Skip To Content

    19 Ways To Help Avoid Having To Call The Plumber

    If you do your pipes wrong, they will seek revenge.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI β€” prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    Whether you rent or own a home, sometimes occasions arise when you've gotta call a plumber. It just happens!

    20th Century Fox

    Or your building super, who may then call a plumber!

    These are just *some* of reasons you should call a plumber:

    - Installing new sinks, pipes, tubs, etc.

    - New construction that requires building permits

    - Water heater problems like low water pressure, lack of hot water

    - Pipe blockages that happen all the time, which may be something to do with your sewer line rather than regular hair clogs

    - Septic tank leaks (!!)

    - Sewer line breaks (!!!)

    So by all means, PLEASE call your plumber if any of the above happens.

    Now that's out of the way, there are SO MANY preventative measures you can take to avoid having to call one out for routine stuff or clogged drain snafus. That's what I cover in this story!

    Most of these address clogs, but so many plumbing problems that turn into full-blown issues have a root in clogs!

    Check out some ways to be kinder to your pipes and fixtures:

    1. Keep your biggest appliances in working order with cleaning tablets β€” lest you call a plumber about subpar wash cycles when you just needed to clean your machines of detergent buildup for efficiency's sake.


    Promising review: "Works as advertised. We have rather hard water that tends to leave a residue in the dishwasher. Our plumber suggested we try this product, and indeed, we've found that with monthly 'treatments' (just put a tab in the machine and turn it on a regular cycle) the residue problem is gone." β€”Amazon Customer

    Get a box of six tablets from Amazon for $3.71. Also available in washing machine tablets (that my mom loves!).

    2. Clean and deodorize your kitchen's smelliest appliance with some garbage disposer cleaning tablets that'll bring up all sorts of disgusting things to the surface (like food scraps) and keep them from funking up your kitchen. You've been wondering what that smell is post-holidays. Welp, I think these tabs will help.

    Each biodegradable packet cleans and scrubs buildup from sidewalls, blades, under the splashguard, and other hidden areas in your sink. Made with natural ingredients so it's safe for drain, disposer, and septic.

    Promising review: "It actually worked! So my kitchen started smelling a bit and I figured it was my garbage disposal, so I bought this and it was so easy to use. You just drop a packet inside the disposal, turn on your sink with a little bit of hot water and turn on your disposal, and after a couple of minutes it should be clean. I figured it was my disposal because my kitchen doesn't have that funky smell anymore." β€”Max Power

    Get enough for four uses from Amazon for $5.08.

    3. Catch hair before it goes down the drain and causes a plumbing hassle with a TubShroom and SinkShroom for easy removal on the reg β€” even after you give the dog a bath! I have a MANE of hair and even though I live by myself, this catches a worryingly large amount of hair.,

    Promising review: "I have long, thick hair and a dog. We've had too many drain clogs to count, so when I saw the TubShroom advertised, I thought it might be just the thing. I used it today when I gave the dog a bath and holy cow! It caught the hair, allowed the water to drain and cleanup was a cinch. TubShroom works exactly as advertised and I could not be more pleased." β€”HappyLady

    Get them from Amazon: TubShroom for $12.99+ (six colors) and SinkShroom for $10.99 (six colors)

    4. Have a pop-up drain? Invest in this drain protector that'll also prevent your luscious locks from becoming a plumbing sitch.,

    Promising review: "This has been my saving grace!! No longer do I have to routinely pull 3-foot-long strands of old goopy hair up out of my drain. Catches everything. Must have for pop-up drains!!

    I've updated my review to include a pic of all the hair from my German Shepherd that did NOT go down the drain after her bath thanks to this product!!" β€”Chels

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

    5. And if the prevention ship has sailed, use some drain snakes to pull out the mess. They'll be cheap enough to toss if you don't wanna *deal* with the mess. Just be prepared for the grotesque reveal.


    Promising review: "I’m so excited to finally have a bathroom sink that drains!! Since moving into my apartment, my bathroom sink and bathtub took forever to drain. I bought multiple de-clogging solutions but they didn’t assist or help much with the problem. When my bathtub was taking over an hour to drain I decided it was time to try these out! After receiving it I went to work, within minutes it pulled out so much hair in both drains. it’s disturbing/disgusting yet weirdly satisfying because now my sinks drain!! Cannot believe how easy it was to use, (I received a pack of three) but only needed to use one for both sinks."β€”DebSd

    Get a three-pack from Amazon for $5.09.

