How to Unblock a Drain: Eco-Friendly Methods

Blocked drains are a common household nuisance that can disrupt daily routines and lead to costly plumbing bills. While reaching for harsh chemicals and aggressive methods to clear a clogged drain is tempting, these approaches can negatively affect the environment. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to unblock a drain through eco-friendly methods while minimising your impact on the planet.


Why Choose Eco-Friendly Methods?

Traditional drain cleaning methods often involve using chemicals and tools that can harm both your health and the environment. These chemicals can contain toxic substances that may contaminate water sources and harm aquatic life. Additionally, the disposal of plastic products like single-use drain cleaners contributes to the ever-growing problem of plastic waste in our oceans and landfills.


Understanding the significance of eco-friendly alternatives is essential for preserving our planet’s health and wellbeing. By adopting sustainable drain-unblocking techniques, you can contribute to a cleaner environment while maintaining the functionality of your plumbing.


Recognising the Signs

Recognising the signs of a blocked drain is crucial. Early detection of the following signs allows you to address blockages before they become severe, saving you time, money, and headaches.


Common indicators include slow drainage in sinks, showers, or tubs, where water takes longer to disappear. Gurgling or bubbling noises in the pipes can also signify a blockage, as can foul odours emanating from drains. Water backing up into other fixtures or pooling around the drain area clearly indicates a problem. Keep an eye on fluctuating toilet water levels and, in some cases, multiple clogged fixtures throughout your home.


Eco-Friendly Drain Unblocking Methods

Baking Soda and Vinegar

One of the most popular eco-friendly methods for unblocking a drain involves a simple yet effective combination of baking soda and vinegar.


  1. Mixing the Solution: Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with an equal quantity of white vinegar. This mixture will start fizzing, which is a good sign – the chemical reaction is beginning.
  2. Pouring It Down the Drain: Quickly pour the baking soda and vinegar mixture down the blocked drain. Be sure to do this immediately after mixing to capture the full effervescence. The fizzing helps break down grease, grime, and other blockage materials.
  3. Waiting and Flushing: Allow the mixture to work its magic for about 15-30 minutes. During this time, the chemical reaction will help dislodge the blockage. Finally, flush the drain with hot water to clear any remaining debris.



A plunger can be your trusty, eco-friendly ally when dealing with a blocked drain. Here’s how to effectively use it:


  1. Preparing the Plunger: Before you begin, ensure the plunger’s rubber cup is clean and debris-free. Fill the sink or tub with water until it covers the rubber cup of the plunger, creating a seal to enhance the plunging action.
  2. Plunging Technique: Place the plunger over the clogged drain and firmly press it down to establish a secure seal. Apply even downward pressure and then pull up sharply without breaking the seal.
  3. Repeat: Repeat this plunging motion several times, building up a rhythm. The plunger’s suction and pressure assist in removing the blockage, restoring the free flow of water. Be patient and persistent, as it may take a few attempts to clear the drain completely.


Drain Snake

How to unblock a drain using a drain snake

A drain snake can be a valuable tool when facing a stubborn blockage. Here’s how to use a drain snake properly:


  1. Choosing the Right Snake: Select the appropriate drain snake for the job. There are different types of drain snakes, with varying lengths and auger designs. A handheld or auger-type snake is usually sufficient for small household drains like sinks and tubs. Larger, more complex blockages in main sewer lines may require a motorised or heavy-duty drain snake. Ensure the snake is long enough to reach the blockage, and always wear gloves and eye protection when using it.
  2. Inserting and Manoeuvring the Snake: Carefully insert the snake into the blocked drain until you feel resistance – likely where the clog is located. Slowly turn the handle clockwise to extend the snake further into the drain, gradually breaking through the blockage. If you encounter resistance, gently wiggle the snake or use a back-and-forth motion to dislodge the debris. Keep inserting the snake into the drain until you feel it move freely, indicating the blockage has been cleared.
  3. Removing the Snake: Withdraw the snake carefully and dispose of any debris that may come out with it. Finally, flush the drain with hot water to ensure it’s completely clear.


Additional Eco-Friendly Tips and Tricks

In addition to the above methods, there are several other eco-friendly ways to maintain clear and environmentally responsible drains:


Natural Deodorisers

Keep your drains smelling fresh and clean by using natural deodorisers. Just grind citrus peels or pour a blend of vinegar and baking soda into the drain. This masks unpleasant odours and helps break down residue inside the pipes.

Eco-Friendly Commercial Drain Cleaners

If you prefer using commercial products, look for eco-friendly, biodegradable drain cleaners with natural ingredients. These options are less harmful to the environment compared to traditional chemical cleaners.


Safety Precautions When Using Chemicals

If you must resort to chemical drain cleaners, follow safety guidelines diligently. Always wear protective gear like eye protection and gloves; use these products sparingly. Remember that their disposal can be harmful, so handle and dispose of them properly. Where possible, opt for non-chemical methods to minimise environmental impact.


Can’t Unblock it? Call the Experts

With these simple, eco-friendly approaches to unblocking a drain, you can get your pipes up and running again with minimal environmental impact! However, some clogs are just tougher than others. If you’re facing a stubborn blocked drain, the Streamline Environmental and Drainage team can help. We have the tools and expertise needed to eliminate the toughest of drain clogs! From drain inspection and unblocking to grease trap cleaning, we are experts at managing liquid waste. Contact us today to see how we can help.