Spring Cleaning: How to Keep Your Drains Clean

Are your sink drains on your spring cleaning list? They should be. Clean drains are the best way to keep odors, clogs, and other unpleasant plumbing problems at bay. Here’s how you can make sure your sink drains and garbage disposals get a thorough seasonal clean.

Sink drains

You’d be surprised at the amount of debris lurking just underneath your sink. A buildup of debris like soap scum and organic matter can cause everything from slow drainage to total blockages, as well as unpleasant odors. A damp and dark drain is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Fortunately, there are tools you can use to clean sink drains with ease.

Drain-cleaning tools

Drain snakes, plumbing snakes, or zip-it tools are the most common drain cleaners you’ll find at any hardware store. These thin tools reach down the drain and hook onto any debris. For a DIY solution, you can fashion your own tool by unfolding a wire hanger and turning it into a hook.

Try to establish a regular schedule for clearing out your drains. This may be monthly, or even weekly if you or your family members have long hair or bathe an animal that sheds a lot in the bathtub. That way, you can stay ahead of any slow-forming blockages by removing debris frequently.

Safe drain cleaners

Enzyme-based cleaners use good bacteria cultures and concentrated enzymes that naturally eat away at organic matter. They also leave behind “good” bacteria, which spread throughout the plumbing system to prevent future buildup of organic matter. While enzyme-based cleaners often need to sit overnight in order to work, they’re much safer on your plumbing system than conventional drain cleaners.

Avoid harsh chemicals

It can be tempting to reach for a liquid drain cleaner when you’re faced with a drain that’s slow or clogged. However, these cleaners can do more harm than good, and may not even address the problem at all. The corrosive ingredients in the cleaner will eat away at your pipes along with whatever is clogging them, potentially creating a more expensive problem down the road.

Know the dos (and don’ts) of what belongs in your drains

Several items and substances have no place in your drains, even if they are commonly thought to be safe. By keeping these items away from your drains, you can reduce your chance of encountering a problem like a clog or a slow drain. The list of items that you should never put down your drain include:

  • Grease
  • Fats
  • Oil
  • Flour
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Paint or paint thinner
  • Nail-polish remover

Some of these items, such as fats and grease, solidify at room temperature, causing them to slow down or potentially clog your drains as they harden and collect in your pipes. Other items, such as oils, coat drains and build up over time, resulting in drains that flow slower and slower as more oil accumulates. Flour and coffee grounds expand and form a sludgy, messy blockage, while paint products and nail-polish remover can damage pipes with their chemical properties.

Garbage disposals

With the amount of food waste that works its way through a garbage disposal, it’s no surprise that some less-than-pleasant odors can pop up from time to time. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your garbage disposal from stinking up your whole kitchen.

Clean the splash guard

The underside of your disposal’s splash guard, the black rubber piece you see when looking directly down your drain, is prone to accumulating stinky food waste. To clean it, you can use an old toothbrush or a clean cloth. Turn the splash guard inside out and scrub away whatever grime you see, then rinse it with hot water.

Clean out built-up food waste

To clean your garbage disposal and remove any built-up debris from the blades, run cold water down the drain. Then, dump one to two cups of ice cubes down after it, and turn on the disposal. The friction from the ice cubes will help breakup debris and release buildup from the blades. As an added benefit, the ice cubes will also sharpen the blades to keep them in good condition.

Remove odors naturally

If cleaning doesn’t do the job, you can deodorize your garbage disposal with items you probably already have around the house.


One easy way to counter foul smells is with the fresh scent of citrus. Take fresh lemon, lime, or orange peels and toss them down the disposal when it’s powered on. Since citrus is so effective at neutralizing bad odors, you should immediately notice a difference. As a bonus, a pleasant citrus smell will be left behind.

Baking soda and vinegar

This fizzy chemical reaction can dissolve stuck-on food scraps and kill odor-causing bacteria. Start by pouring ¼ cup of baking soda down the disposal and leave it for about 10 minutes. Then, follow it with one cup of vinegar. Be sure and cover the opening so the bubbles don’t escape. Let the mixture fizzle and work for a few minutes, then finish by turning on the water and running the disposal to clear out any leftover food waste.

Professional drain cleaning options

There are a variety of professional drain cleaning options available, some of which include the most up-to-date technology, so you can choose a method that fits your budget and needs.

Video drain inspection

A video drain inspection can help identify blockages, clogs, and other problems that keep your drains from being clean and running efficiently. They take the guesswork (and dirty work) out of locating plumbing problems.


Bio-clean is a safe, natural, and easy way to keep your drains clean. It uses the power of bacteria and enzymes to break down organic matter and waste in your plumbing system.

Hydro Jetting

As the name suggests, hydro jetting utilizes a powerful high-pressure water stream to remove clogs and buildup inside of pipes. Hydro jetting also effectively flushes out pipes and gets everything flowing correctly by removing any grease, limescale, or other debris that have built up in the pipe walls over time.

How Chas Roberts can help

When home remedies don’t get the job done, it’s time to call in the pros. Our expert plumbers offer a variety of drain-cleaning solutions. Contact us to learn more.