    6. Or wiggle in a millipede-like hair remover with more than 4k hooks and loops to ensnare all that hair down there. 'Tis time for it to (briefly) see the light of day again before you toss it in the trash., Amazon

    Promising review: "This is the best product ever for getting rid of hair clogs in sink and tub drains! I have two teenage girls with long curly hair and despite them gathering hair that they find in the tub after showering, it still clogs from time to time. All I have to do is put down the drain millipede and it pulls out the hair and removes the black gunk on the side of the drain. It's absolutely disgusting and smells horrible BUT gets the job done without chemicals and a plumber. A must have for every tub/shower drain!!" β€”D. Darr

    Get it from Amazon for $5.28.

    7. Regurgitate all the disgusting stuff you DIDN'T EVEN KNOW was lurking in and clogging up your jetted tub's innards with a special jetted tub cleaner. First some pipe care and then some self-care!

    AKA, it brings forth the filth so you can wipe it away and rest assured knowing it isn't lurking in your pipes.

    Promising review: "I bought my house in December and it was far from clean, before using the jetted tub I ran the Internet-suggested mixture of dish-washing detergent and bleach through it. All seemed fine until one day with a black oily residue was visible at the water line, nothing super bad but enough to know it was time for a cleaning. I purchased this product to give it a try and I was shocked! At the 15 minute mark it was gross but i just left it running for a full hour. To be on the safe side I drained, rinsed, and ran YUK again, and to my surprise had virtually no dirt, maybe a few slight pieces that didn't make it out in the first round. Afterwards I pulled the jets out and found the dirty mess behind those that YUK couldn't get to but I am confident I have a clean tub now, I will definitely be buying more of this. Recommended for anyone buying a house with a used jetted tub. Smell is not bad at all, it actually kind of smells like a clean pool room." β€”Randall Crane

    Get it from Amazon for $16.99.

    AND they also make dishwasher, washing machine, and hot tub cleaner!

    8. Swap your old kitchen sink strainer for a ~flexible~ sink strainer that'll easily bend to your every food-removing whim. It'll also catch the non-food particles that end up in your sink!


    I own one of these and it does some HEAVY lifting in all sorts of matters, like when I finished off a Magic Eraser while cleaning some sneakers. This bb caught all the lil' eraser bits.

    Promising review: "I've got an older home and before using this strainer, I'd have to get the plumber out every 12–18 months to clear the drain. Now no problems. Easy to remove trapped food items, easy to keep clean. Worth every penny." β€”Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $7.96.

    9. Spell out what CAN NOT be flushed down the toilet to your family or anyone with whom you share a toilet.

    Nickelodeon Animation Studios

    Here's that list:

    - facial tissues

    - sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, etc.

    - diapers (of any kind)

    - moist wipes (including baby, disinfectant, etc.)

    - dental floss

    - medicine

    - plastic

    - toilet bowl scrub pads

    - cleaning pads (like Swiffers)

    10. Also set a rule for how many squares of TP are allowed per flush β€” and if you already have a rule, remind your family!

    MTV Animation

    As you can imagine, people on the Internet have lots of feelings and opinions about this! But, you can at least make sure you don't bunch! Tear off and *fold* squares to prevent wads of used paper clogging up pipes.

    11. If you're the DIY type, you can stop a noisy toilet with this tutorial from an expert plumber and an affordable kit.

    View this video on YouTube

    Full disclosure: I used to work for and would trust the TOH crew with my life! Or at least the life of my plumbing fixtures. Richard Trethewey ^ has seen many toilets in his day, so he comes from a place with a TON of knowledge. If you're so inclined to tackle this DIY yourself (I believe in you!), replacements like the ones he used in the video are cheap and available on β€” you guessed it β€” Amazon! Also check out another tutorial from TOH on how to replace a flapper valve.

    Get a highly reviewed kit from Amazon with the materials for $11.98.

    12. Switch to super soluble toilet paper because that incredibly fluffy toilet paper you swear by could be contributing to clogs.


    Yes this will be a wee sacrifice because this isn't as soft as some cloud-like toilet papers out there, BUT this 2-ply is a good bet for so many reasons if you're willing to sacrifice a teensy bit of comfort. It's made with 100% recycled paper, no added dyes, inks, or fragrances. Plus, it's septic-safe and compatible with low-flow toilets in RVs and campers. Woot.

    Promising review: "It's not as soft as the other ones. It's also very thin and so you do ended up using more... but it doesn't clog the toilet, it's good for the planet, and since it's made our of recycled stuffs anyway so it's ok to use more." β€”Adventure Spirit

    Get two packs of 24 rolls from Amazon for $23.98.

    13. Cut down on your family's toilet paper habit (which could be part of the cause of your running toilet?) with a bidet attachment that'll use water instead of paper to help you get clean. Water is way easier to flush, obvi.


