How to Clean Grease Out of Pipes [Ultimate Guides]

Start by pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain, letting it fizz for 30 minutes, then flushing with boiling water. If that doesn’t work, use a plunger or wire coat hanger to dislodge the clog. For tougher clogs, rent or buy a drain snake to manually break up and remove the grease buildup. Prevent future clogs by avoiding pouring grease down drains, installing a grease trap, and regularly using enzymatic drain cleaners. If all else fails, call a professional plumber with the right tools and expertise to safely and effectively clear the grease clog.

Importance of maintaining clean pipes

Clogged and greasy pipes are a common household nuisance that can cause significant inconvenience and even lead to costly repairs if left unattended. Grease, food particles, and other debris can accumulate over time, creating stubborn blockages that impede proper water flow and drainage. Neglecting to address this issue promptly can result in foul odors, slow draining sinks and tubs, and potentially severe plumbing issues that may require professional intervention.

Common causes of grease buildup in pipes

Grease buildup in pipes is primarily caused by improper disposal of cooking oils, fats, and greasy food waste. When hot grease is poured down drains, it may initially flow smoothly. However, as it cools, it solidifies and adheres to the inside of the pipes, gradually restricting water flow. Additionally, food scraps, hair, and other debris can contribute to the formation of clogs, exacerbating the problem.

Preparing to Clean Grease from Pipes

Gather necessary supplies

Before attempting to tackle a greasy pipe clog, it’s essential to have the right tools and materials on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural and effective cleaner that can help break down grease and dissolve clogs.


Vinegar, when combined with baking soda, creates a fizzing reaction that can dislodge stubborn clogs.

Wire coat hanger

A wire coat hanger can be straightened and used as a makeshift drain snake to manually dislodge clogs.


A standard plunger can be used to apply pressure and suction to help clear clogs.

Drain snake

For more stubborn clogs, a drain snake (also known as a plumber’s snake or auger) may be necessary. These tools can be purchased or rented from hardware stores.

Safety precautions

When dealing with clogged pipes and potentially hazardous materials, it’s crucial to take the necessary safety precautions. Wear protective gloves to avoid direct contact with grease and chemicals, and ensure proper ventilation by opening windows or turning on fans. Additionally, exercise caution when using tools like drain snakes to prevent injury.

DIY Methods for Cleaning Grease from Pipes

Baking soda and vinegar method


The baking soda and vinegar method is a popular and effective DIY solution for clearing grease clogs. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the clogged drain.
  2. Follow with 1 cup of vinegar.
  3. Cover the drain opening with a drain plug or a dry cloth to contain the fizzing reaction.
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Flush the drain with boiling water to help dislodge the clog.
  6. Repeat the process if necessary until the clog is cleared.


The baking soda and vinegar method is advantageous for several reasons. First, it utilizes common household ingredients that are readily available and inexpensive. Additionally, it’s a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners, making it a safer option for your pipes and the environment.

Boiling water method


Another simple DIY method for clearing grease clogs is the boiling water method. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Carefully pour the boiling water directly into the clogged drain.
  3. Allow the hot water to sit for a few minutes to help dissolve the grease and debris.
  4. If the clog persists, repeat the process with fresh boiling water.


The boiling water method is a straightforward and cost-effective solution that can be effective for minor clogs. It’s a gentle approach that doesn’t involve harsh chemicals, making it a safe option for your pipes and the environment. However, it may not be as effective for more stubborn or long-standing clogs.

Wire coat hanger method


If you have a wire coat hanger on hand, you can use it as a makeshift drain snake to manually dislodge clogs. Here’s how:

  1. Straighten the wire coat hanger, leaving a small hook at one end.
  2. Carefully insert the hooked end into the clogged drain.
  3. Gently push and twist the wire, attempting to hook and pull out any debris or grease buildup.
  4. Repeat the process until the clog is cleared.


The wire coat hanger method can be effective for minor clogs or loosening debris before attempting other methods. However, it may not be sufficient for more stubborn or deeply rooted clogs, as it lacks the length and flexibility of a professional drain snake.

How to Clean Grease Out of Pipes

Using a Plunger to Clear Grease Clogs

Prepare the plunger

If the DIY methods mentioned above fail to clear the grease clog, you can try using a plunger. Before proceeding, ensure that the plunger is in good condition and the cup is clean and free of cracks or damage.

Plunging technique

Follow these steps to effectively use a plunger to clear a greasy clog:

  1. Remove any standing water from the sink or tub by bailing it out or using a wet/dry vacuum.
  2. Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly or plumbers’ grease around the rim of the drain opening to create an airtight seal.
  3. Position the plunger over the drain opening, ensuring a tight seal.
  4. Forcefully plunge up and down, maintaining the seal and creating pressure to dislodge the clog.
  5. After several vigorous plunges, quickly pull the plunger off the drain to release the pressure and suction.
  6. Repeat the process as needed until the clog is cleared.

When to use a plunger

Plungers can be effective for clearing minor to moderate clogs, but they may not be sufficient for more severe or deeply rooted blockages. If plunging fails to clear the clog, it’s time to consider using a drain snake or seeking professional assistance.

Employing a Drain Snake

What is a drain snake?

A drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or auger, is a long, flexible cable or wire with a coiled end designed to navigate through pipes and dislodge clogs. Drain snakes come in various lengths and diameters to accommodate different pipe sizes and types of clogs.

