Clogged drains can be quite a nuisance – from a hair clog in the shower to a clogged sink in the kitchen, they can lead to unpleasant odors and even damage your piping system. And when it comes to unclogging your drains, using the right tools is crucial. While boiling water may work for minor blockages, tougher clogs may require some more heavy-duty measures.
It is, however, important to note that when it comes to drain cleaners, there is a multitude of options available on the market. However, not all of them are effective for every type of clog. For instance, while some drain cleaners may be effective for hair clogs in the bathroom, they may not work as well on grease traps in the kitchen. It’s therefore important to choose a drain cleaner that’s specifically designed for the type of clog you’re dealing with.
For instance, let’s look at hair clogs caused by the accumulation of strands of hair over time. For such clogs, products, like drain snakes or enzymatic cleaners, can be effective. Enzymatic cleaners work by breaking down the organic matter causing the clog, while drain snakes work by physically dislodging the blockage. Note that metal pipes, however, require more caution when using drain cleaners as some chemicals can corrode the metal. For metal pipes, it’s best to use enzymatic cleaners or natural solutions, such as baking soda and vinegar.
Overall, whether dealing with hair clogs or tough grease traps, choosing the right drain cleaner is key to keeping your pipes clog-free. By understanding the type of clog you’re dealing with and which chemicals or tools are safe to use on your piping system, you can effectively flush the drain and prevent future blockages. In this article, we’ll be discussing the best drain cleaners for clog-free tubs, showers, and sinks.
1. Drano Max Gel – Chemical drain cleaner
What is a drain cleaner or clog remover?
Drain cleaning is an essential aspect of maintaining clean and hygienic living spaces. A drain cleaner, also known as clog remover, is a chemical or mechanical agent that helps to unclog blocked drains by dissolving or dislodging the accumulated debris. The primary purpose of drain cleaners is to eliminate blockages that cause slow drainage or complete clogs. These cleaners usually come in one of three main categories (not counting homemade solutions like boiling water, vinegar, etc.):
1. Alkaline drain opener
Caustic drain cleaners are one type of chemical-based drain cleaning agent commonly used in households. These cleaners contain strong alkaline chemicals like sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide that can dissolve hair, grease, soap scum, and other organic matter that accumulates in pipes over time. Caustic drain cleaners can be effective for stubborn clogs but must be handled with care due to their potentially harmful effects on the skin and eyes.
2. Acidic liquid drain cleaner
Acidic-type cleaners work well by dissolving the blockages. As alkaline cleaners, they are typically made to clean hair, soap scum, grease, and other debris that builds up over time. These cleaners contain strong acids such as sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, which help break down the blockage and allow it to flow out of the drain.
However, acidic drain cleaners should be used with caution as they can cause damage to metallic-type pipes if left in contact for too long or if not diluted properly. The acid in these cleaners can corrode metal pipes and cause them to weaken over time. It can also pose a health hazard if ingested or inhaled accidentally. Therefore, it is important to always wear protective gloves and eye goggles when handling these products.
3. Enzymatic drain cleaner
Unlike traditional chemical drain cleaners, enzymatic cleaners use natural enzymes (some people call these bacteria) to break down and dissolve clogs in your pipes.
Enzymatic drain cleaners work by introducing a blend of natural enzymes into your clogged pipe. These enzymes then go to work breaking down organic materials like food waste, hair, and grease that can cause blockages in your pipes. Over time, the enzymes will continue breaking down these materials until they are completely dissolved and flushed away.
One of the biggest advantages of using an enzymatic cleaner is that it is typically much safer for both you and the environment than traditional chemical-based cleaners. Because they use natural ingredients, enzymatic cleaners are less likely to cause harm or irritation if accidentally ingested or inhaled.
Obviously, having a clogged drain is very annoying, whether it is in your kitchen sink, toilet, or shower. By using the best drain cleaner, you can easily unclog your drain so you can go have a huge build-up of garbage, junk, or murky water in your sink, toilet, or shower.
We have gathered up all of the popular drain cleaners in the market and tested them side by side using the same type of clog. We tested and ranked them based on efficacy, odor, and cleaning duration. Please see below for our top recommendations.
