A Comprehensive Guide on How to Thoroughly Clean out a Drain Using Step-by-Step Instructions and Expert Tips

Drains can easily become clogged and dirty over time, causing water to back up and creating a foul odor. To ensure that your drain operates efficiently, it’s important to regularly remove any trapped debris and clean out the pipes. Taking the time to unclog and clear your drain will not only save you from potential plumbing problems, but it will also improve the overall cleanliness of your home.

Step 1: Remove any visible debris
Start by removing any visible debris from the drain. Use gloves, if necessary, to pull out hair, soap scum, or other objects that may be causing the blockage. It’s important to tackle this step first, as it will make it easier to clean the drain thoroughly.

Step 2: Use a plunger to unclog the drain
Next, use a plunger to try and unclog the drain. Place the plunger over the drain and make sure it creates a seal. Then, vigorously plunge up and down to create suction and dislodge the debris. Repeat this process several times until the drain is clear.

Step 3: Clean the drain with a homemade solution
Once the drain is unclogged, it’s time to clean it thoroughly. Mix equal parts of vinegar and baking soda and pour the mixture down the drain. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the solution to break down any remaining residue. Finally, flush the drain with hot water to rinse away the cleaning mixture and leave the drain clear.

Gather the necessary tools

Before you begin cleaning out a drain, it’s essential to gather all the necessary tools. Having the right equipment on hand will make the process much easier and more efficient. Here are the tools you will need:

1. Plunger

A plunger is a simple but effective tool for removing clogs from a drain. Make sure you choose the right plunger for the job. For sink drains, a cup plunger is usually the best option, while a flange plunger works better for toilets.

2. Drain snake or auger

If the plunger doesn’t do the trick, a drain snake or auger can help remove stubborn clogs. These tools are designed to reach deep into the drain and clear out any blockages.

3. Bucket or basin

A bucket or basin will come in handy to catch any water or debris that may come out of the drain during the cleaning process. It will prevent messes and make cleanup easier.

4. Gloves and goggles

Wearing protective gear is important when cleaning out a drain. Gloves will protect your hands from any potential bacteria or chemicals, while goggles will shield your eyes from splashes.

Once you have gathered all these tools, you will be ready to tackle the task of cleaning out the drain. Remember to always follow proper safety precautions and use caution when working with drains.

Identify the problem

Before you can begin to unclog a drain, you need to identify the problem. There are several potential causes for a blocked drain, including:

  • Foreign objects: Items like hair, soap residue, and food scraps can build up in the drain over time and create a blockage.
  • Mineral deposits: Hard water can leave mineral deposits that accumulate in the drain and restrict water flow.
  • Tree roots: In some cases, tree roots can grow into underground pipes and create blockages.
  • Collapsed pipes: If you have older pipes, they may have collapsed or become damaged, causing blockages.

By understanding the specific cause of the blockage, you can determine the most effective method to remove it and clean out the drain. If you’re unsure of the cause or if the problem persists after attempting to unclog the drain, it may be best to seek professional help.

Remove any visible debris

Before trying to unclog or clear a drain, it is important to first remove any visible debris that may be causing the blockage. This step can help prevent further issues and make the unclogging process easier.

To remove debris from the drain, you will typically need a few common household tools:

  • Gloves
  • Long tweezers or needle-nose pliers
  • Bucket or plastic bag for disposal

Here are the steps to remove visible debris from the drain:

  1. Put on gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Use long tweezers or needle-nose pliers to reach into the drain and try to pull out any visible debris.
  3. Once you have removed as much debris as possible, place it in a bucket or plastic bag for proper disposal.

It is important to note that if the blockage is caused by something like hair or large chunks of food, you may need to remove the drain cover or stopper to access and remove the blockage. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional help if needed.

By removing any visible debris from the drain, you can help clear the way for the next steps in unclogging the drain effectively.

Use a plunger

If you have tried clearing out the blockage with a drain snake and it hasn’t worked, it’s time to bring out the plunger. A plunger is a simple but effective tool that can help remove stubborn clogs in your drain.

To use a plunger, first, ensure that there is enough water in the drain to create a seal. If needed, add water to the sink or tub until it covers the plunger’s rubber cup. This water helps create the necessary pressure to push the blockage out.

Next, place the plunger over the drain and firmly press it down to create a tight seal. Make sure the plunger covers the entire drain opening. Use your hand to hold the handle securely in place.

