Friday, March 27, 2015

DIY Drain Cleaner: A Horror Story

This is a story about a very, very disgusting sink.

Germophobes and neat freaks, be warned: if you would rather hug a demon clown made of spiders than look at unfathomable levels of grime, I strongly suggest skipping to the end of this post for the DIY cleaner recipe.

Voyeurs, snoopy types, and anyone who has watched more than 2 episodes of Hoarders: get ready to enjoy some serious schadenfreude.

I laugh in the face of epic mess. Bring your worst.

There's a teeny tiny powder room in the mudroom. Even the door is little! It's going to be really useful when it's all fixed up, though. When we're mucky from working out in the garden, we'll be able to come in to use the bathroom and clean up without having to traipse through the house. Plus, with all the painting we're still doing, I am DYING for a good place to clean brushes.

We closed this room off before we moved in. Because it was in such bad shape, we turned off the water and basically barricaded the door. But the time to face the monster has come. Before we bring the plumber out to move the washing machine, we want to know if the sink and toilet plumbing need work.

So here's the kicker:

I think there was a chicken living in the sink.

Literally, there is a nest.

Here's the "before" picture. Hold your breath.

Ew ew ew ew.

Can this sink be saved? I didn't think so, but I at least had to get it clean enough to breathe the air in that room without terror.

Step 1: Shop vac.

And this is AFTER attacking it with a shop vac. The gunk is crusted on.

Step 2: Run away. Take a shower. Cry. Demand husband deal with Step 3.

Step 3: Steel wool.  Lots and lots of steel wool.

Brett scrubbed at this for ages while I channeled Lady Macbeth from the opposite side of the house. Finally, he emerged to announce that the sink wasn't salvageable - he just couldn't get it clean enough. But at least we could now look at it without developing nightmares.

For reasons I don't totally understand, I took this as a challenge. I normally try to use homemade cleaners whenever possible, but I figured this situation fell into the category of "impossible" right from the start. I hauled out the chemicals. First, I went at the sink with a Mister Clean Magic Eraser. Those things really are magic! It lifted off most of the remaining stains easily. Then I opened all the windows and sprayed the heck out of everything with bleach-infused bathroom cleaner.

The result?

Yes, friends, that is SHINE. It can be done!

Cleaning victory! Look at that sparkle. Martha, I'm coming for your job. As soon as my eyes stop burning, that is.

Not only can we keep the sink, but the plumbing works perfectly. Unexpected bonus! I wanted to give it all a good freshening up, though. Lord knows what's festering in that drain.

It's really easy to refresh a sink drain. Did you ever do that classic elementary school science project, the baking soda and vinegar volcano? Well, now's the time to put all that fancypants learnin' to use.

  • 1/2 c Baking soda
  • 1/4 c Table salt
  • 1 c White vinegar
  • Approx. 5 drops essential oil (I used lavender) - optional

Mix baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add essential oil to preferred strength - this is just to make it smell nice. Warm the vinegar.

Slowly shake the dry mixture into the drain. Pour the warmed vinegar into the drain over it. Watch the fizz! SCIENCE!

Wait ten minutes. Then run the hot water for 1-2 minutes to clear it all out.

This recipe is for a good clean and refresh; it will clear out minor residue and get rid of unwanted smells. It won't break through a clog. There are recipes for septic-safe, nontoxic clog busters that operate on the same principles as this cleaner, and are just as easy to make.

But for now, I'll just kick back and enjoy the cleaning we've already done.

Ah! Nice and clean!


  1. Oh my! I'm sure you dreaded going through that kind of mess. I'm just glad you finally had the time to clean it, and thankfully, it really did disappear. Your DIY drain cleaner worked wonders on that sink, and I can't wait to try it out myself. Thanks for sharing that, Hermione! Kudos and all the best to you! :)

    Alex Burke @ ICA Supply

    1. Thanks, Alex! I'm glad the recipe is helpful. Let me know how it goes for you!

  2. Wow! It seems that your sink was really cleaned and drained well using your DIY cleaner. It turned the horror story of your sink into a happy ending. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing that, Hermoine! Have a great day!

    Courtney Morris @ Onyx Cleaning

  3. That mess is horrifying! Thank god you have the guts to take care of it yourself. I just rely on Bronx sewer cleaning

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