Cleaning a drain is no easy task. Sure, to fix a blockage or prevent a future clog from happening, you can — and sometimes should — hire a plumber. That said, the best liquid drain cleaners are a smart alternative for DIY drain fixes. They're affordable and effective at unblocking all types of clogs.
When shopping for the best drain cleaner, it's important to know the difference between the two most common types: enzymatic and chemical. Enzymatic formulas are typically safe for your pipes, your family, and the environment. They rely on enzymes and bacteria to break down organic material, like hair, food bits and other debris, but they may require more patience. Chemical formulas, on the other hand, are usually more powerful and fast-acting, but they aren't biodegradable, and they can do damage to your pipes with repeated use. For this reason, it's generally recommended that you only use chemical drain cleaners as a last resort.
For your convenience, I've done a ton of research, including scouring drain cleaner reviews on Consumer Reports and Amazon, in order to uncover the three best options. All of them are safe for household use, and regardless of what's clogging your pipes, know this: One of them will likely work for you. Read on to shop my top three picks on Amazon, then check out the best drain snakes that are sure to take your DIY job to the next level.
1. The Overall Best: A Liquid Drain Cleaner With An Eco-Friendly Formula
Why it's great: With this eco-friendly drain cleaner, the liquid dissolves quickly, so it attacks the area and reduces the blockage faster than some of the other products out there. It works with drains of all types — from kitchen sinks to toilets — thanks to its enzymatic, higher density solution. However, it's really great for thicker clogs (aka hair in the shower drain). That said, it's safe and biodegradable. The bottle has a dual-chambered design to make pouring easier. Plus, the price — $12 for two 16-ounce bottles — isn't too shabby, either.
What users say: "Fantastic stuff. My bathtub was so bad that when I showered I would be standing in almost a foot of water ... I used half the bottle and within a couple hours the clog was totally gone and no evil odor. I highly recommend."
2. The Best For Routine Maintenance
Why it's great: Safe and effective, the Bioda drain cleaner features a bio-enzymatic formula that breaks down organic matter, like hair, grease, and food particles. While it helps with existing clogs, it's especially great for regular maintenance in order to prevent clogs in the first place. On top of that, it also helps eliminate mysterious drain odors. The formula will not do any harm to your pipes or septic tank, and it's safe to use on sinks, bathtubs, and even garbage disposals.
What users say: "... two of our showers have a tendency to get clogged up, but not since using this drain cleaner. If only life could run as smoothly as our showers run now! ... I really love the deep blue color and consistency of the product; plus no harsh smell. It’s also made in the USA. Best of all, a gallon goes a long way. If you use one half cup of the product per application, you obtain a grand total of 32 applications from one single bottle. All in all, this is a great value and a great product."
3. The Best Heavy-Duty Option
Why it's great: While Drano's Max Clog Remover works just as well as my overall best pick, it is a harsh chemical formula that isn't biodegradable and really should be saved as a last resort when nothing else has worked. The bleach-based solution penetrates water to break down tough clogs, working in as little as 15 minutes. One thing to note: this one isn't safe to use on your toilet.
What users say: "Our bathtub drain pipe has a weird shape so we can't really use one of those handy plastic snake sticks to get rid of clogs ... After treating with a whole bottle (2 separate treatments, 1/2 bottle per time) and using boiled water instead of regular hot water, everything is draining normally again."
Also Helpful: A Three-Pack Of Flexible Drain Snakes
Why it's great: For a little extra help with clogs caused by hair, food bits, and other debris, this Vastar drain snake set is worth having on-hand. Made with 19.6 inches of flexible ABS plastic, each drain snake (aka "auger") can dislodge a sink or bathtub clog in a matter of minutes. Just insert the pointed end and work it gently into your drain, holding on to the handled end; when the snake is far enough inside your drain, twist the handle, and gentle pull it out.
A word of caution: to avoid the plastic breaking off, it's best not to stick it too deep into your drain on the first try. Instead, work it through a few times, going a little deeper each time until the clog has been removed. Also, be careful when handling these — the plastic spikes are sharp!
What fans say: "I’m so excited to finally have a bathroom sink that drains!! Since moving into my apartment, my bathroom sink and bathtub took forever to drain. I bought Multiple De-clogging solutions but they didn’t assist or help much with the problem. When my bathtub was taking over an hour to drain I decided it was time to try these out! After receiving it I went to work, within minutes it pulled out so much hair in both drains. it’s disturbing/disgusting yet weirdly satisfying because now my sinks drain!!"
This post was originally published on October 4, 2018. It was updated on 6/17/2019.
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