Hey guys, howzit?
If you are, or know someone who is, a person with excessive facial hair, this one's for you.
So I trimmed my beard recently, and, like an idiot, neglected to clear the larger masses of hair before rinsing out the sink over which I do my trimming.
I thought, naively, that the hair would simply be flushed down as so many of its predecessors had been.
I was wrong. What I ended up with was a sink that wouldn't drain as a result of my foolishness.
Apparently, I have such remarkably strong and healthy hair, that the attempts of tweezers and even Dran-O were insufficient to reopen the clogged waterway.
Then I happened upon an idea, fresh from the third grade science fair.
Vinegar and Baking soda.

(PS: these photos were taken after the fact, so imagine if you will, a snarling mass of hair and myself in shimmering armor standing ready to do battle with it.)
(PPS: or just imagine a clogged sink and a slightly de-bearded guy...)

Step 1: GET!

  • Vinegar.
  • Baking Soda. SODA. Not POWDER. SODA.
  • Spoon!
  • A clogged sink. Mine was clogged with my own beard trimmings, but I leave you to your own devices for that one.

Step 2: OBEY!

Take a spoonful (or two) of baking SODA, and put it in your sink.
Since my drain was clear of hair at the picture taking time, I had to give it a couple of spoonfuls for dramatic effect.

Step 3: SUBMIT!

Pour some vinegar into the drain. I stopped when I heard fizzing, because I didn't want to wash all the SODA down the drain.

Step 4: Turn Your Head and COUGH!

What happens is a lot of fun, as well as useful.
The baking SODA and vinegar combine, creating a mass of foaming death that violently surges upwards in an attempt to break free of its sink-y tomb.
It also fizzes fairly quickly, hopefully bringing any light debris (read: beard hair) up with it, where it can be safely (but no less disgustingly) grabbed and disposed of properly.


