- Soapy, standing water in a bathtub. Greasy water filling a kitchen sink. Neither of these presents a pretty picture and when left unattended, it can not only ruin your day but also damage your home.
- If you are facing a bathtub or shower clogged by soap and hair, Whink Hair Clog Blaster will get things moving and a TubShroom Strainer and Hair Catcher will prevent another problem.
- In the kitchen, Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver cuts through grease and just a monthly dose of CLR Build-Up Remover will help save you from a disaster.
- Skip the use of any chemicals and dislodge a clog with CLR Power Plumber to protect the environment and your pipes.
Plumbing problems rank near the top of my least-favorite home maintenance issues. I hate the mess, I hate the smells, and I hate the expense. While I understand how plumbing works, I don’t have the tools and skills to make repairs easily. So, I do my best to pay attention to the flow: Attending to small clogs and doing my best to prevent them is so much better than a huge disaster.
Most of us take plumbing systems for granted until there is a problem. Drain care should really be something we attend to every day. While we can’t control the rate a pipe joint disintegrates, we can help prevent clogs with just a few "rules":
- Grease is a drain’s enemy. Bacon grease, cooking oil, and other fats should never be poured down a drain. They solidify with other food particles and cause clogs.
- Strain the drain. Keeping a strainer in the sink, tub, and shower stall will catch much of the hair and debris that cause clogs.
- Flush it out. No one should waste water but when you use the garbage disposal, brush your teeth, or pour something down the kitchen sink, be sure to follow up with some hot water. Simply pouring hot water down your drains every week will help dissolve grease, toothpaste, and soaps that are building up.
When you do have a slow-moving drain or a clog, take a moment to consider the probable cause. Using the right type of drain cleaner and the one that will cause the least harm to your plumbing system will give you the best results. Many drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals like lye and acids that generate heat when they come in contact with the organic matter in the drain. The heat can soften PVC pipes and damage older metal solder on copper pipes if not used correctly.
Start by using the least harmful method of opening the drain. Often times, just adding a cup of baking soda to the drain followed by slowly pouring in a cup of heated distilled white vinegar will open the drain (don’t pour too fast or you risk creating a volcanic eruption!). Next, try mechanical methods like a plunger or pressurized drain opener. Finally, when you’ve exhausted other methods, move to chemical drain cleaners.
Always read the directions and follow them to the letter. Take safety precautions with your eyes and skin and provide good ventilation. Protect the surrounding areas from splashes and spills. Chemical drain openers can mar finishes in a way that cannot be repaired.
After years of working in kitchens and maintaining a home, I’ve dealt with plenty of kitchen and bathroom clogs. Because it clearly isn’t my favorite task, I tested dozens of drain cleaning and clog removal products and care tips, to find the ones that work. I’m always looking for the safest, most effective, easiest to use, and the best value in products for myself and others.
Here are the best drain cleaners you can buy:
- Best drain cleaner for hair clogs: Whink Hair Clog Blaster
- Best drain cleaner for grease clogs: Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver
- Best non-chemical drain clog remover: CLR Power Plumber
- Best preventative drain cleaner: CLR Build-Up Remover
- Best non-chemical hair clog preventer: TubShroom Strainer and Hair Catcher
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks of drain cleaners.
The best for hair clogs
Whink Hair Clog Blaster will quickly dissolve hair clogs and get drains flowing smoothly.
The biggest problem in bathroom sinks, showers, and tub drains is hair clogs. The hair becomes coated with soaps and shampoos and forms a lump that simply won’t move along. If non-chemical methods aren’t working, try Whink Hair Clog Blaster.
Manufactured by RPM International, Whink delivers the same quality as the company’s other products, like Rust-Oleum and DAP. Whink is a liquid drain opener that contains sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite, sodium metasilicate, and modified amine oxide that will cut right through the clog. Clearly, safety precautions must be taken to prevent eye and skin damage; this is a powerful cleaner since the product is formulated to dissolve hair.
It can be used even if there is standing water in the tub or sink. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and do your best to pour it slowly and directly down the drain to prevent damaging other surfaces. You will need to use about one cup (8 ounces) of the product. Wait at least 30 minutes and then flush the drain with hot water.
Used correctly, Whink Hair Clog Blaster is safe for all plumbing and septic systems. If it doesn’t work the first time, repeat the application and allow it to sit in the drain for several hours or overnight before flushing. As mentioned, always read the directions.
Pros: Cuts through hair clogs in sinks and tubs easily, less expensive than other drain openers
Cons: Dangerous chemicals, should not be used for grease clogs, limited distribution but available online or in home improvement stores
The best for grease clogs
Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver uses non-caustic, biodegradable ingredients to dissolve drain blockages. It is most effective on clogs caused by kitchen grease.
Oil and grease should never be poured down the drain, yet many of us do it, whether it’s forgetfulness or laziness. But before you call the plumber, I suggest you give Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver a try. It works for me.
While Green Gobbler does work on hair and soap buildup, it works best on grease and oil, liquifying them so they can be flushed away with boiling water. The proprietary enzyme-based ingredients are also safer to use than drain openers containing caustic sodium hydroxide and emit no strong chemical odors.
There’s no guessing about how much to pour down the drain. The two-chambered bottle holds two precise doses. Just pour in one of the pre-measured amounts and wait at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, then flush away the clog with hot water.
Green Gobbler has a 3.9-star average rating from Amazon customers. One customer says the grease buildup actually occurs from cleaning greasy pots and pans, despite wiping them down beforehand. When nothing DIY seemed to work, the customer had luck with this product.
Pros: Dissolves grease and other clogs using enzymes, less caustic than other drain cleaners, each bottle contains two pre-measured treatments, 30-day hassle-free return
Cons: Does not work well on severely clogged drains
The best non-chemical remover
CLR Power Plumber blasts through hair and grease clogs with no chemicals and no messy plungers.
If you don’t like keeping chemicals in your home and are looking for a less environmentally damaging way to keep drains flowing, CLR Power Plumber may be the product for you.
At some point, almost everyone has rushed out to buy a plunger to open a drain. It often works but then you’re left with a dripping, messy plunger to clean and store. Plus, the rubber head on plungers eventually disintegrate and crack. The Power Plumber works on the same principle as a plunger of using forced air to move a clog but with no mess.
Just 7 inches tall, the can is filled with compressed gas that is scented with a lemon deodorizer. The gas contains no CFCs. Simply fill the sink with several inches of water, point the nozzle down into the drain and when the gas comes in contact with the water, it expands rapidly. The wave of gas and water act as a battering ram to push the blockage through the pipe. No chemicals needed.
The Power Plumber works on both bathtub and sink drains, including double sinks and garbage disposals. Just follow the directions carefully to create a tight seal. Each can contains 15 uses — that’s a lot of cleaning for a 4.5-ounce little can.
Pros: Clears clogs with no chemicals, 15 applications per can, small and easy to store
Cons: Not always available in mass-market stores
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