Want to naturally unclog a sink or clean a slow-moving drain? Learn why you should skip the baking soda and vinegar when cleaning FOG clogged drains and see the experiment!
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Hundreds of natural cleaning blog posts, books, and magazine columns recommend cleaning slow kitchen drains by pouring one cup of baking soda down the drain followed with one cup vinegar. I used this combination for many years then I began to doubt its effectiveness.
I decided to conduct an experiment to compare the drain cleaning abilities of vinegar & baking soda to another popular green cleaning solution -> dish detergent & hot water.
(Need to unclog a drain? Read How to Naturally Clean a Clogged Drain)
The Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiment
I conducted a simple experiment to compare two popular green cleaners when fighting a fat, oil, and grease drain clog (or FOG drain clog). FOG is the most common cause of slow drains and backup in home kitchens, learn more about FOG clogs.
- Step 1 – I used a tablespoon of butter to mimic a greasy FOG drain clog.
- Step 2 – I poured one-half cup of baking soda and one-half cup of vinegar into one bowl, and a cup of hot water (nearly boiling) mixed with 1 tablespoon of dish washing detergent into the second bowl.
- Step 3 – I watched what happened to the greasy clog for 5 minutes. Here’s what the bowls looked like at 30 seconds.
The Green Cleaning Results
After 5 minutes, the greasy clog in the bowl of hot water and detergent was completely melted and would have easily drained away. The greasy clog in the bowl of vinegar and baking soda was unchanged (although it was coated in vinegar and baking soda).
Here’s what was left of the greasy FOG clogs (butter cubes) after the experiment.
What I Learned
It turns out my high school chemistry teacher was right… the fizzy combination of baking soda & vinegar is INEFFECTIVE when fighting grease clogged drains.
Why? Baking soda is a base while vinegar is an acid, their chemical reaction produces water with a tiny amount of salt in it, not a fat destroying drain cleaner. Plus vinegar and baking soda are not surfactants, so they do not help water carry oil and grease away the same way that detergents can.
The hot water does a better job melting the FOG clog and gets a kick from the degreasing power of the detergent.
What about the pressure created?
Lots of readers ask about the pressure created during the vinegar/baking soda reaction and wonder if it will force a drain clog out. The answer is yes and no.
- Yes, when baking soda and vinegar are combined the chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide gas (CO2 ) which creates pressure in a closed container.
- No, the baking soda/vinegar reaction created in a drain/household plumbing system does not take place in a closed system so pressure can’t build up enough to blast a clog out of the pipes.
You may have seen vinegar/baking soda experiment conducted in a closed container like a balloon or bottle. They’re an impressive demonstration of the power of chemical reactions. However, it’s important to note that these experiments take place in a sealed container where the CO2 gas has nowhere to escape.
A household drain system is not a sealed container. From kitchen drain to sewer your pipes hold a much larger volume of liquid or gas than a balloon or bottle, so it would take a lot more CO2 to fill the pipes to a point where pressure builds up. Plus, the CO2 being created byt the baking soda/vinegar reaction can escape though the plumbing vent system, holes in your drain or drain cover, and/or spaces in the clog. It’s not air tight!
The Hot Water Solution
Let me tell you a little secret: questioning the drain cleaning power of baking soda and vinegar is controversial. It gets people mad, very mad. I get emails and comments that are not appropriate to post on a PG website.
I’m sorry if you’re upset, I really am. I was a baking soda/vinegar devotee for a long time. However, once I started researching green cleaning ingredients and bad cleaner combinations I realized that the trick was not doing me much good… and I was wasting baking soda and vinegar that I could use to clean other things.
Why is Baking Soda and Vinegar Recommend as a Drain Cleaner?
Maybe the fun chemical reaction tricks our minds with all the bubbling, maybe companies like to sell more of their products, or maybe it is the hot water.
- When you look at baking soda + vinegar drain cleaning instructions you’ll notice that they recommend following the baking soda/vinegar with nearly boiling water. As shown in the experiment above, extremely hot water does a great job melting FOG clogs.
- Bonus: the weight of the hot water creates pressure on the clog which can help loosen or move it (thanks to gravity).
Try the Experiment for Yourself
Still have doubts? The next time you have a slow or clogged drain, try reaching for hot water first. You may find out that it does a great job cutting through FOG clogs and you can save yourself some money on baking soda and vinegar
The Enzyme Solution
Have a difficult FOG clog that hot water doesn’t solve or a drain clogged by hair? Try an enzyme drain cleaner such as Earth Enzymes Drain Opener or Biokleen Drain Gel.
- These eco-friendly drain cleaners contain enzymes and bacteria that eat through the organic material in the clog to clear your drain. (Green Gobbler Drain Clog Remover is another popular solution, it uses monosodium sulfate, a non-toxic acid, to remove drain gunk.)
More drain cleaning tips
4 Easy Way to Green Clean Drains
- Learn four ways to clean a clogged drain without calling a plumber or using nasty chemicals.
Green Cleaning Combinations to Avoid
- Learn more about green cleaning combination that are dangerous or do not work.
I hope you enjoyed this green cleaning experiment. Sign up for my free newsletter below and never miss a green cleaning tip!
(If you would like more information about the chemical reaction while cleaning with baking soda & vinegar, click over to Everyday Einstein.)
Sharon M. Cox
I forgot to include that I looked up the definition of surfactant because “dish soap” appears to be a better choice for dealing with a clog, because that is what it is/does.
Thank you! for a sane and thoughtful post in an overwhelmingly crazy internet increasingly populated with unverified junk and misinformation. I really appreciate the care you took to create this post with photographs and everything, it confirms what I suspected about b soda + vinegar but I kept seeing professional looking websites touting it so was looking for real information. Thank you!
Sharon M. Cox
I am glad to see you publish this fact that I have believed, for years. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity vinegar. I am not a chemist, but I combined the two and smelled the liquid. The liquid no longer smelled like vinegar. It smelled like … nothing. Then, I stuck my hand into the resulting liquid. There was no burning of my skin or agitation that I would suspect is needed to have any effect on a clog. Vinegar, by itself, (because of its acidity) might have provided some assist. But it doesn’t contain the elements needed to break up the grease or break down the particles that make up a clog. Further, there is another element needed to move it all through the water. I saw a good interpretation on the Britanica website that used all the scientific terminology. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “surfactant”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 Feb. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/science/surfactant. Accessed 2 June 2022.
Regretful Jenny D.
Hi ohhhh dear!!! IF ONLY🤷🏻♀️I would have found your post sooner!! But instead, I made the big mess even worse. You guessed it! I fell for the old baking powder & vinegar fable. Ughhhh. Not only do I still have a stinky kitchen drain, but add a clogged drain to the mix. The baking soda is in a clump at the bottom of the U-shaped type. Hopefully it’ll drain so that I can pour hot soapy water down it! I need green clean! #STAT!
I have been using boiling water with Dawn dishwashing liquid and a capfull of degreaser with good results.
Yeah, I just learned this the hard way today. I’ve used baking soda and vinegar to clean drains (not unclog, just to give them a bit of a cleaning) for years, but today they caused my kitchen sink drains to back up. The plumbers told me about the Dawn dish soap and hot water method and said that baking soda and vinegar followed by hot water can move gunk in the drain, but not necessarily clear it all the way out. You end up with gunk that’s just further down the drainpipe until enough builds up that it clogs the pipe. That gunk also dries, so it doesn’t move that easily. Dish soap and hot water are easy to use, at least!
We have an ongoing problem in our bathroom, a sewer smell.
The water/sewage utility company has come out and can find no problem on the sewer side, and so it is down to us to sort it out !!. I was going to use the baking soda/vinegar method (although there is no blockage).
I have a shower cubicle and bath, plus sink and toilet in the room.
Any suggestions would be appreciated HELP
I would use plain vinegar and also remove all the drain covers and scrub down the inside of the pipes a few inches. This can get rid of the build-up from showering/washing up in the sink.
If you have a floor drain somewhere, like in your utility closet, regularly filling it with water should help keep that nasty sewage stench out of your house. Just refill it anytime that smell starts to return.
