How to Clear a Clogged Drain Pipe: A Guide

The car’s had a service, the boiler’s undergone its yearly inspection and you’ve insured your home for another year. So it’s as if ‘Life’ itself is taunting you when something goes wrong in your property. It’s almost like it’s saying: ‘hey, don’t get too cocky! Something else needs to be fixed now…’.

Life, eh?

But that’s exactly how it feels when you a clogged drain threatens to halts day-to-day living, doesn’t it? Like: ‘why me – and why now?!’

The fact is, there’s never a good time for your bathroom sink or kitchen drains to become blocked, is there?

The first thing we’d suggest is don’t panic, as it could be that the problem’s relatively easy to solve yourself – and without the need to hire a professional.

To help you, we’ve compiled a handy DIY guide to ensure you can tackle those clogged drain pipes – quickly and efficiently. This could just be the most informative article you read all day….


So, where do you start? And how do you maintain and keep the drains clean in and outside the home?

We’ll start in the bathroom, because let’s face it, we’ve all had to put up with a clogged shower drain/bathtub or sink at least once.

How to Unblock a Shower Drain/Sink or Bathtub

We’re not going to lie to you, unblocking a shower drain or bathtub isn’t a pleasant task – but the good news is it can be done! If you’ve tried household products like Mr Muscle shower unblocker and had no luck, never fear; we’ve got just the solution!

Here’s what to do:

  • Grab some rubber gloves and protect your hands before you step into the shower. Make sure you do this without shoes on, of course.
  • Crouch down in the cubicle – do this carefully! – and have a good look around the drain. Can you see anything that’s causing the blockage?
  • With a coat hanger or crochet hook, you’ll be able to rummage around the drains easily and quickly. Simply bend the hanger to make a small hook at the end – and then just insert it down the drain
  • Keeping a plastic bag close by to discard any soap scum, place any debris from the shower into it.


  • Now, unscrew your shower’s cover and place any screws to one side, before slowly inserting the hook end of the hanger down the drain. Working gently and slowly, do this with a slight twisted motion.
  • Start tugging upwards – gently and gradually. Debris and clumps of hair might come to the surface; simply add these to your plastic bag and continue doing this until nothing else appears.

Want to check if your handiwork has done the trick? Step out of the shower and switch it on; you’ll quickly be able to see if the shower’s filling up again or if the water’s slowly draining away.

Outside the House: Clearing a Blockage in Your Yard’s Draining System

Often, homeowners who are not so passionate about gardening tend to neglect the outside of their house in general. But as you might well know, doing so can be a recipe for disaster – or at the very least result in a poorly-kept yard or garden!

So, what do you do when a blocked drain threatens to spoil your summer barbecue plans?

  • Begin by checking for any visible debris blocking the drain; this could be stones, toys, rubbish or leaves
  • Got a grate over your yard drain? Now’s the time to remove it to get a better look inside. If you see anything else, try to remove it without damaging the drain itself. Now, grab a garden hose and flush out the drain. This will remove anything causing the blockage in an instant.
  • If the problem is a little more persistent, you can often rent equipment known as ‘drain snakes’ from your local hardware store. That said, we wouldn’t always advise having a go at cleaning and unblocking the drain in this way yourself; often, it is simply better and more cost-effective to call out a professional.

Are Your Outside Drains Clear? Keep Them That Way with These Top Tips

If your drains are generally pretty clear, you should give yourself a pat on the back. Often, drains can get blocked so easily and quickly that you’re doing a good job if yours are clog-free.

