A clogged drain only happens when we’re rushed and need to get things done. We’re trying to get ready for work, but the bathroom sink is backing up with brown water, or there is a clogged kitchen sink when your counter is covered in dirty dishes and guests are on the way over. But until there is a way to invent clog-free pipes, homeowners and renters must deal with this messy issue several times in their lifetime.
There are three ways to manage drain clogs in the bathroom sink, shower, bathtub or kitchen drains — prevention, drain cleaner, or hiring a plumber with special de-clogging plumbers’ tools.
Best Way to Unclog a Drain
Most of us do our best to keep our drains free from clogs. We don’t wash anything down the drain that shouldn’t be down there, and we clean out the hairs and food scraps from the mesh drain stoppers. Somehow, the drain still seems to clog up on a regular basis. Hiring a plumber can be expensive, and everyone knows how to use plumbers’ snakes or augers. There is also the issue that these tools can result in mess that must be cleaned up afterwards.
The best way to unclog a drain is to use a drain cleaner. Drain cleaners are sold in canisters or bottles, and have been designed to be a quick fix for when your drain has clogged up. Best of all, they require no special knowledge in order to purchase or use them.
How Does a Drain Cleaner Work to Clear the Toughest Clogs?
A drain often cloggs up at the “U” shaped bend under the sink. This can be an accumulation of hair, food scraps, grease, and minerals and grit from the water. A drain cleaner is a liquid that is thicker than water, and is poured slowly into the sink. Usually only a portion of the bottle is used at one time. There are also drain cleaners that come in a powdered or crystal beaded form. They are activated when you pour hot water down the drain.
The drain cleaner contains chemicals that will work their way through the bad clog. Once a portion of the clog has been broken through, the clog will work itself free and flush its way down through the pipes. This is why most drain cleaners tell you to turn on the hot water tap after a certain length of time has passed. Now you’ll have a regular draining sink.
Many times you may think that a drain cleaner may not be working. You may need to be patient. Some of the worst clogs are in a kitchen sink that may be filled with food scraps at the “U” bend. Often you can pour down your drain cleaner, and then when you wake up the next day you’ll discover that the water in your sink is gone, and the water drains normally from the sink.
Most of the time, your clog won’t be this bad. The best time to use your drain cleaner is when you first start noticing that your sink isn’t draining as quickly as it was before. This is the best time to buy drain cleaner and use it.
Can a Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes?
There can be conflicting information about whether drain cleaner will damage your pipes. Technically, water can damage your pipes and wear them down over the years, resulting in pipe replacements. Anything that passes through there, such as soap or shampoo, will slowly erode them away too. There is no manufacturing method that will ever ensure that pipes last forever.
If you check manufacturer’s websites, they make the claim that drain cleaners are only strong enough to eat through the nasty clogs, but not harm plastic or metal pipes. But it obviously makes sense that something that can work its way through clogs can also work its way through pipes too.
Where there is often an issue is that plumbers tell you to not use drain cleaners, probably because they want to be hired to clean your drains. But consider that when plumbers’ snakes and augers are inserted into drains to unclog them, they are causing as much damage to the pipes too!
Ensure you follow the exact instructions on your container of drain cleaner. Do not use a plunger after pouring drain cleaner down a drain. Remember that it may take overnight to work at a really bad clog. Plumbers often recommend that you use drain cleaners for only partial clogs, not really bad ones. But as the homeowner or renter, you’re going to have to use your judgement on whether to call the plumber immediately for a clogged drain, or not.
What is the Composition of Drain Cleaners?
Most drain cleaners have sodium hydroxide as the main ingredient. This is also known as lye, which is used in soap making. This substance can works its way through most types of organic matter—hair, grease, food scraps, etc. The drain cleaner also contains aluminum, which causes a chemical reaction that generates heat, and can bring it up to near-boiling temperatures. This is what causes that caustic process to work its way through the clogs.
5 of the Best Drain Cleaners on the Market Today
These are 5 of the best drain cleaners on the market today. You’ll want to have a few in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets in the event that your sinks start draining slowly.
1. Drano Max Gel Drain Cleaner Professional Strength, 32 Oz
- Dissolves the toughest hair clogs.
- In a liquid-gel format.
- Contains 35% more active ingredients than regular Drano.
Drano is perhaps the most well-known of all the drain cleaners, and the Max Gel in the red plastic bottle, is the best they have. This is a pro-strength drain cleaner, in a liquid-gel format that is heavier than water, and offers a better chance of slipping down through your clogged pipes.
Drano will work on sinks, bathtubs, and even shower drains. Simply twist the cap off and pour the required amount down the drain. After the allotted time, flush hot water down the drain to help clear the remains of the clog. Drano Max Gel is fast-acting, and it should take about seven minutes for it to work.
