If you have a clog in one of your drains or if you just want to keep your drains as clean as possible, you might first reach for a liquid drain cleaner. Plumbers say that you shouldn’t. Most expert plumbers say that the chemicals in these cleaners are actually harmful to your pipes. If you think about it, that makes sense. The back of the bottle says that the chemicals shouldn’t even touch your skin. They work by dissolving hair and other clogs. If they’re dissolving hair and burning skin, they are likely damaging your pipes as well. If you need to clear a clog with a liquid drain cleaner, you should choose an enzymatic one.
Enzymatic Drain Cleaners
An enzymatic drain cleaner is named that because they have enzymes that help to break up clogs. Most clogs are made of natural things like fat, hair, and paper. The enzymes and microbes contained in an enzymatic drain cleaner will eat away at those natural clogs and eventually break them down. Basically, you are creating a tiny composting environment in your pipes. These drain cleaners are slower and not as effective as the chemical solutions, but they are much safer.
If you don’t have an actual clog but want your pipes to stay clean, you can actually make a cleaner of your own. Pour about a half cup of baking soda down your drain. Chase that with a half cup of white vinegar. Put a cap on top of your sink drain and leave it overnight. A heavy bowl will suffice as a cap. In the morning, run some hot water through your pipes. They’ll likely smell fresh and clean as well as working more efficiently.
If you have a clog and want to try to fix it before calling a plumber, you shouldn’t use a drain cleaner. Instead, invest in a snake and a plunger. Try the plunger first. You should use a cup plunger; these are the standard plungers with the wooden handle and the red cup. They’re actually for sinks and bathtubs, not for toilets. Run some water and then plunge the sink. That’s often enough to dislodge a clog. If that doesn’t work, use a drain snake.
If neither of those work, you should call a professional plumber. They’ll be able to determine what is clogging your drain and also clear that clog for you.