How To: Make Your Own Drain Cleaner

The next time your sink or tub drain is clogged, forget those caustic commercial products and try this homemade drain-cleaning recipe instead.

By Bob Vila | Updated Mar 10, 2021 11:08 AM

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Homemade Drain Cleaner - For the Bathroom Sink


When your sink or shower drain gets clogged, it’s pretty easy to figure out the cause. The perp is usually a disgusting mixture of hair and soap scum that’s built up over time. The quick fix often involves shelling out cash for a caustic, potentially toxic drain cleaner, but even that provides—at best—only temporary relief. It doesn’t have to be this way! The next time you’re stuck with a clog, don’t race out to the hardware store. Instead, scour your kitchen cabinets for a few basic materials and mix up your own cheaper, chemical-free homemade drain cleaner that’s guaranteed to break up even the worst drain buildup.

Step 1

First, use a small bucket to shovel out any accumulated water in the sink or tub (you can transfer to the toilet). Then take off the drain cover and clean around the inside edges of the top of the drain using any old bathroom cleaner. If you notice any hair or soap scum close to the surface, take a paper towel to reach in and pull it out.

Step 2

Combine the baking soda (1/2 cup), salt (1/2 cup), and cream of tartar (1/8 cup) in the mason jar.

The salt and baking soda will help break up the clog, while the cream of tartar—which is probably hanging out on your spice rack or with your baking supplies—cleans metals. Put the lid on the mason jar and give the homemade drain cleaner mixture a good shake before pouring half of it down the drain. Save the other half for your next drain cleaning.

Step 3

Pour two cups of boiling water down the drain (this is easiest to do if you heat the water in a teakettle), and let everything sit for at least an hour. You may want to put on rubber gloves before pouring the water down the drain so you don’t get scalded.

Step 4

After an hour has passed, run the sink or tub tap for a few minutes to clear the homemade drain cleaner from your drain and make sure the clog is gone. Use paper towels to wipe up any residual powder. And now that you have such a quick, low-cost solution at the ready, keep future clogs at bay by making cleaning your drain part of your regular routine.