Planning a bit of spring cleaning in the coming weeks? Don’t forget about the drains! As the entry point for your home’s plumbing, they’re frequently used but often overlooked. We’ll discuss why you should take the time for drain cleaning and how to clean several common ones.

Why Should Spring Cleaning Involve Drains

The drains in your home, whether the bathrooms, kitchen, or laundry room, receive a lot of use during the year. While spring cleaning usually gives a good scrub of other parts of the home, remember your drains. They’re the first line of defense against clogs, odors, and other plumbing issues that frequently develop without maintenance.

Kitchen Drains

Even if your kitchen sink drains aren’t a catch-all for daily household activities, they’re a great place to start with spring cleaning. Most drain clogs can be cleared with a baking soda and white distilled vinegar solution, two items most households have at all times.

Using equal parts of baking soda and vinegar, start by pouring in the baking soda, then slowly adding an equal amount of vinegar. Allow the mixture to work its magic for several minutes, then flush with cool water from the tap. Don’t use warm or hot water as it melts cooking greases that solidify as they cool, recreating a clog.

Garbage Disposal

After a winter’s worth of comfort food, the garbage disposal needs attention. Most food that enters the disposal seemingly disappears after grinding. Still, particles collect in internal spaces and leave smells as they decay. They can also build and clog the unit over time.

Using natural cleaning ingredients to clean is recommended since many chemical cleaners corrode the internal metal parts over time.

  1. Disconnect from the power source: Unplug the cord under the sink or turn off the circuit in the breaker box.
  2. Remove and clean the splash guard: This guard is a rubber-like material visible inside the disposal; it has crevices that trap food particles and grease. Remove it from the drain and use a brush and dish detergent to clean the inside and out.
  3. Clean out visible food debris: Use a flashlight to look into the disposal and use pliers or tongs to remove the pieces, as the blades are still sharp.
  4. Clean the inside with a natural solution: Pour in ½ cup of baking soda and allow it to sit for 30 minutes — baking soda is great for neutralizing odors. Then, add one cup of distilled white vinegar and let the mixture sit for three minutes. Finally, rinse the baking soda and vinegar with a hot tap or boiled water.
  5. Loosen buildup with ground salt and ice: Put the splash guard inside the disposal and reconnect the power source. Run cold water from the tap into the disposal, turn on the unit, and allow it to operate until the ice is ground up. Pour in two cups of ice, followed by one cup of salt.

Bathroom Sink Drains

In spring or any other time of the year, the bathroom sink drains in a home and needs regular cleaning. From face wash and hand soap to makeup and skin care products, many everyday products flow into the drain. But because it flows in doesn’t mean it flows out.

Cleaning these drains is easy but does require one to two hours to complete thoroughly.

  1. Remove any clogs or debris within reach: Using your fingers or a wire hanger, remove any visible debris, then run the faucet for a few seconds.
  2. Make a cleaning solution: This solution is similar to the ones used in the kitchen drain and garbage disposal. Mix ½ cup of distilled white vinegar and ½ cup water in a non-metal container, such as a large plastic cup. Then, slowly add a pinch of baking soda to the solution.
  3. Pour in the DIY solution and wait an hour: The baking soda and vinegar produce carbonation, pushing regular clogs down the plumbing pipe.
  4. Flush with boiling water: Using boiling water to flush the drain clears out the solution and any remaining debris.
  5. Use a drain snake if necessary: Sometimes, the baking soda and vinegar aren’t enough to clear a drain clog. Follow the instructions when using a drain snake to minimize potential damage to the drain and plumbing.
    Drain catchers are recommended to reduce clogs. If you have multiple people in the home with long hair, clean the drains every other week. Otherwise, a monthly cleanout of your bathtub or shower drains should suffice.


Toilet drains are frequently overlooked when cleaning but are heavily trafficked in the home. Giving this critical drain a regular cleaning is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises in the form of a clog and backup. Luckily, you have several cleaning options to choose from.

  • Commercial drain cleaners: While these cleaners are accessible, many contain caustic ingredients, so reading and following the directions is essential.
  • Natural drain cleaners: Baking soda with liquid acids, such as distilled vinegar or lemon juice; borax, salt, and vinegar; or boiling water, are best for preventing clogs and odors.
  • Enzyme-based cleaners: These are best for preventing rather than removing clogs. They’re also septic tank-friendly, making them suitable for maintaining a free-flowing toilet drain.
  • Water blast: A large rubber bag attaches to a garden hose and is inserted into the toilet drain. The bag expands as it fills with water, dislodging clogs and sending them to the pipes.

Keep Your Household Drains Clear Year-Round

Having clear drains year-round is easier than it sounds. Check the drains monthly and clear any clogs as soon as they’re discovered. Be mindful of food products or trash entering the drains — cooking grease and paper products are repeat causes of clogged drains. Many plumbing pipes are narrower than people realize and easily clog unless you and others are diligent about their maintenance.

Regularly checking your home’s drains and clearing clogs as they develop is the best way to enjoy hassle-free plumbing in the spring and year-round.

If drain cleaning isn’t on your spring cleaning list, and you’re out of time, schedule an appointment with JW Plumbing, Heating and Air today!

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