Stop The Smell: How To Easily Clean A Drain With Baking Soda And Vinegar

Are you tired of dealing with smelly drains? A simple and cost-effective solution is to use baking soda and vinegar.

This all-natural method effectively breaks down buildup and removes odors, leaving your drains clean and fresh. Learn how with our in-depth article.

Using Baking Soda & Vinegar as a Drain Cleaner

Cleaning your drains can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to break the bank or require harsh chemicals. One all-natural method that yields great results is using baking soda and vinegar. 

baking soda and salt mix
Baking soda has been used for cleaning for many many years

Not only is this method cost-effective, but it also effectively removes odors and breaks down buildups in your drains. In this article, we will guide you through how to easily clean your drains with baking soda and vinegar.

At a Glance: Key Takeaways

  • Chemical Reactions: A mix of baking soda and vinegar works by generating gas bubbles that help dislodge mineral deposits and other debris while neutralizing odors.
  • Easy and Natural: This combination of household staples is a safe and natural way to clean your shower drain or bathroom sink.
  • Prevent Clogs: With routine cleaning, you can help prevent buildup and stubborn clogs.
  • Not so Good at Removing a FOG Clog: A clogged kitchen sink or garbage disposal is often the result of fatty, oily, or greasy materials (FOG). When you have one of these, you will need to take extra steps to unclog your kitchen drains.

Why is Vinegar and Baking Soda Recommended as a Drain Cleaner?

The vinegar and baking soda combination has been used to clean drains and pipes for decades thanks to it being natural and effective at breaking down gunk and removing odors. Let’s quickly take a trip back to science class to find out how the concoction works to help clean and unclog drains.  

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is alkaline, which helps to neutralize acidic substances like grease and soap scum. When combined with white vinegar (acetic acid), which unsurprisingly is acidic, the two substances create a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide. The bubbling gas helps to dissolve and dislodge buildup in the pipes. 

The mixture also helps to eliminate unpleasant odors by neutralizing bacteria that can cause them. Additionally, it is easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and safe for the environment.

What You Will Need

To get started, pull together the following household items:

  • Baking Soda (half to one cup)
  • White Vinegar (half to one cup)
  • Large Pot or Kettle
  • Hot Water
  • Sink Stopper

How to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean Drains

Pouring baking soda down sink

Now you’ve got your materials, let’s start cleaning drains.

  1. Start by removing any drain cover or stop from your garbage disposal, kitchen, or bathroom sink. Then remove drain gunk such as hair or food debris with a paper towel or your hands.
  2. Next, heat a pot of boiling water and carefully pour it down the drain to help loosen up and flush away grease clogs.
  3. Now, simply pour baking soda (half a cup) into the drain along with a half cup of vinegar.
  4. Plug the drain with a stopper – this will prevent the gas from escaping as quickly. This will assist in dislodging materials such as food particles, coffee grounds, and other organic material.
  5. Let it sit for an hour before removing the stopper and flush out the drain with more hot water. 
  6. Finally, replace any covers or stoppers that were removed at the beginning of this process.
  7. Repeat the process with hot water and the baking soda/vinegar solution if necessary.

By following this process you should have nice clean drain covers, help prevent a clog, and eliminate any bad odors.

Warning! If you have a clog in PVC pipes, it may not be wise to pour boiling water down your bathroom or kitchen drain. Instead, heat the water on a stove until you have very hot water (but not boiling) and use this.

Why Baking Soda and Vinegar Is Not Always the Best Solution

For greasy clogs boiling water & dish soap works better to loosen it up

Let me explain. While conventional wisdom holds that this is a great way of unclogging drains, it doesn’t always hold true in reality. 

While baking soda and vinegar works to free up food, hair etc, it doesn’t tackle fatty, oily, or greasy clogs particularly well.

If you have a sink or garbage disposal that is draining slowly or a completely clogged drain on your hands, then you’ll need to take some extra steps:

  1. Start by using a plunger to help dislodge any buildups. Place the plunger over the drain cover, press down firmly, and then release the handle. Repeat this process and remove the plunger to see if the tub drains the standing water.
  2. Boil hot water as above, but this time add a few drops of Dawn dish soap to the water. The soap works to dissolve the fat or grease and suspend it in water, removing the clog. 
  3. Once cold water begins to run through the drain or garbage disposal, then you can proceed with step 2 above to help remove any odors or remaining particles of food or gunk.


How do you determine if you have a blocked drain?

The most obvious indication that a drain is clogged or becoming clogged is simply that water does not drain, or drains slowly.

How often should you maintain your drains?

You should clean your drains using boiling water and dish soap once a week. In addition, use baking soda for regular monthly maintenance.

What measures can you take to prevent clogged drains?

The three main measures include: (1) Using a mesh guard can prevent hair or food particles from entering the drains; (2) Avoid disposing of grease down the sink; (3) Using a strainer/basket in the shower to catch hair.

About the author

An accomplished plumber with more than 15 years of experience in the industry, David "Fitz" Fitzgerald began as an apprentice and steadily worked his way up to become a fully licensed and certified master plumber.

With extensive training in all aspects of plumbing. David is well-versed in the installation, repair, and maintenance of plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and is able to troubleshoot and solve even the most complex plumbing issues.

He loves to share his wealth of knowledge and looks forward to engaging with the community here on No Hassle Plumbing.

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