The TRUTH About Drain Cleaners: Which Ones Work?

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Smooth-running drains are a must in any home. Drain backups can cause numerous problems for your plumbing, including damage to your pipes and other parts of your home. While there are many clogs that will require the work of a plumbing professional, chemical drain cleaners are a common, short-term solution to drain problems. Though using a drain cleaner is advised against as a permanent or routine solution against drain clogs, there are some benefits to certain brands of drain cleaner that have been tested and proven to be successful.

A chemical drain cleaner is meant to dissolve blockages that are stopping up your drains. However, repeated use of strong chemical cleaners can cause damage to your plumbing system as well. Regular drain problems should always be examined by a professional plumber, and it is important to keep up with regular maintenance in order to prevent large-scale drain issues. However, there can be short-term gain from using chemical drain cleaners to take care of a drain problem in your home. There are even some DIY solutions that are less harmful than the harsh chemicals found in many store-provided drain cleaners. In this article, we will look at the very best drain cleaner solutions, what to look for when deciding on a drain cleaner for your home, some other solutions, such as a drain snake, and how to safely use every type of drain cleaner.

Best Chemical Drain Cleaners to Use for Small Drain Clogs

These are the top brands of chemical drain clog removers for plumbing systems. It is important to remember to follow the specific instructions for each chemical clog remover product before using them on your system. When there is debris causing a clogged drain in your tub or a backed-up sink, look into some of these drain opener products that can remove debris such as hair, food, and other particles.

Green Gobbler

Green Gobbler is a clog remover that uses a solution that can break down hair clogs, paper products, grease, and other compounds when mixed with water. Green Gobbler cleaner comes in liquid bottle form and also in pre-measured powder form, which you can pour down the drain or toilet. The Green Gobbler product claims to be safe to use on most piping systems, including sinks, toilets, showers, and septic systems. This drain opener product is also resistant to bleach. This means that the chemical mixture inside the liquid or powder of the drain opener can reduce the surface tension in the liquid it is dissolving in, which would be the drain opener solution poured into your drains. Though sometimes this specific drain opener needs to be left overnight so the chemical reaction can dissolve any particularly tough clogs, Green Gobbler drain cleaner can be an excellent value for a short-term drain solution and is septic-safe as well.


Drano is one of the most well-known names for liquid chemical drain cleaners. The liquid gel clog remover used in Drano cleaners is generally considered safe to use for most plumbing and septic systems. This clog remover product works fairly easily; all you need to do is simply pour the liquid solution down the drain, and all minor clogs, grease, and soap scum can be cleared away. It is a liquid drain opener that contains bleach and other similar ingredients that are corrosive enough to erode tough grease and soap scum spots. They also have a good value at less than $10 a bottle. Though it is good for clogged drains, it will not be effective for a toilet drain since it can’t break down toilet paper. This clog remover is also able to work in standing water. It may have to sit overnight or be applied a second time to work effectively.


Liquid-Plumr is also a well-known drain cleaner that uses a gel solution to break through hair clogs that are stopping up the drain. However, the Liquid-Plumr clog remover will not be as effective on grease, so it is not ideal for kitchen drain clogs. Liquid-Plumr clog remover is usually best for bathroom sinks or tubs and can work in as fast as 15 minutes before flushing out with hot water to remove any loose hair, liquid, or other debris. You will have to use the whole bottle of Liquid-Plumr clog remover for any drain buildup in a clogged sink or shower.


Bio-Clean is a chemical-free drain cleaner that can be used in septic systems, garbage disposals, sinks, toilets, and showers. It works slower than other drain cleaners and will be most effective if left overnight to dissolve debris such as food particles, grease, paper, hair clogs, and other organic matter from your drains so that they can flow smoothly once more. It can even be highly effective on large clogs caused by paper products and is septic-safe.

DIY Drain Cleaner

For a sink, tub, or shower drain that needs cleaning, there is a clog remover solution you can make on your own using baking soda and vinegar in order to avoid harsh chemicals being poured through your system.

