I tried this $3 cleaning hack to unclog my drain — and it worked wonders

Water in blocked sink
Water in blocked sink (Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s nothing more annoying than a clogged sink, watching it slowly fill up with wastewater that just won’t go down. Whether it's caused by daily food gunk, hardened grease, or bathroom scum, knowing how to unclog a drain can take much time and effort. 

And after I spent precious time with a plunger — not to mention money on commercial drain cleaners — nothing seemed to work for unclogging my kitchen sink. That was until I found one simple household item to do the job — and it worked wonders. 

Baking soda combined with white vinegar turned out to be the only "savior" to my problems. In fact, not only did this clear my blocked sink, but it also made my stainless steel easy to clean. 

This natural "dynamic duo" is actually well-known in the cleaning world for effectively removing dirt, stains and even bad odors. You’d be surprised at the many things you didn’t know you could clean with baking soda. It isn’t any wonder why many people are starting to ditch the shop-bought cleaners to make their own cleaning products at home. What’s more, baking soda costs me just under $3, and goes a very long wa, saving me money in the long run! 

Baking soda and white vinegar on a countertop

Baking soda and white vinegar on a countertop (Image credit: Future)

So what makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning? Well, it’s all in the science. When you combine baking soda with white vinegar, it will immediately create a fizzy, chemical reaction. This is because the baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) acts as a base, while the vinegar is acidic and sits at the other end of the spectrum. Once the two meet, they exchange protons and produce sodium acetate, water and carbon dioxide (essentially salt water). 

The chemical reaction is what’s needed for cleaning, and the fizzing helps dissolve and dislodge any clogs or stains.

Here’s how I unclogged my drain in minutes 

Armed with my baking soda, I added two teaspoons of baking soda down the drain followed by tipping about a cup of white vinegar. This created the mixture to fizz, and I left the mixture to sit and fizz for about 5 minutes until the chemical reaction stopped bubbling. Then, I boiled a kettle of water and carefully poured hot water down the drain, before running the tap to flush any residue. 

Pouring baking soda down drain

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I was impressed at how my baking soda-vinegar combo dissolved the blockage, and water was now running freely down the drain. And since baking soda is a natural deodorizer, I no longer had that foul smell from the drain. Win-win!

So before calling out the plumber or turning to expensive, chemical-laden cleaners, try out this easy, inexpensive way to unclog a drain.

Of course, if you have an on-going drainage problem and you find this method isn’t effective, you might have a more serious issue. In which case, you’re best calling a professional to deal with it.

3 top tips when cleaning with baking soda and white vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar (Image credit: Shutterstock)

— When cleaning every room in the home, it’s advisable to make a fresh paste of baking soda and vinegar as you need it, and don't reuse a previous batch. Because the immediate chemical reaction is what you need, you can’t mix the solution in advance.

— Always opt for distilled white vinegar when cleaning your home, and avoid using malt vinegar as this could stain surfaces. Instead, save malt vinegar for your foods! For more tips, check out our guide on the best vinegar to clean with. 

— If you don’t want to overpower your home with the smell of vinegar, add in about 10 drops of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils to your diluted solution. This will give your cleaner a fresh scent, and banish vinegar odors. However, these are other ways on how to clean with vinegar without the smell, keeping things fragrant.  

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!