Household Items Useful In a Plumbing Pinch

a hair dryer on its side

While some water issues are better left to a professional, you can handle many of them yourself, and certain items around your house can help. Before you buy a special tool for your next plumbing jam, see if one of these common items can help you do the job.

Hair Dryer

If you have a pipe that is frozen or in danger of freezing, use a hair dryer to warm it up quickly and effectively. It’s a foolproof, affordable method to avoid a major plumbing issue!


It’s not uncommon for garbage disposals to get pretty smelly. To reduce the odor of decomposing food, put a small piece of lemon peel down the disposal along with several ice cubes and a bit of dishwashing detergent. Run the disposal for a moment and soon it’ll smell fresh and new again.

lemon on a cutting board

Soda Bottles

Large plastic bottles can help you save money on your water bill. Place a full 20oz container in the corner of your toilet tank. By displacing the water, it cuts down on the amount the toilet uses for each flush, cutting down on overall water waste. Since the bottle is full, it stays at the bottom of the tank and won’t get in the way of the flushing mechanism.

Baking Soda

Another common pantry staple useful in clearing a clogged drain, baking soda can work in conjunction with vinegar. Pour them down a drain experiencing a blockage, then cover it and allow the bubbly nature of this mixture to loosen the debris below. After a few minutes, pour some warm water down the drain to determine whether this hack did the trick.

Wire Hangers

Clothes hangers can make clearing drain clogs a breeze! Reshape a wire hanger as a long, skinny hook or poker to either fish out a blockage or push it through, allowing water to pass. Solid but light items, such as wads of hair, are frequently to blame for clogs like these.

a pole covered in white clothes hangers


When fixing a leaky faucet, you’ll have to take some of it apart. When you put it back together, drop a bit of vinegar in the valve to loosen mineral deposits and help increase flow. Vinegar can also be used to clean dirty shower heads to improve water pressure.

Garden Hose

If you’re finding that your water is discolored or has an odor, go to the source. To drain your water heater, attach your garden hose to the valve at the bottom of your water heater, leaving the other end in a safe place outside. Turn the valve, letting water flow through the hose.


A jammed garbage disposal can be a bit alarming, but a short broomstick can assist in clearing this issue. Unplug the disposal and slowly push the broomstick in from the top. Force it against the blades to push the impeller from one side to the other, which will hopefully clear the jam.