Plumbing expert says popular 'homemade' solution could mean a big bill

A woman washing dishes at the kitchen sink
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A plumbing expert is warning against a popular home cleaning hack that can end up with a costly repair bill. Many people use a vinegar and baking soda mixture as a cheap and effective way to carry out a range of chores, from cleaning pots and pans to scrubbing the toilet. But using it to unclog drains regularly can lead to corrosion of the pipes and damage to the plumbing system.

Ricky Sharma, managing director at tradesperson training firm Engineering Real Results, said: “Many people turn to common home cleaning solution hacks such as baking soda and vinegar as a cheaper and more convenient way of doing household chores than purchasing an armory of expensive cleaning products. There’s no doubt that this mixture can produce great results for a number of tasks around the home, but bear in mind that it is a strong chemical reaction.

“When the dilute acetic acid of vinegar combines with the sodium bicarbonate of baking soda, it foams up with a release of carbon dioxide gas, as well as water and other substances. While this may do a good job of dislodging dirt and grime in pipes, it can also do damage to the rubber seals and the pipework itself, especially in older plumbing systems.

“This can end up doing more damage than good, and lead to costly repair bills. Instead, it’s best to use dedicated cleaning products that have been proven safe and effective to use, or if the problem is particularly bad then call a local plumber for help.”

Pipes in kitchens and bathrooms can become clogged over time with a range of substances such as grease, dirt, food waste and hair. Experts recommend cleaning drains every one or two weeks to ensure they continue to work smoothly.

There are also a number of items that should never be poured down the drain as they are among the most common causes of problems. These include grease, egg shells fragments, coffee grounds, hair products and fibrous and starchy food fragments.

Clogged pipes will often present some telltale signs that homeowners should be on high alert for, including gurgling sounds and water draining slower than usual. Red flags can also include stains around the drain, unpleasant smells and residue in the water.