Unclog and freshen your sink drains

Right now we live in an old rental house, and we inherited from the prior tenants several nasty, clogged drains. These were slow to drain water and emitted foul odors. That is, until I unclogged and freshened them!

This is a process that takes only 10 minutes but feels incredibly satisfying. No complicated gadgets, toxic chemicals or prior knowledge is required.

Part 1: Unclogging

What you’ll need:

  • One Zip-It drain cleaning tool. These are cheap and easy to come by. It’s basically just a plastic stick with big sharp teeth on it. Seriously, these are available in any hardware store or on Amazon. I keep a few of them under my bathroom sink, because you discard them after one use. (You’ll see why.)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bag
  • Pair of tweezers (optional)
  • Gloves if you’re squeamish.


  1. Put on gloves if you’re easily grossed out.
  2. Stick the Zip-It all the way down into the drain. I like to wiggle it around a little once it’s in there. You want those teeth to grab onto all the hair, soap scum, etc. that it can.
  3. Okay, here’s where things get gross. Slowly(!) pull the Zip-It out of the drain. It should be covered in chunks of nastiness. I use a paper towel to catch all the gross stuff that comes out, and then I dispose of it in the plastic bag. You’re not technically supposed to put the same Zip-It down the drain again, but sometimes I do.
  4. Once you’ve used the Zip-It 1-2 times, discard the Zip-It in the plastic bag.
  5. This process so far will undoubtedly have helped dredge up some drain crud. Now use the tweezers (if necessary) to grab onto any remaining hair or chunks that you see near the drain hole. Again, discard all chunks and paper towels into the plastic bag.

Next… it’s time to freshen that nasty drain!

Part 2: Freshening!

I learned this technique called “volcanoing” from UFYH (a horribly dirty-mouthed but brilliant website for people who are lazy about cleaning)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda. (1 cup should be plenty for one drain)
  • Distilled white vinegar (1 cup should be plenty for one drain)
  • Small funnel (optional)
  • Kettle of hot water


  1. Stick the funnel into your drain and use it to pack as much baking soda down into there as you can.
  2. Next, pour a cup of the vinegar directly into the drain. This combination will bubble and fizz like crazy. Wait 5 minutes to let it do its work fully.
  3. Finish off the freshening by pouring a kettle of hot water down the drain. (If you’ve got PVC pipes or aren’t sure what type of pipes you have, use instead the hottest tap water your sink will produce – rather than boiling a kettle of water.)
  4. Voila! FRESHNESS!

Thoughts on this? Other ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!