Read on to see the best drain cleaner products available, all of which are considered affordable and most importantly, effective.
Every homeowner at some point will inevitably run into issues with their sewer pipes and will no doubt find themselves with a clogged drain on multiple occasions. Before calling out an expensive plumber, consider trying to clear the blockage on your own with high quality dirt busting formula or cleaning tools. Also visit our pages on how to prevent future clogging and at what point it is necessary to get external help from plumbing services.
Shopping for drain cleaner can be a tedious task and anyone that’s looked for some, be it in a large store or online, has discovered that there are dozens of products of different types all making very bold claims on the packaging.
Weeding out the tried and tested brands that live up to their marketing from those that are just over-hyped products delivering inadequate results is a time consuming task, that can result in multiple trips to the store and a much lighter than necessary wallet.
Before going on to read our handpicked selection of pipe clearing products, there are a few things to be considered.
The level of blockage is probably the most important factor when deciding how to proceed, is it so bad that pouring boiling water into the hole does nothing and none of the fluid passes through? In this case a professional is likely the best option, but if you are willing to tackle it yourself a combination of a drill or hand powered snake (read on to find out what that means!) and chemical cleaner may do the trick, or perhaps if you have some experience with home repair and tools, hiring a more industrial tool similar to what plumbers use can be an option.
Enzymatic drain cleaners are another type of product, usually coming in a dry powder or granule form which gradually dissolves built up tough residue, the perfect choice for slow running drains and for those that are in no urgency to clear the pipes.
Another consideration that will affect your product choice is the type of pipes you are attempting to unclog. The most common blockages occur in the drains under the kitchen sink (grease and food waste) and in the shower due to hair and dirt. For these types of clogged up drainpipes, a chemical solution is the most practical route to take to dissolve the waste, and there are an abundance of great fume free products that can do this.
If your home uses a septic tank, then chemicals can interfere with its performance, so opting for manual pipe cleaning tools or specialized solutions is important.
We’ve handpicked a small selection of products from different categories that we find to be the most effective at doing their job.
Kill it with Chemicals
Pure Lye Drainpipe Opener
Here is a no-nonsense inexpensive solution that works deceptively well. Run the hot water taps for a few minutes to get your homes pipes warmed up and ready to go, pour into the hole in question a generous helping of Pure Lye Drain Opener and add some hot water.
It’s then just a case of waiting for the product to work its magic, obliterating all waste and dirt clogging up the pipe/s.
WARNING: This is lye; treat is as though you are handling a deadly weapon. ALWAYS wear protective gloves and glasses when handling as it is super corrosive (think Fight Club). The beads are odorless and do not produce toxic fumes so it is generally safe to use in any location, but please be careful and store it out of reach if you have inquisitive young children around.
The only disadvantage to this product is that it takes quite some time to complete its cleaning process and with all lye based chemical products be weary when used on old pipes that are susceptible to damage.
Oatey Glug Drain Opener
Another lye based cleaner. Functions very similarly to the previous product but is a little bit more expensive as it is stronger so it may be more effective for even tougher blockages. Yet again, this is something to be treated with great care and as it is in flake form rather than bead, so be very careful when first opening the plastic container, ensuring you are fully protected.
If you are prone to accidents than a safer alternative may be more suited to you.
Chemical Free Solutions
Cobra Zip-it Drain Cleaning Tool
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and have a strong gag reflex, this basic disposable “gadget” (more like a bendy stick with spikes on it) is a fantastic alternative if you want to avoid using corrosive chemicals for whatever reason.
Watch this video of someone testing the product to show just how effective it can be (it’s a little gross, you’ve been warned).
These tools are more useful for bathroom blockages as they are most efficient when gripping onto clumps of hair. Varying results are to be expected when using the Zip-it on kitchen sinks, but for a couple of dollars a pop it’s worth a shot before trying out something industrial.
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover
We’ve included this product here only because it’s very easy to attain from stores such as Home Depot, whereas the majority of the other solutions can be more difficult to track down in some places and bought primarily online.
This product by Drano I’m sure most are familiar with is another more bathroom orientated solution for your issues, it can be a less hands-on alternative to products like the one above which is an advantage for some people.
Although it is advertised as an all-purpose clog remove, the gel solution is strong enough to dissolve hair and soap scum, but don’t expect it to tackle food waste and grease with enough oomph to clear kitchen blockages. This stuff can be quite smelly when it gets to work dissolving (as with most alternatives), it’s best to close the door and leave the window open while you let it get to work.
Cobra Power Drainpipe Clearing Drum Auger
To understand how a drum auger works it’s easier to see an instructional video of it in action, which is conveniently made by the manufacturer of this recommended device.
The snake extends up to 25 feet giving it an advantage over many other products in market and the option to use a drill to power the rotation of the device is a huge time and energy saver especially when you have a large blockage or multiple pipes to clear out.
If you don’t have access to a power drill it works just as well manually with a bit of elbow grease put in. We highly recommend putting down paper towels in the area surrounding the sink or shower as the entire process can be quite messy (safety glasses and gloves are a must)
CLR Power Plumber Drain Opener Pressurized Can
Our final chemical free recommendation in this selection of products that can be considered as some of the best drain cleaner, to save you from a costly visit from the plumber, is this alternative method to unclogging pipes by CLR. It works by blasting air at a high velocity down the offending pipe to dislodge waste and dirt, a proven technique often used by plumbing companies (albeit on a much larger scale with powerful machines).
The advertised “15 uses per can” is perhaps a little optimistic but it’s still very affordable (fewer than fifteen dollars) and will more than likely clear a clogged system perfectly well. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully or you could stand to make a big mess of your kitchen or bathroom!
So there we have it, our list of drain cleaning products and tools to solve those nasty clogged drains without breaking the bank. Please check out our other pages for information about the different types of plumbing services available and how to prevent future blockages.
We highly recommend you check out our page about the cost of septic tank pumping if you feel your system is in need of clearing. We also have a new informative article on water leak detection for you to learn about good house maintenance practices.