How to Make Your Own Homemade Drain Cleaner

Updated: Apr. 24, 2023

Soap scum, grease, hair, food...your bathroom and kitchen drains have seen it all. If you notice your sinks or showers have started pooling water, it's time for a powerful cleaning with a homemade drain cleaner.

We want the works on our burgers and hot dogs, not in our sinks. Those layers of soap, grease, hair and food will start causing slow drainage and foul odors if you don’t strip them away. Luckily, you don’t need fancy store-bought chemicals to strip away grime; you just need a few basic ingredients and you’ll be on your way to clear drains.

Not only is making homemade drain cleaner easy and cheap, but it’s also safer for you. If the unknown chemicals and warnings of lung irritation and headaches on store-bought products worries you, it could be time to try taking a more simple approach to cleaning. There are many recipes for homemade cleaners that use basic (and nontoxic) things you already have around the house, and this natural drain cleaner is no different—let’s get mixing!

How to Make a Homemade Drain Cleaner

supplies for homemade drain cleaner arranged on the counter next to a kitchen sinkTMB Studio


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • Needle-Nose pliers: Needle-nose pliers can come in really handy for drains clogged with hair. Because hair is so fine, pliers make it easier to grasp the clump of hair. Use pliers if you’ve already tried unclogging a drain with the baking soda mixture and the clog hasn’t cleared.
  • Sink plunger: Mini plungers for sinks are useful for tough clogs and also as a final step when using the baking soda solution. Even if your drain seems clear after pouring the boiling water through, follow it up with a plunger to ensure you get everything out.
  • Drain snake: When baking soda, pliers and plunging fails, it’s time for a drain snake. Drain snakes will help break up a clog no matter how tough it may be.


Step 1: Mix ingredients

Hands Adding Baking Soda Salt And Cream Of Tartar To A Jar near a kitchen sinkTMB Studio

Add baking soda, salt and cream of tartar to a large glass container. Cover tightly with the lid and shake to mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Then, boil the cup of water.

Step 2: Pour down the drain

Hand Pouring Boiling Water Into Drain to create bubbling with drain cleaner already in drainTMB Studio

Pour 1/4 of this powdery mixture down a dry drain, then follow with boiling water. You will start to see bubbles forming.

Step 3: Turn on the faucet

Cold Water Pouring Into Drain to flush out drain cleanerTMB Studio

When the bubbles begin to subside, flush out the drain with cold water for about 4 minutes.

Step 4: Follow up with a plunger, pliers or drain snake

If your drain still appears clogged, follow up with a plunger to pull out any remaining obstructions. If the plunger doesn’t do it justice, try going in with needle-nose pliers or a drain snake. Learn how to make a homemade degreaser.

Drain Cleaning FAQs

Why is my drain clogged?

As gross as it is to think about, what goes up eventually must go down. So when you’re exfoliating with a loofah or using a scalp massager to work in a hair mask or shaving your legs, it’s all going down your drain. That’s right—skin flakes, hair products, soap, shaving cream, hair—it’s all pooling in your drains and clumping together into one disgusting obstruction.

Your kitchen sink also sees a good deal of soap scum and food particles. Even if you can’t see these teeny tiny bits going down the drain, they’re down there, and they are building up on the walls of your sink and shower pipes.

How can I keep my drains from clogging?

Just like when you notice your dishwasher isn’t draining and you have to clear the debris from the dishwasher filter, the same goes for your sink. Rather than letting your garbage disposal do all the work of shredding citrus peels, soggy cereal and potato chunks, insert a drain basket to catch larger bits of food. It would also be good to remember which foods could ruin your garbage disposal.

For your shower, the easiest way to keep your drain from clogging would be to insert a drain protector. These little caps work as strainers—water can flow through but hair gets trapped. This preventative tool means you’ll have less hair that escapes into your drains, making cleaning day much easier.

How often should I clean my drains?

Using the baking soda mixture twice a month will help keep your drains clog-free. No more pooling water at your feet when you’re showering or slow sink drainage when you’re trying to wash dishes!