Last, put he Baking SODA in your refrigerator; it keeps food fresh and hairless (always a good thing...)
Interesting idea. Will this clear a drain if the clog isn't merely "loose debris"? Another good way to get more violence out of this reaction is to microwave your vinegar (in a micro-wave safe container) to near-boiling. I've used this method to descale faucet aerators before.
You shouldn't microwave liquids (viscous ones like soup aren't a problem). I know you can without any problems but here is the risk: Bubbles form in boiling water around impurities in the liquid or imperfections in the surface of the container. As the water gets hotter the bubbles slowly begin to get larger and rise. This process takes time, as the water is heated along a gentle thermal gradient. A microwave is capable of heating water faster than bubble formation occurring. This can result in water in an impossible state, heated beyond 100C and still a liquid. Any shock to the system, throw in a grain of rice/acoustic shock the container, can cause the water to "leap" from the container and virtually explode in all directions. 100C+ water flying about your kitchen? Not cool. Thin (non viscous) liquids should be heated in a pan on a hob. I know you said near-boiling, but my point is that it is very hard to judge that in a microwave. Be safe kids
I've wanted an answer to that phenomenon for a long time. Thanks for answering the question I never got around to asking.?
The traditional solution to this problem (which can also occur if you're boiling liquid on the stove in a pan/pot/kettle with a glass or otherwise almost perfectly smooth surface) is a "boiling stone" -- a piece of irregular rock (or some more sanitary, scientific alternative for food--for this, I suspect any small irregular pebble would work fine -- the more porous the better). Putting this in before boiling ensures that there are nucleation sites to encourage the constant formation of bubbles as it heats, so you don't have kind of nasty massive critical single-bubble overload lasersage is describing.
Interesting. Good point about glass on the hob, I hadn't considered that. I like the boiling stone idea, I've never come across it before.
We have 'em in the lab, they're called boiling chips. They're in the manual in every fricking lab gut professor always says not to bother with them (we do all boiling of things in the hood.)
I use a few grains of salt or sugar (depending on the food item- salt in my tea? No thanks). If the traditional exploding-microwaved-coffee is caused by adding powdered sugar, head off the problem and put a little in before heating it. I wonder if putting the vinegar down the drain and quickly putting the plug in would be a good idea? It might pressurise and blow the blockage down the drain, or it might shoot out of the overflow and get all over you.
Haha.. I have personal experience very similar to what you've just postulated. Plumbers will sometimes do something called "ballooning" the line when a drain snake won't clear things out. Basically what they do is hook a special hose up to your drain line that creates a seal and pressurizes the line between the drain and the clog, forcing it through. Well in my case, the clog was in there pretty good I guess and ended up blowing out into my bathroom (from the kitchen) up through the sink and bathtub. They didn't notice until we heard water dripping through the floor into the basement. The guy swore that had never happened before, but I never want to clean up such a stinky mess like that again. So, in most normal homes, a little pressure caused by a chemical reaction probably won't hurt anything, but you'd be safer plugging other drains around the house too.
Thanks for including the safety tip/disclaimer I should have.
Awh yeah, or some conc H2SO4 lol Aaron
Heh - didn't see this till now so here's a poetic reply; Johnny was a chemist's son But Johnny is no more What Johnny thought was H2O Was H2SO4
<p>I've had more success with snakes with saw-tooth shaped hooks on the sides. You can get plastic ones for pretty cheap. They'll pull all that gunk right out!<br><br>Jim | &lt;a href='http://www.benfranklinplumbingmorganton.com/sewer-and-drain-cleaning-hickory/' &gt; http://www.benfranklinplumbingmorganton.com/sewer-and-drain-cleaning-hickory/&lt;/a&gt;</p>
TY author - I had much success!
Alka Seltzer tablets work too.
OMG! I did it and it worked perfectly. My sink runs smoothly now and the process also cleaned a stain that was driving me crazy!<br>5 stars!
hells yes! but have you tried the NaOH and H2O method? really burns through....everything.
Yeah but instead of robbing the school chem lab cupboard you could just buy drain cleaner which is basically NaOH anyway. (Pun intended, couldn't resist, sorry.)
you obviously didnt read the instructable its VINNEGAR and BAKING POWDER! (lol i know its soda)
Aaron of the long name, are you responding to me? I was responding to aphesia who suggested NaOH and H2O. Which drain cleaner is already made of. My comment implies your comment, LOL
huh im sorry you lost me man
i didnt it and nothing happened you said baking powder and vinnegar right? (lol just messing)
Great idea, I have a clog now that I need to try this on.
I've had this happen to my parents sink, they tried everything they could think of drano hot water ,ect. But the blockage was not in the trap (they have a rubber trap you can feel if it is clogged) ,but I fixed it by taking the upper part Ie unscrewing the top flange ,then the tee part this sink had a pull up rod type drain you pull up to close the drain and fill the sink. Well anyway I took those parts apart & the parts had a thick slimy sluge which was blocking the drain, all I did was clean them out & no more problems ! As for the shower that has a cross peace of metal in it I had to pull hair & other gross things out with forcepts very gross but it worked & no need for chemicals !!
LoL!!!!! thasts funny ;D
Easiest way to clear a sink drain is to get a bucket and take the trap off, clean it and put it back. 3 minutes tops, works better and longer lasting fix. Still, thanks for a funny instructable.
