I was trying to clean my drain with baking soda and vinegar -- not because there was a clog but because I have a shower made of tile and wanted to try to get the nasty stuff out of the drain that I couldn’t reach with my brush -- but apparently I added too much baking powder. My shower is now pooled with water.

I’ve plunged it, and added boiling water and more vinegar, and bleach, and tried using long metal tools but I keep hitting a block.

I’m not sure if the pipe turns or if it’s baking soda, but it’s only been like an hour since it’s been clogged.

  • 1
    There's a p-trap down in there. Look under a sink and you'll see the pattern. Stiff metal tools will be useless and could even damage the plumbing. See diy.stackexchange.com/questions/53843/… for solution strategies. Just remember that the soda will only react with acids and drain cleaner is basic. A snake is probably your best bet, as I imagine that acids create a tiny drain path and then wash down the drain instead of reacting with the soda.
    – popham
    Oct 22, 2023 at 5:55
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    please break the pile of words into proper sentences and paragraphs
    – jsotola
    Oct 22, 2023 at 6:07
  • 1
    no panic, backing soda will eventually dissolve
    – Traveler
    Oct 22, 2023 at 6:32
  • 3
    Be careful about what you mix bleach with; it might release toxic chlorine gas. See Bleach and Vinegar: Effective Cleaning Tools That Turn Lethal Together. Oct 22, 2023 at 14:19
  • 3
    @jsotola, Unfortunately, Facebook and others have trained people to stay away from the Enter key until they are ready to submit the message. (I can remember when keyboards had separate Return and Enter keys.) Oct 22, 2023 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


Try using your shop vac and clear out the water. Then mix a mild vinegar solution and poor into the drain and let it sit for a while. You may have to do this a few times and expect it to fizz and bubble. Most highschool students can explain what is happening, you are pouring a mild acid onto a basic material. For more details follow this link.

  • The question doesn't indicate they have a shop vac, also they've mentioned the use of a vinegar solution already, to no effect. Do you have any advice specific to this question? Oct 23, 2023 at 8:49
  • Funny, I guess the down voter hasn't gotten to this answer yet, since it says the same thing that was said here (only 6 hours later). Maybe because Gil's answer recommends a dilute vinegar solution through the standing water while the other one recommends straight up vinegar with as much water removal as possible, first.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:04
  • I expect the downvote (it's not mine) is for assuming a shop vac, rather than suggesting using one if available, and using other means if not available, @FreeMan.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:16
  • I was close to adding to the DV for the reason @Ecnerwal said, but also didn't, preferring to suggest alternatives and point out the need to not dilute the vinegar. I was actually closer to downvoting "mild vinegar solution" - vinegar is plenty weak enough as it is.
    – Chris H
    Oct 23, 2023 at 15:30

Vinegar is the right reagent to deal with baking soda, but it's not trivial.

The problem is, with it backed up with water, any vinegar you add will be heavily diluted, and won't be able to react with the baking soda. So first, remove as much water as possible. Bail it into a bucket if it's deep. Bailers can often be made from large plastic milk bottles (called "milk jugs" in some places). Soak as much of the rest up as you can with sponges.

If you have any sort of water pump or wet vacuum, use it. A drill-mounted pump can be useful, especially if you adapt the hose down to something small enough to fit into the drain (but of course if it's a mains-powered drill you'll have to be careful with all that water around). You can even syphon from a shower that's raised off the floor.

Then add vinegar as directly into the drain as you can. Again, a thin hose into the drain, connected to a funnel will allow you to get the vinegar right to the plug of baking soda. Add a little, wait a few minutes, mixing if you can, mop/suck up what you can, and add a little more. Take it slowly and gently. Warm (e.g. shower temperature) vinegar will react faster, but that may cause splashing, so mind your eyes.

  • Citric acid is a bit stronger, may not be in the house but can be found if you look for it, and comes as a dry powder so you can mix it up with very little water. But for "you already have it" yes, vinegar is the right thing.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2023 at 12:46
  • @Ecnerwal I actually have some citric acid (sold for winemaking; I use it more for descaling), but it's not really worth the hassle unless you happen to live near somewhere that sells it
    – Chris H
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:26
  • It's also commonly available with canning supplies, in the USA, during "canning season" - it's also (usually more expensively) "Sour Salt", and It's generally least expensive in my area at Asian/Indian groceries.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:55
  • @Ecnerwal of course, home canning is much more popular in the US than it is here (we make jams and sometimes chutneys/pickles instead). That would suggest that it's the right time of year to find it easily, unless it's just disappeared from the shelves
    – Chris H
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:13

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