I have tried the dawn detergent and I have tried vinegar and soda neither has unclogged my tub. Now is it time for a expensive plumber????
Peggy, you could try removing the drain cover and using a wire coat hanger that is straightened and the end bent into a small hook to remove hair or clogs from the bathtub drain or try a bathtub plunger (plug the overflow drain) or plumber snake declogging tool but then yes… probably time for a plumber!
Thank you!!! I tried so many things to unclog my slow draining kitchen sink, which had been a problem for over a year! One go with a dishwasher tab and hot water has cleared it. Magic!
I’m glad it worked for you, Maria!
I moved in to a new apartment and the shower drain was working fine. I had used one of those Daisy chains to catch hair. Decided to pull it up to see if it was working and the drain cover came up, too. The chain did catch hair but I had the grand idea to throw some baking soda and vinegar down and deodorize the drain. Now the drain is slow! Used almost boiling water as a chaser but still slow. Going to dry the dish soap or need to get a plunger. It was working fine! So much for trying to be clean!
And done. 3 rotations of dish soap, boiling water and a hot water rinse and both kitchen sinks are flowing again! I had just pulled out my baking soda and vinegar for the usual ineffective rinse. I’m glad I found your experiments!
After spending $354 on a plumber last week that didn’t fix the issue I went out and bought baking soda and vinegar and thought I would research just one last time when I stumbled across this article. You have got to be kidding me… the detergent is actually what solved the issue in my case! I spent the weekend pouring pots of boiling water down the drain and it wasn’t totally helping. Today I added dish detergent to my boiling water and BAM, I’m a plumber! Thank you so much!!
Shuntell Melissa Kelsey
I don’t see where you say how much dish soap to add to a clogged drain? Can you elaborate please?
I recommend starting with 1/4 cup dish soap to one gallon of water. Other sites recommend using up to 1 cup of dish soap per gallon of hot water.
Ranjeet S Tate
Baking Soda and vinegar? My plumbing religion says coke and menthols, but you have to flush with hot water before and after, works every time!
Hot water sounds great for kitchen sink grease clogs but what about hair and soap clogs in tubs and shower drains?
Steve, to fix a hair clog vinegar can help to break down soap. If there is a great deal of hair it generally needs to be removed manually. You can read more in this article.
As a chemist, thank you! I love using baking soda and vinegar separately as cleaners in my home but whenever I see someone say to mix them together I just cringe. Once mixed, these two great cleaners totally cancel each other out. Vinegar is great against hard water deposits, baking soda is a great deodorizer, together they are just bubbly salty water.
When you do the vinegar and baking soda thing, you’re supposed to run boiling water through before and after. Your experiment is moot because you didn’t do this. The butter melted in the first bowl because of the hot water. It would melt if you ran boiling water through, too. So the melted butter part is irrelevant.
That’s exactly the point of the article, RJ. When fighting a grease clogged drain there is no need to waste baking soda and vinegar when hot water will do the work for you. Start with the hot water and save yourself some $.
All I know that for years I’ve been using boiling hot water, a little bit of dish soap. Works wonders
Ranjeet S Tate
So the baking soda and vinegar acolytes don’t actually know whether it is BS&V or just plain hot water. Before scolding Bren, did you read the article? BS&V did nothing, so if it works, it is the hot water.
The article also looks at the possible causal chain and find none.
So, BS&V = astrology, homeopathy, St john’s wort, bleach for COVID19. Random anecdotes by unscientific minds, never any causal explanations.
There is standing water in my bathroom sink.I have used viniger and baking soda several times but does not work.
Let me be blunt ….. I’m a plumber with decades of experience and all I can say is thank you !
This has been one my biggest pet peeves with people buying expensive chemicals and/or using baking soda and vinegar when hot water will do as good a job.
Fill up your sink with pure hot water and pull the plug once a month and you may never have see me 😃
Thanks again, Bren.
If you’re using baking soda and vinegar just for the pressure then why not use a simple plunger
Dish detergent is not a ‘green’ technique- detergent is a petrochemical, which is why it breaks down grease. Effective but not ecologically sound
There are dish detergents made from oleochemicals (derived from fats and oils) that are great at breaking down grease. These are a greener choice than detergents made from petrochemicals which is why I recommend using a natural deterent.
Thank you for the article. I never pour boiling hot water down my drains because of the shock it can cause to the plumbing, especially the PVC and sealant. When I dump water from pasta I first put some cold water in the sink and let it mix first.
I pour the hot water from into another pan then back into the pasta pan after I empty it. Then I let the second pan cool briefly and put cold water in it (no more than what I used to cook the pasta). Then I clean the second pan and spatula using my hand and the pasta pan above the water. Then I eat and clean the pasta pan with my hand after the water has cooled some. Then I pour the pasta pan water on the plate in the sink and clean the plate and fork. Then I rinse the pasta pan with the water from the second pan, then use that water to rinse the plate and fork and put everything on a drain rack and reuse everything several times between cleanings.
Or simply pour the pasta water into another pan, eat and let it cool before pouring the water down the drain.
Robert M DiVincenzo
what cam be used to clear mineral deposits from galvanized pipe in the home?
Pure vinegar, citric acid mixed with water, or a commercial cleaner such as CLR all work great.
Thank you! I studied a lot of chemistry (started uni as a chemical engineering major) and it never made sense to me when I read about mixing vinegar and baking soda as a cleaning solution. Because it’s likely that the reaction wouldn’t be perfectly balanced, it means that you’d be left with water and salt, and whichever of the two (baking soda or vinegar) that you had too much of. Either one of which might be helpful, but in that case might as well use it straight.
However, to the extent vinegar and baking soda has worked for drains specifically (and it has helped for me), it is only if you stopper the drain so that the physical (not chemical) force of the reaction helps to physically force some of the gunk out of the pipes. That only works if you use a very tightly-fitted stopper or something like a cork.
But….what about Bathroom sinks? That can get stray hair buildup? I don’t pour greasy things down my bathroom sink, or tub ? I’ve heard Salt is something that can be used, overnight.
Barbara, check out my article about cleaning clogged drains. It gives tips for bathroom sinks.
There was a YouTube video I watched that compared Drano vs a few other drain cleaners including baking soda + vinegar. It showed that baking soda and vinegar did nothing to dissolve the hair.
Help! So I just need hit water and dish soap? If the drain is already clogged what makes the got water go down? Anyway I need help and I can’t call a plumber because I have Covid. Ty
Rachel, if you drain is completely clogged I would check out these suggestions for cleaning clogged drains.
But what about hair? This is the major component of bathroom clogs… same situation here?
For hair, you need to physically remove the clog. These tips for naturally cleaning a clogged drain may help.
I use a green stopper in all my drains. It grabs the hair an holds onto it. Once I’m done in the shower bathroom I just pull up the gree drain which looks like a mushroom with holes In the stem. You can get them at the dollar store for a buck an 5hry are excellent at holding up. Highly recommend this to keep hair from clogging drains.
But the hot water just melted the butter…
Exactly, when fighting a fighting grease clogged drain there is no need to waste baking soda and vinegar when hot water will do the work for you.
That’s what I was thinking.
Try heating the vinegar too.
I tried this and it worked well. But, a suggestion…put the temperature caveat in the main body. The water I used was hotter than 175 so now I’m a bit worried that I might have hurt them.
I tried the baking soda. My sink had to be opened up. I wasn’t 1 bit happy. I wasted so very much of it and it actually ended up clogging my sink more badly. Wasted my whole day too, with so much work to do.
Thanks for your advice Bren.
Seems like you are right! Days of baking soda and salt did not solve our problem. Boiling hot water and one bottle of dish washing detergent did the trick.
Wish I’d seen this post yesterday – we did the Baking Soda and vinegar thing and at first it appeared to work – then later discovered the baking soda has turned to a solid lump and blocked the sink totally.
I’ve even tried using a screw driver to break it up and no luck and even a drill and no luck. I’m told I need to pour something made from acid on to it and it will dissolve slowly.
