Clear A Clogged Drain With An Unexpected Staple From Your Medicine Cabinet

Who would have thought that a stomachache or heartburn could be a blessing in disguise for homeowners with sluggish drains? While both issues are a real pain, having the former may hold the key to alleviating the latter. Need proof? The next time you need to eliminate debris from pipes, forget about struggling with plungers, augers, or drain cleaning bladders. Instead, head to the medicine cabinet and take out some Alka-Seltzer.

The antacid's famous plop, plop, fizz, fizz sound is a surefire relief when you need a quick and easy fix for stubborn drains. Thanks to Alka-Seltzer's active ingredients, you don't have to rush to the hardware store when you notice standing water in your kitchen or bathroom sink. All you need to do is mix the over-the-counter tablets with vinegar to create a simple, yet effective fix for common clogs. 

It's not magic; it's science. Alka-Seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate, which acts as a base while the vinegar is an acid. When the two are combined, they spark a chemical reaction that creates carbon dioxide. The effervescence or bubbles birthed when molecules are exchanged help break up the debris causing the sink clog. What's more, the antacid solution is not only simple, but it's also cheaper than commercial liquid drain cleaners. Additionally, unlike traditional clog busters, Alka-Seltzer doesn't contain harsh chemicals, which with repeated usage, could deteriorate pipes, causing cracks and leaks over time.

How to unclog a drain with Alka-Seltzer

Some savvy homeowners already know how to make a DIY drain cleaner by mixing baking soda and vinegar. However, if your pantry is empty, having Alka-Seltzer around provides a backup solution. Furthermore, it eliminates unpleasant odors emanating from your drain due to the citric acid in the medicine. However, the key to maximizing the Alka-Seltzer hack is to attack the obstruction as quickly as possible. Don't allow the blockage to worsen while water accumulates in the sink.

To get started, use a cup, bowl, or bucket to empty any standing water that may have built up in the sink. Next, remove the sink stopper, and drop two Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain. Immediately after, pour a cup of vinegar into the drain making sure to saturate the Alka-Seltzer capsules. Listen for an aggressive fizzing, as this is a sign the chemical reaction is working. Allow the Alka-Seltzer and vinegar combo to sit for about 10 minutes. 

While you wait, boil a kettle of water, and pour it down the drain at the 10-minute mark. This will help flush out any remaining debris and aid in disintegrating any portions of the Alka-Seltzer tablets that may not have dissolved during the vinegar pour. To finish, turn on the hot water to maximum strength to ensure the drain is clear. If the drain is still sluggish, repeat the process.

Tips to consider when using Alka-Seltzer to unclog drains

While Alka-Seltzer can be an effective component of natural clog-cleaning remedies, it is not a magic bullet. The solution works best on minor clogs composed of soap scum, dead skin, and dirt, but is not powerful enough to break through thick wads of hair that may be choking your pipes. The same is true if you are using Alka-Seltzer to cure kitchen sink clogs. If you treat your sink like a trash can by filling it with grease, bones, fibrous vegetables, or coffee grounds, don't expect the chemical properties formed in the antacid-vinegar mixture to break down these hardy substances should they jam your drain.

In addition to cutting through modest clogs, Alka-Seltzer can help with drain maintenance. Just as the combo of baking soda and vinegar is often employed as a preventative method to keep drains running smoothly, merging the effervescent tablets with vinegar can likewise be used on a regular basis to prevent gunk from damming your drains. However, since the medicine-vinegar fusion has its limitations, you might consider engaging in a few other preemptive actions, such as placing mesh screens or perforated hair catchers in bathroom sinks. The handy devices stop stray locks — but not water — from flowing down the drain and creating major congestion. Additionally, if you bathe your dog in a utility sink, consider changing venues. By showering Fido outdoors in a kiddie pool you won't need to worry about fur clogging your drains.