I stepped into the shower the other day after a gruelling workout expecting a refreshing wash before heading out for a special dinner. Unfortunately, what I got instead was a backed up drain and I was ankle deep in water in no time. I had a sneaking suspicion there was some long hair clogging up the drain, but of course that was just speculation.
What I was sure about was that I needed a solution and hopefully one that didn’t require pulling out my tools and inspection camera. It’s always best to look for the simplest answer first – even if you happen to be a plumber! The answer in this case was a bottle of industrial strength plumbing liquid and it is in many cases.
You’re probably familiar with at least a couple of different brands of plumbing liquid, but instead of buying a bottle and hoping that it will do the job for you we’ve put together this buying guide to take a look at the most popular products on the market for you.
In this guide we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each product and provide you with some general information about the best plumbing liquid. It may take a long time to build up all that gunk that’s plugging your drains, but with the right liquid you should be able to solve the problem in minutes.
Best Plumbing Liquids - Buying Guide
Is Gel Better?
There are plenty of different drain cleaner formulations and depending on who you talk to there’s something to be said for each different kind. Some people like your traditional liquid cleaners, but others don’t think they’re effective enough. There are also cleaners that foam up once they’re introduced to the water in your pipes and these can be highly effective at dissolving clogs.
However, we believe gel based cleaners are the best on the market these days. The gel is heavier than water so it can easily penetrate deep into your pipes and get to the route of the problem.
Can Drain Cleaners Handle any Clog?
My father is convinced that liquid drain cleaner is the answer to just about any type of plumbing problem no matter how big or how small. If the drain cleaner doesn’t remove the clog on the first try he just tries again. More often than not this method doesn’t work for him and he ends up calling me for advice.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big supporter of drain cleaners as a way to deal with minor clogs in the quickest and most affordable way, but they can’t handle the bigger clogs – no matter what the brand. Sometimes you get more hands on with a drain snake or a manual drain auger, or if it's just too much, hire an expert.
Are Drain Cleaners Safe?
One question I get asked a lot is are drain cleaners safe? The simple answer is yes when they’re used with the proper precautions and respect that they deserve. These are chemicals after all so they can result in serious injury if not used as recommended. I
t’s a good idea to wear gloves, safety goggles, and a mask when working with any chemicals. This may seem like overkill, but for the few seconds it takes you to put on this personal protective equipment why take the risk? Also remember to keep your drain cleaner stored in a safe place out of the reach of curious young children.
Don’t Mix Chemicals
We all know someone with a horror story relating to a mishap with chemicals. These things normally happened because they weren’t being used in the manner intended. If you’ve bought a liquid drain cleaner and used it on a clog with no effect don’t run out and buy another cleaner to try – chances are that one will fail you as well.
The clog is probably too big to break up with a cleaner so you’ll need to call in some professional help. Mixing multiple different chemicals is not only likely to be ineffective it can be dangerous as well. You can create a backup of chemicals that results in toxic fumes being released into your home.
When you’re shopping for a liquid drain cleaner you should always look for one that specifies that it is biodegradable on the label. Remember, these are chemicals you’re releasing into the water supply and sewage system so you want to use something that’s not going to cause any lasting harm. Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly options on the market today.
It’s human nature to wait until a problem becomes an issue before addressing it. That’s definitely the case when it comes to clogged drains.
Instead of waiting for your drain to become clogged why not be proactive and institute a preventative maintenance program for your home? A way to do this is by pouring a little bit of liquid drain leaner into your drains every month or two to prevent build-ups from happening in the first place.
Drano Max Gel
The great advantage of a cleaner that uses a gel base is that these types of chemicals are much thicker than water allowing them to penetrate your pipes quickly to reach the source of the clog.
Drano Max Gel is perhaps the most popular example of this type of product and it’s known to be highly effective. It removes years of build-up including hair, soap scum, and any other residue that may have found its way into your pipes.
The great thing about this product is that it’s entirely safe to be used around plastics and septic systems. This plumbing liquid has overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it has received some complaints about its relatively hefty price tag.
Pure Lye Drain Opener
One of the biggest concerns people I know have with using a drain cleaner is concern about the impact it may have on the environment. That’s why Pure Lye Drain Opener is a great option. This powerful cleaner is completely biodegradable and 100 % safe for the environment. It handles traditional clogs with ease and it’s even capable of dissolving root growth in your sewer lines.
