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Little problems have a way of escalating, fast. They can make life miserable. You know that if you ever used your hand as a plunger while brushing your teeth to make the water drain.
When a sink or toilet clogs, or they drain slow, it is frustrating and you wonder what you can do. But the answer is obvious, use the best drain cleaner you can find. So, how do you find one that works?
Fortunately, we have done the research and assembled this list of the best drain cleaners. Finding a product that works for you is as simple as reading our list.
No Time to Read the Detailed List?
For the best enzyme drain cleaner, look to Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver. This product works well on hair, soap, paper, and grease and is odorless. You can pour it through standing water, but it is slower acting than acid or alkali based products. However, it is less hazardous to handle.
An alkaline-based product, Xionlab Safer Drain Clog Remover provides a balance between power and safety. It is potent on hair, soap, and grease and does not create strong odors like some acids. But it does not work on paper, so it is not for toilet use.
Liquid Lightning Buffered Sulfuric Acid Drain Cleaner is a strong acid. It removes clogs faster than enzymes and alkalis and is safe for your septic system. Plus, you can use it in both sinks and toilets. But it does produce acid odors and requires careful handling.
Our list of best drain cleaners includes products for various clogs. These products use different chemicals and methods depending on your needs. We also included some drain cleaners for those who are leary of handling toxic chemicals.
Cost: $$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, Paper, and Grease︱Chemistry: Enzyme
Do you want a drain cleaner that will work on any organic substance? Then you want an enzyme cleaner like Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver. That means you only need one product for the sink drains and the toilets.
This product is safe to handle and has no odor like some other types of drain cleaners. It can dissolve hair, paper, grease, and soap, or any other organic material. So, it clears almost any clog found in your home.
The packaging is also unique. You get two ready-to-go applications in the “one” bottle that sports 2 caps. To use, simply unscrew one cap and pour in the premeasured liquid.
It is a bit more expensive than some competing cleaners, and slower, but it is easy and safe to use for most clogs found in the typical home. For some, those benefits will be well worth a few extra dollars.
Cost: $$$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Alkali cleaners tackle many drain clogs. But alkali products require care when using them since they can cause skin burns and eye damage. Also, different alkali blends work to varying degrees of effectiveness.
So, alkali drain cleaners are a balancing act between effectiveness and safety. Xionlab Safer Drain Clog Remover gives you the best balance of well-being and clog removing power.
It is effective at removing clogs, especially hair. This product is also fairly easy to handle. It does not eliminate safety precautions. But the product seems to be more user friendly than other alkali products.
It also produces no foul or pungent odors. In addition, it is septic safe and gentle on all types of pipes.
As with most well-designed products, this is not the cheapest drain cleaner. But you get a highly effective drain cleaner that is easy to use.
One final note, It is not recommended for toilets as it does not work with paper products.
Cost: $$$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, Paper, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Acid
Some people want a universal drain cleaner that works in the sinks and the toilets. One that will cut through any clog. Liquid Lightning Buffered Sulfuric Acid is such a product.
Sulfuric acid makes quick work of paper products. That is not something the alkali products can do. You can also pour it through standing water. Plus, it usually works fast, in a few minutes, unlike the enzyme-based cleaners.
Another plus for acid-based products, they remove minerals and rust build-up well. If you have mineral build-up in your pipes, an acid like this is your best option.
Liquid Lightning is also safe for use if you have a septic system.
However, it is a strong acid and you must handle this product with care. It will burn you if it makes skin contact.
A couple of other words of caution. This product will not harm copper or newer plastic pipes. But it may damage all other types of pipes. So, check your plumbing for acid resistance before using this product.
Also, sulfuric acid gives off a strong acid odor. You need good ventilation during use.
Cost: $︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Some drain cleaners struggle to work through standing water. And some will not work on hair.
But Drano Max Gel works well on hair, soap, and grease. In addition, you can pour it through standing water in a sink drain that is completely blocked. It is easy to use, affordable and gentle on all pipe types.
So, for a general drain cleaner to use in the sinks of your home, Drano Max Gel is a great buy.
You should know this product is not recommended for use in toilets. It does not work well with the paper products used in the toilet. Also, this is an alkaline chemical and you must handle it with care.
Cost: $$$$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Professor Amos’ Superfast Drain Cleaner works faster than other alkali-based products. Plus, they formulated it with your safety in mind.
You can use it with all types of pipes and septic systems. The formula removes most drain clogs, including hair. Superfast can even take on pet hair if you bathe your pet at home.
Each 32-ounce bottle supplies you 4 to 6 applications.
It is not effective at breaking down paper products. So, this product is not recommended for use in toilets. Also, it is one of the more pricey products.
But some do like its speed and ease of handling and are willing to pay for it. To be honest, this product competed for the best alkali drain cleaner spot on our list. But the large price tag knocked it out of the running.
Cost: $$$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Liquid-Plumr has been in the drain cleaner business for decades. They are a well-known name. But they have evolved over the years. Their Pro-Strength Full Clog Destroyer brings them into the 21st century.
One of the things noticeable on the label is clear, simple instructions. Many drain cleaner complaints are from customers who fail to follow the instructions. But Liquid-Plumr realized this and makes it easy to follow the directions.
As with most alkaline drain cleaners, this product works in all your home’s sink drains. It is gentle on all types of pipes and is also septic safe.
