Introduction: Unclog Drains Environmentally 'friendlily'

Problem: You have a clogged shower/bathtub/sink

Solution: Dump terribly dangerous chemicals down there and hope for the best?


Chemicals are a dumb first choice because:

  • Chemicals might not solve the problem, and if you dump chemicals down the hole AND THEN opt for a physical solution, the harmful chemicals might come up and burn you and/or your stuff.
  • They might actually damage your pipes.
  • They are bad for the environment :(
  • They cost money
  • They rob you of a perfectly good opportunity to build something fun!

Therefore, please try a physical solution first!

Physical solutions involve trying to either pull the nasty obstruction up and out, or to break it up and therefore allow the water to flow freely.

I'll teach u how to do a fun one here that costs nothing and takes about 10 minutes to prepare.

Step 1: Identify a Large (read Tall) Empty Plastic Bottle

Think about the water that used to be inside it. Be thankful that you have an adequate water source. In contrast, if you don't have an adequate water source, be thankful you have access to the instructables website.

Other than the bottle, you will also need:

  • Scissors
  • Knife

Step 2: Cut!

Cut the bottle thusly (see pic 1):

  1. Start with the knife, making a hole about half-way down
  2. Then use the scissors to cut the rest
    1. cut THROUGH the bottle bottom, and up the other side.
    2. When you get to the mouth of the bottle, cut around and back down on the same 'side', making a small U-turn. This is going to be the bottom of the strip. Aim to make it less than 5 cm (2 in) wide.
    3. Cut down, through the bottom again, and up the other side again. By now, the entire middle of the bottle should be a weird flap.
    4. Now separate out the two useless sides ("half-bottles") by just cutting around them (see pic 2).
  3. By now you should have a very long strip (the erstwhile middle of the bottle). Now, just trim the sides so that they are even and the strip is thin enough to be inserted in the offending drain (see pic 3).
    1. Keep the two "half-bottle" sides for a future project!
  4. Trim around the mouth of the bottle so that your finger fits very comfortably inside and you don't feel like the edge is gonna cut you (see pic 4).

If you did it right, the strip should be more than twice the length of the bottle! It should look like the above depiction of the real bottle (see pic 3).

Step 3: Cut "barbs" Into the Bottom of the Strip

With scissors cut serrations into the bottom 1/3 of the strip or so. Think of the tip of an arrow (as in bow and arrow... the principle is the same). Make sure that the serrations/barbs "point" up when you put the tip into the drain. The barbs should be different sizes to "catch" big stuff and small stuff.

Step 4: Now Target That Nasty Drain!

  1. First, let it drain completely. Take a picture with your camera-phone (if you have one) to understand your opponent, that Terrible Clog. In my case I had this bar in the middle and my clog under the bend in the pipe... that informed the angle of insertion of the plastic contraption.
  2. Run the water and let the water back up again. This is going to help break up the clog by gently convincing particles to go one way or the other.
  3. Insert the plastic clog-murderer into the drain in the best position for your clog/plumbing situation.
  4. Keep pushing it down until you hit the obstruction. When you do, keep pushing, bobbing it up and down a bit as you go.
  5. When you feel like you have 'got something', pull it up to remove "hair-babies" or other such undesirables. Keep doing this until you aren't pulling anything up anymore.
  6. If you're not pulling anything up (anymore), either give your plastic snake wider serrations or just keep pushing it down as far as it goes (bobbing it back up ocasionally). Most times, even if you can't pull the clog up, you can kind of break it up by poking it with your very thin plastic snake.

Step 5: WIN

  • Show off to your friends.
  • Do not show any "hair-babies" that you pulled up to anyone. OK, show them to everyone... they are awesome! But no social media please.
  • Then flush anything you pulled up down the toilet, it can deal with it.

If you enjoyed this instructable, please vote!

Tools Contest

Participated in the
Tools Contest