It isn’t always advisable to use chemicals when it comes to unclogging the drains in your yard, as natural – or preventative – methods are usually the safest. Here’s what to do:

  • Is your yard drain gate broken? Fix it straight away; think about going for a finer screen, which will keep out the dirt and debris. however, bear in mind that a screen that is too fine will restrict the water flow
  • Don’t put anything too rigid into your drains. Doing so might damage the drain and prove costlier in the long run
  • Can you afford to have a larger drain installed in your yard? It’ll ensure water can drain away more quickly and easily

How to Clear a Clogged Outside Gutter

Don’t let your outside gutter get clogged up; just because you don’t often see it, that doesn’t mean it might not pose a problem later on. Here’s what to do:

  • Get your tools ready for the job, by positioning them close to where you’ll begin work. Having everything close by is absolutely key when you’re doing work like this
  • Now, place your ladder somewhere level. Are you using a bucket attached to your ladder with an S-hook? Or perhaps you’ve decided to use a carrier bag to collect the debris? Do whatever you can to minimise the clean-up later!
  • It’s at this stage you’ll want to pop on your rubber gloves and get going
  • Begin by removing large debris by starting at the part of the gutter closest to the downspout. Using a hand spade or garden trowel, scoop out any rubbish or debris and place it into your carrier bag
  • Now, grab your garden hose and rinse the gutter until no sign of debris remains

Think about installing a guard in the future; this will minimise the time you spend unclogging gutters in the future – trust us, you’ll be glad of them!

How to Clear a Clogged Drain Pipe: DIY Remedies

Want to know how to clear a clogged drain pipe once and for all? Sometimes, the very best options are the DIY ones! So to help you on your quest for a clear drain, why not try this homemade drain cleaner:

  • Begin by pouring boiling water down the drain, before adding some salt to break up the clog. Alternatively, half a cup of baking soda followed by the same again of vinegar should do the trick
  • Now, loosely replace the drain’s cover and allow the concoction to set for around three hours.

Et voila! You should see an improvement almost immediately.

Is grease causing your drainage problems? Here’s what to do:

  • Add half a cup of salt and half a cup of baking soda to the drain
  • Follow with a kettle-full of boiling water and allow to sit overnight

A great couple of methods for outdoor drains, these handy homemade remedies may just save you picking up the phone to a professional.

How to Clear a Blocked Washing Machine Pipe

A blocked washing machine is the last thing you’ll want, but the great news is there’s an easy way you can go about unclogging it. Follow our handy guide if your washing machine is draining a lot slower than usual:


  • Start by getting rid of any standing water in your machine
  • It’s important you unplug the machine from its electrical outlet and turn off its water supply; you can pull this out from the wall by using a screwdriver to remove the back panel from the machine. Doing so will expose the outlet pipe connection, close to the pump
  • Now, see which other appliances or water uses are connected to the outlet pipe. Run some water from one of these sources and you’ll be able to work out which pipe is clogged. If you can’t determine this, there could be a problem with the machine itself
  • Placing old cloths under the hose connecter/outlet pipe (and placing a bucket under as well), start by loosening the pipe connector. In doing this, you will be collecting any water remaining in the blocked hose.
  • Next, disconnect the other end of the hose, but only once all the water has flowed out
  • Working with caution, gently unbend any kinks in the hose. You can now push a small drain snake through the outlet pipe.
  • Working carefully, hold a hose over a bucket or sink and place a funnel in the top of it. Shaking around a quarter of a cup of baking soda into a funnel, fill a turkey baster with distilled vinegar and squirt this down the funnel. Once combined, vinegar and baking soda will froth up and help free any grease that’s clogged up over time.
  • Is liquid running out of the bottom of the hose? Now’s the time to follow the soda and vinegar concoction with some hot water. Try this whole process until the hose is clear and clog-free.


  • Test your handiwork through the outlet pipe when the hose is disconnected.

Clearing a Clogged Toilet: How To

Is your toilet blocked again? We feel your pain! Here’s how to easily unclog it – and naturally!

  • Start by putting some newspaper around the basin of the toilet on the floor. This will protect your carpet or lino should any water overflow
  • Pop on a pair of rubber gloves and put on some clothing that you’re not too worried about getting wet!