It is a bit more expensive than some other alkaline cleaners, but they do have a respected name. They also offer a money-back guarantee if you are unhappy (just call the number printed on the label).
Cost: $︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Alkali Beads
There are some places in your home where grease is more likely to be a problem than others, like say the kitchen sink. When you do have a tough grease clog, lye is a great choice.
And what better way to use lye than to use pure beads of the stuff. That is exactly what you get with Comstar’s Pure Lye Beads.
The beads are safe for use with your expensive fixtures and pipes. And while the product dissolves the toughest grease clog, it also works on hair and soap. As a bonus, the lye works without creating odors.
There is more. The beads can sink through standing water. Plus, the small price tag makes the Comstar Pure Lye Beads a best buy.
However, you need to buy this product knowing that lye is a dangerous chemical. You will need to protect yourself when using it. You should also precisely follow the safety instructions.
Also, it is an alkali drain cleaner and these do not work well on paper products. It will not be your best choice for use with toilet problems.
Cost: $$︱Clog Type: Hair and Soap︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Let’s face it. Hair in the shower and bathroom sink can be a problem. So much so, many fine drain cleaners simply do not work to solve the problem.
Enter Whink Hair Clog Blaster!. This product is all about solving problems with shower and bathroom sink clogs. While it is specifically for hair clogs, it is also effective at removing soap scum.
You can pour it through standing water and it is safe with all pipes. It is also safe for use if you have a septic system.
It also comes with a tiny price tag. If you have a problem with hair clogs, this product is well worth a look.
Cost: $︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Liquid Alkali
Instant Power Hair and Grease Drain Opener is an interesting product. It is a powerful hair clog remover. But you can use it in the kitchen, too.
The manufacturer formulated their product specifically to dissolve hair. But it also generates heat as it works. This melts grease and breaks up the associated clogs.
Hair and Grease Drain Opener is safe for all pipes. However, it is not the fastest product. They recommend leaving it for as long as you can. That might even mean overnight.
But at a low price, it is affordable for everyone. Plus, it tackles the two most common clog problems around the home, grease and hair.
Cost: $$$︱Clog Type: Hair, Soap, and Grease︱Chemistry: Alkali Flakes
This product is not a liquid, but rather flakes of sodium hydroxide. This is a strong alkaline chemical, and you need to be careful with it.
But it works well on hair and grease. And it’s fast, really fast. Like a minute or less.
To use, you simply sprinkle the flakes into the sink and run some hot or boiling water till the flakes dissolve. Let it sit 60 seconds, then flush with more hot water.
It will not work well with paper, so toilets are not a recommended use. Also, it will generate a pungent odor and ventilation will be required.
You will need protective gear. But to clear a hair or grease clog fast, this product is hard to beat.
If you are looking for the best drain cleaner, you should always consider two key variables. The “type” or chemistry of the product. And the safety precautions you will need to take.
You will find three types of drain cleaners commonly sold; acids, alkalis, and enzymes. They each have their pros and cons which are discussed below.
This type of drain cleaners is powerful and they often sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. They can dissolve clogs in both sinks and toilets. Hair, food, grease, soap scum, and paper products are no match. Plus they work fast, usually within 15 minutes or less.
So, why aren’t there more acid-based products on the store shelves? Simple, they are strong chemicals that dissolve all clog types. But that means they can also severely burn your skin and damage your eyes on contact.
This family of drain cleaners will not affect copper and newer plastic pipes. But acid corrodes most other types of plumbing. So, be sure to understand if your plumbing is acid-resistant in advance.
Plus, these products often bubble and create pungent fumes. Ventilation is often required.
If you want a strong, fast universal product, get an acid-based drain cleaner. But you must diligently follow the safety instructions.
Alkali drain cleaners use caustic chemicals to convert obstructions into a soap-like material. You then simply wash the debris away with water. They usually work in about 30 minutes.
This type of product breaks down food, grease, soap, and hair. But they are not effective with paper products. So, they are not recommended for use in toilets.
Pipes older than 20 years may be susceptible to damage. Some old plastic pipes can soften. Plus, aluminum, galvanized, and brass pipes can tarnish or corrode. Check that you have modern pipes that are corrosion resistant before using.
In general, this family of drain cleaners is safer to handle compared to acids. Plus, they are usually odorless. But remember, alkalis can burn skin, too, and irritate the eyes and nostrils. So, use personal protective equipment.
Using enzymatic activity to “feed” on the clogs, this family of products is effective on hair and paper. They do take longer to work, sometimes up to 24 hours. Also, many manufacturers recommend using these products once a month to prevent build-up.
You can remove grease, but not as well as with acids or alkalis. In places where there is heavy grease buildup (e.g. kitchen sinks), you may want to use another type of drain cleaner.
Enzyme-based drain cleaners have and advantage over other types of products. They are safe to handle since they are far less toxic than acids and alkalis. There is also no need to worry about your pipes, fixtures, or septic system.
Most drain cleaners are simple to use. You pour the product down the drain or toilet, wait a certain amount of time, and rinse. Some details do vary such as certain cleaners work best with very hot water to rinse. So, read and follow the instructions.
Safe handling of the products requires care. Many drain cleaners can severely burn your skin and damage your eyes or nostrils. So, you should use gloves, goggles, and a respirator when using these products.
Most manufacturers print detailed safety information on the label. They do this to help protect you. Follow their advice to the smallest detail to keep yourself safe.