Best Drain Cleaner Reviews
- Drano Max Gel Clog Remover (Top Pick)
- CLR Power Plumber Drain Opener Pressurized Can
- ComStar Pure Lye Bead Drain Opener
- Best Drain Cleaner for Toilets – Green Dobbler Drain Clog Main Line Opener
- The Rockwell Labs InVade Bio Drain Gel – Best Drain Cleaner for Sinks
- XionLab Safer Drain Opener – Best Combination Chemical And Enzyme Drain Cleaner
1. Drano Max Gel Clog Remover for a clogged sink, shower, and even toilet – Best overall
We had a quick look at the Material Safety Data Sheet and found that the main active ingredients are bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and lye (sodium hydroxide). There is also some unknown surfactant that is a trade secret, and we believe it is this trade secret that makes the Drano Max Gel work so well.
This liquid gel is formulated thick and pours through standing water. It is safe for all types of pipes, whether it is metal or plastic as well as garbage disposals and septic systems.
In terms of using this for the toilet, we say it is safe to use although on the packaging it says a big no. We tried it on a toilet and ended up being alright. However, for toilets, we would try using a plunger as a first line of defense anyways.
It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to unclog your drains with Drano, so be prepared to wait. Another word of caution: this stuff smells pretty bad so you may want to use work gloves and a surgeon’s mask when handling it. Please keep this away from children and pets. It contains some heavy-duty chemicals, so at least you know it works. Note, as a final point, it is the best drain cleaner for the shower we used.
- Best Value
- Clears complete clogs in standing water
- Can be left overnight to work
- May need a second application for stubborn clogs
2. CLR Power Plumber Drain Opener – Best Pressurized Can
The CLR Power Plumber is the best drain cleaner if you are looking for a non-invasive way to clean up your drains. It is comprised of 100% 1,1-Difluoroethane or DFE, which is a colorless gas often used as canned air.
The reason DFE is used is because it is not extremely flammable as opposed to other gases. The way these drain cleaner works is that it shoots highly pressured air from an aerosol can into your drain.
Each can have about 15 applications, which should last several years depending on how often your drains get clogged. The best part about the CLR Power Plumber is that it is much safer than any chemical cleaner.
Since it only has pressurized air inside the cam, the only risk you have is if the can ignites and blows up if you somehow get it in contact with fire. With chemical drain cleaners, you risk the chance of getting harmful chemicals on your hands or eyes and exposing your children and pets to these chemicals.
In terms of efficacy, the CLR Power Plumber works very well, although we would say chemical drain cleaners work even better. Because it shoots a stream of air into your pipes, sometimes it doesn’t fully dislodge build-up and big pieces of garbage. It may take a few applications to dislodge big things and you risk the chance of not removing it at all if it is a hard object. But for most clogs, this drain cleaner works very well and is very safe to have around the house.
- Easy to use
- Simple instructions
- Limited applications (5 to 6 at most)
3. ComStar Pure Lye Bead Drain Opener – Best Odor Free
It does not dissolve metal or plastic, so it is totally safe to use in any kind of drainage system including toilets. We really like the fact that you can buy this in solid bead form because it becomes easy to apply and relatively non-invasive.
The beads don’t really react unless they are dissolved in water, so you just pour some down your drain and then add water if needed. With these lye beads, you no longer have to worry about smearing it on your skin and risking potentially harming yourself or your loved ones.
They work just as well as liquid cleaners except they take a bit more time to start working. The Comstar lye beads are industrial grade, biodegradable, and food grade. We like this product because it doesn’t create fumes and is odorless and works just as well as the liquid cleaners.
- Biodegradable and environmentally safe
- Dissolves grease, hair, and root growth in sewer lines instantly
- Enhance the growth of active bacteria in grease and septic tanks
- Can be stored indefinitely
- A bit slow at times depending on the clog
4. Green Dobbler Drain Clog Main Line Opener – Best Drain Cleaner for Toilets
If your toilet suffers from repeated clogging and you are tired of using acidic cleaners that harm the environment, you may want to look at the Green Gobbler drain clog remover. This product is one of the best drain cleaners for old pipes as it does not harm materials (it does not contain harmful acidic solutions).