The salt and boiling water sounds reasonable and I’ll try it. So does enzyme method, which I just began.
However, the brand I used has a caveat: in letters that are WAY too small it says: “SEVERE eye irritant. Skin irritant.” It is a batch of yellow enzyme sticks.
So, use disposable gloves if you have to handle or squeeze the enzyme stick into the drain. (Mine has a very narrow grate.)
Next time I’ll buy the enzyme gel. Thanks for the research into what works and for sharing.
David Wallington, Sr.
Thank you for being brave and going against conventional wisdom. The baking soda vinegar mixture down the drain didn’t make much sense. It doesn’t seem to create such pressure that it would move grease in a pipe. Very hot water and soap do make sense. i will try just the water soap mixture next time I have an issue.
I’m a retired organic chemist with 39 years in Drug Discovery and Genetics. The purpose of the bleach/baking soda/vinegar treatment is to deoderize, not increase flow (use a snake and next time grease-eating enzymes for that). Plumber’s advice: Use boiling water for galvanized pipe, and for ABS plastic, just hot water for the rinses.
My little cottage is over a hundred years old. My neighbor’s
Pecan tree roots have clogged my clay sewer pipes. I can’t afford a plumber. I’m on a fixed income. I’m 81 yrs old & take care of my yard, home & self. I’m a Master Gardener & love plants…this is the first time I actually hate a tree.
These pecan trees keep my gutters full to overflowing & the sewers clogged with roots. HELP!!! How can I manage this without income to hire a plumber. I am open to your advise.
Loretta, I have heard that copper sulfate crystals can be flushed down the toilet to kill roots inside the sewer lines. This is supposed to be an environmentally friendly way of root management because the chemical only kills the roots it direct contacts (not the entire tree). Copper sulfate can be found at your local hardware or garden supply store.
I recently cleared a clogged kitchen drain by first pouring very hot water down the drain, then using a wet vac to suck the sludge out. It worked like a charm.
ok, i have been down this root before (sorry for pun)
“you say little cottage”do you have city or septic(or cesspool, that/s a system without a leach field”
how big is your property?
point of all this is that you probably have cast iron pipes.do you know if they are plastic (PVC)?
so after 100 years you likely have rood intrusion.pipes are probably cracked.
how do you know i’ts neighbors fault?
anyway.let me know more about your system for detailed help/
most likely, you will need new pipes .
you probably tried rotor rooter or some other company with some appraisal.
so could be blocked septic, blocked/cracked pipes.after all what do you expect after 100 years?
people don’t realize that a house is-like a factory.and money needs to be put aside every year for big occasional expenses, roof, heating, painting etc’but they don’t.
so i am 75 and just put had my major drain pipes destroyed by lightning of all things.
so i hope yo have save $$in the last 80 years, have family that can help etc.
don’t get it that you are thinking of doing this without a pro. any way first find out what really is the problem.
have an experienced handyman who has a camera that can snake into pipe.the at least you will know just what is wrong.going to cost 2 to 300 hundred. maybe less, is you cry poor folk.
the write me and i can Tell you a way to fix it.or handy man can probably tell you same thing.
dig up pipes and replace. drain septic
/dig hole in back yard and sneak in an outhouse.(not coded)that will coat few hundred.
ps they sell gutter covers ,only one works,easy to install,
pss why not open up pecan stand. ask
Isn’t the hot water bad for the PVC pipes melting them?
Chloe, water hotter than 175 F can soften some types of PVC pipe. Make sure you check your pipes before going above this temperature.
I just found your post. And…you are absolutely correct! I am working on a SSO program (Sanitary Sewer Overflow Protection) for a large city and we are very familiar with FOG causing problems in drain pipes. We even send out reminder postcards every year to the all house-holds in the city to remind them what they should NOT pour down a drain. As to cleaning and clearing a drain, I actually use both very hot water with dish soap AND baking soda and vinegar. The hot water and dish soap does the “cleaning”. I then follow up with a little baking and vinegar. This last part is purely for odor elimination…and I’m old fashioned. (My mother used baking soda and vinegar as a cleaning agent for as long as I could remember). Thank you for educating your readers. 🙂
Thanks, Bren! I have a sink I almost never use, and I couldn’t figure out why I sometimes get a musty, sewer-like smell from time to time. I’m going to try your hot water + vinegar solution and see how it work.
How about using baking soda a vinegar to clean stainless steel sink?
I would use the baking soda with a bit of water to scrub the sink then rinse with water. You can use vinegar to help rinse if the water does not get all the baking soda. I also love this homemade soft scrub for sink cleaning.
Love your science-based post and how it is organized. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so this much needed. Needless to say, I’m going to look at more of your posts!
try plunging…with a plunger….when you are releasing a sink half full of hot water..after your treament…you may be surprised to see how much black sludge gets loosened…and sucked down to the sewer drains
How about salt and vinegar? That’s another combination I’ve seen but not tried.
They would not interact poorly, but I have not personally tried the combo. I like to start with the easiest/cheapest solution and work my way up.
Thanks for explaining all this! What about using baking soda/vinegar not for unclogging drains, but for getting rid of smells? I often will get a musty-type smell from my less-often-used kitchen drain, and that’s where I’ve heard baking soda and vinegar was good. It’s not a clog happening, and it’s not even the gross food particle smell from the garbage disposal side, but more of a musty smell. Should I just use hot water for that too, or is baking soda/vinegar ok? Thanks!
Lisa, the acid in the vinegar and the base in the baking soda is what destroys smells. When you combine the two the chemical reaction lessens their individual odor-fighting power. I would use vinegar and hot water to fight musty smells in the kitchen. I love to clean my coffee pot by running vinegar through it then pour the hot vinegar/water solution down the drain. It cleans both the coffee maker and the drain!
Yeah, baking soda + vinegar did not gave me the result I expected from what I read from the internet. So sad. Especially during this lockdown happening everywhere, i need to do the unclogging myself. Good thing I read your article. Thanks!
Thanks for the great article. I am a strong supporter of the hot water method. I think you’re spot on about the bubbles from the baking soda creating a psychological effect.
Bren, thank you for waking us up. Sometimes I don’t know why we go to school, we learn, we test, we forget. Your chemistry teacher is proud of you.
One thing to remember is to not use very hot water when you have a cold sink. Not being too aware (kind of foolish), I did this, and guess what? Yes, it cracked.
Forgot to mention in my previous comment, but some fats(butter) will solidify in cold temperatures. Hot, soapy water will definitely help unclog.
Soap is known as a surfactant. It bonds well with hydrocarbons. Fats are simply long chains of hydrocarbons.
Soap is able to dissolve your butter because of that reaction taking place. Not as exciting as the bubbling of vinegar and baking soda, but maybe that’s a lesson we can all take home. Sometimes the best choice is the simplest looking option.
Also, in case it isn’t clear, hair isn’t a fat and won’t be dissolved by soapy water so this is more suited for kitchen sinks.
I agree with the baking soda and vinegar not working and this proves it even more. And scary to think the baking soda could clog up drain as one comment said.
I tried it on my pots and pans and let the vinegar and soda sit overnight and saw no results, so if it can’t take the grease/gunk off of them, it certainly can’t do it with a clogged drain. It looks impressive when you combine the two and see the chemical reaction, but that’s about all it does, bubbles up and sits there.
Your hot water and dish detergent method worked great. Thanks.
I’m glad it worked for you, Roger!
So I’ve been using baking soda plus vinegar for 6 years in a urine-diverting composting toilet’s urine-to-greywater line, and I now believe I have a clog of baking soda that is inaccessible by snake after a 90 degree turn in the PVC. I decided this after adding my plumber’s recommendation, sulfuric acid, and it actually STOPPED the drain that was previously slow. So now I think I have gypsum plus baking soda. Any recommendations, by any chance? And no, I’ll never put baking soda in any drain again.
Jess, I’m sorry I’m not sure to recommend as I don’t want to cause a dangerous reaction with the sulfuric acid!
