There are few things more annoying than a slow or clogged drain – greasy water sitting in your kitchen sink, or soapy water standing in your shower or bathtub is not a pretty sight, and something that cannot be ignored.
The good news is that a clogged or slow drain can often be cleared without the cost of calling in a plumber. According to the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab experts, the safest first step to clearing any clog is to use the correct plunger based on where a clog is located (sink or toilet). Be sure to cover any overflow outlet first for maximum pressure, turn off the water supply, and always use a plunger before (not after!) any chemical cleaner to prevent the chemical from splashing back up onto you and into your eyes.
While not for use in completely clogged drains through which no water flows (the longer dwell time needed to clear such blockages could damage pipes), chemical- or enzyme-based solutions are effective in de-gunking partially clogged drains. Different drain cleaners, however, have distinct formulations and uses—and some have risks, so keep reading.
We’ve identified the best drain cleaner for every slow drain you might encounter, and our guide also includes tips on how to use them correctly.
Types of drain cleaners
If you’re trying to get rid of a particularly stubborn clog caused by toilet paper, hair, soap scum, grease, and food, then choose an acidic drain cleaner. But keep in mind that this is one of the strongest drain cleaners in the market, and it can only be used in newer homes with plastic and copper pipes.
Because it is made of hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid compounds, it is not safe for use in old plastic pipes, as well as those made of steel and aluminum. Always wear protective gloves, safety glasses, a respirators or mask, and protective clothing when handling acidic drain cleaners.
Caustic drain cleaner is another type of chemical drain clog remover. It contains alkaline compounds that can dissolve grease, food, and other gunk stuck in your drain. However, some caustic cleaners might not work as well in dissolving toilet paper.
Like acidic drain cleaners, caustic drain cleaners can be used in newer plastic, stainless steel, copper, and other metal pipes. Do not use them in pipes that are older than 20 years as the strong chemicals can corrode them.
5 Best Drain Cleaners 2021:
When you think of drain cleaners, Drano is probably the first brand that pops into your head. This commonly recognized product is popular for good reason—it’s a great all-around drain opener that’s effective and affordable, to boot.
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover comes in 80-ounce bottles, and it’s safe to use on PVC, metal pipes, garbage disposals, and septic systems. Its thick formula cuts through standing water, allowing it to quickly dissolve any clogs, including those caused by hair and soap scum. Reviewers write that Drano Max “works miracles,” eliminating clogs caused by years of hair build-up and other tough plumbing problems.
Your shower drain and kitchen sink always become clogged. If you’ve tried all the drain cleaning products you can buy but nothing seems to work, then you might want to try the Green Gobbler Drain Cleaner. What makes this particular drain clog remover different?
First, you don’t have to wear a pair of gloves or be very careful when pouring liquid clog remover as the Green Gobbler is made up of granules. The product is already pre-measured, so all you have to do is pour the contents of the whole package down the drain and wait for it to do its work.
This product comes with its own hair removers to help you unclog the pipes faster. Some drain cleaners can only be used in kitchen sinks, urinals, showers, and floor drain as they are not formulated to dissolve hard buildups in toilets. The good news is the Green Gobbler is one of the strongest drain cleaners available as it can also be used to remove stubborn toilet buildups.
If you don’t like keeping chemicals in your home and are looking for a less environmentally damaging way to keep drains flowing, CLR Power Plumber may be the product for you.
At some point, almost everyone has rushed out to buy a plunger to open a drain. It often works but then you’re left with a dripping, messy plunger to clean and store. Plus, the rubber head on plungers eventually disintegrate and crack. The Power Plumber works on the same principle as a plunger of using forced air to move a clog but with no mess.
Just 7 inches tall, the can is filled with compressed gas that is scented with a lemon deodorizer. The gas contains no CFCs. Simply fill the sink with several inches of water, point the nozzle down into the drain and when the gas comes in contact with the water, it expands rapidly. The wave of gas and water act as a battering ram to push the blockage through the pipe. No chemicals needed.
Living in an old house has its charms. To your chagrin, you found that the drain is prone to clogging and what’s worse, drain flies have started to emerge from your bathroom. You can get rid of clogs and drain flies with the help of the Rockwell Labs IBDC032 Invade Bio Drain Gel.
This drain gel contains probiotics that consume organic wastes, such as food debris and grease, to get rid of clogging. This powerful organic cleaner can also help get rid of drain flies.
Because it is made of probiotics, this drain gel is 100% safe for you and your family. It won’t damage your bathtub, sink, or septic system like harsh drain cleaners do.
I was a child of the 1970s and had long, flowing hair. My father complained constantly about all of the hair that kept clogging up the bathroom drains. There may have been “magical mushrooms” in the 70s but none were as good at preventing clogs like the TubShroom Strainer and Hair Catcher. This little rubber gadget will change your life — even with shorter hair these days, I am always amazed at how much the TubShroom catches.
Unlike typical drain filters, the TubShroom slips down into the drain opening so that the hair is caught, out-of-sight. The unique shape and holes create a whirlpool effect that winds long hair around the spool so it doesn’t go down the drain. The TubShroom fits any standard 1.5-inch to 1.75-inch bathtub drain and comes in a variety of colors from white to orange to match any decor.
When you notice a slowing of water as the tub drains, pull out the TubShroom and dispose of the hair. Use a microfiber cloth or tissue to wipe away the hair and rinse it under the faucet to remove any residue. Afterward, just pop it back in to protect your drain.
What to Look for in a drain cleaners
- Type of Clog: Not all drain cleaners are effective for every type of clog, so verify that the pick you’re choosing will work on the type of clog you suspect you’re dealing with. Bathroom clogs are more likely to be caused by scum and hair, while kitchen clogs usually require a formula that is effective against grease.
- Time of Exposure: While some formulas can work in as little as 20 minutes, others do best when left overnight to unclog your drain. Pay close attention to the amount of cleaner to use and how long to leave it sitting to avoid wasting money or time.
- System Compatibility: If you have plastic pipes, a septic tank, or a garbage disposal, take extra care when picking a drain cleaner. Not all cleaners are safe for all pipe types or for septic tanks, but ones that are will list it on the container.
How to make diy drain cleaners
Once a month or so, we recommend trying this homemade solution. It’s not powerful enough to clear a complete clog, but can help keep your drains fresh and flowing:
- Mix ½ cup baking soda with ¼ cup table salt and pour it down the drain.
- Slowly pour in 1 cup of warmed distilled white vinegar
- Let the foaming bubbles stand 10-15 minutes and then flush with hot tap water for 15-30 seconds.