Which Drain Cleaners Are The Safest For Pipes?

That familiar and bone-chilling gurgle in the drains means that it is time again for you to pick up a drain cleaner from the market. Chemical drain cleaners are a popular method for Ottawa homes, after all, for cleaning out your household drains. But did you know that the chemicals in major label drain cleaners could be doing more harm than good? It’s true.   So which drain cleaners are the safest for your pipes? Let’s find out.  

How Chemical Cleaners Can Harm Pipes

Before getting into alternatives to chemical cleaners, let’s discuss why harsh chemical cleaners are so terrible. Not all drain cleaners you find on the supermarket shelves are going to be damaging to your pipes, but knowing what ingredients do what will help you make a smarter decision. Chemical cleaners contain acids and oxidizers, like lye, trichloroethane, and hyrdochloric acid, that can cause pipes to deteriorate, warp, and melt. Naturally, this can lead to leaking. Some toxic chemicals like sodium hydroxide can create fumes that burn your skin if you touch it or cause nasal and sinus irritation. Most cleaners also react to ammonia and form small traces of chlorine gas.   These ingredients will also kill off the bacteria swelling in the septic system that help it operate correctly, which can, in turn, lead to backed up plumbing or worse.  

Alternatives To Chemical Cleaners

Here are some alternatives to those nasty toxic chemicals:  

  • Household remedies: Did you know that your pantry already has a number of ingredients to clear your drains naturally? All you need is one base and one acid, like baking soda and vinegar, to do the trick. You can also use baking soda and lemon juice; a baking soda and salt mixture; cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda; or even Borax, salt, and vinegar. The most basic solution is made with ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar (or whatever other ingredient you choose). Pour your mixture down the clogged drain. Let it sit for an hour, at least. Then, follow up with a pot of boiling water to rinse the residue away. Repeat if needed.
  • Plumber’s auger: Sometimes you can use a bent wire hanger or pipe cleaner to do the trick, but most of the time, you can skip right to a plumber’s auger. An auger is sold in home improvement stores and looks like a drain snake, expect they are manual. To use, you tighten the screw that holds the cable still then push the auger down the drain with a crank. Don’t stop until you feel the auger penetrate the clog and push it away completely. You can then clean it up with a household solution, if desired.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners: Here’s a green solution that provides naturally occurring enzymes that eat away at the organic growth in your pipes and septic system. There are options that are great for drains, toilets, and more.


Tips For Drain Maintenance

Here are some tips to help reduce clogs and maintain your household drains:  

  • Use drain strainers to keep soap and hair for going into the pipes
  • Flush drains regularly with boiling water and a cup of baking soda to melt residue
  • Never pour grease down drains
  • Use enzyme culture drain cleaners monthly to replenish your septic system
  • Clean any drain traps at least once a year


Wrapping It Up

In short, the safest drain cleaners for pipes are the ones that don’t include any harsh chemicals. Of course, this can make finding a drain cleaner challenging, since most commercial varieties contain some kind of toxic ingredient. Fortunately, there are green options, like baking soda and vinegar, augers, and even enzymes that can be used.   Of course, if none of these methods work and your drains are still clogged, you should call a professional plumber to come to the rescue.