Bren, what are the proportions soap and water for slow draining kitchen sink?
Pat, I use 2 liters of very hot water with a few tablespoons of natural hand washing dish detergent or Sal’s Suds. You can read about it here: https://brendid.com/how-to-naturally-clean-a-clogged-drain/
Hi, I have a seriously blocked drain, and it is so small I can just about get my gloved hand in. I was recommended baking powder (not baking soda) as the 2 are different. Have you experimented with both, or just the soda?
I am leaving the drain all night to see if it really works, although I now have my doubts since I read your article.
I have only really discovered how good vinegar is for removing lime scale recently, after years of buying calgone
Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent used in baking. It is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), a weak acid (usually cream of tartar), and a filler (usually cornstarch). Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. The baking powder should work the same way the baking soda works in this experiment since it is a diluted version of baking soda.
Thank you… thank you… thank you!!
After many months of having a slow draining bathroom sink I tried the hot water and dish washing liquid…. it worked a dream.
I had tried the vinegar and soda solution twice and it didn’t work.
The joy of having a quick draining sink…. what a difference… I’m very happy!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
I’m glad it worked for you, Lynn!
I just bought a home and the shower had a slow drain. I used a hanger and got out a huge ball of hair. I thought my problem was fixed. When I turned on the water, the shower had gone from a slow drain to NO drain. I snaked it… nothing. I tried the baking soda and vinegar… nothing. I guess I will try this… I am out of options if this doesn’t work. Should I just pour some liquid soap in the sitting water in the drain?
I would not add anymore soap to a shower drain. Soap buildup or soap scum is often what slows shower drains. I would stick to straight vinegar which will eat away at the soap (NO Baking Soda) or hot water which can help melt the soap.
Brilliant, thank you for this post! Cleared up my drain with dish soap in ten seconds. AMAZING
There is a difference between dish soap you use with your hands and dishwashing soap used in the dishwasher. Just want to confirm, you use which one?
Thanks for an interesting article!
Joe, I use the type of soap you use to hand wash dishes in the sink.
What about shower and bathroom drains? Should you use the same thing?
Shower and bathroom drains are usually clogged with hair and soap (or soap scum). For those it is best to remove the hair then use straight vinegar to dissolve the soap. (No baking soda, just vinegar!)
What about bathroom drains? My washbasin and shower drain very slowly as pipes aren’t vertical enough. They get clogged with soap scum and hair. Eventually smell horrible!
Have to undo sink ubend to unclog.
They are connected so seems to help both.
Commercial drain cleaners and boiling water help.
Any other secret ingrediants you know of?
Ps. Im British, living in France, so vocabulary may ne different from yours!
You’ll need to remove the hair then install a hair blocker to keep it from going down the drain or remove it from time to time. Vinegar and/or hot water will dissolve soap scum but the only way to remove hair is to physically remove it.
Thanks for this. I tried the vinegar sod a trick twice and gave up because it just doesn’t work.
I was looking up the correct portions of vinegar to baking soda when I came across your post. Admittedly, I am one of those people that lacks the basic scientific knowledge to know about vinegar and baking sodas affects, or lack there of, on fat. But your demonstration with butter in both environments was all I needed to see.
After snaking attempts, and using Liquid Fire multiple time, I’m beside myself excited that my drain is now clear from using degreasing soap and hot water.
Sincerely thank you for your post.
Thank you for your post. Honestly I
Used baking soda and vinegar one day
On my bathroom drain. Well, that evening
I wound up with a huge leak in my pipes.
Don’t know if it was the mixture or not,
but I’ve never used it again.
I just tried your recipe on my clogged kitchen sink and it worked like a charm. No clog. No plumber’s bill. You rock!
Isn’t it funny that people get so mad when you’re just being honest?! It’s so true that vinegar and baking soda don’t work. I’ve been going back to it for years with some blind hope that “maybe it will work this time!”. But of course it never has. Thanks for going against the flow (ha ha), and explaining it all!
June vd Merwe
Finally someone is supporting my findings about baking soda and vinigar! I found out the frustrating way that it doesnt work, so last week when our kitchen drain was cloged, I used my knowledge of cleaning pans with cold fat in to unclog the drain. I had a flowing drain in two ticks. Hubby still can’t believe how quickly the basin drains now. (He does the dishes for us while I do the cooking.)
It works. Yesterday twice I used the vinegar and baking soda recipe to no avail. Just now I ‘shpritzed’ some dish soap in the drain and then a lot of boiling water and immediately plunged it with a new plunger and voila it cleared!
John H. Shutz
I had vinegar disintegrate the seals of my shower assembly. A pipe going from the main shower head down to the valve and handheld shower head had seals on both ends and both seals leaked after cleaning the shower tiles etc.
I’ll never use vinegar in combination with any other ingredient to clean anything again. I don’t know what material the seals were made of. Just an FYI about these posts that harm or don’t work.
Thank you so much for this information. I always knew the vinegar & baking soda didn’t unclog drains, just thought it sort of kept them clean and sanitized. Clearly, the Dawn and boiling water seems to have done the trick for the clog. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that, because i know it is used to clean animals which have been caught in oil spills.
I did an internet search to try to find a home made drain cleaner and almost all of the results come up saying to use baking soda and vinegar. I already knew baking soda and vinegar doesn’t work and I knew why (it’s just basic science in my opinion). Unfortunately many people lack some of the basic science knowledge. We need more websites out there like yours.
Very well explained post. I blindly followed all those kitchen-hacks the whole time. Thanks for putting this post.
Hello, I didn’t see it mentioned and thought I would chime in. I always thought the baking soda/ vinegar thing was to create a reaction to force a clog out. I’ve done it by packing the drain with soda then pouring vinegar and plugging it so it can only go one way. It’s not as effective as detergent and hot water though.
Great question, Erin. I updated the post to add more information about the pressure created. In short, the reaction doesn’t “blast” out clogs because of the large volume of the pipe and plumbing vents… which is a good thing or we’d probably hear of exploding pipes! Hope this answers your question. -Bren
You’re right! I’m a chemist, and baking soda and vinegar might produce some dramatic bubbles, but it simply can’t dissolve fatty stuff in a drain. Hot water melts the butter, and the dish detergent is designed to then trap the fat globules and allow them to be washed away by water. Science for the win!
Thanks for commenting, Samantha!
I tried the close to boiling water, salt, and hot tap water method in my bathroom sink. It worked the first time. Thank you so much for sharing the info on removing clogs.
I’m so glad it worked for you, Kathy!
So I tried this. After MANY failed attempts with vinegar and baking soda. Holy Geez, IT WORKED!! Took a couple of treatments but huge improvement in my shower the next day. I live on acreage and have well water and am quite vigilant in avoiding possible toxicities for my drain field, and the environment in general.
Great news, Robyn! My parents also have well water/septic system so I grew up avoiding all those nasty chemicals that can hurt your septic tank/field.
I do not have a clogged kitchen drain – I have a clogged bathroom drain – mostly hair. What do you recommend for that?
Hair clogs are best removed manually. Try a bent wire hanger or a drain cleaning tool. You can rad more in my post “How to Naturally CLean a Clogged Drain“
In re the vinegar/baking soda method. Be aware that it is corrosive to some pipes – especially in older homes.
I think what youre missing here is why the baking soda/vinegar are used in drains. Not necessarily because theyre great drain cleaners- they arent without the hot water washout. But they neutralize odors really effectively together, and any clogged or slow drain is likely to be a little (or more) smelly. In my experience, dish detergent doesnt effectively deodorize anything, so its not the best candidate here, in my opinion.
Thanks for commenting, Brianna. I agree, vinegar and baking soda are great deodorizers… but I use them seperately. This post is addressing the “wives tale” that they make a magic drain cleaner when combined.
I’ve used baking soda & lemon juice as well as baking soda & vinegar. I love baking soda & lemon for getting stains out of my white laminate counter tops.
I think your experiment has caused me to question the effectiveness of cleaning drains this way but in a sluggish drain, the hot water & dish liquid would not sit for 5 minutes, it would wash on down the drain? Dish liquid is my favorite cleaner, especially Dawn. And flushing the drains with boiling water is something I do but I’d never thought of adding the DL as well.
