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Pipe Problems! Does Baking Soda and Vinegar Really Unclog Drains?

pipe problems kitchen

There are many old-wives’ tales from curing ailments to household tips & tricks. One of these tricks is that baking soda and vinegar unclog drains; possibly due to the spectacular reaction that occurs when mixing these two substances. But does it actually help with any blockage?

What Causes a Blockage?

First of all let’s take a look at what actually causes a drain blockage. Generally blockages in your sink tend to be caused by a mix of food particles, fat and oil. The problem with washing hot fat and oil down your sink is that once it cools in the drains, it may stay there indefinitely – trapping more fat, oil and food particles that pass it by.
Now why is this a problem? If you allow food to collect like this, it can lead to many blockage problems. Quite often, it starts with a pungent smell in your kitchen.

The Baking Soda and Vinegar Theory

Many people online suggest using baking soda and vinegar to clean this blockage, but is there any merit to this method? When you mix baking soda and vinegar you create a chemical reaction between an acid (Vinegar), and a bass (Baking Soda). This creates a lot of bubbles and foam and (presumably) is why many people believe it works. In reality, all it’s creating is essentially slightly salty water.

So What’s the Best Method?

The best method for cleaning a drain, other than buying a drain cleaning product or tool, is to use washing up liquid, paired with hot water. Washing up liquid mixed with fats and oils creates an emulsion which makes them considerably easier to move. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as these products are designed to clean your dirty pans and remove fat. The hot water is the most important part! Many people don’t realise that the hot water in the baking soda vinegar equation is what’s doing all the work.

How Can You Prevent Blockages?

There are many ways to prevent blockages, but as a quick guide try to:

1. Tip fat and oil out of pans into a cup and bin it later before washing.
2. Use washing up liquid to create an emulsion before washing the pan. You do this by scrubbing the fat and oil in the pan with washing up liquid before adding water, then wash away with warm water.
3. After washing, pour a full kettles worth of boiling water down your drain.

If you can’t resolve a blocked drain, be sure to call a qualified plumber as soon as possible! This could cause damage to your drains and can be costly if left for too long!

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