Knowing how to unclog a drain is an important life skill. But what’s even better than successfully unclogging a drain? Not having to do it in the first place. The problem is, many people tend to think of a drain as a way to get rid of things — whether or not our drains are equipped to handle them.
OK, yes, that’s the point of having a garbage disposal, but they’re only meant to tackle food waste, and the drains in your bathroom sink and tub aren’t capable of that. (And let’s not forgot those among us who do not have garbage disposals on their kitchen sink.)
Anyway, it’s in your best interest to maintain your drain. In an article for Hunker, Michelle Miley explains how to do that. Here’s what to know.
Don’t ignore existing clogs (even if they’re minor)
If you’ve noticed that your sink or tub is taking forever to fully drain — but does so eventually — you may already have a small clog. But, since you’re still technically able to use it, you may decide to ignore it and hope it goes away. But it probably won’t. It’ll continue to grow, and get worse.
And don’t just grab a bottle of chemical drain cleaner and call it a day, Miley says. That can end up damaging your pipes. Instead, she says to use a sink plunger or drain snake to deal with it. (And if that doesn’t work, it’s time to call a plumber.)
Don’t put oil down the drain
Keep an old coffee can (or some other receptacle) under your kitchen sink, and pour any excess cooking oil into it before washing the pot or pan instead of letting it go down the drain, Miley says. And, no: running the hot water for a while after the oil doesn’t work, she adds.
Keep it clean
Although running hot water won’t undo the damage caused by grease, Miley says that pouring a pot of boiling water down your drains once a week is a good way to flush out debris, and keep your pipes free and clear.
And here’s Miley with another helpful tip to keep your drains clean:
Close the drain stopper and fill your sinks to the brim with water. When the sink is full, pull out the stopper and allow the sink to drain. The water pressure from the full sink can help dislodge small particles in your pipes and wash them away.
Take care of the hair
Bathroom sinks and tubs have a tendency to develop clogs thanks to hair that went down the drain. If you have this problem, Miley recommends getting a wire mesh cover to put over the drain to catch the hair. Another option is to brush your hair before taking a shower, so less will end up headed for the drain.