I would give hydrogen peroxide and baking soda a try for removing stains. I love it as an all-purpose cleaner and there is no neutralizing reaction.
I often wondered how the baking soda and vinegar concoction worked because I tried to clean my my pans with this once and got it on my hands but nothing happened. Seems like if the bubbling action did anything to a clogged drain then I surely should be able to feel something happening on my skin.
Worked for me… I accidentally poured the remains of a peanut butter smoothie down the sink. Was stuck. I did add hot water and use a plunger but it actually flows better than it did before the incident.
Its a really informative and also helpful article. I used the baking soda dump + vinegar on a balcony drain that was draining slow. I think the baking soda and vinegar solution can maybe be used monthly as a general maintenance to keep the pipes smooth and bacteria free, but you are right, boiling water with a dish wash detergent works best for commonly clogged drains. I had a smell coming from my bathroom, so I used it there too and that’s solved too. Thanks for the sharing your helpful article.
Thanks for stopping by to comment, James!
Bren great insight they used dawn on ducks that were exposed to oil spills . So using hot water and Dawn for drains would to stand to reason.My question is there a dishwasher soap out there better to use to stop soap clogs?
I’m not sure about a dishwasher soap that stops soap clogs, Pat. I’ll keep my eye out!
People do love their vinegar and baking soda and with good reason. They’re great for so many things, but I do agree with you on the drains. I ran across this link last night when trying to figure out how to unclog my drain. You were the lonely voice amongst many v & bc proclaimers. Thanks! Dawn and hot water worked like a charm!
I’m so glad the dawn and hot water worked for you, Joan. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Interesting article. You didn’t give your recipe for hot water and detergent with salt. What about cream of tartar with baking soda to unclog drains?
Stephen, you can see the salt and hot water technique I use here: https://brendid.com/how-to-naturally-clean-a-clogged-drain/ . I’ve never tried cream of tartar to unclog a drain since it is more expensive than salt or dish detergent. Have you tried it?
I have been using the combination of vinegar and baking soda. But thanks to your thoughts. It looks like a wrong method to clean clogged drains.
Thanks for the helpful information and experimentation – I was just about to go the vinegar & baking soda route until your blog came up as hit #4 or #5 on Google from the query, “vinegar for clogged drains.” However, just one nitpick that you may want to correct since it would seem this blog entry may receive hits from other people searching for similar queries who may not be regular readers of your blog and that is to explain what “FOG” is… I learned what it is from exploring a few other entries you’ve authored, but until I saw it clearly defined, I was in the dark about what that stood for. I was like, “butter is FOG? OK…..?” lol. Anyway, that should help even more individuals connect with a well-written entry and be able to DO WHAT BREN DID! 😉
Thanks for commenting, Scott. Sorry you missed the FOG explanation, I link to a more detainled explanation at the beginning of the post (https://brendid.com/how-to-naturally-clean-a-clogged-drain/).
I tried washing sodas and vinegar twice.
I used an old snake/auger 15 ft
I snaked sink traps
I snaked the connected roof vent.
I bought an upgraded 25ft auger that connect my drill.
I 25 ft snaked the roof vent.
I tried hot water.
I 25 ft snaked from under sink all the way to shower which shower was not clogged.
Noticing the clog was probably at about 20 feet in and very greasy. Only getting some hair and tape like plastic…
I tied 4 strips (makes 8 legs) of a rag firmly to the tip to try to clear grease. Still almost no draining. Very slow.
Finally I added about a 1/8 cup dawn and boiled a 5 gallon pot of water.
At a little under boil I pour it slowly in where it only took about 2 cups before backing up into sink.
I filled both basins (it levels) pouring the whole 5 gallon!
I decided to let it slow drain all night and try Drano plus near boiling water again BUT….
Just as I was about to give up. Steam pouring out of my sink and the P-Trap about to burst (needed tightening!) then…
I heard something. One gurgle deep in the pipes.
Very slowly they grew faster. In about 2 minutes WHOOSH! I have never seen it drain so fast.
Thoroughly tested with much hot water to finish.
Thanks for commenting! I’m glad the detergent and water worked for you!
Detergent alone will not dissolve any calcium deposits (calcium carbonate) that are formed from using hard water. For that the baking soda with vinegar is effective. Detergent only removes the greasy stuff, but you could have calcium deposits as well clogging drains.
You’re correct, Jonas, if you are dealing with calcium deposits than vinegar would be effective. However it would work better on it’s own… not mixed with baking soda… so the acetic acid it full strength to react with the calcium (hard water) deposits. Thanks for stopping by the site!
I landed on your blog because I used the baking soda dump + vinegar on a balcony drain that was draining slow. After dumping the baking soda (maybe a little too enthusiastic), I poured a 1/2 vinegar 1/2 water solution but after that the drained would drain the water even slower! So I tried your experiment and boiled a liter water or so and added an enzyme detergent to it (50ml or so) and flushed it to the drain and now it’s draining as never before!
I think the baking soda and vinegar solution can maybe be used monthly as a general maintenance to keep the pipes smooth and bacteria free, but you are right, boiling water with a dish wash detergent works best for commonly
clogged drains. I had a smell coming from my bathroom, so I used it there too (2x to be sure) and that’s solved too 🙂
Funny to see people holding on to the baking soda vinegar solution even when they can see the results of your experiment.
Separately, baking soda works great on removing stains and vinegar is excellent as a repellent and disinfectant (when you have pets for example). I use it as a fabric softener or when my dog peed on the carpet. The baking soda to brush my teeth and tongue once every second week or so.
Anyway, you saved me a huge bill from the plumber! Thanks!!
Thanks for sharing your results, Nick! It’s great to get another opinion. -Bren
Great site! I thought your little experiment with the butter was really convincing. I was just about to head to the store and buy some baking soda and vinegar.
Hope it works well for you, Rob!
I have read the whole thread and I don’t see what brand of detergent to use. Do you use dawn or some other brand?
You can use any hand washing detergent of your choice. I like to use a Honest Company, Seventh Generation, or Sal’s Suds because they are more environmentally friendly.
I have to admit I was a skeptic. But I had a completely clogged drain. It worked great. Just be patient. It took about four hours for me. Now the drain is completely clear. Just try it, what have you got to lose? I am a little amazed that something so simple would work.
I’m glad it worked for you, Fred!
My kitchen drain just clogged. I am always so careful about not letting anything – Especially grease – going down the drain. So I’m looking up homemade drain cleaners. Of course, almost everyone is posting the vinegar/baking soda mix.
Thank you for your very intelligent solution. Makes sense. I’m going to try it right now.
Great post, I feel like I will be more careful about what I let go down my drains after reading this post! I think we easily overlook what goes down our drain since we are so used to them working well.
So true, John!
I loooooved this post! I’m a chemical engineer and I use natural cleaners. I’ve given up on trying to convince people that they’re doing it wrong though… Ignorance is bliss I guess… Plus I have found that in general it’s easier to fool a person than it is to convince someone they’ve been fooled… Reading the comment section has been a hoot and you’re just so kind in your responses!
Thanks for commenting. I’m soooooo glad to get a thumbs up from a chemical engineer!
Just wonder if salt and boiling water should do the job?
I love using salt and boiling water! I think it works great. You can read more about it in my post How to Naturally Clean Drains.
I never would have thought that people could get so passionate about their drain cleaner. No one is attacking the choice to use the vinegar/baking soda method, Bren is simply offering another method that might work better for a certain type of clog.
I am old enough to remember that the baking soda/vinegar was for freshening your sinks but especially for freshening your garbage disposal.
I am more than willing to try something new (unless I feel that it is unsafe). Next time I have a clog, I will try this method. It makes sense. It was the same when I heard about the baking soda/vinegar method. I was willing to give it a try as I always had those two items on hand and didn’t always have the ineffective commercial drain cleaners.
Thank you for posting!
Hi, do u have any ideas on how to get rid of drain gnats?
