Why Pour Salt Down the Drain?

It’s not uncommon to come across the advice of using salt in homemade cleaning solutions. You may wonder – why pour salt down the drain – does it do anything?

Many homeowners and plumbers recommend using salt in unclogging the drains.

However, how efficient salt is in unclogging drains and how it works is not common knowledge.

To take your home cleaning routine to the next level, learning about the use of salt is an important step.

Stick with us as we go into detail about salt usage and explore different ways to unclog drains by using salt.

 How Does Salt Unclog Drains?


This may sound contradictory at first, but salt doesn’t unclog drains – at least not by itself!

It’s still not really proven how salt can magically unclog drains just by its chemical composition.

This is because – most of the time – salt itself is not enough to unclog the clogged drain. Just pouring salt down the drain won’t do anything other than waste your salt supply.

Why Pour Salt Down the Drain to Unclog It?

This is a logical question after what we just mentioned about salt not being effective.

To be fair, salt itself does have some beneficial properties. It’s coarse and therefore abrasive. 

Just like you need a gentle exfoliant to exfoliate your skin, some surfaces need rubbing to get rid of dirt. Salt helps with this because of its structure and ability to pair well with other cleaning solutions.

What Does Pouring Salt Down a Drain Do?

By itself, salt won’t do that much. However, when paired with something else, it makes for a perfect cleaning solution!

Because salt is made of small crystals, it can help scrub away any surface that needs exfoliating and cleaning. Salt itself can also help break down the fats and oils that are blocking the drain.

How to Unclog Drain With Salt and Boiling Water


Using salty water to unclog drains is often mentioned as a homemade cleaning trick. However, you may notice that the water mentioned here is boiling hot.

We need to be responsible and warn you about the dangers of using boiling hot water in your pipes.

If you have a ceramic sink and your drain pipes are from PVC plastic, stay away from using boiling water!

This is because boiling water can melt or damage those materials, and that’s the last thing you want to deal with.

If you happen to only have salt and water to use for cleaning, you can try using hot water instead. Be careful and don’t use the water that’s hotter than the one you would shower with.

If you have metal pipes, you may proceed with the salt and hot water trick without worries. 

Does Salt and Boiling Water Unclog Drains?


Hot water or salt won’t do much by themselves. Nevertheless, when paired together, they can do wonders.

Boiling hot water will help with loosening up the clog, as it will break it away into smaller pieces.

On the other hand, salt can help with further exfoliation inside the pipes and break away any oil and fat sediments.

The first thing to do is to remove a bathroom sink stopper, if there is one. This is achieved by following a few simple steps.

If your bathroom sink stopper is stuck, just read our article on how to resolve that.

All you need to do next is pour one cup of salt into the drain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, pour a kettle of hot water over it and let it do its magic!

QUICK NOTE: The salt and boiling water trick will only work with smaller clogs.

If you happen to have a larger clog down the drain, you may want to skip all of these homemade solutions altogether. Homemade cleaning solutions are only used to help with mild clogs.

Whether you are dealing with a clogged bathroom sink, or dirt coming up the shower drain, it’s not the same. The solution will most likely depend on the severity of the clog.

If you use this trick on a larger clog, it will just be pushed further down the pipe and create a bigger problem. 

How to Unclog Drain With Salt and Vinegar


If you happen to have a slightly more difficult clog to resolve, then this may be your solution!

Pairing salt and vinegar creates a very popular and widely known homemade cleaning solution.

What’s so special about this combination is the chemical composition it creates. Salt happens to pair really well with acids, such as vinegar or lemon. [1]

When you pair salt with vinegar, you get a chemical reaction that leads to crystal-clear surfaces. That’s why this solution is often used to clean metal or even wooden surfaces.

To unclog a drain using this trick, start the same you would in the previous trick.

Pour a cup of salt onto a clogged drain and let it sit for several minutes. Then, pour one cup of vinegar over the drain with salt on it.

PRO TIP: If you don’t have vinegar, you can use lemon juice instead.

As this creates a chemical reaction, you can expect the solution to bubble up. To prevent it from leaving the drain and evaporating, gently cover the drain with a cloth.

Leave it as so for 15 to 20 minutes, and then try running the water.

This cleaning solution, in particular, is also good to use for drains that get clogged often. You want to have a general maintenance routine for these types of drains to avoid calling a plumber for big clogs.

For maintenance, you want to have a homemade solution that is not too abrasive but strong enough and effective. A mixture of salt and vinegar is all you need and something every household has in stock.