How to use a drain snake


Follow these steps to use a drain snake effectively:

  1. Locate the cleanout access point for the clogged pipe, typically located near the drain or under a sink.
  2. Insert the drain snake into the cleanout access point, gently feeding it into the pipe.
  3. As you encounter resistance, rotate the snake clockwise while applying gentle pressure to advance it through the clog.
  4. Once you feel the snake has passed through the clog, continue rotating and feeding the snake to ensure the clog is fully dislodged.
  5. Slowly retract the snake, reversing the rotation to retrieve any debris or grease it has collected.
  6. Flush the pipe with hot water to ensure the clog is completely cleared.


  • Use a drain snake appropriate for the size of your pipes to avoid damaging them.
  • Be cautious when using a drain snake, as forcing it too aggressively can cause damage to pipes or fixtures.
  • Consider hiring a professional plumber if you’re unsure about using a drain snake or if the clog is particularly stubborn.

Prevention Tips

Install a grease trap

To prevent future grease buildup and clogs, consider installing a grease trap or interceptor in your kitchen plumbing system. These devices are designed to capture and separate grease and oils from wastewater before they enter the main drainage pipes, reducing the risk of clogs.

Avoid pouring grease down drains

One of the most effective ways to prevent grease clogs is to avoid pouring grease, oils, and fats directly down drains. Instead, allow cooking grease to cool and solidify, then scrape it into a disposable container for proper disposal.

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your pipes clean and free-flowing. Consider scheduling periodic drain cleaning services or using enzymatic drain cleaners to break down organic matter and prevent buildup over time.

How to Clean Grease Out of Pipes

When to Call a Professional

Signs you need professional help

While many grease clogs can be addressed with DIY methods, there are certain situations where it’s advisable to call in a professional plumber:

  • If the clog is extremely stubborn and none of the DIY methods have been successful.
  • If you suspect the clog is deeper in the main sewer line or at a point inaccessible to homeowners.
  • If you’ve tried using a drain snake but haven’t been able to fully clear the clog.
  • If you notice multiple drains or fixtures are affected, indicating a more significant blockage.
  • If you’re dealing with recurring clogs despite your best efforts to clear them.

Attempting to forcefully clear a severe clog without proper knowledge and equipment can potentially cause further damage to your plumbing system, leading to costly repairs.

Benefits of hiring a plumber

While DIY methods can be effective for minor clogs, hiring a professional plumber offers several advantages:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Plumbers have the necessary training, skills, and experience to diagnose and resolve even the most complex clogs efficiently.
  2. Proper Tools and Equipment: Professional plumbers have access to specialized tools and equipment, such as high-powered drain snakes, hydro-jetters, and video inspection cameras, which can tackle even the toughest clogs.
  3. Safety: Attempting to clear severe clogs yourself can be risky, as it may involve handling hazardous materials or working in confined spaces. Plumbers are trained to work safely and follow proper protocols.
  4. Time-Saving: While DIY methods can be time-consuming and require trial and error, professional plumbers can quickly identify and resolve the issue, minimizing the disruption to your daily routine.
  5. Warranty and Guarantees: Reputable plumbing companies often offer warranties or guarantees on their work, providing peace of mind and protection against future issues.

While hiring a professional plumber may involve an upfront cost, it can save you time, effort, and potential costly repairs in the long run.


  1. Can chemical drain cleaners be used to clear grease clogs?

 While chemical drain cleaners can be effective in some cases, they are generally not recommended for clearing grease clogs. These harsh chemicals can potentially damage pipes and harm the environment. It’s best to try natural, safer methods first before resorting to chemical cleaners.

  1. How often should I have my drains professionally cleaned? 

The frequency of professional drain cleaning depends on various factors, such as the age of your plumbing system, the number of occupants in your household, and your usage habits. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to have your drains professionally cleaned every 18 to 24 months to prevent buildup and clogs.

  1. Can hot water alone clear a grease clog? 

While pouring boiling water down a clogged drain can sometimes help dissolve and dislodge grease, it may not be effective for more stubborn or long-standing clogs. Hot water is often most useful when combined with other methods, such as baking soda and vinegar or a drain snake.

  1. Is it safe to use a drain snake on my own?

 Using a drain snake requires some caution and knowledge to avoid damaging your pipes or injuring yourself. If you’re unsure about how to properly use a drain snake, it’s best to seek professional assistance or guidance from a plumber.

  1. How can I prevent future grease buildup in my pipes? 

To prevent future grease buildup and clogs, be diligent about not pouring grease, oils, or fats down your drains. Instead, allow them to cool and solidify, then dispose of them properly in the trash. Additionally, consider installing a grease trap or interceptor in your kitchen plumbing system, and practice regular drain maintenance.


Dealing with greasy, clogged pipes can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience, but it’s a common household issue that can be addressed with the right approach. By understanding the causes of grease buildup and familiarizing yourself with various DIY methods, such as using baking soda and vinegar, boiling water, a wire coat hanger, a plunger, or a drain snake, you can often clear minor to moderate clogs on your own.

However, it’s essential to recognize when professional assistance is necessary, especially for severe or recurring clogs. Hiring a skilled plumber can save you time, effort, and potential damage to your plumbing system, ensuring a safe and effective resolution to your clogged pipe woes.

Remember, prevention is key. Implementing strategies like installing a grease trap, avoiding pouring grease down drains, and practicing regular maintenance can go a long way in minimizing the likelihood of future clogs and keeping your pipes running smoothly.

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