When is comes to common drain issues, cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar is often recommended as a DIY solution. The idea behind this is that when you mix baking soda and vinegar, a chemical reaction occurs that creates a fizzy foam that can help break up clogs and clear your drain.
However, despite the popularity of this method, there is actually very little evidence to support the claim that baking soda and vinegar are effective drain cleaners. In fact, using these two ingredients together can sometimes do more harm than good. Everyone seems to have their own passionate and differing opinion on this subject.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar is not a good idea in many cases. First and foremost, before we get into the “negative”, you should realize that the basic premises is that baking soda and vinegar combined creates gas. Gas in an enclosed environment creates pressure. Therefore, in ideal circumstances baking soda and vinegar can push out simple drain clogs in smaller pipes, such as sink drains. If that’s the route you’re looking to take, read this complete step-by step guide to using baking soda and vinegar to clean drains.
An Alternative To Cleaning Drains With Baking Soda And Vinegar
In most cases involving a drain clog under a plumbing fixture, it is typically a trap stoppage. By typical code standards all plumbing fixtures are supposed to have their own individual trap. A sewer or drain trap is a U shaped fitting that deliberately holds water to prevent sewer gasses from entering into your home.
A drain trap is likewise a typical place for fat, oil, grease, or debris to accumulate and form a clog. In many cases by far the easiest way to clear a simple clog is to remove the trap itself. Physically cleaning out a small trap is easy, and is a 100% cure for the vast majority of clogs affecting plumbing fixtures such as sinks, area drains, tubs, and showers. Here’s a link to a quick tutorial on how to clean or change a drain trap.
Cleaning Drains With Baking Soda And Vinegar: 4 Points To Consider
- The chemical reaction is not powerful enough to dissolve clogs
One of the main reasons why cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar is not effective is that the chemical reaction between the two ingredients is simply not meant to dissolve tough clogs. The fizzing reaction and gas created may help loosen some small blockages. However, it is not typically strong enough to break down larger clogs, or remove hard-to-reach debris.
As a result of the above facts, if you have a serious drain clog, using baking soda and vinegar is unlikely to be effective.
- The reaction of cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar can damage pipes
Another issue with using baking soda and vinegar to clean drains is that the chemical reaction between the two ingredients can actually cause damage to your pipes. When you mix baking soda and vinegar, the resulting chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide gas. This gas can build up inside your pipes, causing pressure to build and potentially leading to cracks or leaks in older pipes.
In addition to the potential issue of the pressure of the gas, the high acidity of vinegar can also damage certain types of pipes over time, particularly older pipes made from copper or brass.
- Baking soda and vinegar can create a messy clean-up
Using baking soda and vinegar to clean drains can also create a mess that can be difficult to clean up. As the ingredients react with each other, they can create a foamy, bubbling mess that can overflow from the drain and onto your sink or countertop. This can be particularly problematic if you are using a lot of baking soda or vinegar, as the reaction can quickly get out of control and cause a big mess.
- There are more effective and safer alternatives available
Fortunately, there are many other effective and safer alternatives available for cleaning drains. For example, you can use a plunger or a drain snake to break up clogs and remove debris.
Additionally, there are many commercial drain cleaning products available that are specifically designed to dissolve tough clogs and clear your pipes. These products often contain powerful chemicals that can break down hair, grease, and other debris that may be clogging your drain. However, it’s important to read the instructions carefully and use these products safely, as they can be harmful if misused.
Lastly, in some cases a professional drain cleaner might have to be contacted. In some extremely rare cases, such as basement sink backing up, the actual clog could be from a main house sewer line issue, but it is essentially never indicative of a situation calling for a house sewer repair.
Closing Comments About Cleaning Drains With Baking Soda And Vinegar
In conclusion, while baking soda and vinegar may seem like a simple and easy solution for cleaning drains, they are not actually very effective in most cases. In some cases, baking soda and vinegar can even cause damage to your pipes. Instead it’s best to use other methods such as a plunger or drain snake, or removing your trap to empty out the probable blockage.
You can also consider using a commercial drain cleaner that is specifically designed for tough clogs. Remember, just because you hear that reassuring fizzing and bubbling sound, you’re not necessarily cleaning your drains with baking soda and vinegar. By using the right tools and taking the necessary precautions, you can keep your drains clean and running smoothly for years to come.