How to clear clogged laundry drains

Written by beverley gee
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How to clear clogged laundry drains
Blocked outlet pipes can prevent your washing machine from working. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Today's low-temperature washing is good for the environment, but can cause laundry drains to clog. Undissolved detergent and fabric softener build up into a slimy mess that will eventually block the outlet drain. Most commercially-available drain cleaners are too powerful for washers and their outlet pipes. It makes sense to prevent problems before they arise with regular flushing; however, should your laundry drain become blocked, there are several environmentally-friendly methods to try.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Seltzer tablets
  • White vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Borax

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  1. 1

    Drop three seltzer tablets down the outlet pipe. Quickly follow with a cup of white vinegar. Wait five minutes. Pour down as much hot (not boiling) water as you can. It may not be very much, if the drain is completely blocked. The seltzer and vinegar solution will fizz and begin dissolving the blockage; the hot water will wash it away. Repeat, if necessary. If you are unable to access the pipe, skip this step.

  2. 2

    Ensure the machine is empty. Place ½-cup of baking soda and ½-cup of vinegar directly into the drum. Immediately switch on the washing machine and run on the hottest setting. Carry out this treatment once a month to prevent build-up occurring. If the blockage persists, you have one more option.

  3. 3

    Add two cups of borax to two cups of hot water in a large heatproof glass jug. Pour directly down the outlet pipe or into the washing machine drum. Run the machine on its hottest setting. The drain should be clear; however, repeat the treatment if some blockage remains.

Tips and warnings

  • To prevent blockages from occurring, perform the procedure in Step 3 monthly or more frequently.
  • Laundry will wash perfectly clean if you use half the recommended detergent and conditioner.
  • Consider environmentally-friendly washing methods, such as soap nuts or laundry balls. These will never cause a blocked drain.
  • Never pour boiling water down plastic pipes, as they could buckle.
  • Borax is a skin irritant, so take care when handling. Store it safely away from children and pets.

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