While this product is not designed for quick solutions to remove clogs in drains, it is perfect for those who seek a natural, enzymatic cleaner for their toilets. Its biodegradable and non-hazardous ingredients include natural enzyme-producing bacteria that feed and break down whatever is causing the clog. This makes it safe to use in toilets, unlike other caustic or acidic cleaners that can cause harm to both humans and the environment.
The Green Dobbler is a versatile product that does more than just unclog your drain pipe; it also cleans and removes odors from the inside of the pipe. But the beauty of using the enzymatic cleaning power solution means that it not only removes clogs but also prevents them from reoccurring in the future.
While this product may be more expensive than other drain cleaners, its versatility, cleaning power, and safe ingredients are worth the investment. Its odorless formula means that it won’t leave any unpleasant scents in your bathroom, and it is incredibly easy to use – simply pour it down the drain and let it work its way through the clog. Remember, this is not a fast solution. So if you need a fast solution, then you may resume your search for a chemical product.
In summary, if you’re looking for the best drain cleaner for clogged toilets with a safe, effective, and eco-friendly mixture, green gobbler drain opening is the best choice. Don’t let clogs ruin your day – try this enzymatic cleaner today and enjoy a cleaner, fresher-smelling bathroom. That’s why it has been qualified as the best drain cleaner for bathroom sinks.
- Natural ingredients
- Simple to use
- A bit expensive
5. The Rockwell Labs InVade Bio Drain Gel – Best Drain Cleaner for Sinks
If you’ve ever experienced a clog in your kitchen sink, standing water, and unpleasant odors, you know how pesky it can be. Not only do these issues attract bacteria and flies, but they also create an unsanitary and unpleasant environment in your home. That’s why the Rockwell Labs InVade Bio Drain Gel is probably the best choice for tackling these problems. In fact, many say that it is the best drain cleaner for kitchen sinks when you look at a natural and semi-environmentally-friendly solution.
This powerful drain cleaner is specifically formulated with microbes and essential citrus oil to break down and eliminate odors, scum, grease, food debris, and even the very famous (infamous) “sugar snake.” Unlike other drain cleaners that emit harsh chemicals and noxious fumes, the InVade Bio Drain Gel uses natural ingredients to provide a safe and effective solution to your drain problems.
Aside from eliminating clogs and unpleasant odors, the InVade Bio Drain Gel also has the added bonus of killing and preventing fruit flies, gnats, and other pesky flies commonly found in the kitchen. With regular use, you can say goodbye to these unwanted guests and enjoy a cleaner, more hygienic kitchen environment.
While the InVade Bio Drain Gel is more expensive than some other drain cleaners, it’s worth the investment. A four-ounce application poured into the drain every day for one week will be enough to effectively clean and clear your drains. Plus, the gallon-sized bottle can last for up to 32 applications, making it a cost-effective solution in the long run.
Say goodbye to clogged drains, standing water, and unpleasant odors with the Rockwell Invade bio drain gel – the best drain cleaner for sinks on the market.
- Easy to use
- Get rid of flies
- Does not damage pipes in most cases
- You may need to apply a couple of times for the best results
6. XionLab Safer Drain Opener – Best Combination Chemical And Enzyme Drain Cleaner
If you are tired of dealing with slow drains in your bathroom or shower, it’s time to try XionLab Safer Drain Opener. This formula is specially designed to tackle hair and grease clogs, and it works quickly and effectively to clear up blockages in your pipes.
One of the best things about this drain cleaner is that it is septic tank safe. You don’t have to worry about damaging your septic system when you use this product, which is a big bonus for those who want to be more environmentally friendly. So go ahead and pour the drain cleaner into your tank.
When it comes to using it on different types of clogs, there are some limitations. The XionLab Safer Drain Opener is best used for showers and bathroom sinks and shouldn’t be used in toilets or kitchen sinks. That’s because it isn’t effective against paper, plastics, or food particles.
The formula has a balance between acidic and caustic cleaners and mild enzymatic cleaners, which makes it ideal for breaking down different types of clogs. It also sinks through standing water, making it easier to get to the blockage quickly.