This article has some interesting suggestions: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Drain-Flies
Hi Bren I am having an issue with drain Gnats. I just tried the baking soda/vinegar and boiling hot water I did notice a decrease in gnats but do u know of any solutions that I can try to get rid of these annoying flying pest.
Danielle, I generally clean the sink area with hot water, detergent and pour salt down the drain. I also make a gnat trap (pour a half inch of apple cider vinegar into a mason jar, cover with plastic wrap and poke a few small holes in the top with a toothpick) and make sure all fruit is in the fridge until the gnats/fruit flies are gone. Good luck!
Oh well… 🙁 At least it was fun watching the fizziness!
I agree, the fizz is great fun!
I wish I saw this post about 1 hour ago 🙁 I just was trying to clean my toilet, so smartly I thought- I put about 1/3 cup of super washing soda in the toilet and used the toilet brush to clean it, then let it sit for about 5 min and then- I put in about a cup of vinegar. Soooo now I have a cement layer in the bottom of my toilet. Its not blocking it thank goodness, but How in the world can I get the washing soda to dissolve??? I’ve just tried HOT water with a course sponge which helped some but its still there.
ANY suggestions will be much appreciated!!!
Oh no! You can try turning off the water and flushing to get as much water out as possible then pour white vinegar on the hardened washing soda. Go slowly… it will foam up! Let this soak for awhile and hopefully the straight vinegar will dissolve some of the washing soda. Hope this helps!
What a very enlightening experiment. It is indeed wise to become investigative and wise before applying these common household recommendations. Thank you for this.
Thanks for posting this, Bren. I was in the midst of monthly cleaning with a new checklist and one of the items was to clean with baking soda and vinegar. While I was looking for a good recipe, I ran across your article. Interesting thing is that the same checklist says to pour boiling water down the drain once a week.
I’m glad to be of help, Indasa!
Hi Bren, Thanks for the experiment and as for me this has been one common method for unclogging drains. I may say that this is like the first aid for clogged drains. As for me let me recommend these techniques rather than baking soda and vinegar
Salt and Baking Soda
Mix 1/2 cup of table salt with 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour down the blocked drain. Leave it for 10-20 minutes, then pour boiling water down. The salt, baking soda, and boiling water will produce a chemical reaction that should dissolve some blockages.
for a clogged toilet, pour 1/4 cup of dish detergent in the bowl. Then boil some water. The dish soap will act as a lubricant and help break up any greasy residue. Then pour the hot water down, and get ready to start plunging. If the plunger doesn’t cut it, rubber gloves may be the next option.
Bren, I really wanted your comments on salt and baking soda coz there is a chemical reaction
Thanks for the tips, Lawrie. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) and Sodium Chloride (table salt) are used to make a saline solution that is a nasal wash. I’m not sue that they create a chemical reaction that dissolves clogs, but I am sure the boiling water helps!
As I do not own a dishwasher why would I use dishwasher tablets solely for cleaning sink surfaces and plug holes themselves?. Is your article telling me to buy dishwasher detergent tablets specifically for sinks?. Whilst I do not adhere to using Vinegar or Baking Soda as household cleaners per say, I am a little perplexed by what you mean by ‘detergent’ on the whole because even clothing washing powders are a form of detergent yet do not eliminate grease (whether from bathroom tiles to plug sink holes).
washing powder is a detergent and subtle abrasive agent against mildew/grime and mould for instance, even though do not posses (none grease defying) inherent properties. Detergents of al kinds do not make stainless steal objects sparkle and shine – only ever removes some degree of old dirt and stubborn staining.
My other question – if you use Baking soda separately from Vinegar as opposed to mixing the two – cleaning results should be different?.
Why also do the infamous cleaning duo Kim and Aggie on British television always advise people to use Lemon and Vinegar to clean every part of a home? – they have a wealth of cleaning experience between them to know what they are talking about and proved themselves to be invaluable sources of cleaning wizardry.
Hi, Shikira. I use hand washing dish detergent in this experiment. “Dish detergent” is what I call it in the post, because that’s what I grew up calling it in the United States. Sorry for the intercultural confusion, I know it is called other things in other countries. I agree lemon and vinegar are great cleaners, I use them all the time in green cleaning. It’s the combination of vinegar and baking soda that neutralizes the cleaning power of both making them less effective. Hope this answers your questions! -Bren
I recently moved and had a moldy smell coming from my new apartment kitchen faucet, so I called the water authority and they said that the smell from the kitchen drain was causing it. I used Mr. Plumber to do a massive cleaning and the smell went away.
I usually use 1/2 cup baking soda and a pitcher of really hot water and leave overnight in the drain and then rinse again with plain hot water in the morning. I use a plunger( if there is a clog), but usually keeping a schedule works with the baking soda and hot water keeps drains clean.
The water authority also mentioned to use liquid dish soap and a plumber warned me years ago about the baking soda and vinegar because it will harden like rock in the pipes!
Thanks for sharing your tips, Jeanette!
Kitchen sink clog in nondisposal side. Rarely, and I mean very rarely, run water down this side of sink. I always use disposal side to rinse off/wash dishes. Clogged side is used only to drain/dry cleaned dishes on a rack. Not so sure it’s a FOG clog. First, would this nonuse cause clog? Second, what kind of detergent? liquid dishsoap, powdered or liquid laundry detergent? And how much? Third, although disposal side is not clogged, would I need to do procedure there also? Thanks for any assistance.
Nancy, I use hot water with dish detergent. I am not sure what is causing your clog. Perhaps the clog is further down the pipe once the two sides meet?
I just use a cup of bleach and a big pot of boiling water. To be more environmentally friendly you could use vinegar instead. Mine works great. Rarely need to do it.
I agree, vinegar would be a good freshener and the hot water would help open the drain.
I got a couple questions. We all know butter melts in heat, and the detergent you added hot water, yet the vinegar you did not. Is it possible the reaction was saw was just the butter melting?
Also, for your final result, how did you separate the detergent and water, and the vinegar and baking soda from the butter? I’d believe you did it somehow, but it’s under suspicion atm.
Last thing: If the final results image is correct, it really does look like a chunk of butter vs. a puddle of melted butter.
I’m not sure what to throw into question with your experiment, but I do know that there are countless people who say this works. Maybe it works for a completely different reason than what we’re unaware of
Yes, the result of the experiment was the butter (representing a grease clog) melting which is why I recommend trying hot water on FOG clogs (which are made of grease). In my final result image I use a simple kitchen spoon to take the butter out of the water/detergent and a spoon to take the butter out of the baking soda/vinegar. Yes, the images does looks like a chunk of butter vs a puddle of melted butter because that’s what it is. Hope this answers your questions.
With the vinegar and baking soda method, aren’t you also supposed to plug the sink drain(s) once you add the vinegar to the soda? I thought the idea was less that it actually dissolves the clog and more that the pressure created by the reaction of the two is supposed to dislodge the clog. At least that was what my source said the first time I tried it. If it’s merely fat clogging the drain, though, it makes sense that a hot water flush would do the trick.
I tried your hot water and dish detergent, in addition to plunging and adding a professional degreaser. The result was nothing happened. I first tried the baking soda, salt, vinegar. Like you I questioned weather that really works or the amount I had to use of them. Do you have any other suggestions?
Daisy, did you see my suggestion in this post >> how to naturally clean a drain? You might have a serious clog!
I applaud your patience, Bren. So many comments contradicting you, and you patiently and kindly remind them of what you already said.
Though I continue to love baking soda and vinegar for many household uses, I think your post makes sense. I recently had clogged drains and the plumber himself advised me to do weekly “very hot water” flushes in my sinks.
QUESTION: What would you do to prevent toilet clogs? As a homeowner whose toilets have been backing up due to tree root growth in sewer pipes, I’ve been investigating safe ways of killing those roots and preventing future clogs. So far flushing rock salt seems to be the only safe way.