    ICYMI, we highlighted our top picks for the best toilet paper on BuzzFeed Reviews. And rather than telling you to buy some designer brand toilet paper for our $$$ price point, we rec investing in this bidet attachment! ALSO, bidets and similar attachment setups like this are v much a thing in the Greek isles where I visited last summer and lots of plumbing can't handle toilet paper. You may have done the same in other locales during trips!

    Get it from Amazon for $34.50+ (two colors).

    14. Perhaps designate a specific trash can (with odor-blocking bags) for disposing of traditional toilet paper instead of flushing it.


    Again, it may be drastic for some, but for others with constant septic problems it could help! This was also something that I saw a ton of on my Greek vacation (no, this is not just an excuse to talk about a trip of a lifetime!). Pair some of these beauts with a designated trash can and tip off anyone who uses your bathroom as to your setup.

    Promising review: "I use adult all-night disposable diapers. Disposing of the diapers in these miraculous little bags is a godsend. I can save the filled bags in a shopping cart and take them to the garbage can once a week, There is absolutely no odor emanating from the bags." β€”Tuscanyblue

    Get 90 odor-sealing bags from Amazon for $14.60.

    15. Consider giving the "family cloth" a try to avoid some toilet paper costs AND paper going down your toilet drain.

    le papier lavable / Etsy

    Basically, the family cloth is a system of using reusable cloths that you launder to wipe. Some advocates use it to go only #1 and still use regular toilet paper for #2. Some don't. To each their own, yo! Read all you need to know about the family cloth here.

    Get this washable "family cloth" roll from le papier lavable on Etsy for $28.07+ (available in six designs and four colors).

    16. When toilet clogs DO happen, use a beehive-shaped plunger that conforms to even oddly shaped toilet bowls. You know how most plungers are just circles? Welp, this will be way more effective for your efforts.


    This beaut has 800+ five-star Amazon reviews and will have you tossing your OG.

    Promising review: "This is the best plunger ever.

    I am in the unfortunate position to have to use a toilet that gets clogged every single time I go #2. With my previous plungers sometimes I would have to plunge and plunge and plunge, sometimes for up to 15 minutes before I could get the clog cleared. Once I even had to use an auger.

    But with this plunger, all I have to do is a few pumps, and it's done in less than a minute. It has made my life so much easier." β€”acosmichippo

    Get it from Amazon for $10.88+ (also available with holder).

    17. Before you pour some chemical de-clogger down your drain β€” which is less than gentle on old pipes β€” try using some good ole white vinegar and baking soda to clear a path.


    Simply pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda in the drain, then 1/2 cup of vinegar, and cover it with a wet washcloth for 10 minutes. Then remove the washcloth and pour in some boiling water for a cleansing rinse! I've used this tons of times before running out to the store (or logging onto Amazon) to spend $$$ on chemical de-clogger.

    Get them from Amazon: 64 oz. of vinegar for $3.49 and 5 lb. of baking soda for $3.08

    BTW, in case you want to know how else to put all these supplies to good use, check out some vinegar cleaning hacks and cleaning uses for baking soda.

    18. Or, TBH, you can just pour some boiling hot water straight from your kettle to help move things along.

    Touchstone Television

    I do this! It helps! Especially if you're waiting on a shipment for a snake drain or don't have white vinegar and baking soda handy for a drain-clearing science experiment. I double cleanse at night with a cleansing oil and then a moisturizing cream cleanser. I'm convinced that my bathroom sink gets gunked up more often since I adapted this routine because it's harder for the cleansing oil to go down the drain.

    19. And if all else fails, buy some highly rated chemical de-clogger to help clear a drainage path. (FYI, this is what I use when I'm at my wits' end.)


    I would NOT recommend doing this, like, every week. (Though the companies who make it would LOVE for you to do just that.) They can be harsh on old pipes and you should take care of your pipes! You heard it here first, folks. Treat those pipes as you'd like to be treated, cleaned and gently scoured to be your best self!

    Promising review: "Fixed what my boyfriend and plumber couldn't!! πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ» Our dishwasher was backing up into the sink and the sink would not drain!! After having a plumber cut into the main line and clear it out, it still wasn't fixed. One bottle of this did the trick! Used the second one just for an added touch and the thrill of watching it actually go DOWN the drain!" β€”Amanda

    Get two 80 oz. bottles from Amazon for $10.87.

    Looking for more great Amazon finds? Check out some of our favorite cheap things to buy on Amazon, some of the weirdest things on Amazon you might actually want, or read through all the rest of our incredible Amazon product recommendations.

    Your friends who hear about your newfound plumbing knowledge:


    Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Looking for the perfect gift for any occasion? Check out all of BuzzFeed’s gift guides!

    Allison Krausman / BuzzFeed

    Need A Shopping Buddy?

    Get great products - from pros in the fine art of buying stuff online - delivered to your inbox!
    Newsletter signup form