  • Now simply have a look to see if you can spot an obstruction of any kind. If you can see anything (a small toy or wad of toilet tissue), simply reach in and get rid of it.
  • Grab a plunger and give the toilet bowl a good old plunge to see if anything is moving or causing the blockage to unclog. You can even try running the plunger under hot water before using it; doing so will soften up the plunger which will help create a seal once you start using it
  • Once you’ve done your fair share of plunging, flush the toilet to check if it’s draining properly

If that didn’t work, think about trying an enzyme waste removal product; these will break down any blockages in the system, which will make clearing the toilet drain so much easier.

When Should You Call the Professionals?

Have you tried everything to ensure your pipes drain properly, yet still they’re completely clogged? Now’s the time to get the professionals in! Attempting to carry out your own plumbing work after repeated tries is likely to damage your drainage system, which will ultimately cost you more money.

Save yourself time, hassle and much-needed funds by calling in the professionals – you know it’s the right thing to do!


Avoiding a Plumbing Disaster: What to Do in the Future

Now there are few things you can do once your drains are beyond DIY assistance (other than ring a professional drain unblocking company), but there’s a great number of things you can try to prevent a blockage in the future. To help you, here are just some of them:

Grease ‘Isn’t’ the Word – The biggest culprit when it comes to blocking your drains, grease should be discarded of quickly – and in the right way. Don’t put it down your drains; instead, pop it in a container or carrier bag and put it straight into the bin. Placing it in the sink or toilet will stop your water from flowing properly and will result in a costly blockage.

If, however, you’ve already poured some down the sink by mistake, try this: add a small amount of concentrated dish washing soap into the drain and follow it with some boiling water. This will break up the build-up of grease and allow the water to flow down the drain more freely.

Say No to Soap and Scum Buildup – Okay, so it can be difficult to avoid using soap in the shower! That said, there’s plenty of ways you can minimise its impact on the drain itself and the first is simply to catch any blobs of soap before they disappear down the plughole. Keep an eye on shampoos, shaving creams and soaps and try to pick up and discard any bits that seem to clumpy to safely make it down the drain.

Catch Hair Before it Disappears Down the Drain – Just as you would keep an eye on the buildup of soap and other toiletries, you must do the same with your hair. Loose strands can find their way down your drains – along with other bits and pieces you won’t want clogging up the shower – and easily cause a problem later on.

Your Essential Drain Unblocking Kit

We’re sure you have a first aid kit close by when it comes to sorting out your family’s ailments, but what about a first aid kit for your home? Here are some ideas of things you’ll have lying around the house that you can easily add to a box in case of a drain emergency.

Rubber Gloves – It’s a dirty job unblocking a drain; keep your hands protected with some marigolds.

Caustic Soda – An old wives’ favourite, caustic soda (also known as sodium hydroxide) can be purchased at your local hardware store. However, do be careful using it; it can cause chemical burns if used incorrectly.

Caustic soda can be added to a mop bucket with cold water, before stirring with a wooden spoon. This will heat up and begin to fizz – and then it can simply be added to a drain and left for up to half an hour.

Vinegar – Another key ingredient for your drain unblocking kit, vinegar will prove helpful when a clogged shower or toilet or wreaks havoc on your home.

Baking Soda – Again, baking soda is an absolute God-send when it comes to blocking your drains. Make sure you have it in abundance, just in case.

A Lemon or Two – Want to disguise a nasty smell coming from your drains? A squirt or two of a lemon should do it!

Need help with clogged drain cleaning in Central London, London or the Home Counties? Speak to one of our team today on: 07563 571200 / 01727 875975 or email:

One comment

  • I have noticed that the water in my kitchen drain doesn’t go down as fast as it used to. I didn’t know that grease was the biggest culprit when it came to blocking drains! I will have to throw it away instead of pouring it down the drain like you suggested! I like how you mentioned, I can also pour a little soap with really hot water down the drain and that can help break up the grease in there as well! Thank you for the tips!

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