Once the plunger is in position, push down forcefully and then pull up rapidly. This motion creates suction and pressure that can dislodge the blockage. Repeat this plunging motion several times to increase the chances of clearing out the drain.


  • Be patient: It may take a few attempts before you see any results. Keep plunging the drain until the water starts to flow smoothly.
  • Use petroleum jelly: Applying a small amount of petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger can help create a better seal, increasing the plunger’s effectiveness.

If using a plunger doesn’t remove the blockage or if you encounter any other issues, it may be best to call a professional plumber to handle the problem.

Remember, always follow safety precautions when working with any tools or chemicals. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with the process, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Try a drain snake

If the blockage in your drain is stubborn and cannot be easily removed with a plunger, you may need to try using a drain snake. A drain snake is a long, flexible tool that is designed to unclog drains by physically removing the blockage.

To use a drain snake, insert the end with the hook or auger into the drain and push it through the pipe. As you push the snake through, rotate it to help break up the blockage. Once you feel resistance, continue pushing and rotating until the snake clears the blockage.

When using a drain snake, be cautious to not damage the pipes. Avoid using excessive force and be gentle when maneuvering the snake through the drain.

After removing the blockage, clean the drain by flushing it with hot water. This will help clear any remaining debris and ensure the drain is fully cleared. Repeat the process if necessary until the drain is completely clean and clear.

Using a drain snake can be an effective method to remove stubborn blockages and keep your drains clean and clear. It is a handy tool to have on hand for any future drain issues that may arise.

Benefits of using a drain snake
– Removes blockages effectively
– Helps maintain clean and clear drains
– Can be used for future drain issues

Create a Homemade Drain Cleaner

If your drain is completely clogged and none of the usual methods have worked to clear the blockage, you can try making your own homemade drain cleaner using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Gather the necessary ingredients

To create your homemade drain cleaner, you will need the following:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water

Mix and apply the homemade drain cleaner

To start, pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Make sure to distribute it evenly throughout the drain. Then, follow the baking soda with an equal amount of vinegar. The combination of the two will create a fizzing reaction that helps clear out blockages and unclog the drain.

After pouring the vinegar, cover the drain with a plug or a cloth to contain the reaction. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to allow the mixture to work on removing the blockage from the pipes.

Finally, boil some hot water and carefully pour it down the drain to rinse away any remaining residue and ensure a clean and clear drain.

This homemade drain cleaner is an effective and eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. However, it may not work on severe blockages or if there are underlying issues with your plumbing. If your drain continues to be blocked or the problem persists, it is recommended to contact a professional plumber for assistance.

Pour the drain cleaner

After removing any visible blockage from the drain, it’s time to pour the drain cleaner to clear out any remaining clogs. Make sure to choose a drain cleaner that is suitable for the type of clog you are dealing with.

Here is a step-by-step guide to pouring the drain cleaner:

  1. Read the instructions

    Before pouring any drain cleaner, carefully read the instructions on the bottle. Different cleaners may have specific directions for usage.

  2. Protect yourself

    Put on protective gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes from the drain cleaner chemicals. Safety should always come first.

  3. Pour the drain cleaner

    Slowly pour the drain cleaner into the drain opening. Follow the instructions on the bottle regarding the amount to be used. Usually, a specific quantity is recommended.

  4. Let it sit

    Allow the drain cleaner to sit in the drain for the suggested amount of time. This will give the chemicals enough time to dissolve the clogs and break them down.

  5. Flush with hot water

    After the recommended time has passed, flush the drain with hot water to further remove any remaining debris and clear the drain.

Pouring the drain cleaner is an essential step in unclogging drains. Ensure that you follow the instructions and take the necessary safety precautions to effectively clean and unclog your drain.

Make sure to check if the drain cleaner is safe for your type of drain.
Never mix different drain cleaners, as this can cause dangerous reactions.
Keep children and pets away from the area when using drain cleaner.

Wait and let it work

Once you have followed all the previous steps to clear out the clog and remove any debris from the drain, it’s time to let the cleaning solution work its magic. Whether you are using a homemade cleaner or a commercial drain cleaner, it’s important to give it some time to dissolve any residue or build-up inside the drain.

Typically, you should let the cleaner sit for at least 15 minutes, but make sure to read the instructions on the product you are using for specific recommendations. During this waiting period, the cleaner will break down any remaining organic materials, grease, or soap scum that may be causing the clog.

