If you’ve ever had a clogged drain, you know how messy, horrible and sometimes expensive (if you’ve got a humdinger on your hands) it can be to unclog it. The antidote? Read the following guide to setting yourself a regular home drain maintenance routine, including our Top 5 practices. We promise it’s not as nerdy, time-consuming or expensive as it sounds, and it’s actually the best way to avoid the – urrrgh – hair moment.
Why should I regularly maintain my drain?
Regular drain maintenance isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but the benefits are entirely worth it:
Reduce blocked drains
If you don’t clean the system regularly, solid matter accumulates in your pipes. The logical conclusion if left for too long is a blocked drain.
If you have a clogged drain, read How to unclog a grease-clogged drain now.
Likewise, go to the following article if your outside drain is blocked.
Get rid of bad odours
When waste matter sits in your pipes, it gives off foul odours. By cleaning your drain regularly, you’ll banish those pipe smells.
Got a smelly drain right now? Learn how to clean smelly drains.
Save money on repairs
Clogged or completely blocked pipes can damage your drainage system, which can be very expensive to repair. If you make the effort to keep your drains clean and clear, you’ll avoid a big payout.
Regularly maintaining your drains without resorting to incredibly strong chemical cleaners means you’re not poisoning the environment or local wildlife, (and it also means you’re not permanently damaging your pipes, which we’ll come back to later).
How often should drains be cleaned?
We recommend making life as easy as possible for yourself, so this means building simple and small daily, weekly and monthly habits that mean you don’t ever have to worry about being hit with a mammoth task.
Our Top 5 drain maintenance tips
It’s a natural thing for limescale, silt, grease or debris to accumulate through your waste pipes and drains. Even if you don’t experience a blockage, scaled pipes slow the flow and capacity of drains, leading to obstructions.
Scale forms at a very fast rate, especially in kitchen sink pipes and drains, and bathroom wash basins, baths and underground drains. The best thing you can do to keep this at bay as a homeowner or landlord is be mindful about what exactly is going down your drains, and to regularly maintain them.
There are some surprisingly simple and effective things you can do daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally and also for waste disposal units to ensure your pipes and drains are always clear.
1. Daily drain maintenance
Here’s our very simple rule: Keep the Big 4 Blockers out of your drain:
- Cooking grease
- Coffee grounds
- Soap scum
These substances are like Kryptonite to your drainage powers, so if you’re currently thinking: ‘What do I do with them then?’ Here’s what you do:
What to do with the Big 4 Blockers
Cooking grease: Collect it in an old jar or tin and dispose of it in the rubbish bin, or in the compost.
Coffee grounds: Put these in the bin or in the compost
Hair and soap scum: Buy a mesh sink strainer to cover your sink drain. You’ll have to empty its hideous bounty every day in the bin, but at least you won’t meet it again when it causes a huge clog and you have to call the professionals.
2. Weekly drain maintenance
Here’s a simple 5-minute task that can help dislodge any leftover grease or debris lurking in your drain. You’re going to flush your drain in 3 easy steps:
1. Boil a large pot of water
2. Pour half the boiled water down the drain
3. Wait 5 minutes then pour down the rest.
Simple, right? Just remember to do it once a week, say, on a Sunday morning, and your drain will thank you for it.
3. Monthly drain maintenance
Use an enzyme cleaner like a drain stick once a month to keep your drains fresh and clean. Brands like Ecozone make drain sticks in packs of 12 (which will last you a year). You just place one stick down your plughole into the drain, and it uses powerful natural bacteria and enzymes to break down any organic matter that hasn’t made it all the way down and is building up in your pipes or drain. This means no blockages or bad smells.
4. Seasonal drain maintenance
There’s a natural flush you can do at any time of the year – perhaps a handful of times every year, that will keep your drain spick and span (and free of smells). Here’s how:
1. Run hot water down the drain (as above)
2. Then pour 1/2 cup of baking soda
3. Then 1/2 cup of white vinegar down
The chemical reaction that happens when the baking soda and vinegar mix creates a foam that removes debris, and it also helps to kill bacteria and remove bad smells.
5. Maintenance for waste disposal units
Did you know that you can run ice cubes and slices of orange peel through your waste disposal unit to knock off any residue on your disposal blades and sharpen them at the same time?
Ice cubes sharpen the blades easily and work with slices of orange peel to dislodge any food remnants that may have slipped underneath the blades or become attached to them.
One watch out here is to make sure you slice the orange peels – if the orange peel is too large it can jam up the waste disposal.
A note on using chemicals
Chemical cleaners should only be used as a very last resort, as they can damage the seals on pipes and the actual material of the pipe, which can lead to leaks and burst pipes. Importantly, it’s also extremely harmful to the environment. Please prioritise the many natural alternatives, as shown above.
Did you know you can get cover for your home’s pipes, drains, sinks and toilets, as well as your water supply pipe? Our plumbing and drainage cover offers peace of mind that, should you experience a leak or blockage, you can rely on us to help get it sorted. If you’re looking for a one-off repair, we’re also here to help.
How do you maintain home drains?
We recommend building a few small daily, weekly and monthly habits to avoid clogging and blockages, the first of which is to keep the Big 4 Blockers out of your drain: cooking grease, coffee grounds, hair and soap scum.
Is it safe to pour boiling water down the drain?
Yes. Do this once a week to keep your kitchen sink maintained and clear of blockages.
Can baking soda and vinegar damage pipes?
No. These are completely natural substances that you can use to keep your pipes clear of build-ups of organic matter and blockages. Rather use this mixture than commercial chemical cleaners, which are harmful to your pipes and to the environment.