautions and Considerations

While baking soda and vinegar are generally safe and effective for unclogging drains, there are some precautions and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Do not use this method if you have a septic system, as the mixture may harm the bacteria that break down waste in the system.
  • Be cautious when using this method with metal or plastic drain pipes, as the acidic properties of vinegar may cause corrosion over time.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or drain cleaners, as they can damage the environment and are potentially harmful to humans and animals.

By following these steps and taking the necessary precautions, baking soda and vinegar can be an effective and eco-friendly solution for unclogging drains in your home.

Advanced Drain Cleaning Methods

Hydro Jetting

How It Works

Hydro jetting is a powerful drain cleaning method that involves using high-pressure water to blast away blockages and debris in the drain lines. This process involves a specialized tool that injects water under high pressure into the drain, which then scours the walls of the pipe and dislodges any build-up or obstacles. The water and debris are then flushed out of the drain by a powerful vacuum system.

When It’s Necessary

Hydro jetting is typically used when other methods of drain cleaning have been unsuccessful, or when there is a significant amount of build-up or debris in the drain lines. It is also recommended when there is a need to clear out roots or other obstructions that have grown into the drain pipes.


One of the main advantages of hydro jetting is that it is highly effective at clearing out even the most stubborn blockages and debris. It is also a relatively quick and efficient process, as it can clear out multiple feet of drain line at once. Additionally, hydro jetting is a non-invasive method that does not require digging or excavation, making it a more cost-effective option for homeowners.


One of the main disadvantages of hydro jetting is that it can be quite forceful, which can potentially cause damage to the drain pipes or surrounding structures if not done properly. Additionally, the high-pressure water used in the process can be quite loud, which may be a nuisance for some homeowners. Finally, hydro jetting can be quite expensive, especially if the blockage is particularly stubborn or difficult to reach.

Chemical Hydro Descaling

Chemical hydro descaling is a method used by plumbers to descale and clean drains that have a build-up of mineral deposits and other impurities. The process involves using a specialized chemical solution that is flushed through the drain system to break down and dissolve the blockage.

The Process Explained

The process of chemical hydro descaling typically involves the following steps:

  1. First, the plumber will assess the drain system to determine the severity of the blockage and the most appropriate chemical solution to use.
  2. Next, the plumber will introduce the chemical solution into the drain system through a specialized cleaning tool.
  3. The solution will then be flushed through the drain system under pressure, breaking down and dissolving any blockages along the way.
  4. Once the cleaning process is complete, the plumber will flush the system with water to remove any remaining chemical residue.

When It’s Appropriate

Chemical hydro descaling is most appropriate for drains that have a build-up of mineral deposits and other impurities that have not been successfully removed through other cleaning methods. This method is particularly effective for cleaning industrial drains, as well as commercial and residential drains that have a high level of blockage.

Considerations and Safety Measures

It is important to note that chemical hydro descaling can be dangerous if not performed correctly. Plumbers must take appropriate safety measures when using this method, including wearing protective gear and properly disposing of any chemical waste. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the chemical solution used is safe for the specific type of drain system being cleaned.

Maintenance Tips for Keeping Drains Clean

Regular Inspections

Inspecting your drains regularly is one of the most effective ways to prevent clogs and maintain a functional drainage system. Plumbers recommend homeowners to perform regular inspections to ensure that their drains are in good condition. Here are some details on what to look for during regular inspections and how often to inspect your drains.

What to Look For

During a regular inspection, there are several things that you should look for in your drains. Some of the most common issues include:

  • Blockages: Look for any visible blockages in your drain pipes. This could include debris, hair, or other materials that may be clogging your drains.
  • Leaks: Check for any signs of leaks in your drain pipes. A leak can cause water damage and can also lead to other issues with your drainage system.
  • Corrosion: Check for any signs of corrosion in your drain pipes. This can weaken the pipes over time and may lead to leaks or other issues.
  • Discoloration: Check for any discoloration in your drain pipes. This could indicate a buildup of residue or other materials that can clog your drains over time.

