Should You Pour Salt Down Your Drain At Night?

The idea that pouring salt down your drain at night is a beneficial practice took off thanks to a click-bait article a few years ago. On closer inspection, does this natural remedy to drain clogs and smells hold up? 

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of pouring salt down your drain at night, and provide alternative methods for keeping your drains clear and odor-free. 

Whether you’re dealing with a stubborn clog or are looking to prevent future problems, this article will help you make an informed decision about the best way to care for your drains.

Is There Any Benefit to Pouring Salt Down Your Drains?

women pouring baking soda down shower drain
Does pouring salt into a drain have any benefit?

SPOILER ALERT! Despite click-bait articles doing the rounds, most plumbing experts agree that pouring salt down your drain at night to help remove clogs is unlikely to do you any favors. 

The common belief that salt creates a scouring action within pipes to clean them out is, in short, not true. The quantity of salt required for this method to be effective would be huge and you would also need to use expensive coarse sea salt for it to work. So, in practice, pouring salt down your drains isn’t worth the cost nor among the most effective methods of clearing clogs.

Here comes the caveat: Using salt on its own may not be the best choice for keeping your drains clear, but there are still some benefits to its use. 

While it won’t help unclog your shower or kitchen sink drain on its own, table salt can help clear a blockage when used in conjunction with other household products such as baking powder. In addition, salt can also be beneficial at keeping away pesky drain flies and helping to absorb nasty smells.

While the “salt hack” isn’t the simple solution many would like us to believe, keep reading to learn how you can use salt to keep your drains healthy and discover other potential solutions to prevent or clear stubborn blockages!

Salt & Clogged Drains: Key Takeaways

  • Not the Cure-All Advertised – Salt alone is highly unlikely to clear your clog.
  • Multiple Alternatives – Instead of using salt, we recommend trying baking soda and vinegar, a chemical cleaner, a plumbing snake, or boiling water and dish soap.
  • Last Resort – If all else fails, call in a plumber to hydrojet your clog.

How to Keep Drains Clear With Salt

baking soda and salt mix
Pour half a cup of salt down your drain with hot water to help neutralize odors

While we wouldn’t recommend pouring salt on its own down your drain tonight, hot, salty water can be used as a preventative or deodorizing measure. If you’re interested in using salt to help prevent blockages and eliminate odors, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Pour a half cup to one cup of salt down the drain. You can use regular table salt or a coarser salt like kosher salt.
  2. Pour in 1–2 liters of hot water. The hot water helps dissolve the salt and flushes it down the drain.
  3. Repeat this process once a month to help prevent a clog forming and keep your drains smelling fresh.

It’s important to note that using salt to clean drains is not a foolproof method, and will not work for severe clogs or a stubborn blockage deep in your pipes. Additionally, if you have a septic system, it’s important to use caution when pouring salt down the drain, as it can harm the bacteria that are necessary for proper septic system function.

Lastly, avoid pouring boiling water if you have a porcelain sink or PVC pipes. The heat can cause the sink to crack and can loosen or even warp the pipes. 

How to Resolve a Drain Clog: Alternative Solutions

While unclogging drains with salt is not recommended by plumbing experts, there are several other effective solutions available to you, from using household items to picking a store-bought solution.

Baking Soda & White Vinegar

vinegar and baking soda
A staple for home-cleaning, baking soda & white vinegar are commonly used cleaners.

One of the most effective solutions to flush grease, food, and soap scum from sinks or garbage disposals is the combination of baking soda and vinegar. Here’s how to use this method:

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  2. Follow the baking soda up with half a cup of white vinegar.
  3. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes or let it sit overnight. You’ll hear fizzing and bubbling, which is the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar breaking down buildup.
  4. Flush the mixture with hot water.

Baking soda and vinegar can be effective at breaking down buildup in your pipes, and can be repeated as often as needed to keep your drains running smoothly. However, it’s important to note that this method may not be effective for severe blockages, and should not be used in conjunction with other cleaning products for drains as it can create dangerous chemical reactions.

Boiling Water & Dish Soap

top of dish soap bottle
For kitchen sinks, dish soap & hot water can be effective at preventing greasy build-ups.

Boil a pot of water on the stove and then pour it down your kitchen sink while adding a few drops of dish soap. The soap will help break up any gunk or grease that might be causing the blockage, while the water helps lubricate everything so it can move along more easily.

Drain Snake

snake drain covered in hair
Plumbing augers use mechanical action to get at difficult to reach clogs.

Drain snakes (also called augers or plumbing snakes) are an effective way to clear a clog. A plumbing snake is a long, flexible tool that can be inserted into the drain to break up and remove blockages.

Plumber’s snakes are effective at removing stubborn clogs like grease, paper towels, or sanitary products, or a large quantity of hair. They can be purchased at most hardware stores or rented from a home improvement center. However, it’s important to use caution when using a drain auger, as improper use can cause damage to your pipes or fixtures. 

Chemical Drain Cleaners

pouring drain cleaner down the drain
Typically effective at clearer out shallow clogs, a store-bought drain cleaner might be the answer.

Chemical drain cleaners dissolve buildup and debris in pipes, making them an effective solution for clogs. However, they contain several ingredients such as phosphoric acid that are harsh and can be dangerous if not used with caution. Some types may also harm pipes and septic systems, so it’s important to follow instructions carefully and avoid frequent use. 

We always recommend wearing protective gloves and glasses when using these products.

Hydro Jetting

plumber hydro-jetting toilet
If all else fails, then hiring a professional to hydro-jet your plumbing system could be the way to go.

If you’re still not having any luck clearing the clog, then hydro jetting is a professional-grade solution for clearing out your plumbing. This method uses a high-pressure stream of water to blast away buildup and debris and scour the entire interior of your pipes. 

While it’s a highly effective method for clearing out clogs, it’s important to note that you should hire a trained professional to perform hydro jetting as it can be dangerous if not done correctly. 

Wrapping Up: Is It Wise to Pour Salt Down Your Drain at Night?

Pouring salt down your drain at night, many believe, can help eliminate unpleasant odors and prevent clogs. However, while this may help to deodorize your drain, it’s generally not effective at cleaning out stubborn clogs or blockages. In fact, using salt to unclog your sink could potentially cause damage to your pipes over time. 

For clogs we suggest you try one of our alternative suggestions, and if necessary contact a plumber.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article, and if you have any questions or comments please write to us below, we always love to hear from you.

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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