the drains here have removable bottom pieces the bottom piece holds debris(hopefully)
Such traps are available here in the States, but for some reason they don't seem to be commonly installed. Job security for the plumbers perhaps? No need to make it too easy for the home owner to clear a trap. ;)
Traps NEED to have a trap installed ! If you don't hazardous Gases can come up the drain and ..... Bad things happen (eg; YOU CAN GET REALLY SICK)....
Please read more carefully. Nobody's talking about not installing traps. static was talking about a specific type of trap that makes it easy to remove clogs, versus ones where it's hard and you might have to call a plumber.
At our house all the under-sink waste plumbing is PVC with the trap held on by a compression fitting. You can take it off without tools in 30 seconds. Of course, it's so slippery that it almost never has anything stuck in it, but it does let you get access to the mass of crud hanging from hairs draped over the plug lever, which is where the stoppage almost always is in PVC systems, since the PVC almost never harbors a plug unless the size is reduced along the way, which is unlikely. If the plumbing is chromed brass (the usual alternative to PVC) add an extra 5 minutes to go to the tool box and get a wrench, and put it back again later.
Cool instructable!
You want to watch out for the use of some of the very corrosive combinations or the ones that produce a lot of heat- The corrosive combinations could damage the pipes and the ones that produce a lot of heat can also damage the pipes (PVC).
Would this work with a clogged (slow flushing) toliet?
Probably not. Toilet drains tend to hold so much water that it will dilute anything you put down. That said, don't go sticking down super harsh chemicals like caustic soda as it is capable of stripping the glaze from the soil pipes. Then nothing will ever flow well again. The source of most toilet blockage isn't the toilet but is usually further down the drain. Try lifting the manhole in your garden and seeing what's flowing there. Drain cleaning me are about £100 for 15 mins work, drain rods are about £25 and you can use them again and again. Just wash your hands really well after playing in a drain :)
what?i never heard such things,you americans use soil pipes?here pvc is used till it goes into the sewer,which is concrete pipe
I'm not American! I live in UK and am English and a soil pipe only refers to what it takes, it gives no description of what its made of. Soil means poo in this case, like "oh no, I've soiled my pants" :) PVC might be the way for new builds, but I live in a 1930s built house and our drain consists of a PVC U bend behind the loo, PVC (or maybe ABS) pipe down the outside of our house into the ground, then in the ground its multiple sections of glazed concrete/cermic type stuff. Like teracota looking. Because its a relatively old house, some of the sections don't quite line up anymore, so it can clog, but a good poke with a drain rod and chucking a bucket of water down usually sees off any trouble.
Old construction, or old building codes, like in Chicago, where PVC is pretty much outlawed (though I'm not sure about for waste pipes).
Toilets are a completely different beast. There's so much water involved with a flushing toilet that I doubt the baking soda/vinegar solution would work at all. Also, the pressure built up would simply blow up and out the bowl. Yuck!
use a bucket, 9lieters at once, or a high pressure hose
     If you don't have vinegar and baking soda, some coke and mentos would probably work pretty well.
the mentos wouldn't fit past the blockage. of cource a fountain of coke coming out of your sink is still cool
I like it :) You could try and send the soda and vinegar in past the hair down a drinking straw or something. It might even bring up more hair that way. Or if you want to get really chemical on it you could try hair removing cream :) bit harsh on the environment though I guess. I usually go with the good old, bent bit of wire, lets go plug hole fishing. Manky but effective. Your way is more exciting. Refridgerate? Really? Mine keeps fine in the cupboard, maybe I missed something...
How about this for a crazy idea. Since the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar make bubbles, meaning gases are being created, could you add the two chemicals down the drain and then place a wet rag held down tight over the drain in the sink? That way the expanding gases would push the debris further down the drain and hopefully far enough to where the sewer pipes get bigger, eliminating the blockage.
OR the rag might get loose and it could spray nasty gunk in all directions! Still fun..
True, although it wouldn't be as dangerous as using a lye based drain cleaner like Drano. Aaaaargh my eyes, my eyes!
Couldn't you use a rubber plug though? And what about for showers? The shower in my bathroom drains water very slowly. The water level usually rises above my feet.... I think I might try this...
I definitely would try it on the shower. Now if it's a shower which is part of the bathtub, you'll have to also hold a rag over the overflow drain at the top edge of the bathtub under the faucet, as the pressure will otherwise simply shoot up and out of this overflow drain. I think it should work though. And since the chemicals are essentially harmless, you don't have to worry about if the baking soda or the vinegar gets on your skin, so it could even be done just before you take a shower! Just hop in the shower with the chemicals and the rags, blow the gunk down the drain, turn on the shower and wash yourself and the shower clean. Yes, I'm advocating naked shower cleaning!
its a bit disturbing with your username added to the mix
bicarbonate soda cant hold life as far as i know so it cant go off, but it does keep the fridge smelling cleanish.
you don't have to refrigerate your baking soda....putting baking soda in the fridge keeps all the gross smells in your fridge at bay (ever eaten cheese that tasted like onions? blech!)

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