How Drain Cleaners Work

Preventing Clogged Drains

Good habits and basic maintenance can help prevent those dreaded clogs. First, don't tempt fate by dumping food in the sink or pouring grease down the drain. Put food and coffee grounds in the trash, and let grease cool and then put it in a container and throw it away.

Keep sink strainers in place -- they're there for a reason -- and clean them frequently. If you have a garbage disposal, be sure to run cold water while you're grinding up food scraps. If you don't use enough water, you may encourage food particles to build up in the drain [source: Lowe's].


In the bathroom, remove the sink stopper and clean it often. Small screen covers, often available in stores, can help keep hair and other pesky materials out of drains. Don't flush paper towels or other heavy paper products down toilets.

Once a week, pour hot water down your drains to help dissolve grease, soap scum and other buildup before it clogs the pipes. If you have a home septic system, have it inspected every few years -- it may need pumping after several years.

For more information on drain cleaners and how to prevent clogs, see the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


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  • Drano. (Accessed July 7, 2009)
  • Goodway. "Drain Cleaner and Drain Cleaning." (Accessed July 14, 2009)
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  • Harrison, Mary N. "Making Simple Repairs: Clogged Drains." University of Florida IFAS Extension. (Accessed July 7, 2009)
  • Liquid-Plumr. (Accessed July 7, 2009)
  • Lowe's How-To Library. "Clearing Clogged Drains." (Accessed July 7, 2009)
  • Sheridan, William D. "Reference Data Sheet for Chemical and Enzymatic Drain Cleaners. Meridian Engineering & Technology. November 1994. (Accessed July 14, 2009)