Thanks for commenting, Lorel! I have read that an enzyme drain cleaner or copper sulphate can help with roots and are supposed to help with these problems. These eco-friendly drain cleaners contain enzymes and bacteria that eat through the organic material to clear your pipes. These are special products made for toilets that might help you. Good luck!
Thanks for these suggestions. I’ll look into them!
Used boiling water, detergent and rock salt. Plunged. Worked beautifully. Thank you ????!
I’m so glad it worked for you, Debra!
Just tried the vinegar and baking soda. No result.
Tried the Hot water for 2 minutes. 60 Degrees or so.
Did the trick
Thanks for commenting, Tommy! I am thrilled that the post was helpful to you! -Bren
I usually just replace the drain pipe down to the basement when it’s clogged. I can guarantee this method works. Or I don’t put stuff in the sink that I know will clog the drain like grease.
You’re quite handy to be able to replace the drain pipe! I agree, it’s best to not put clogging materials down the drain. Here’s the substances I avoid.
What about a clogged bathtub? I would think that is mostly soap scum and hair. Thanks for your reply
Vinegar dissolves soap scum so that would help with the clog, however adding baking soda would neutralize the power of the vinegar to eat through the soap. I would try vinegar first or check out my natural drain cleaning tips. Good luck!
I just checked out that website. thank you so much. I hate using chemicals, and avoid them whenever possible.
Our sink is plugged, water won’t drain due to a family member using baking soda and vinegar. When we took the pipes apart, the screen beyond the U pipe had thick sediments like cement which was the baking soda. I told my family member if baking soda and vinegar was the declogger to buy it would be sitting right next to the drain cleaners on the store shelves. THE END
correction: the U pipe trap (no screen) and beyond had white sediments which looked like cement but is baking soda. UPDATE: we used our electric snake and big chucks of white cement looking baking soda & sludge came flowing from the pipe beyond the U trap…problem solved!
sorry, spelling corrections “chunk”
Thanks for sharing, Geri! Sorry you had a clogged u pipe. It sounds like the same thing that happened to another person who commented. Excellent point about the drain cleaner shelf too.
Geri, I agree entirely about the vinegar and baking soda not working. On the other comment – if it worked it would be sitting next to the drain cleaners on the store shelf… It’s not in the store chain’s best interest financially to place a cheap alternative method of doing something on the same shelf as an expensive commercial product, sadly this is how business works and how the world works – we don’t need oil but anyone who pushes alternative green fuel get’s cut down quickly… things are changing now with the internet being available for everyone to share the truth or their experiences so let’s hope it doesn’t get shut down or controlled and perhaps we can all make the world a better place together!
As long as you don’t say that they will melt my pipes I’ll still use the combo 🙂 You were very specific on the grease and oil stipulation. My problem is my hair. That’s what clogs our bathroom drains. Thanks for the post and experiment.
Yes, this experiment addresses kitchen sink drains and the FOG clogs that typically clog the,. I have not done a hair clog experiment yet. Thanks for commenting!
This is right, it’s one of the many natural methods I use over and over again because everyone says so, with no results. Like pests, can’t tell you all the natural methods for ridding pests that everyone says works with no results, thanks for this, need more people doing experiments to test what works and what doesn’t
Bren, I love your approach! I’m old enough to remember when this vinegar/baking soda thing was first introduced, and I must tell you that it was never, ever intended to unclog drains, only freshen them, and it does do a great job at that. If I have a clog, I get out the plunger; If the drain doesn’t smell right, I get out the vinegar and baking soda.
Thanks for the input, Ann! I appreciate the background knowledge. I agree, it does work on odors.
At last Anne, the two words that resonated, freshen drains.
My kitchen is fine, but shower drain smells occasionally
No grease, so will use the soda vinegar boiling water,
end of confusion.
Thanks for experimenting! You gave convincing evidence. Awesome! I’m not wasting my time or ingredients anymore. Also cool to do with homeschoolers! Keep it up. I’ve tried the vinegar, baking soda, and HOT water………..never works well.
Great idea to do as an experiment with kids! Thanks for commenting.
I do so admire you for consistently taking the high road when dealing with comments that are anything but kind, considering we are talking about simply cleaning a drain and not world hunger and polar ice caps. I thought everyone was entitled to their opinion? I guess I was mistaken. I have found that there are many things on the internet I do not agree with. That’s what the little roller ball on my mouse is for – to roll on.
Now – let’s talk about drains 🙂 I have used baking soda and peroxide and to be honest I never saw any marked improvement. I followed all the “helpful hints” above to the letter and also tried my own way with no amazing results.
I have the beginnings of a slow drain and I am going to try – with an open mind – your method of dish soap, salt and boiling water. I will let you know the outcome!
You are very kind, Anita! I can’t wait to hear how the dish soap, salt, and nearly boiling water work for you. Please stop back with an update. Did you also see my post on naturally cleaning drain clogs? It has more easy ideas. Thanks for commenting! -Bren
I just want to share one possible outcome of the baking soda-vinegar method. I got a drain clogged by remnant baking soda which was mixed with (later coming?) oil/grease. The grease protected the baking soda from reacting with vinegar or any acid. It formed a tough mixture that cannot be dissolve by boiling-hot water and detergent, either. The only solution I found was the pluming snake. However, it was such a nightmare to snake it trough because the mixture keeps falling back and stuck together again. I had to insert a tube and flush some of them out while snaking. What I couldn’t flush out still making the drain very easy to clog again,about every year:( The problem lingers for years of snaking. Anyway, here’s one vote against baking soda-vinegar method.
Yikes, sounds like a nightmare! Thanks for stopping by to comment.
Baking soda and vinegar by themselves are great cleaners but the fizzing is the two neutralizing each other – basic chemistry. They would neutralize odors, but not move a stubborn clog. How can bubbles loosen a hair ball or dissolve grease? Would you use carbonated soda to unclog a drain? Same thing – carbonated bubbles. And most people don’t use super hot water in their sinks regularly to flush debris. The author of this blog is right – the hot water is best for getting grease moving, or using a plunger pressure to force the clog thru the drainpipe. Use the baking soda for odors, vinegar for dissolving hard water deposits, and detergent for dissolving grease. Sorry people are giving you a hard time!
Thanks, Cristina! It’s nice to have a friendly comment on this post! 🙂
I’m with you as well Bren!I completely agree and understand what your saying. Baking soda and vinegar do not cut grease!
Very very hot water (boiling) ! And dish soap or detergent of some kind do cut grease. The strong believers in the baking soda and vinegar PLEASE give this a try. Rub a little butter on the counter and wash it up first with baking soda and vinegar. Then wash it up with extremely without hurting yourself hot water and soap. Rinsing your soapy dish water down a drain alone will not unclog a drain. As Bren said you need to boil your water mix a little soap pour down drain. Guarantee this will work on a grease clog and do a better job of removing more of the clog then baking soda and vinegar would. I was using the baking soda and vinegar in my drain because it was a little slow. I wasn’t seeing any change. I ran across this post read all the comments and I hear and understand what Bren is saying. Reason being is my mother is a beautician and she always told me dawn dish soap and detergents cut grease. My husband had a grease stain on his jeans my mother told me to rub a little shampoo on the grease stain so I did and it took the stain out. Soaps cut grease baking soda and vinegar do not. I will continue to use occasionally the baking soda and vinegar in my drain as a deodorizer but that’s it. I will use boiling water and soap as my clog remover from now on. Thank you Bren!☺
Thanks Sue! 🙂
If dish detergent and hot water were enough then surely nobody would have a problem with sink clogs?? The fizzing reaction caused by baking soda and vinegar is definitely of great use to break up blockages that hot water will then rinse away.
I’m not sure that hot dishwater alone would melt a greasy FOG clog. However, as I mention in the experiment, extremely hot water (I boil mine) does a great job melting the grease that causes most kitchen sink clogs. The detergent gives the hot water a boost by helping to dissolve/carry away some of the grease. I hope you’ll try the hot water solution for yourself.
Wow all she is suggesting is to try detergent and salt. So we Thank you for your information and I plan on using your method next time I have a clog!