How to Unclog Drain With Salt and Baking Soda


Because of its composition, baking soda makes for a perfectly safe cleaning solution to try out in your home. [2]

It’s antibacterial antimicrobial and also acts as an exfoliator because of its grainy texture.

Like salt, baking soda is perfectly safe to use in your bathroom or your kitchen. These are the places in your house where you want to avoid using harsh chemicals.

Bathroom and kitchen fixtures are used very often and therefore need to be hygienic and clean at all times.

The same thing goes for drains. Clogged drains create a standing pool of water that can be both unpleasant and unsafe to deal with.

This standing water often attracts bathroom drain flies and can create a perfect environment for mold growth, which can cause many health risks.  [3]

That being said, it’s also safe to pair salt with baking soda in order to unclog drains. Use this solution, especially if you want to avoid bubbling or strong chemical reactions.

What you need to do is mix one cup of baking soda with one-half cup of salt. Pour that mixture into the clogged drain and let it sit for a couple of hours.

The grainy texture of baking soda and salt will help break away any oil or fat buildup. Also, this mixture will help with cleaning the drain of any bacteria.

After that, just pour water over the drain. It’s recommended to use boiling water, as it can break down the sediments more easily.

However, if you have PVC drain pipes, you want to use hot or lukewarm water instead.

Homemade Alternatives to Unclog the Drain

 There are also other alternatives you may want to try out to unclog the drains.

The first alternative consists of a mixture of all the things mentioned above. The mix of salt, vinegar, and baking soda, with the help of hot water, is the ultimate homemade solution!

The more difficult the clog is, the more cleaning options are recommended to add to the mixture.

QUICK NOTE: Know the limit! Cleaning solutions can’t dissolve hair or gunk from other non-flushable items. The more difficult clogs may require the use of a plumbing snake or a plunger.

If you have standing water and gurgling sounds from the pipes, it might be too late for homemade cleaning solutions. In this case, pouring other things may just worsen the clog.

Salt, Vinegar, and Baking Soda Mix

Previously in the article, we explained the use of salt mixed with vinegar or baking soda separately.

However, if you happen to own all three of these items in your home, don’t hesitate to combine them all!

The first thing to do is mix one-half cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of salt. Then, pour this mixture onto a clogged drain and wait for 15 to 20 minutes.

Then, pour a cup of vinegar over that drain and let it bubble up. You can cover it up with a cloth and leave it sitting for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Salt, Borax, and Vinegar Mix 

Borax is a natural ingredient with many uses, such as teeth whitening, insect killer, food additive, and a household cleaner.  [4]

Why pour salt down the drain when you have such an amazing natural cleaning product?

The thing is, when paired together, Borax and salt can help scrub away any stubborn clog.

All you need to do is mix ¼ cup of salt with ¼ cup of Borax and pour that mixture onto the drain. Then, follow with a cup of vinegar to create bubbling and further help with the unclogging process.

Lastly, repeat the same thing you would do whenever you use vinegar. Place a cloth over the drain with a cleaning solution and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Salt, Baking Soda, and Cream of Tartar Mix

You can try adding cream of tartar to a mixture of baking soda and salt for an ultimate scrubbing solution. This homemade solution, in particular, is perfect for clogs with a lot of oil or fats buildup.

All you will need are two tablespoons of cream of tartar. Add that to one-half cup of baking soda and one-half cup of salt.

Then, pour that powdery mixture onto the drain that is clogged. Leave it to work its way in for about an hour.

Next, pour the hot water onto the drain with a cleaning mixture inside of it. This will help move the mixture further and unclog the stubborn clog.

Finally, if not a single solution helps, it may be a time to clean the gunk out of the bathroom sink drain. This way, you can remove the stuck hair, soap residue, or other stuck items.

The Takeaway

So – why pour salt down the drain? Because ultimately, it helps strengthen any homemade cleaning solution and unclog the drains.

It’s true that salt alone won’t really help you with unclogging the drain. However, salt is grainy and abrasive enough to make a perfect cleaning solution when paired with other ingredients.

Those ingredients may include vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, Borax, cream of tartar, and hot water.

Especially when paired with acidic ingredients, salt helps create a chemical reaction to further unclog your drains.

The grainy texture of salt helps scrub away the dirty interior of the pipes. This effect can be amplified when pairing salt with other grainy cleaning ingredients such as baking soda.