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How to clear a blocked drain [a simple guide]

blocked-drain-inspectionA blocked drain is something that can be surprisingly common, and this can recur if not cleared properly. If you are noticing that your water is starting to drain slower, whether it is in the kitchen sink or the shower, it might be time to tackle the issue.

How to clear a blocked drain

Luckily for you, drain unblocking can be relatively hassle-free if caught in time, and there are a collection of home remedies that you can try. Let us introduce them to you…

Baking soda and vinegar

The first of our tips for eliminating drain blockages is to use vinegar and a cup of baking soda – something that nearly all of us have in our kitchen cupboards! However, some warn that baking soda can have a corrosive effect on metallic pipes, so use your best judgement if choosing this method.

Firstly, you will want to pour some hot water straight from your kettle down the plughole, before following it up with equal parts of baking soda and then vinegar.

You should then leave this mixture to sit for 20-30 minutes with the plug firmly fixed into the plughole. If your sink or shower doesn’t have a plug, you could fill a bowl with water for weight, and rest it over the plughole. The baking soda and vinegar will work to form a chemical reaction that applies pressure to the blockage, eventually causing it to break down and clear the pipe.

After 20-30 minutes, pour some more boiling water down the drain to clear the mixture and your pipes should become clog-free.

Salt and hot water

A similar method, except this time with the absence of baking soda, is to use salt with hot water. This option may appeal to those with metallic pipes.

A related approach is taken here, placing half a cup of salt down the clogged drain first, followed by the hot water.

Once again, let it sit for 20-30 minutes with the plughole covered, before following it up with another pour of hot water.

Drain snake or clothes hangers

A slightly different approach, yet one which is often found to be effective, is to use a drain snake or clothes hanger. These long, thin, and straight tools are especially handy at following the natural curvature of your pipes.

By creating a small hook at the end of your hanger, or navigating the drain snake correctly, you could potentially fish out the obstruction. If you manage to feel this on the end of your drain cleaning device, you should slowly bring it back to the surface of your sink, shower or bath and instead throw it into the bin.

If you have retrieved the main cause of the blockage, you should find that your drains return to their optimum effectiveness. 

Call for a professional

If your blockage doesn’t seem to be clearing, no matter how much time you spend pouring hot water followed by remedies from your kitchen cupboard, it may be time to call in the professionals. Just like us here at Bromley Plumbers, they will hold the necessary knowledge, tools and safety protocols to effectively clear your blocked drains

Answers to those frequently asked questions

Whilst you’re here, what better time is there for us to answer those commonly asked questions around drain blockages?

Q: Does bleach clear a blocked drain?

A: Bleach is a great product for sanitising, but it will not clear a clogged drain, so don’t waste yours by pouring it down the sink!

Q: Does toilet paper block drains?

A: Yes, toilet paper is designed to break down in water, but a build up over time will lead to a clogged drain and a toilet that will struggle to flush.

Q: How do I know if my drains are blocked?

A: There are a handful of signs that could hint that your drains are blocked. The most obvious would be water pooling in the bottom of your bath, shower or sink. Another sign would be gurgling sounds coming from within your plughole, or unpleasant odours.

Q: Can a blocked drain clear itself?

A: Depending on the severity of the blockage, some will manage to unblock themselves over time. However, you shouldn’t leave yours in the hope that it will clear, as in many cases this could make it worse.

If you have any additional questions, are seeking professional assistance with the clearing of your drains, or are looking for advice with any other general or emergency plumbing issue, get in touch with our team at Bromley Plumbers who will be happy to help you. Give us a call on 0208 050 2707 or send us an email at

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