While waiting, it’s a good idea to cover the drain to prevent any accidental splashing or overflowing. You can use a paper towel or cloth to cover the drain and keep the cleaning solution contained in the pipe.

After the designated time has passed, you can proceed to the next step of cleaning the drain. This usually involves flushing the drain with hot water to help remove any loosened debris and ensure everything is washed away. Be careful when handling hot water and make sure to follow any safety precautions.

Step Actions
1 Wait for the cleaning solution to work
2 Cover the drain to prevent splashing
3 Flush the drain with hot water

Flush the drain

The first step to unclog a drain is to flush out the blockage. This can be done in a few different ways, depending on the severity of the blockage and the tools that are available. Here are a few methods to consider:

1. Boiling water

Boiling water is one of the simplest and most effective ways to clear a drain. Start by removing any visible debris or hair from the drain, and then carefully pour the boiling water down the drain. The hot water will help to dissolve and flush out any grease or oil that may be causing the blockage.

2. Baking soda and vinegar

Mixing baking soda and vinegar is another natural and effective way to clear a drain. Start by removing any visible debris or hair from the drain. Then, pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a cloth or plug to prevent the mixture from bubbling out, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Finally, flush the drain with boiling water to remove the blockage.

Remember, it’s important to take caution when working with boiling water and chemicals, so always wear protective gloves and goggles, and make sure the area is well-ventilated.

Using these methods to flush the drain can help to remove the blockage and clear the way for a proper cleaning. However, if these methods do not work or if you are unsure about tackling the task yourself, it may be best to call a professional plumber for assistance.

Check for any remaining blockage

Once you have removed the main blockage from the drain, it’s important to check for any remaining debris or obstruction that could potentially cause future issues. Even a small amount of buildup can eventually lead to another clog, so it’s important to thoroughly inspect the drain before considering the job complete.

To check for any remaining blockage, use a flashlight to get a clear view of the drain. Look for any signs of residue, such as hair, grease, or soap scum, that may have been missed during the initial cleaning process. If you notice any buildup, carefully remove it using a pair of pliers or a drain snake. This will ensure that the drain is completely clear and free from any potential blockages.

After removing any remaining blockage, run water down the drain to confirm that it is flowing freely. If the water drains without any issues and there are no signs of backup or slow drainage, then you have successfully unclogged the drain and removed all blockages.

Additional Tips:

If you are unable to completely remove the blockage or if the issue continues to persist after several attempts, it may be time to call a professional plumber. They have the necessary tools and expertise to tackle more severe blockages and ensure that your drain is completely clear.

Remember, prevention is key to avoiding future clogs. Regularly clean out your drain and be mindful of what goes down it. Avoid pouring grease, hair, or any other substances that could lead to buildup and blockages. By taking these precautions, you can keep your drain clear and prevent potential plumbing issues in the future.

Repeat the process if necessary

If the drain is still not clear after completing all the steps outlined above, you may need to repeat the process. Clearing out a drain can be a messy job, but it’s important to remove any clogs or debris that may be blocking the flow of water. Start by using a plunger to see if you can unclog the drain that way. If that doesn’t work, try using a drain snake or auger to remove any stubborn blockages. Insert the tool into the drain and rotate it to break up and remove the clog.

If these methods still don’t clear the drain, you may need to remove the trap to reach the clog. Place a bucket or pan underneath the trap to catch any water or debris that may come out. Use a wrench to loosen the slip nuts and remove the trap. Clean out any debris or clogs that you find, and then reassemble the trap. Test the drain to ensure that it is now clear and flowing properly.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to keeping your drains clean and clear. Avoid pouring grease, food scraps, hair, and other debris down the drain. Use drain covers or screens to catch any loose debris before it goes down the drain. Regularly clean out these covers or screens to prevent blockages. By taking these steps, you can help maintain the cleanliness and functionality of your drains for years to come.

Steps to Clean out a drain
1. Remove the drain cover
2. Use a plunger to unclog the drain
3. Flush the drain with hot water
4. Use baking soda and vinegar to break up stubborn clogs
5. Use a drain snake or auger to remove any remaining blockages
6. Repeat the process if necessary

Use a chemical drain cleaner

If your drain is still clogged after using the plunger or removing any visible blockage from the drain cover, you may need to use a chemical drain cleaner to clear out the obstruction.

