Clogged drains are very common in our homes and when struck we look out for drano drain cleaner. Drano is one of the most widely-used chemical drain cleaners on the market. For decades, households have turned to Drano as an easy way to clear sudden clogging in sinks and tubs.
However, Drano and similar drain cleaners pose significant health, safety, and even plumbing problems when used regularly. So what to use instead of drano for unclogging the drains.
Why Look Out For Alternatives To Drano?
Drano contains extremely caustic ingredients that corrode pipes and produce concerning chemical fumes. The active ingredients in most formulations include sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (lye) and other chlorine compounds which are highly alkaline and damage plastics or metals over time.
Drano also generates heat in reactions which can crack older pipes. The fumes given off are corrosive if inhaled and irritate eyes.
Despite labeling assuring efficacy and safety when used properly, spills are not uncommon and can cause severe skin irritation or burns due to the harsh acidic or alkaline chemicals used.
There is also less assurance that Drano can resolve the most stubborn clog incidents. Over time, residual buildup can accumulate and create worse plumbing issues.
All these factors mean searching for alternative options makes good sense for regular or long-term use. Seeking safer methods reduces health and safety issues in the living space.
Exploring greener options also minimizes water pollution often caused from drain cleaners being flushed through systems after application. With some basic precautions and non-toxic methods, most households can avoid turning to harsh drain opener formulas like Drano regularly.
The rest of this post explores those gentler drain-clearing options.
In this post, we’ll explore safer and more environmentally-friendly alternatives to unclog drains and keep pipes clear.
Vinegar and Baking Soda – A Simple Yet Powerful Combination
Vinegar and baking soda together create a chemical reaction that breaks up clogs. The bubbling action helps dislodge gunk, hair, and debris that gets stuck. Here’s how to use this dynamic duo:
Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain first
Use an empty cup or measuring spoon to pour approximately 1 cup of common baking soda directly into the clogged drain. Can use either a dry sink or stand in a few inches of water, the baking soda will sink down into the pipes
Follow with 1 cup of vinegar
After adding the baking soda, pour roughly 1 cup of household distilled white vinegar into the drain. Be careful handling the vinegar as it can irritate skin or eyes. Any variety of vinegar will bubble up when it contacts the baking soda
Let sit for 5-10 minutes as the reaction takes place
Set a timer and leave the mixture undisturbed for 5 to 10 minutes. You’ll hear a satisfying fizzing noise as the chemical reaction occurs. This gives the bubbles time to loosen and break up gunk, oils and hair build-up
Flush with hot water for a few minutes to rinse away any remnants
After time has passed, run very hot tap water into the drain for 2 to 3 minutes. This will wash away dissolving clog particles and any leftover powder. Fully rinsing is important to prevent future accumulation
I’ve used this method for years with great success. It’s non-toxic, extremely affordable, and gets the job done without harsh chemicals. Give it a try next time you notice a slow drain!
Sometimes the simplest solutions do the trick. Boiling water can liquefy grease clogs and shift small blockages that accumulate over time.
- Boil a full kettle of water
- Carefully pour down the drain
- Let sit for up to 15 minutes
- Flush with cold water
The hot water will carry debris with it as it goes down the pipes. Remember to use caution when pouring boiling liquid! Start slowly, working your way up to one full kettle as needed.
Physical tools you can insert or push through drain openings provide a straightforward mechanical means of removing gunk and clearing passages:
Stand over the drain with both feet to properly cover all openings. Hold the plunger straight down to create a tight seal on the basin. Rapidly push the plunger handle up and down about a 1/2 inch 10 to 15 times. Keep plunging pressure intense to dislodge the clog
Slowly turn the zip-it to grab and wind hair strands around barbs. Retrieve hair and gunk by gently easing the zip-it tool back out of the drain. Rinse off zip-it in a bucket to clean before reinserting for further removal. Take care not to scratch ceramic or metal pipes
Carefully insert either end of the long snake wire into the drain opening. Twist handles if manual to work auger deeper into pipes at tough angles. Spin crank if electric model to propel and turn snake automatically. Retrieve snake once clog is reached and removed to clear coil
Enzyme-based drain cleaners use bacteria and enzymes to dissolve organic matter over hours or days, providing gentle ongoing cleaning. Look for:
- Bacteria cultures that digest proteins and fats
- Protease and amylase enzymes to break down starchy residue
- Safe, non-corrosive ingredients
- Regular use can prevent future build-up and keep drains free-flowing. Enzymes are effective but take more time than harsh chemical cleaners.
Prevent Clogs in the First Place
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true for drains too. Here are some habits to avoid clogs altogether:
Use drain catchers and screens
Install metal or plastic drain catchers that fit inside sink openings. Screens and meshes trap stray hair and food scraps before reaching pipes. Remove and empty catchers regularly into garbage cans. Fine mesh catchers also prevent small debris like coffee grinds from passing through
Dispose food scraps in the trash rather than the sink
Rather than rinsing or grinding food debris down drains, directly discard in garbage cans. Scrape all leftovers, crumbs and peels into trash whenever possible. Avoid trying to wash chunks of food waste down – this accelerates pipe blockages.
Limit use of garbage disposals
Garbage disposals appear convenient but grind food into fine particles that accumulate in pipes over time. Restrict use of disposals to only small soft scraps to minimize discharge and maintain unobstructed drainage. Dispose of most solids in trash instead for preventing drain clogs.
Only flush waste and toilet paper; not cleaning wipes!
Toilet pipes are designed to handle bodily waste and fast-dissolving toilet paper exclusively. Modern cleaning and hygiene wipes labelled “flushable” often still aggregate inside sewer lines. Discard used wipes as well as feminine hygiene products and condoms into trash cans instead.
Pour used cooking grease/oil into a heat-safe container
After frying or cooking, unused liquid oil should not be poured hot down drains where it congeals. Allow hot oil to cool before transferring into an appropriate metal or heat-resistant jar for disposal. Once cooled and solidified, sealing the container and placing it in regular curbside trash is safe.
Is Baking Soda And Vinegar Safe For All Types Of Household Drains?
Yes, the chemical reaction created by baking soda and vinegar is completely non-toxic and safe for all drain materials including PVC, metal, and ceramic pipes. As long as you follow up by flushing thoroughly with water, the mixture will not cause corrosion or damage.
How Can I Prevent My Kitchen Sink From Getting Clogged With Food Waste?
Avoid putting large scraps directly down the sink drain. Scrape plates efficiently into the trash and only use the garbage disposal sparingly. Always run plenty of cold water before and after the disposal to flush the pipes. You can also install inexpensive sink strainers to catch stray particles.
Why Should I Avoid Products Containing Lye Or Sulfuric Acid?
Lye and sulfuric acid, both common in store-bought chemical drain cleaners, are extremely corrosive to skin and pipes. They can actually damage plumbing over time. The fumes may also be toxic when inhaled. Choosing alternative methods is safer for homes and the environment.
Can I Pour Grease Leftovers Into Jars And Put In The Trash?
Yes, this is the best way to handle oily residue from cooking. Let the grease cool first before pouring into a heat-safe container like an empty jar. Once solidified, you can toss it out with regular trash. Avoid letting large quantities of oil go down drains.
What Should I Do If Boiling Water Does Not Clear My Clogged Sink?
If pouring boiling water down the drain does not shift the clog, there is likely more stubborn build-up or a larger obstruction in your pipes. Try using a mechanical snake tool or an enzymatic cleaner next.
You can also contact a professional plumber who may need to manually remove blockages in your home’s plumbing. Developing good household habits will save you from dealing with slow, backed up pipes down the road!