For mild obstructions, it usually takes around two hours to work, while tougher clogs may take longer, sometimes taking overnight. Once it has done its job, it is easy to flush out of the pipes with hot water, and you can enjoy a smoothly flowing drain once again.
Overall, the XionLab Safer Drain Opener is a highly effective and reliable drain cleaner that’s perfect for tackling hair and grease clogs in the bathroom and shower. It’s one of the best drain products and an excellent alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners for those who want a safer and more eco-friendly option.
- Easy to use
- Septic safe
- Good for hair and grease
- Odorless and biodegradable
- Stubborn clogs need multiple applications as no chemicals is used
Final verdict on the best overall drain cleaner
After careful consideration and testing, we have concluded that Drano Max Gel Clog Remover is the best overall drain cleaner available. It can be used on all types of drain pipes and is effective in clearing even the most stubborn clogs. This product has also been recommended by top industry experts.
For those looking for a more natural option, we recommend The Rockwell Labs InVade Bio Drain Gel. This powerful enzymatic cleaner is effective against moderate clogs and slow drains.
It is important to note that when choosing a drain cleaner, one should consider whether their pipes are made of plastic or metal. Some chemical cleaners can damage metallic pipes. If you have pipes made of plastic, then you should not worry as these can handle chemicals.
Note that it is always best to follow the instructions of the particular product and avoid leaving any cleaner sitting in the drain for too long. At times, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a professional plumber if clogs persist or if you are uncertain whether a drain cleaner is safe for your pipes.
All in all, be sure to weigh your options and consider what you need from a drain cleaner when making your purchase. The market is saturated with products, but Drano Max Gel Clog Remover and The Rockwell Labs InVade Gel are two excellent choices for most homeowners.
How To Find Best Drain Cleaners for Tackling Tough Clogs – Buying Guide
- Type of drain cleaners
- The time it takes to clean drains
- The use of the cleaner
1. Different Types of Drain Cleaners
When it comes to cleaning your drain, there is more than one way to do so, despite the fact that most people think about pouring some kind of liquid down your drain. Your first line of defense should just be washing your drain with hot water. Hot water often breaks down food and junk stuck deep in your drain, so it is definitely an easy-free solution.
You can also try removing visible hairs and grease manually, which can also be another reason you have a clog. If these methods don’t work, you will need something more powerful, like a chemical drain cleaner, an air burst drain cleaner, sewer jetters, a plunger, a plumber’s snake, a drain auger, or a home remedy.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to unclog your drain, with each method having pros and cons. Using a plunger, a drain auger, or a plumber’s snake is probably the most non-invasive way to unclog a drain. You should start with a regular plunger first, which is simply a device that simulates a suction effect. Many drains can be unclogged by using a plunger and hot water. If the plunger doesn’t work, you can use something more powerful like a plumbers snake, also known as a toilet jack. These are all augers that work by extending a flexible metal wire into your pipes and dislodging anything it runs it. They can either be extended through a manual or electric wind-up.
You can also use liquid and solid chemical drain cleaners to unclog your pipes. This is what we focused on in our reviews (see above) because they are easy to apply and don’t require you to work too hard. The best drain cleaner is either alkaline, acidic, or air/water burst. Alkaline drain cleaners use lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) to dissolve grease and hair.
Then you have acidic drain cleaners which use a form of sulfuric acid to dissolve protein, hair, fats, and grease. Finally, you have air or water burst drain cleaners, which shoot high-pressure air or water into the clog, dislodging all hair and grease. They are more powerful than plungers.
Air burst drain cleaners and water burst cleaners unclog your drain instantly compared to chemical drain cleaners, which take time to work. Both can be dangerous if you don’t apply them correctly but in general, they are considered more safe than chemical cleaners. In terms of efficacy, chemical cleaners are more powerful, but they take longer to see results.
And you have the enzyme type of cleaners. These use natural bacteria (enzymes) to dissolve all the clogs you have at home or at work.
2. The time it takes to clean shower pipes, sinks, toilets, hair clogs, grease, etc.
When dealing with drain clogs, time is a considerable factor in choosing a drain cleaner. Some cleaners need a longer time to work through the clog, while others are fast-acting. For instance, enzymatic cleaners, which use natural ingredients, take longer to work compared to chemical cleaners, which use harsher and more offensive ingredients.
