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My last New York rental was in a classic (old) Brooklyn brownstone. One of the not-so-charming details: you couldn't turn on the sink (in the bathroom or kitchen) for a split second while someone was showering, or they'd experience a surprise burst of scalding hot water. So yes, the plumbing needed an overhaul. But I did have clear drains.

Even with drain traps, sink and tub drains will get clogged over time; the soap residue and grease will just build up. I use green cleaners in my home, and you really don't need to use super toxic DranO to maintain drains. Here's the magic recipe for clear drains: boiling water, baking soda, and white vinegar.

Seriously, these pantry finds do the trick. Make it a habit to pour boiling water down your drains every week or so; it helps melt the grease. I simply do this with the leftover hot water from my kettle when I make tea. And periodically (say, every month), disinfect your drains with this little homemade recipe:

1. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar (pour the vinegar down slowly as it will start to fizz up.)

2. Cover the drain and let it sit for a few minutes.

3. Then pour about a gallon of boiling water down the drain.

If you like to leave behind a fresh scent in your drains, I love Fresh Wave's Multi-Purpose Additive, which is made of natural plant oils. I pour a little down the drain, and this green cleaner does an amazing job of eliminating odors.

P.S. This drain solution is for maintaining drains that are relatively clear to start. If you have standing water already in your sink or tub, you'll first need to roll up your sleeves and grab the plunger.


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