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Clean out your shower drain without chemicals

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Go green, instead

The bathroom smells like a dead rat. You know it's the shower drain telling you it needs to be cleaned out again. Don't go for the caustic, harsh chemicals! Go green, instead.

Woman Cleaning Shower

The smell is absolutely nasty. An accumulation of rotting hair and grease from soap can clog up your drain and emit a putrid, rotten egg odor into the room. Don't call a costly plumber. Most likely, you can clean out that shower drain yourself - and WITHOUT chemicals.

Why go green?

The fumes from chemical drain cleaners are toxic and harmful to children, pets and adults. They're not good for the environment, either. In addition, the chemicals can damage metal pipes. If this isn't enough, the high price of these cleaning products should also be considered.

How to clean out the shower drain

Warning: This is NOT a job you want to do in your best clothes or on a queasy stomach! Have the following supplies handy:

  • Metal coal hanger
  • Plastic grocery bag (without holes)
  • Rubber gloves
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar
  • A large, old rag
  • A pot of boiling water

Steps

  1. Remove the shower drain cover, being careful not to drop any screws down the drain. Using rubber gloves, clean the drain cover of any accumulated hair.
  2. Bend a metal coat hanger so that the hanger portion forms a hook. Use this to fish out any clumps of slimy hair that might be clogging the shower drain. Have an old plastic grocery bag handy to catch the mess. Quickly tie the bag shut to contain the odor.
  3. Have the baking soda, vinegar and rag ready at hand.
  4. Pour the baking soda down the shower drain.
  5. Pour the vinegar down the drain right after.
  6. Immediately plug the shower drain with the rag. The baking soda and vinegar will react together to form a bubbling brew that the rag will help contain.
  7. Wait twenty minutes. Use this time to bring a pot of water to a boil.
  8. Remove the rag and slowly pour all the boiling water down the drain.
  9. Run clear water from the shower to test if the drain is running clear. If not, repeat the process.
  10. Open the window and air out your bathroom.
  11. You may need to repeat the process the next day if the odor persists.

If this attempt to clean out the shower drain has failed and the odor still fills the room, the clog may be further down the pipe requiring the use of a sewer snake. If this totally grosses you out, it might be time to call in the plumber. This "Go green" method of cleaning out the shower drain, however, usually does the trick, so it's worth a try.

More "Go green" cleaning

Make your own eco-friendly cleaning products
Cleaning with vinegar
Eco-friendly kitchen cleaning supplies

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