How Often Should You Clean Your Drains?

Is there really anything worse than a slow, smelly drain? Actually yes, there is: not knowing how (or how often) to clean one. Clogs in your kitchen and bathroom sinks, not to mention tub clogs, are caused by the accumulation of things like food, dirt, hair, grease, and more. And of course, there will always be situations where no matter what you do, you'll need to call in a professional for help. But for the most part, there's actually a lot you can do to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your pipes.

First and foremost, you should take preventative measures to keep clogs from happening in the first place. Those include using a mesh strainer or drain mushroom in the shower and bathroom sink that will catch rogue hair. And instead of disposing of your cooking grease down the drain, keep it in a tin or compost it. Then, when you're still inevitably faced with a stubborn blockage or just feel like giving the drains a good wash, you have a few options.

How (and how often) to clean drains

Drain cleaning can actually be a controversial topic. Many choose to stay away from chemical heavy products like Drano due to their noxious fumes and potential environmental impacts, and others flush their drains with baking soda and vinegar regularly for maintenance, per Reddit. But Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a national plumbing company chain, told Today that he recommends pouring boiling hot water down your drains weekly. You can also pour a cup of vinegar down first, let it sit, then flush it with hot water. Meanwhile, the post also suggests using an enzyme drain cleaner like Earthworm Family Safe Drain Cleaner once a month. Then, if you still get a clog that won't budge, you can break out the big guns like a drain weasel (or a straightened wire hanger) and sink plunger. If neither of those work, that's when you'll need to recruit a professional.

On the flip side, your drains may never require plumbers to unclog. Even still, it's a good idea to get them professionally cleaned every few years, per Austin, Texas-based S&D Plumbing. The tools of the trade — like high power water jets — are unmatched by any DIY clean.