You may think the toilet or trashcan is the dirtiest spot in your home, but believe it or not, your drains have them beat. Yet, we never really think about — much less clean — all that scary bacteria, hair, skin and myriad of other scummy drain inhabitants until it backs up.
Unfortunately, commercial drain products can contain sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, and sodium hypochlorite, code for bleach. Both of these chemicals are designed to eat away whatever is clogging your sink and are highly caustic. That means they can burn your respiratory system, skin and eyes. Using them in your bathroom or kitchen exposes you and your family to these chemicals. When you send them down the drain you are also polluting the waterways.
Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your drain clean and clear by using just a few products that you may already have in your home. The key to greening this area of your cleaning is to be proactive in your drain maintenance and to treat the clog when it starts to slow down instead of waiting until it’s fully stopped up.
To kill bacteria and melt soap and other fatty materials that can build up and cause clogs, pour a teakettle of boiling water down the drain every week. This act alone may eliminate clogs completely so you won’t have to do anything else. For glass or vitreous china sinks that can crack, use hot (but not boiling) water.
Slow-running or stinky drains
If it’s too late and the sink is already backed up, try a plunger without any cleaner at all. This may unclog the drain all by itself. Then you can follow with the above step for slow-running drains.
Smelly garbage disposals
You can deodorize and sharpen the blades of your disposal all at the same time. Pour white distilled vinegar or lemon juice in an ice cube tray and freeze. Put 4 or 5 of the cubes in the drain and run your garbage disposal. Save the rest for another time or use your extra lemon cubes in your vodka tonic.
So the next time your spouse or roommate requests that you shave off all your hair to keep the drains clear, tell them that a little prevention and these common household ingredients can handle the clogs just fine.