Clear out as much of the standing water as you can before pouring a small pot of boiling water down the drain. This will allow you better access to clean the drain. Pour a half cup of baking soda in, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Let the mixture flow through the drains for about 10 minutes before pouring another small pot of boiling water into the drain. After this, flush out the drain with hot water to wash away any lasting debris. You can repeat this process a couple times, but if you are noticing the clog is still not budging, you may need to call for an inspection from a plumber. Be careful not to pour in the half-cup amounts each time, or else it could create a new clog.

What to Look for in Drain Cleaners

When trying to decide which drain cleaner and clog remover will be most effective for your home’s drains, it is important to know which type of clog you are attempting to remove, since different chemical cleaners are designed to target different types of clogs.

Enzymatic cleaners will work more slowly on clogged drains, but they are also less harmful to your pipes. They are best for breaking down clogs that involve organic matter like hair and food particles. They are also better for smaller blockages.

Chemical drain cleaners have the benefit of working faster, but at the cost of possibly causing damage to your system. Caustic cleaners are strong enough to clear away things like grease, making them ideal for kitchen sink clogs, while oxidizing cleaners are great for breaking down hair, food, and other types of organic matter. However, a chemical drain opener poses the danger of damage to the pipes from the amount of heat generated by the chemical, which can soften the pipes.

Finally, there are various manual tools that are great for breaking down clogs that are deep within the pipes if you do not want to use a liquid drain cleaner. A drain snake is a popular tool that can reach down into the pipe and pull out things like hair clogs in bathroom drains. Something like an auger drain snake can be used to break down clogs in toilets and can have protective guards on them that prevent porcelain surfaces from being damaged. However, using these tools can be dangerous if you do not work slowly, since they can cause damage to the pipes, and it is important to wear personal protective equipment while working with them.

How to Safely Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

The first thing to try with any clog is a plunger, but be sure to try this before and not after applying drain cleaner so that the cleaner does not splash back up and get on your skin or in your face. Also, be sure that you are following all of the directions for the drain cleaner you are using, including leaving the cleaner in the drain for no longer than the specified amount of time. Make sure the room is ventilated and that you are wearing gloves and eye protection when working with any type of drain cleaner.

Don’t mix drain cleaner with other products, and try to avoid spills when pouring the cleaner into your drain so that it does not cause any damage to the surrounding materials in the room. Always flush the drain out afterwards as well to wash away any remaining cleaner, loose hair, food, or other debris. The drain cleaner will have specific instructions on the temperature the water should be at and for how long you should let it run when you rinse the drain afterwards.

Lastly, if multiple clogs begin to occur or you are finding that drain cleaners are not doing the job, it is advisable to contact a professional drain cleaning company to look at the problem. Drain issues can be incredibly dangerous if left unchecked and can lead to things like sewage backups that can be a danger to you and your household. A drain cleaner that uses chemicals can be risky to use on a regular basis, while the baking soda and vinegar alternative can possibly not be strong enough for serious clogs. In this case, having drain cleaning professionals examine the problem can be beneficial for a long-term solution.

What Other Drain Cleaning Options Are There?

The drain experts at John Owens Services are exceptionally skilled in unclogging drains. John Owens is a plumber who uses tools such as the hydrojetter that can permanently unclog drains, so you don’t have to continue to worry about the clog popping up again and again and growing into something worse. A chemical drain cleaner or a baking soda and vinegar mixture will only provide a temporary solution for your drain problem, and repeated use of drain cleaners will only damage your system more. If you are struggling with persistent drain problems, contact John Owens Services today by phone or via online form, and we can get right to work on breaking down that tough clog so that you don’t have to risk damage to your system and can be sure that no future clogs or bigger problems will surface!

Need Help?

We’re open Monday – Friday 7:30am – 5:30pm, call today or schedule online now!

Serving Marin & Sonoma Counties

Good plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems are vital in every North California home. John Owens Services, Inc. is proud to be the expert plumbing company you can count on

The John Owens Way

Our philosophy is simple, we always want to maintain equipment to give it the longest life possible. Next, we want to focus on repairing when something goes wrong. Then only as the last choice, we replace equipment when needed. That’s the John Owens Way.

San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464



Regular maintenance keeps your home’s systems running well all year long. We’ll help you gain efficiency and save money.



When something breaks down, our team will get to you fast. We’ll find the problem and fix it to get you back to normal.



When it’s time to replace something in your home, we’ll help you get a top quality product that matches your specific needs.
San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464