2. Pure Lye Drain Opener, 1 lb
- Biodegradable drain opener.
- 100% lye product.
- Clears out the worst clogs, including roots and grease.
If you need a heavy-duty clog remover, the Pure Lye Drain Opener may be the best way to tackle your problem. Pure Lye Drain Opener is not a liquid, it’s a product that is in the form of small beads that you can pour down the drain. The beads are even small enough to get past a mesh drain stopper. After pouring in the powdered crystals, you need to turn on the hot water tap and let it run for a bit.
You will hear the lye fizzing and dissolving away the materials that are clogging your drain. It’s important to wear gloves when using this product as it’s strong enough to cause a chemical burn. There is enough in the container to cover at least two clogged drains in your home.
3. Thrift T-200 Non-acid Pipe & Drain Cleaner, 2 lb
- Drain cleaner works in 60 seconds.
- Works on all drains, sewer lines, grease traps, and septic systems.
- Safe to use on most kitchen surfaces.
Thrift’s Drain Cleaner comes in a dry crystal form inside a white container. It promises to remove clogs in sixty seconds. After you pour the measured amount down the drain, you turn on the hot water tap. It’s activated by hot water and starts working immediately.
You’ll be able to use Thrift for several different clogs. This is a drain cleaner that’s even recommended by plumbers to quickly clear clogged drains. You’ll also need to take care when handling this product, and ensure you follow instructions and wear gloves. If your liquid drain cleaner isn’t working, Thrift Drain Cleaner has the power to unclog your drains.
4. Professor Amos’ Super Fast Drain Cleaner, 2 Pack
- Super fast-acting drain cleaner.
- Large white plastic bottle for big clogs.
- Made in an accelerated formula.
Profess Amos’s Super Fast Drain Cleaner is a well-selling drain cleaner seen on TV, that can dissolve hair, grease, and food clogs. It can break through even the toughest clogs. It’s safe and easy to use, and no mixing or gloves required. There are multiple uses in the bottle. It can be used on any type of drain, and with public or septic tank sewage systems and cesspools.
You can quickly clear your clog so you can get back to your shower in the morning, or meal preparation in the kitchen, without having to call the plumber. This formulation is less caustic than other brands, but still works well. You can use it with pipes made of PVC and copper too.
5. Green Gobbler Dissolve Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover & Drain Opener, 32 Oz
- Dissolving gel liquid formula.
- Offers a 100% money back guarantee.
- Can be used on all drains and even toilets too.
Green Gobbler Dissolve Drain Opener can be used on all drains in the home, and is one of the few drain openers that can also be poured into the toilet. It’s made in the USA, and is guaranteed to break up the toughest clogs, with a money back guarantee to back up that claim. This cleaner is odourless, and non-flammable. If you’re searching for a safer drain cleaner that is also safe for the environment, Green Gobbler offers the best solution.
Green Gobbler works fast and offers a superior performing product over other traditional drain cleaners. This drain cleaner is also biodegradable, and is even non-irritating to your skin should you accidentally pour some on it. It has a thick and dense liquid formula that enables it to sink down through your drain’s clogs. It’s effective against grease, soap scum, and hair.
Precautions or Warnings When Using Drain Cleaner
Since most drain cleaners are composed of caustic materials you should be cautious when using them. Follow these guidelines to keep your family safe.
- Follow the directions on the bottle, as the product has been tested to these guidelines.
- Wear gloves and goggles before opening a bottle of drain cleaner. You never know when some product may splash in your face.
- If you do pour some on your skin, wash it off immediately, or flush out your eyes. Seek medical attention if the burning doesn’t stop
- Only use drain cleaner for the purpose intended.
- Only use toilet-approved drain cleaners for the toilet bowl.
- Do not use any other chemicals with your drain cleaner. Stick with the one type, even if you feel the need to pour a bit more down the drain.
- Remember that some bad clogs may take overnight to resolve.
- If you like to use a plunger to clear clogs, do it first before you pour the drain cleaner down the drain. Using a plunger after you have poured in drain cleaner could result in chemicals splashing up into your face.
- Keep the cap or lid twisted on securely at all times.
- Store your drain cleaner in a high cabinet away from curious pets or children.
Final Tips on Using Drain Cleaner
Next time you’re at your kitchen or bathroom sink, note how fast the water is draining through. Likewise, check it when you’re in the bathtub or shower. If it seems slower than normal, buy enough bottles of drain cleaner to treat all your drains. It’s also a good idea to keep some extra on hand for the next time your drain plugs up completely.
You need to quickly and easily clear your clogs and get on with your day. There are many drain cleaners that work quickly and effectively, to save you time and aggravation. You can decide if you prefer liquid or powdered crystals or beads, but also be aware that there are also eco-friendly green options available too.