The time it takes for a cleaner to work also varies. Some products just need about a minute to work their way through the clog, while others may take a few minutes. There are other products that will need hours or even days. That’s why it’s important to read the instructions carefully and give the product sufficient time to work before flushing it with water.
Now you may have tried to clean your drain numerous times and it is not clear. In this case, you need a drain-cleaning tool such as a snake or plunger. Using these tools may take a bit more time and elbow grease, but they are effective in clearing out even the most stubborn clogs.
In summary, cleaning sinks and tubs, toilets, and different drain clogs can be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but with the right product and tool at hand, it can be easily tackled. Ensure you first consider the type of clog you have, then chose the product you need to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
3. The use and application of the drain cleaner and buildup remover
It’s important to understand that not all drain cleaners are created equal. Some are designed for specific uses, such as unclogging a toilet or a kitchen sink loaded with difficult-to-remove grease. This is why any drain cleaner you choose must be compatible with the particular type of clog you have.
For instance, if you’re dealing with hair clogs in your bathroom sink or shower, it’s wise to opt for a cleaner formulated for that specific issue. On the other hand, if your kitchen sink is backed up with grease, it’s best to choose a cleaner that can effectively dissolve the grease and restore proper flow. So it’s essential to understand your clog’s problem first and then read the label carefully before making a purchase.
Using the wrong drain cleaner would definitely cause even more frustration. For example, if you need to quickly remove a lot of hair so you can comfortably take a shower, then using a slow-acting enzymatic cleaner may not be the best choice. Worse still, using the wrong cleaner can result in serious damage to your plumbing or even pose health hazards. That’s why drain cleaners are available in a variety of formulations, from liquid to powder, and safe use in toilets sinks through standing water, or other areas should be considered.
4. Price of chemical cleaner
Clogged drains are an absolute nuisance that interrupts our daily routine and causes unnecessary stress. However, with so many options available on the market, choosing the right drain cleaner can be overwhelming. Whether you prefer acidic cleaners or an odorless drain cleaner, you need to consider its efficiency, safety, and most importantly, its price.
The price of chemical drain cleaners depends on their formulation and effectiveness in opening a blocked drain. Generally, prices range from as cheap as $6 to more expensive solutions up to $50. But this doesn’t mean that cheap drain cleaners are not as effective as expensive ones. In fact, some of the cheaper options can surprise you with their impressive cleaning power.
When it comes to choosing the best overall drain cleaner, it ultimately depends on your specific needs and the type of drain pipe you have. For instance, a harsh acidic drain cleaner might be too strong for some metallic-type pipes and cause damage over time. Therefore, it’s important to read product labels carefully and ensure compatibility with your drain type.
You also have the option of buying multipacks which could be more cost-effective in the long run. However, even if you do decide to opt for a cheaper drain cleaner, it’s important to always read the instructions carefully and use the product safely. In the end, it’s all about finding a drain cleaner that works effectively to unclog your drain without breaking the bank.
Note that when you have your sink clogged up and the liquid starts pouring on your expensive hardwood floor, the price of a drain cleaner is probably the least of your worries. You’re a the stage where you need to take action.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best drain cleaner?
The answer to this question is it depends on your situation. If you have a small clog, maybe some hot water and a plunger will work. If you have a serious clog, you may need a powerful industrial-strength chemical drain cleaner along with a plumber’s snake. You recommend always having a plunger around the house and a general-purpose chemical cleaner. The chemical cleaner will work for all types of clogs and doesn’t require so much work.
The problem with the chemical cleaner is that it can be dangerous if your pets and children accidentally get a hold of it and ingest it. If you want to prevent that, you can get an air or water-flush drain cleaner. Whatever you do, we would not suggest using any kind of homemade solution. If you are not an expert on piping, chances are you could be damaging your pipes by trying to be a chemist and pouring random household chemicals down your drain.
How to use drain cleaners safely?
By following the below simple steps, you can use drain cleaners safely and effectively.
- To use drain cleaners safely, it is essential to follow the instructions on the label carefully.
