Clogged drains are frustrating. A drain that fails to do the only thing it is meant to do – indeed, the very thing it is named after – means that the entire sink, tub, shower or toilet is nonoperational. You can hire a local plumber to quickly scour a clogged drain free of blockage, but that costs money you no doubt would rather have spent on literally anything else.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin’s advice applies to nearly everything, and drains are no exception. If you’d like to keep your drains running freely and avoid having to hire a plumber, simply follow our six tips to avoid clogged drains!


  1. Never Pour Grease Down the Drain

Grease is made of fat, which is why greasy food tastes good. Saturated fat, which is present in meat and other animal products, is made of long molecules that bind together at room temperature. When you pour liquid grease down the drain, it won’t take long until the fat becomes cool enough to coagulate. It will stick to the interior of the drain and eventually create an obstinate blockage.

The solution is simple: Instead of down the drain, pour cooking grease into a jar or can and place it in the trash once it has cooled.


  1. Avoid Putting Certain Foods Down the Drain

Grease isn’t the only edible substance that can clog up a kitchen drain and its garbage disposal. Large quantities of starchy food like pasta, potatoes and rice can easily gum up the works, as can fibrous vegetables like celery and corn husks. Coffee grounds and eggshells both decompose so slowly that they are likely to form obstructions. And while running fruit and vegetable peels through the garbage disposal may seem convenient, they’re both common causes of clogging as well.

Play it safe: Use your garbage disposal to quickly rid your kitchen sink’s drain of small amounts of food. If you intend to dispose of larger amount of garbage, ensure you using enough water to flush the entire drain line to prevent clogs.


  1. Use a Hair Catcher in Your Shower

Hair is the most common cause of clogs in shower drains. We don’t advise shaving your head to prevent this problem, because placing a simple hair catcher over your shower drain will do the job just as well. It’s a great way to avoid using powerful chemical products (which we’ll touch on in just a moment).


  1. Never Flush “Flushable” Wipes

Many objects are technically flushable – but that does not mean they can be safely flushed down the toilet. For example, you could flush any small objects, like marbles or food, down the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you would want to.

Flushable wipes are one of the most deviously named household products ever invented. They are made of polypropylene and synthetic polyester, neither of which will biodegrade or dissolve when they are submerged in water. It’s almost as though flushable wipes were intentionally designed to clog toilets. They’re so bad that they can even create a clog inside a municipal sewer system that processes over 100 tons of waste.

Avoid a big headache: Stick to toilet paper (or machine washable (reusable toilet paper), if your commitment to environmental conservation is superhuman).


  1. Don’t Plant Certain Trees Near Your Home

Trees, as you’re surely already well aware, have roots. Tree roots are naturally attracted to the water and nutrients found inside sewer lines, which means they will actively attempt to invade even the tiniest crack so they can continue to grow inside the pipe, which will obstruct drainage.

It is best to be aware of your home’s plumbing system underground before planting any trees. Ensure you are planting trees far enough away from our homes systems for the future growth of the tree.  Tree roots reach as far out as the drip line of the tree’s structure. The dripline is the area directly located under the outer circumference of the tree branches.


  1. Options for drain cleaners- DIY or professional

When it comes to drain cleaning, there are several options and preventative maintenance goes a long way.  Here are several options for preventative maintenance.

  • Vinegar & baking soda – When baking soda and vinegar are combined, they produce a fizzy chemical reaction which excels at loosening up gunky clogs. Simply pour five ounces (5/8 cups) of vinegar and two ounces (4 tablespoons) of baking soda down the drain, cover with a dish towel, wait up to 10 minutes, and flush with hot water. You can repeat the process until your drain flows freely.
  • Alka-Seltzer – Don’t have any baking soda on hand? Sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) is one of the main ingredients in Alka-Seltzer, so you can substitute a couple tablets of the antacid in lieu of Arm & Hammer.
  • Coffee grounds – We noted earlier that coffee grounds can clog a kitchen drain, but in small qualities they can be quite helpful. Coffee grounds are coarse and contain nine different acids. Together those properties help it make short work of a clog!
  • Dishwasher detergent – It’s not as fast as liquid drain opener, but dishwasher detergent is far safer for drains. Just pour some detergent down the drain, follow it up with a little boiling water, and let it sit for a few minutes.

If you are experiencing a slow drain, using products like Drano and Liquid-Plumr can be an option as well, but you will need to use these products before the drain clog is too plugged.

If water is still flowing but slow, and the over the shelf products listed above do not work, stop by our showroom and we can sell you a professional grade product to clear that stubborn clog.


Sometimes all the precautions and cleaning solutions in the world aren’t enough to stop a drain clog. When you need a professional plumber to eliminate clogs, then we welcome you to contact Gilk Plumbing, Heating & A/C today! We provide comprehensive plumbing services in Albany, Avon, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, Freeport, Kimball, Lake Henry, Paynesville, Richmond, Rockville, St. Joseph and Watkins, Minnesota!