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How to keep your drains maintained and smelling fresh

Prevention is the best cure when it comes to keeping your drains clean and maintaining a healthy drainage system. This includes being mindful of what you pour down the drains, and making sure that you flush your drains regularly with drain cleaners to prevent a buildup of grease and debris.

The following tips in your usual cleaning routine can greatly reduce the risk of you having to deal with a blocked drain.

What you’ll need

To keep your drains clear of any blockages you should make sure that you have the following items to hand:

  • Protective glasses

  • Rubber gloves (elbow length if possible)

  • Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda)

  • Soda crystals

  • White vinegar

  • A kettle

  • A container for collecting fats

1. Safety First

As with any cleaning job involving chemicals or bacteria it’s always best to be prepared. Rubber gloves will help to protect your hands and make it easier to pick up clumps of hair and other nasty stuff. Protective glasses are also essential to prevent chemicals such as bleach or bacteria-filled water from getting into your eyes.

2. Not all drains are equal

You’ll need to check some drains in your home more regularly than others - such as your bathroom sink, shower and bathtub. These are areas of your home where the hair from shaving and washing can accumulate, particularly when combined with soap scum, grease and toothpaste.

Most commonly drains will become blocked due to a combination of soap scum, dirt and hair, but over the years some more unusual objects have been the cause of backed up drains and emergency drain cleaning jobs.

3. Use boiling water on your drains weekly

Boiling water is a simple yet effective natural drain cleaner and a great way to reduce the buildup of fat, grease and oils in your pipes. Just be careful not to trip when transporting a kettle of boiling water upstairs to the bathroom...

4. Treat your drains with a biological cleaner

A biological cleaner containing enzymes is the best drain cleaner for hair and an excellent way to treat a build-up of fats, bacteria, mould and other organic materials. They are also far better for the environment than harsher chemicals such as bleach or caustic soda.

You can buy an enzymatic drain cleaner from most DIY shops relatively cheaply. Always be sure to follow the instructions on the back of the packet when using the product on your drains.

5. Flush drains with baking soda and white vinegar

If you prefer, baking soda and white vinegar can be used as an alternative to a biological cleaner. You can also use bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder. With a bit of luck, you will already have both of these items in your kitchen cupboards.

All you need to do is pop a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into a cup of white vinegar and immediately pour the mixture down the drain. Leave the mixture to fizz down there for about five minutes before flushing the drain clean using hot water directly from the kettle.

6. Use soda crystals to keep your drains clear

Soda crystals are another great way to prevent fats, oils and grease from accumulating inside your drains. Just pop a cup of soda crystals into a bowl of boiling water and carefully stir the mixture until the soda crystals have dissolved. Now, slowly pour the mixture down your drains.

7. Pour fats into a container

Prevention is the best cure, so you should always make sure that excess fat from your cooking ends up in a container rather than down the drain. One of the most common causes of blocked kitchen drains is the accumulation of congealed oil from deep fat fryers, mixed with other debris such as food and plastics.

8. Brush your hair before a bath or shower

Brushing your hair before a bath or shower will help to remove the majority of loose hairs before they end up down the plughole, potentially clogging your drain.

9. Wash your pets outside

If you wash your pets in the bath you should bear in mind that they shed even more hair than we do, especially during moulting seasons. If possible, you should wash your cat, dog or rabbit outside, or cover the drain in your bath with a cloth to collect any hairs shed during washing.

When in doubt never flush the following down your drains

  • Plastic

  • Cigarettes and ash

  • Food

  • Sanitary products

  • Kitchen roll and regular paper

  • Cardboard packaging

  • Harsh chemicals such as acid


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