DIY Natural Drain Cleaner

You can make your own DIY natural drain cleaner using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! You just need vinegar, baking soda, hot water, and optional citrus fruit peels.

DIY Natural Drain Cleaner Recipe and Tutorial

Drain Cleaners are Super Toxic!

Drain cleaners are one of the most toxic chemicals sold in stores. In fact, they are on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Hall of Shame because they  can cause blindness, burns, and be fatal if swallowed.

I got rid of our drain cleaner about a year ago so the children could never get a hold of it. I used to work in Internal Communications for a large company and a lady in our office nearly died after accidentally drinking Drano. How could that happen? A janitor was cleaning the soda machine with Drano (gulp) and he left a cup of it next to the machine. The lady came behind him and mistook the janitor's cup for her's, and drank it! It caused such severe burns in her esophagus that it required many surgeries and several months in the hospital before she could even function normally. YIKES!

Does this DIY Natural Drain Cleaner Actually Work?

A few weeks ago, I cooked a yummy dinner with fresh shrimp, and loaded up the garbage disposal with stinky shrimp shells. They did get all chopped up, but they left behind a nasty rotten smell in the pipes.

Every morning we'd wake up and think there was a dead mouse somewhere, until we finally figured out it was probably the lovely shrimp shells stuck in the pipes. Yuck!

So, I tried the tip I learned about in the book, “Clean House, Clean Planet” for cleaning pipes – baking soda and vinegar. And as much of a believer as I am in the effectiveness of green, homemade alternatives, I was not expecting it to work. The smell was gone and the disposal worked properly again.

DIY Natural Drain Cleaner using just Vinegar and Baking Soda and hot water
This is another really easy and cheap recipe that anyone can do at home!

DIY Natural Drain Cleaner

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A super simple natural drain cleaner recipe that can help to clean out your pipes.

  • Author: Sara McFall




Heat the two cups of hot water on the stove, in the microwave or in an electric tea kettle. Once it's hot, pour the baking soda in the disposal first, then the vinegar. It'll bubble up, which is good! This process releases carbon dioxide and helps to break up stuck on particles. Once it finishes bubbling, add the 2 cups of hot water. If you're doing this in a garbage disposal, run the disposal after adding the hot water. If not, you're done!

Repeat the process if necessary.

 Also Works With Front Loading Washers

This tried and true formula also works when the washer drum stinks sump-em (that's Southern for something) awful and it looks like it's trying to run away during the spin cycle.

Then, I learned at Country Mama Cooks that HE washers get off-balance when the pipes get clogged up and it also causes the machine to smell.

So, I decided to try my homemade drain cleaner in the washer instead – I dumped a cup of baking soda, a cup of vinegar, and a cup of hydrogen peroxide (read about all it's magic here) straight onto the bottom of the drum and ran the cleaning cycle.

The smell was considerably less, especially after I also scrubbed the rubber seal around the perimeter of the drum where the door closes. Then, after another round, the smell was gone! Now I will use this method on a regular basis to keep the mildew at bay. I love using cheap things straight from the pantry to clean and get results!

DIY Natural Citrus Infused Vinegar - use the leftover citrus peels as a garbage disposal cleaner!

Garbage Disposal Cleaner

I like to infuse my vinegar with citrus peels (see that tutorial here) to make it smell much better. For green cleaning, my mom and I have been using not only the pickled citrus peels (they sit in vinegar for a week to two weeks and really soften up) in the garbage disposal, but the dried citrus peels as well.

A little tip – my mom discovered that if the peels are left out, they dry in just a few days and become brittle, so they are then safe to put in the garbage disposal. Once you add the peels to the disposal, run it for a minute or so while running hot water down the drain and it will clear up stinkies as well!


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