We’ve all been there. Try as we might, the day has finally come that the plunger no longer works on the drain no matter how Herculean our efforts become and we know it’s time to settle down and try a chemical solution before we spend a ton of money renting a plumber’s snake. If you don’t know what to get, make sure that you check out the Drano Professional Strength before you leave.
The real question is: how do you decide which drain cleaner is the best? The answer is simple, but you need to do your research.
This one is the best solution for showers and kitchen sinks, just don’t expect it to blow things apart like the brand’s older products.
Top 5 Drain Cleaners
|Name||Mechanism of Action||Rating|
|Drano Drain Cleaner Professional Strength||Acidic||5||Check Price|
|Pure Lye Drain Opener||Basic||4.5||Check Price|
|Green Gobbler DISSOLVE||Enzymatic||4.5||Check Price|
|Safer Drain Opener by Xion Lab||Basic||4||Check Price|
|GREEN GOBBLER Ultimate||Enzymatic||4||Check Price|
1. Best Drain Cleaner for Showers
Drano Drain Cleaner Professional Strength
Drano has always made some of the best drain cleaners in the world, and their newer products are quite a bit safer than the older ones at the expense of some of the power you’d find with the old, high molar sulfuric acid solutions.
This one is safe to use with any kind of piping but it’s really not the recommended solution for toilet clogs. Where it shines, however, is in areas where there’s an abundance of hair such as the shower.
It’s not as quick as some of the older products, but it’s a lot safer to handle which is better for the average consumer. It’ll still bust through hair at an impressive rate, and you’re in good hands with this trusted product.
Pros and Cons
- Great for clogs with hair
- Fairly safe to use
- Not really recommended for toilets
2. Best Drain Cleaner for Toiletsx
Pure Lye Drain Opener
Toilet clogs end up being some of the nastiest that you’re likely to come across, which necessitates the usage of harsher chemicals. This one is comprised of 100% sodium hydroxide, or lye and it’ll make short work of anything organic which is blocking the path of water in your toilet.
A word of caution, however: pure lye is a harsh chemical and you’ll need to apply all proper precautions to use it. If you’re not willing to do that, you may be better off with an enzymatic solution.
For those who don’t mind breaking out the gloves and glasses and following proper safety protocols, however, there’s nothing better for busting apart whatever may be clogging your toilet. Just be sure to follow the instructions closely.
If your toilet is clogged and dying for something to make clear it up quickly and effectively, then a 100% lye product is the best chemical solution.
Pros and Cons
- Super effective
- Easy to use
- Very dangerous if mishandled
3. Best Enzymatic Solution
Green Gobbler DISSOLVE Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover
Green Gobbler has put together some of the most impressive enzymatic solutions to clogging. These products are greener and easier to utilize when it comes down to it, at the cost of being a little bit slower and not having quite the same clearing power as older products.
This one is designed primarily for bathroom use and is engineered to handle hair and soap scum. It’s an important distinction, and if you have a truly brutal blockage in your toilet you may want to try something harsher but for general sink and tub maintenance it works great.
If you’ve got a slow tub or sink, then apply Green Gobbler and you’ll be impressed with the results.
Pros and Cons
- Safe and less caustic than traditional products
- Fantastic for tubs and sinks
- Not for complete blockages
4. Best Safe Drain Opener
Safer Drain Opener by Xion Lab
First things first: Safer Drain Opener will not dissolve paper blockages.
It’ll beat the heck out of anything else that might have found it’s way into your drain though. Boasting a ridiculously high 13pH it’s also fairly safe to be around due to some trick of proprietary chemistry. Many people have found it to work quite well on tough clogs.
Of course, the definition of a tough clog varies on the person and it’s probably not perfect for handling complete obstructions like harsher products. If you’re just worried about a slowing drain though, it’s a perfect solution for both the kitchen and bathroom.
Give Safer Drain Opener a shot before you have a serious problem, and you’ll be impressed with the result. It’s not suitable for super heavy clogging however.
Pros and Cons
- Safe to use
- Impressive power
- Not suitable for complete obstructions
5. Best ECO Friendly Option
GREEN GOBBLER Ultimate Main Drain Opener
Possibly the best non-toxic option on the market, Green Gobbler’s Ultimate Main Drain Opener is formulated to handle just about anything. When we say it’s an enzymatic cleaner, however, that’s purely conjecture as the company is keeping their blend close to their chest.
What we do know is that this is probably the strongest, safe cleaner on the market. It won’t match Drano or pure lye for sheer effectiveness, but it can handle things that it really seems to have no business being able to take care of.
It’s also designed to handle paper, which makes it a good solution for a plugged toilet as well as sinks and shower drains.
It’s also designed to cling to the walls of your piping in order to provide protection from further build up. That’s a pretty good deal overall.
