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How to unclog a drain without using a plunger

Water running in the sink
Water running in the sink (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you find that water isn’t flowing freely down the sink, you’ll need to know how to unclog a drain. Whether your kitchen drain is clogged with food gunk, or your bathroom is tackling soapy scum, every household will suffer with a blocked sink at some point. 

The good news is, you can easily unclog a drain without a plunger (so no excuses!). All you’ll need are just a few basic items that you could probably find in your kitchen cupboard. What’s more, it’s far cheaper than buying drain cleaning products — which aren't the best for your pipes anyway — or worse still, calling a plumber. 

Follow these easy steps on how to unclog a drain without using a plunger, and free your drain from gunk! 

a photo of Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar (Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to unclog a drain with baking soda and white vinegar

1. Start by adding two teaspoons of baking soda to the drain 

2. Follow this by tipping a cup of white vinegar down on top of it. You will start to see the mixture start to fizz or bubble up.

3. Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour the water down the drain. This will help to dissolve the solution, and soften any hard grease in your drains.

Pouring baking soda and vinegar down drain

Pouring baking soda and vinegar down drain (Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to unclog a drain with saline solution

1. Start by dissolving a couple of tablespoons of salt in water.

2. Then, pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for 30-40 minutes to give it some time to work on breaking down any grease or food particles.

3. Follow this with carefully pouring boiling water down the sink. Saline solution can break down any oils or grease build-up that is clogging your drain. 

How to unclog a drain with laundry powder

1. Start by adding two tablespoons of biological laundry powder/detergent down the drain.

2. Then, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. The soda crystals should easily dissolve grease or fat build-up. Plus, this will leave your sink smelling fresh. 

Washing powder

Washing powder (Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to avoid a clogged drain

Here are some effective ways to stop your sink from getting clogged up:

  • Buy a sink strainer — This will prevent any bits of food or gunk going down the drain
  • Avoid pouring cooking oils down the sink — Fats and oil do not mix with water so avoid pouring them down the drain at all times. This will only result in a hard build-up of grease that will clog your pipes over time. 
  • Clean your sink regularly — Keep using the baking powder or saline cleaning methods about once a month to maintain your drain.
Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes 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!