How Often to Inspect

Plumbers recommend inspecting your drains at least once a month to ensure that they are functioning properly. However, if you have a drain that is prone to clogging or if you live in an area with high levels of debris or other materials in your drains, you may need to inspect your drains more frequently.

Tips for Maintaining Drains

In addition to regular inspections, there are several other tips that you can follow to maintain your drains and prevent clogs. Some of these include:

  • Keep hair and debris out of drains: Use a drain cover or screen to prevent hair and other debris from entering your drain pipes.
  • Avoid flushing certain items down the drain: Avoid flushing items like paper towels, cotton balls, or other materials down the drain, as these can clog your pipes.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar: Use baking soda and vinegar to help clean and deodorize your drains. Simply pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar, and let it sit for a few hours before rinsing with hot water.
  • Use a drain snake: If you notice a clog in your drain, you can use a drain snake to remove it. A drain snake is a long, flexible rod that can be inserted into your drain pipe to remove blockages.

By following these tips and performing regular inspections, you can help keep your drains clean and functioning properly.

Proper Disposal of Waste

  • The Importance of Proper Disposal
  • Dos and Don’ts for Disposing of Waste
  • The Role of Grease Traps

Proper disposal of waste is crucial for maintaining the health and efficiency of your plumbing system. By ensuring that waste is disposed of correctly, you can prevent clogs and other issues that can lead to costly repairs.

The Importance of Proper Disposal

Proper disposal of waste is important for a number of reasons. One of the most significant is that it helps to prevent clogs in your plumbing system. When waste is not disposed of properly, it can build up in your pipes and eventually cause a blockage. This can lead to slow draining sinks and tubs, as well as backed-up toilets.

In addition to preventing clogs, proper disposal of waste is also important for environmental reasons. Many types of waste, such as food scraps and yard waste, can be composted or recycled. By properly disposing of these materials, you can help to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Dos and Don’ts for Disposing of Waste

To ensure proper disposal of waste, it’s important to follow a few simple dos and don’ts.


  • Pour grease and oils into a can or jar and let them cool before disposing of them in the trash.
  • Use a garbage disposal to dispose of small amounts of food waste at a time.
  • Avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet.


  • Pour grease or oils down the drain without letting them cool first.
  • Flush large amounts of food waste down the toilet.
  • Use the garbage disposal to dispose of large amounts of food waste at once.

The Role of Grease Traps

Grease traps are an important component of proper waste disposal. They are designed to catch grease and other substances that can clog pipes and cause problems in your plumbing system. By properly maintaining your grease trap, you can help to prevent clogs and ensure that your plumbing system stays healthy and efficient.

To keep your grease trap functioning properly, it’s important to regularly clean it and make sure that it is not overflowing. You should also avoid pouring grease or oils down the drain without letting them cool first, as this can cause problems in your plumbing system.

By following these simple tips, you can help to ensure that your plumbing system stays healthy and efficient for years to come.

Preventative Measures

Maintaining a drain’s cleanliness is essential to prevent clogs and blockages from forming. Here are some preventative measures that plumbers recommend:

Tips for Minimizing Hair and Soap Buildup

  • Regularly clean the drain trap: The drain trap is the small U-shaped pipe located under the sink that prevents sewer gases from entering the home. Regularly cleaning the trap can help minimize hair and soap buildup that can clog the drain.
  • Use a drain strainer: A drain strainer is a metal mesh that fits over the drain opening to catch hair and other debris before they enter the drain. It is recommended to use a strainer to prevent hair and soap buildup in the drain.

Regular Use of Drain Covers

  • Use drain covers: Drain covers, also known as drain inserts or bathroom plugs, can be used to cover the drain opening when not in use. This can help prevent hair, soap, and other debris from entering the drain and accumulating.
  • Choose the right size: When using a drain cover, it is important to choose one that fits the drain opening perfectly. A loose-fitting cover can allow debris to enter the drain.

Prompt Addressing of Drain Issues

  • Address drain issues promptly: If a drain is clogged or has a blockage, it is important to address the issue promptly. Ignoring the problem can lead to more significant issues down the line, such as a sewage backup or flooding.
  • Call a professional: If the drain issue cannot be resolved with DIY methods, it is recommended to call a professional plumber to address the issue. A plumber can use specialized tools and techniques to clear the drain and prevent future blockages.