For an eco-friendly, safe, effective solution Green Gobbler’s Ultimate Main Drain Opener is awesome. Give it a shot if you’re uncertain about working with harsh chemicals or if you just want to maintain as green of a home as possible.
Pros and Cons
- Safe to use
- Handles pretty much any clog
- Not a one stop solution for all problems
A Word of Caution About Drain Cleaners
Before we delve into helping you make the decision on which drain cleaner is the best for you, we feel that you’ll need to know a little bit more about the chemicals used for these purposes.
The first thing is this know what your pipes are made of. Many drain cleaners utilize extremely caustic chemicals in order to take care of truly tough stuff like hair, grease, and other things which can gum up the works.
In absolutely no case should you use a strong, caustic chemicals when you have stainless steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, or copper piping. Seriously, don’t do it or you’re going to have a problem on your hands.
Another thing to keep in mind is that acids and bases generate an exothermic reaction when they dissolve in water.
Simply put it gets hot. Add the chemicals slowly in order to avoid melting any kind of plastic piping. You can add a significant amount, as it’s not the raised or lowered pH which is going to cause problems but instead the heat generated by it dissolving too quickly.
And please, please, please make sure you use protective equipment. A single granule of sodium hydroxide or a drop of sulfuric acid hitting the skin can be painful. Use heavy duty gloves, eye protection, and preferably an apron when using these chemicals.
For acids you’ll also want to make sure you have a window open.
Don’t be scared, but make sure you protect yourself and don’t cause further problems.
Fortunately, we’ve tried to recommend only products which will be safer than the pure chemicals used in the past, but do your research before using any drain cleaner and don’t take anyone’s word at face value that it’s completely safe.
We urge you to read up on the MSDS of the chemicals you’re planning on using before you get them. We’ve included one on both acidic and basic compounds for your convenience.
Types of Clogs
Different types of clogs take a different approach to handling things. Drain cleaners primarily come in acidic and basic varieties, and each is better suited for certain types of clogs.
For the most part, however, any clog will be made of clumps of organic materials. Depending on where you’re having a problem you should be able to pretty easily discern what your problem is and make short work of it.
Kitchen sink clogs will generally be composed of grease and food particles. They’re particularly nasty and it generally doesn’t end well. Do not use a caustic drain cleaner if you have a metal or granite sink. Trust us, you’re going to want to invest in a snake if boiling water can’t clear it out.
Grease is best cleaned up with alkaline solutions, but kitchen sinks are often made of materials which aren’t going to be able to handle things. Double check if you’re in doubt.
Bathroom sinks and showers generally have trouble with hair clogging them. In this case, you’re usually best off with an acidic solution. Keep in mind that these tend to work more quickly, and if you have a significant amount of metal in the stem of the pipe it’s better to go with a solid, basic formulation to ensure it’s in the plastic piping before the water gets flowing.
Toilets have a larger drain, and you might be out of luck if you’re already completely clogged. Chemical drain cleaners are best to apply in cases where flushing has become slow, rather than completely stopped.
Due to their larger drains, most often you’re dealing with an obstruction caused by flushing something the toilet couldn’t handle. This includes sanitary pads, napkins, and other things which really aren’t made to go down the toilet.
Most often, acidic cleaners are used for toilet obstructions.
In all cases, you’re not looking at a real solution if the initial problem is actually a clogged grate or stopper. Check on these before you rely on harsh chemicals in order to make sure that you can’t solve the issue quickly and easily.
Enzymatic drain cleaners are new to the market and much safer. They rely on using enzymes to clear up proteins and other organic junk, and are usually geared towards handling paper or hair types of clogs. They’re safe to use in almost every setting and are a good option for metal piping, but they’re harder to find and aren’t as quick as harsh chemicals.
Using a Drain Cleaner
Once you have your cleaner, get ahold of your glasses and gloves and it’s time to get to work. If you haven’t already, double check the plumbing to ensure it’s not made of metal and remove anything which will obstruct the flow of water.
You may want to get a funnel in cases where you have a significant metal piece around the drain, this is more important for liquid cleaners than when you’re working with a basic solution which will generally come in a pelletized form. Either way, better safe than sorry.
Open the windows and doors and make sure the room is ventilated, particularly if you’re working with a liquid drain cleaner. Seriously, the fumes from an acidic solution can be nasty and the interaction with a significant clog will cause hydrogen to come back up the piping. It might be best not to smoke in the room as well, since hydrogen gas is quite flammable.
Time how long it takes for the clog to break and flush the system with water for twice as long as it took to break through the obstruction.
Keep in mind, we’re only emphasizing the risks to keep you safe. Most people will be able to use a drain cleaner without any problems, but we’d hate for anyone to get hurt while following incomplete advice.
Now that your drain is freed, you’re good to go.