Thanks for commenting, Anglea. Hope you give it a try! -Bren
Contrary to this pinners belief…i have had multiple plumbers in my many years reccommend this exact method BUT with the correct 3rd componet of running hot water…critical for most home kitchen clogs.
I encourage you to try the detegent and hot water method, you might save some money and learn a new way to deal with FOG clogs.
Good info. I have doing the baking soda and vinegar. nice to see demo.
Thanks Gail, I did it all the time too…. then I did a few experiments and found that the detergent works better on greasy clogs. I also use these methods for other household clogs.
Dish detergent isn’t a ‘natural’ solution, surely…
It definitely depends on the dish detergent you choose to buy.
I’ve never had a grease clog in my sink, so hot water doesn’t work for me. Living in Florida, I’ve had food particles in slime mold and hair clogs. The vinegar and baking soda method works for stuff caught in slime mold, but I haven’t found anything but Drano that works on hair clogs, except manually removing that hair.
I’ve had much the same experience, you can read more in How To Clean a Clogged Drain.
It isn’t intended to work on grease. The purpose of the bubbling action is to loosen hair and other debris that may be the cause of the clog. Vinegar is some pretty tough stuff. In a few hours it can eat up rust, but it isn’t really an effective degreaser.
You’re right, the detergent is a much better degreaser than baking soda and vinegar.
The vinegar being tough is moot because when it reacts with the baking soda, the chemical abilities of the vinegar are completely negated by the baking soda.
Hot water alone can’t fix the clogged. Vinegar and baking soda should be use first and then hot water. Do that 3X!
I thought using vinegar and baking soda was more so for the pressure it creates to push clogs through? Put it down the drain and cover the drain so stuff moves the opposite way?
If you’re looking for pressure a plunger would work better.
A plunger will only work in a Single Bowl sink, unless you cover the second sink drain. Tightly.
So the pressure from the bubbles knows to not escape to the other side of the sink? Smart bubbles!
A kitchen drain is not a closed system (like a sealed baggie) so the bubbles will not build up pressure.
I have you used vinegar and baking soda with a hot water flush for years. I don’t do for clogs cause truthfully by doing this once every so often while cleaning my sinks and drains, I do not get clogs. Vinegar is an amazing cheap disinfectant as well as kills odors. Also, when I do this in child’s bathroom stuff will bubble up and out (sludge stuff), that never has happened with hot water. Also, I think you meant what you learned. 😉
I used the baking soda and vinegar method (let it sit for a few minutes until the bubbling stops then run the hot water) on a nasty clog in my prep sink kitchen. On the third attempt I heard a sucking, whoosh sound and the sink was completely clear. I’ve been doing this once a month in my kitchen sinks for more than a year now and so far, all clear and no more clogs.
Have you ever tried hot water alone or hot water and detergent to see if it would be just as effective on fat, oil and grease clogs while saving $ on vinegar and baking soda?
If the hot water alone were sufficient then most people wouldn’t have clogs as a large portion of people run hot water and detergent down their drains every day while washing dishes. I always felt that the benefit of the vinegar and baking soda was the friction of bubbles created in a small space, helping to mechanically bust up the clog on the inside, not dissolve it. The hot water flush afterward is what dissolves the leftover grease. (Also you could pour boiling water over your butter cube and just leave out the dish soap as well)
You are right,even a plumber said so….
You neglected to include one step when using the vinegar and soda. Flush with hot water.
Some instructions do call for this, the test shows why you can skip the vinegar baking soda and just use hot water with detergent on fat, oil and grease clogs.
I think you forgot your control. Fyi hot water vinegar and baking soda would be highly effective. You didn’t compare that.
Those would be interesting comparisons for future experiments. For this one I was simply comparing these two popular methods.
Thanks for that info.Makes sense. Any ideas how to get rid of green stain in my toilet bowl. I use bleach daily but nothings working.
Salma, I like to turn off the water to the toliet then flush to remove most of the water. Once the toilet it empty and the water has stopped running saturate rags or paper towels with vinegar and lay them over the green stain. Allow the rags to stay on the stain over night (at least 8 hours) and it should wipe out in the morning. Don’t flush the rags or paper towels, remove them from the toilet. Remember to turn the water back on! You can also use CLR in place of vinegar but I like to start with white vinegar since it is cheaper. Good luck!
Bar keepers friend, it is sold in walmart or some grocery stores.
I use the bath bombs that people give you. I crumble one up and use 1/2 of one overnight.
Works for me.
Empty the toilet bowl as Bren said then put some citric acid (also used to fight limescale, including in my kettle) and boiling water. Leave a couple of hours, overnight if necessary, then flush. Repeat if necessary. I rent so toilets bowls are usually fairly grotty however I generally manage to get them nearly white with this method. I now also change the toilet seat when I move in: my last 2 places boasted cheap broken toilet seats, which the letting agent ‘missed’ during the inventory (which I couldn’t attend as I was working).
Thanks for the tip, Helen!
Get a Scouring Stick. Soak it in water and scrub the stain. Works every time on every stain. Cheap too! Less than $2.
Thanks Jess. I’ll have to check this out!
I do it all the time, and no hot water alone won’t do a thing! Baking Soda first the vinegar let set till fizzing stops then I repeat those steps again till fizzing stops the run hot water to rinse. Works everytime!!
that is how i do it and yes it works great! i always finish with extremely hot water, that is how it is suppose to be done!
Yes, hot water with detergent and gravity pressure are key for fat, oil and grease clogs.
Finally! Someone agrees with what I’ve been saying forever. Baking soda and vinegar neutralize each other. Pretty elementary.
I’ve used hot water, baking soda, and vinegar and it’s done the job for me every time.
Thanks for commenting, Cheryl. I hope you try hot water with some detergent as well.
Bren, It absolutely astounds me that after seeing your experiment and reading the scientific explanation that people are still adamant that mixing baking soda and vinegar is effective. I have noticed this behaviour amongst the masses both now and in history – they have no idea how to properly analyse things and just stick to their beliefs no matter what proof you give them. The good thing about this is you can tell them any dumb thing and if it sounds feasible they will defend it with their life and never question it. So try to come up with an exotic product like ‘Himalayan Mud’ and ‘Boiling Water’ as a drain cleaner and you could make millions!
You’re cracking me up, Dean… Himalayan mud drain cleaner!
Bren is completely smart, whereas still stupid Westerners believe that’s a magic detergent. LOL. You should use baking soda and vinegar separtely if you want to clean, and Elliott is the one who rely on the wrong method. It would neutralise those as mild detergent chemically. Under 15 degrees of water temperature, usually cleaning doesn’t work too.
Thanks for commenting, Charlie.
I read recently to use cold water,, so oil would solidify then be washed away, while hot water would cost the pipes with the oil….so what about this theory?
If the oil or fat is in your sink I would wipe it out and throw it away instead of washing it down the drain. This is the best practice for preventing a Fat, Oil, or Grease clog from forming (and is recommended by sewage treatment plants). I’m recommending the hot water (or hot water and detergent or hot water and salt) to break through a clogged pipe. Since cold water wouldn’t melt the fat it probably wouldn’t break through the clog. -Bren
I disagree. If the baking soda and vinegar was suppose to have an impact, even a small change in the butter should be noticed. The surfactant to break down fats/oils is not there.
So obvious and makes total sense.
I would have like to have seen a change in the butter too.
Gregg E Robinson
Not really. If Vinegar and baking soda ONLY works when followed by a hot water flush, it’s safe to assume that it’s the hot water that’s the critical variable. The next experiment would be to use the boiling water alone, or with some inert ingredients to see if vinegar and baking soda (or any other ingredients) are necessary at all.
I’m a chemist, and I too have been mightily unimpressed with the drain-opening capabilities of vinegar and baking soda. My guess is that originally the procedure involved plugging the drain with some rags immediately after the V. & B.S. are added, and so use the gas pressure produced in the reaction to force the clog out. But if you try this, don’t use anything but a wad of rags to stop the drain, because the gas produced in that reaction is sufficient to shatter a thick glass jar and could burst a pipe.