- Find the best drain cleaner for the particular task at hand.
- When using a chemical cleaner, wear gloves and eye protection to avoid any splash-back.
- Carefully pour the drain cleaner to prevent any spillage.
- Ensure that the room is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
- Be cautious not to leave the drain cleaner inside drains for longer than stated in the instructions.
- Always flush the drain well after using any chemical cleaner according to the package instructions to prevent any potential damage.
- Avoid clearing toilet clogs with chemical cleaners as they can damage the pipes and potentially cause health problems. Use a plunger, a toilet auger, or a natural enzyme cleaner instead.
How do drain cleaners work?
Drain cleaners contain chemicals that help to dissolve and break down whatever is causing the blockage in your drain. They come in both natural and chemical forms, so there are options available for those who prefer a more eco-friendly solution.
In essence, natural drain cleaners use enzymes to break down and “digest” the clog to fully dissolve it. This process can take a little longer than with chemical cleaners but doesn’t involve any harsh chemicals that can harm the environment or your pipes.
Chemical cleaners work similarly, breaking down clogs through heat generated by a chemical reaction. They are typically more effective and efficient at removing clogs, depending on the severity of the blockage in your drain.
To know if your drain cleaner is working, check for standing water after pouring the cleaner – and always flush with hot or boiling water once a week. Hot water can help to further dissolve remaining debris and flush everything down the drain. Remember to always use caution when handling drain cleaners, following the instructions on the label, and wearing protective gloves while using them. In general, drain cleaners are an effective, affordable way to unclog your drains and help prevent future blockages.
Do drain cleaners expire?
While drain cleaners don’t have an expiration date, they will gradually lose their effectiveness over time, just like many other cleaning solutions. If you’ve kept a bottle of drain cleaner in your cabinet for a while, it may not work as well as a new one and could even pose a hazard if it’s chemically unstable.
To avoid any issues, it’s best to replace your drain cleaner every couple of years and store it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Additionally, always follow the safety instructions and keep the toxicity of the drain cleaner as limited as possible for the safety of you and your loved ones.
Can drain cleaners damage pipes?
Yes, drain cleaners can damage pipes. The older the pipes are, the more vulnerable they are to damage. However, the most important part of deciding which cleaner to use is to know the material of your pipes.
For instance, enzymatic drain cleaners contain bacteria that break down organic material without damaging the inorganic material of pipes (they do not damage plastic and metallic pipes).
However, if the chemicals used for the manufacturing of the drain cleaner are too strong for the pipe material to handle, then yes, these can damage pipes (like acid chemicals will damage metallic pipes).
Note that using drain cleaners too frequently can also lead to potential pipe damage, so it’s important to use them sparingly and follow the instructions on the label. One sign of damage is if it doesn’t flush thoroughly after using the product. It’s always best to consult a professional if you are unsure about using a drain cleaner to avoid any unnecessary damage to your pipes.
Where to buy drain cleaner?
When it comes to dealing with clogged drains, using the right drain cleaner can make all the difference. With so many products and brands available on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose one that will effectively solve your problem. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of places where you can buy a drain cleaner.
Firstly, hardware stores are an excellent place to start. You’ll find a range of drain cleaners in varying sizes and strengths that cater to different types of clogs. Moreover, staff at hardware stores are knowledgeable about their products and can recommend one that suits your needs.
Secondly, online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and others offer a vast selection of drain cleaners from various brands at competitive prices. You’ll have access to reviews from other customers who have used the product before, giving you a better idea of its effectiveness.
Can drain cleaner unclog a toilet?
The answer is yes and no.
Firstly, it’s important to note that not all drain cleaners are created equal. Some are specifically designed for toilets while others are meant for sink and shower drains. Using the wrong type of drain cleaner can actually make the problem worse by damaging your plumbing system or causing toxic fumes.
If you do decide to use a drain cleaner on your toilet, make sure it’s safe for this purpose and follow the instructions carefully. It’s also worth noting that if your toilet is severely clogged, a plunger or plumber may be a more effective solution than a chemical product. Ultimately, using drain cleaner on your toilet should be done with caution and only as a last resort after other methods have been attempted.