Professional Drain Cleaning Services

When to Call a Professional

  • Signs That You Need Professional Help
    • Slow or clogged drains that do not respond to DIY methods
    • Unpleasant odors emanating from the drain
    • Gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from the drain
    • Water level in the sink or tub is not draining properly
    • Recurring clogs or frequent maintenance required
  • It is important to note that while DIY methods can be effective in some cases, they may not always address the root cause of the problem. Professional plumbers have the training, tools, and experience to diagnose and fix more complex issues, such as tree roots invading the pipes or damaged pipes that require excavation.
  • Benefits of Hiring a Professional
    • Expert knowledge and experience in identifying and fixing drain problems
    • Access to specialized tools and equipment not available to the general public
    • Guaranteed results and peace of mind
    • Maintenance and repair of other plumbing systems in the home can be addressed during the same visit, saving time and money in the long run.

Choosing a Reputable Service

When it comes to choosing a professional drain cleaning service, it’s important to be discerning. After all, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best possible service for your money. Here are some key things to keep in mind when choosing a reputable service:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring

Before you commit to a drain cleaning service, it’s important to ask the right questions. This will help you determine whether the service is reputable and whether they have the necessary experience and expertise to get the job done right. Some key questions to ask include:

  • What type of equipment do you use?
  • Do you offer any guarantees or warranties?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Can you provide references or reviews from past clients?

What to Look for in a Service

When choosing a drain cleaning service, it’s important to look for a company that is reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable. Some key things to look for include:

  • Experience: Look for a company that has been in business for several years and has a track record of success.
  • Equipment: Make sure that the company uses state-of-the-art equipment and technology to get the job done right.
  • Licensing and Insurance: Make sure that the company is licensed and insured, as this will protect you in case of any accidents or damage.
  • Customer Service: Look for a company that prioritizes customer service and communication, as this will ensure that you’re kept informed throughout the process.

How to Avoid Scams and Frauds

Unfortunately, there are some dishonest companies out there that will take advantage of homeowners in need of drain cleaning services. Here are some tips for avoiding scams and frauds:

  • Be wary of companies that offer very low prices or that seem too good to be true.
  • Never pay for services upfront or in cash.
  • Always get a written estimate before any work begins.
  • Ask for references and call them to verify the company’s work and reputation.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re choosing a reputable drain cleaning service that will get the job done right and leave you with peace of mind.


1. What are some recommended methods to keep drains clean?

There are several methods that plumbers recommend to keep drains clean. One of the most effective ways is to use baking soda and vinegar. Mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar, pour the mixture down the drain, and let it sit for a few hours before rinsing with hot water. This process helps to break down grease, hair, and other debris that can clog drains.
Another recommended method is to use a drain cleaning solution. These solutions can be purchased at most hardware stores and are designed to dissolve and remove blockages in drains. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage pipes or cause skin irritation.

2. How often should I clean my drains?

It is recommended to clean your drains regularly to prevent buildup and clogs. For most homes, a monthly cleaning is sufficient. However, if you have a lot of hair in your home or a high-traffic kitchen, you may need to clean your drains more frequently.

3. What are some signs that my drain needs to be cleaned?

There are several signs that your drain needs to be cleaned. If you notice slow-draining water, foul odors, or gurgling noises coming from your drains, it may be time to clean them. Additionally, if you see standing water around your drains or notice that water is not draining at all, it is likely that there is a blockage that needs to be removed.

4. Can I use harsh chemicals to clean my drains?

While harsh chemicals may be effective at breaking down blockages in drains, they can be damaging to pipes and can cause skin irritation. It is recommended to use gentle, natural cleaning solutions such as baking soda and vinegar or drain cleaning solutions specifically designed for this purpose.

5. Is it safe to use a plunger to clean my drains?

Yes, using a plunger is a safe and effective way to clean drains. Plungers work by creating suction to remove blockages and debris from the drain. However, it is important to use the right type of plunger for the job and to apply enough pressure to effectively clear the drain.

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