Chemical drain cleaners are a powerful tool for clearing out stubborn clogs. They work by dissolving the blockage, allowing it to flow out of the drain easily. However, it’s important to use them correctly and safely, following the instructions on the product packaging.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a chemical drain cleaner:

  1. Remove any standing water from the drain. You can use a cup or bucket to scoop it out.
  2. Read the instructions on the drain cleaner carefully, and follow any safety precautions.
  3. Pour the recommended amount of the drain cleaner directly into the drain. Be careful not to spill it or get it on your skin or clothing.
  4. Leave the drain cleaner to work for the recommended amount of time. This is usually stated on the packaging.
  5. After the specified time has passed, flush the drain with hot water to remove any remaining residue and clear the blockage.
  6. If the drain is not yet fully clear, you may need to repeat the process or try a different method of clearing the blockage.

It’s important to note that chemical drain cleaners are not suitable for all types of drains, and they may not be effective for severe blockages. If you are unsure or have any concerns, it’s best to consult a professional plumber to handle the situation.

Remember to always store chemical drain cleaners out of reach of children and pets, and to use them in a well-ventilated area. Follow the product instructions and guidelines for proper disposal of any leftover drain cleaner.

Using a chemical drain cleaner can be an effective and efficient way to clear out a stubborn blockage and restore the proper flow in your drain. However, it’s important to use them responsibly and with caution to avoid any accidents or damage to your plumbing system.

Follow safety precautions

When working to remove a blockage from a drain and unclog it, it is important to prioritize safety. Follow these precautions to ensure a safe and successful clearing of the blockage:

1. Wear protective gloves and goggles to prevent any potential harmful substances from coming into contact with your skin or eyes.

2. Make sure to turn off any electrical appliances or fixtures in the surrounding area to avoid any potential hazards.

3. Before starting the unclogging process, remove any objects or debris from the area around the drain. This will help prevent any accidental slips or falls.

4. Use a plunger or a drain snake to clear the blockage. Avoid using strong chemical cleaners as they may damage the pipes or cause harmful fumes.

5. Take breaks if needed and do not rush the process. Applying excessive force or using improper tools can lead to injuries or further damage to the drain.

6. If the blockage persists or you are unsure about how to proceed, it is best to call a professional plumber for assistance.

By following these safety precautions, you can effectively and safely clear out any blockage from your drain without causing any harm or damage.

Consider calling a professional

If you have tried all the previous steps and your drain is still not clean or unclogged, it may be time to consider calling a professional. A professional plumber has the experience and tools necessary to effectively remove any blockage from your drain and unclog it completely. They will be able to determine the root cause of the issue and provide a long-term solution to prevent further blockages in the future.

While it may be tempting to try and clean out the drain on your own, hiring a professional can save you time, effort, and potential damage to your plumbing system. They will be able to identify any underlying issues that may be causing the blockage and offer a solution that will not only clean out the drain but also prevent future problems.

When choosing a professional, be sure to do your research and look for a reputable plumber with experience in drain cleaning. Read reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or family members who have had similar issues in the past. Don’t be afraid to ask for a quote or estimate before hiring a professional to ensure that their services fit within your budget.

Remember, a clean and unclogged drain is essential for the proper functioning of your plumbing system. So, if you are unable to remove the blockage on your own, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals for help.

Practice preventive measures

To avoid future drain blockages, it’s important to practice preventive measures to keep your drains clean and unclogged. Regularly cleaning out the drain is the best way to prevent blockages from occurring in the first place.

1. Remove hair and debris: Use a drain cover or screen to catch hair and debris before they can go down the drain. Clean out the cover or screen regularly to prevent build-up.

2. Flush with hot water: Once a week, pour boiling water down the drain to help remove any grease or gunk that may have accumulated.

3. Use baking soda and vinegar: Once a month, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it sit for a few hours, then flush it out with hot water. This can help break down any build-up in the drain.

4. Avoid dumping grease: Grease can solidify in the drain and cause blockages. Instead of pouring it down the drain, let it cool and throw it in the trash.

5. Be mindful of what goes down the drain: Avoid putting large food particles, coffee grounds, and other non-dissolvable items down the drain. Dispose of them in the trash or compost instead.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your cleaning routine, you can keep your drains clean and free from blockages, saving you time and money in the long run.