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28 Jul 2021

Five simple tips to prevent a blocked drain

Find out how to keep your drains clear so you can avoid spending money on a shower or kitchen drain unblocker

A drain blocked with hair or food is inconvenient, can smell bad and if left untreated can cause chronic problems to your home's plumbing system.

We recently tested seven shower drain unblockers, 11 kitchen drain unblockers and one home remedy made from bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar to find the best product or method to unblock your U-bends.

But, ideally, you want to avoid your drains becoming clogged up in the first place because avoiding blocking means less need to use chemical unblockers and therefore is a much more eco-friendly option. Find out the quick and easy steps you can take to keep your pipes clear.

It's too late? Find out the best kitchen drain unblockers and the best shower drain unblockers from our tests

1) Combing hair and scraping plates

lady brushing her hair

We recommend that you give yourself a comb through before having a shower, especially if you have long hair.

We also recommend after every meal that you scrape your plates into the food waste or compost before rinsing them.

This sounds simple enough, but these quick and easy tasks will go a long way to help stop your drains getting blocked.

2) Drain protectors

Drain protector being cleaned

Drain protectors are a small and simple tool that you place over the plughole in your sink, bath or shower.

The drain protector will catch most things that could cause a blockage. Then it's easy to clean it up.

Make sure to measure the plug hole's diameter before you order a drain protector, otherwise you could end up with one that doesn't fit properly and won't work effectively.

3) Enzyme cleaning sticks

Enzyme cleaning sticks

An enzyme cleaning stick is a stick made of natural enzymes designed to digest fat, grease and soapy residue.

In most cases, these small and mighty sticks are remarkably effective at keeping your drains clear and odour free.

With most of these products, you drop one stick into the plughole once a month and then leave it to do its work in your U-bend.

In our test, we used these enzyme cleaning sticks from Lakeland.

4) Regular unblocker treatments

Drain unblocker being poured into a sink

If you're finding the previous tips aren't giving you the results you're want, then it might be time to start regular unblocker treatments.

We recommend getting one of our Best Buys that impressed in our tests and apply it on a monthly basis.

Make sure you follow the instructions for whichever product you choose.

Find the best kitchen drain unblockers and the best shower drain unblockers

5) Avoid home remedies

Bicarbonate soda, vinegar, salt

As well as testing unblockers you can buy in the shops, we researched the most commonly mentioned home remedy to see if it worked better than the chemical products.

The concoction, made from equal parts bicarbonate soda (125g), salt (125g) and vinegar (125ml), failed to remove the food or hair blockage.

So we'd recommend keeping the bicarb for baking and the salt and vinegar for your chips, rather than wasting them down the drain.

How we tested drain unblockers

Overflowing blocked sink

To test both kitchen and shower drain unblockers, we used a free-standing catering sink and a lot of U-bends.

Each U-bend was clogged for the tests. The kitchen products were tested on a clog made of equal parts breadcrumbs, grated broccoli and melted lard (left to harden in the U-bend overnight).

The shower products, on the other hand, were tested on a clog made of real human hair mixed with shampoo.

Each product was tested by first pouring 500ml of warm tap water down the drain followed by the product. This was left for the minimum amount of time stated on the instructions of the products before the U-bend was flushed with eight litres of water.

We then examined the U-bend with a tube camera and poured a further eight litres of water through the system, then timed how long it took to get through.

This was compared with the time it took water to pass through a U-bend that had never been clogged.