Currently, our home is plagued with a slow moving bathtub drain. We moved into our new home a few weeks ago and noticed this problem right away. The trouble is, with unpacking, adjusting to a new routine, and keeping up with our already too-busy schedules of baseball coaching and Girl Scouts, I keep forgetting about the slow drain problem.
Well, I forget until the next time I step into the shower and end up with soggy feet, standing in the puddle that forms while I rinse my hair.
But alas! Today is the day to fix the slow bathtub drain!
And, in the effort of being a frugal homeowner and saving money through DIYing, I think Mr. Marvelous and I can solve this problem without a plumber and – perhaps – even without spending money on expensive drain cleaner products.
The best part? In my search to solve this problem the frugal way, I discovered a slew of other uses for the miracle product known as “baking soda.” Read on!
Before you can fix a problem, you must first figure out the underlying cause.
In this case, the drain pipe of our bathtub is likely filled with gunk and grime, slowing down the flow of water as it passes through and creating our problem of soggy shower feet.
How does the gunk get there?
Simple: it comes from us. You see, as we wash the dirt and oils off our body, it can cling to the sides of our drain pipes and cause a buildup over time that narrows the opening and prevents the water from flowing freely. Another
Another big culprit of a slow draining tub is hair caught around the stopper in the bathtub.
If you’ve never dug gross, slimy hair out of a bathtub drain, I envy you. Because it’s quite possibly the grossest and most disgusting thing ever.
So, between the dirt, oil, gunk and grime – and hair – that can get stuck in a bathtub drain, we’ve got our work cut out for us. But the problem must be solved or it will just get worse. Because “procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder.” (-Mason Cooley)
To get our drain working properly (and to eliminate my soggy feet problem), I’m determined to get pastthe “gross” and onto the solution. Since the most common culprit is the hair and “gunk” that gets stuck around the drop stopper, this is what we tackled first. (Thanks to Family Handyman for the how-to.)
Once we had that gross part done, I wanted to give our drain the full workup to make sure it would stay running smoothly. And the best (and by “best” I mean “most frugal”) way to tackling that is with baking soda.
Wait, baking soda? Not Draino or some other harsh chemical?
Nope. Turns out baking soda is pretty useful stuff! Not only can it unclog drains, it’s also a useful cleaner and deodorizer. Who knew?
To treat our slow draining bathtub drain, here’s what we did:
- Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain
- Dump a cup of white vinegar down there, too
- Let the foam do its thing for about five minutes – the foam deodorizes the drain and will loosen up blockage
- Turn on the hot water and let it run for about 30-45 seconds to clear out the baking soda and vinegar mixture
- Check the flow
Now, if you’re doing this at home and cleaning out the hair and using the baking soda/vinegar didn’t quite do the trick, there are some additional steps you can do.
- Place a plunger over the bathtub drain and plunge a few times to loosen whatever is blocking the flow – repeat this two or three times as needed until your drain flows quickly without backup
- If your water is still draining slow, you’ll have to resort to reptile therapy – get yourself a drain snake (this is what worked for us)!
- Or, simply, call a plumber if it’s more than you can handle (no shame in that!)
Once all that was done, we put our drain back together (which is more challenging than you might think – or maybe it’s just because we’re new at this and have no idea what we’re doing).
I’m thrilled to report that our second DIY Bootcamp project worked perfectly! (Read about our first DIY project here.)
No more soggy feet in the shower! And, perhaps the best part, it didn’t cost us a dime and we learned a lot in the process.
Other Uses for this Miracle Product
If you haven’t jumped on the frugal baking soda bandwagon, you’re missing out. This simple product is amazing!
Too often we’re duped by clever marketing tactics and end up spending more money than we should on everyday products we can mix up at home with some simple baking soda. In addition to cleaning up gunk-filled bathtub drains, there are millions of uses for baking soda! Here are a few:
- Fruit and veggie wash: A mix of 1/4 cup baking soda in a sink full of water will remove dirt and chemicals from your produce
- Fresher flowers: Add a teaspoon of baking soda to water in the vase to help fresh-cut flowers last longer
- Ant repellent: Mix equal parts baking soda and salt, then sprinkle wherever the ants are coming in
- Odor remover: After cutting up garlic and onion, my hands smell bad – rubbing them with baking soda will get rid of strong odors. This works for cutting boards, too!
- Toilet cleaner: Adding a cup of baking soda to the toilet and letting it sit for an hour before flushing will clean it and absorb the odors
- Freshen closets: We know to keep a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors, but this works in your closet, too
- Carpet deodorizer: My favorite way to get rid of pet odors in our carpet from our dog is to sprinkle it on the carpet and let it sit overnight, then vacuum it up in the morning
- Crayon eraser: Adding baking soda to a damp cloth will remove crayon marks from walls if you rub it gently
- Easy soft scrub: Rather than spending money on the expensive stuff, just sprinkle some baking soda on your tub, sinks, and tile for a gentle scrub to get them clean
- Cleaning your brushes and combs: Baking soda will remove the oil and other buildup if you soak them in a mix of baking soda and water – about 1 tsp baking soda to 1 cup of water
- Facial scrub and body exfoliator: Mix 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water to make a gentle exfoliating paste to freshen skin and make it softer
- Septic care: One cup of baking soda a week down your drain will help maintain an ideal pH level to keep your septic system operating smoothly
- Patio furniture: Sprinkle a little baking soda under the cushions before putting it away for the season to keep them smelling fresh and dry
- Grill cleaner: Adding baking soda to a damp brush and using it to scrub the grate on your grill will help keep it clean all summer
- Floor cleaner: Brighten a dull floor finish by dissolving 1/2 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water, then mop and rinse
- Fluffier omelets: Adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every three eggs will make your omelets fluffier
- De-icer: Scatter baking soda on icy sidewalks – it isn’t as corrosive as salt and works well
- Weed killer: Sprinkling baking soda into the cracks on your driveway and walkways will discourage weeds from growing
- Plasticware cleaner: Get rid of the stain and sink that soaks into your plasticware by soaking in a solution of 4 tablespoons baking soda to 1 quart of warm water
- Sticker removal: A baking soda paste will take care of the gummy residue left by adhesive labels or stickers
What is your favorite frugal home remedy?
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