Another unique feature of this product is that it will actually encourage the growth of certain bacteria in traps and tanks that also naturally attacks clogs. There are a few customers that have claimed to have mixed results with this product, but it’s important to keep in mind that this won’t clear drains automatically – the process takes up to 24 hours.
Pro Strength Liquid-Plumr
There aren’t too many people that have never heard the name Liquid-Plumr before so it’s probably no surprise to anyone that we’ve included their pro strength formula on this list. This liquid drain cleaner packs a double punch with a hypochlorite formula designed to push through water quickly and a viscoelastic formula that will actually grab a hold of the clog and start to work on dissolving it.
It’s a powerful combination that’s been serving consumers well for many years. This product is fairly reasonably priced and comes in many different sizes. For such a popular product it does have some mixed reviews and while most agree that it does work, it doesn’t seem to work as well as it could.
Safer Drain Opener by Xion Lab
Drain clogs can be extremely stubborn at times and after trying a couple of other traditional liquid cleaners without a lot of success you may want to give Safer Drain Opener by Xion Lab a try. This powerful industrial strength cleaner takes care of pretty much anything that might find its way down your drain. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hair, soap scum, oil build up, grease, or just a little bit of lint – this cleaner will take care of it.
One of the main keys to its successful formula is a high PH level, but it’s still completely safe if you splash a little bit on your skin and it’s fully biodegradable. Most agree that it does a good job on minor clogs, but there are some complaints about its effectiveness on the tough ones.
SC Johnson Max Gel Clog Remover
If there’s a sleeper in the plumbing liquid cleaner category it has to be SC Johnson’s Max Gel Clog Remover. As a gel based cleaner it’s thick enough to break through most clogs and it does exactly that without much trouble. It’s also specially formulated to protect your pipes from corrosion while it works – no matter what type of material they’re made out of.
You can leave it to do its magic in your drain overnight and almost every time you’ll come back to find a clog free drain in the morning. This is an environmentally friendly products and one of the few options out there without any real detractors.
Black Swan Liquid Drain Opener
Typically when we think of swans we think of graceful creatures that glide through water with ease and that may be where Black Swan Liquid Drain Opener got its name. This is a cleaner designed to work through a clog without harming pipes or sceptic tanks and it will completely dissolve on its own over time.
Having said all that it does not have a good reputation for being one of the most effective cleaners on the market today and there are definitely better options in the same price range.
Liquid Glug Drain Cleaner Opener
If there was a prize handed out for the coolest name in the liquid drain cleaner market then Liquid Glug Drain Opener would certainly be in the running. This isn’t just a cleaner with an interesting name though – it’s actually formulated to attack clogs quite effectively. This product is perfect for most household clogs and will do a pretty decent job in an industrial setting as well.
The producer of this product also recommends it as a good preventative cleaner – the idea is that if you pour a little bit of this down your drains every few weeks you can prevent clogs from happening in the first place.
Earthworm Family Safe Drain Cleaner
Earthworms are highly efficient little creatures that are very food at working their way through dirt and cleaning drains. It seems fairly appropriate then that a chemical company would develop a drain cleaner called Earthworm Family Safe Drain Cleaner that’s also quite good at cutting through dirt, as well as hair, soap scum, and a whole host of other things that might be clogging your drain.
This isn’t known to be one of the most powerful cleaning options on the market, but it is one of the most affordable so if you’re looking to save a bit of money it might be worth a closer look.
Plumb Clear Drain Cleaner & Septic Tank Treatment
One of the best clues as to how effective a drain cleaner can be is how popular it is among consumers and Plumb Clear Drain Cleaner passes that test with flying colors. There’s good reason for its popularity though and that’s because it does work as advertised.
It’s not only great for drains it will also do a great job of breaking up the sludge in a sceptic tank as well. It uses a special formula with natural enzymes that effectively break down clogs so that you can enjoy a nice refreshing shower without standing in an inch or two of water.
Roebic PDO Pro Drain Opener
One other drain cleaning option for the bargain hunters is Roebic PDO Pro Drain Opener. This product is probably not a household name, but it will save you quite a bit of money compared to the leading cleaners don the market. It’s designed to dissolve every type of clog you can think of including grease, hair, and even some wayward food that may have found its way down your drain.
This product doesn’t have the most powerful formula on the market so it’s probably best used as a preventative cleaner before your drains become clogged in the first place. If you’re dealing with a pretty significant clog already it’s probably best to pay a little extra for a more powerful cleaner.
The Right Cleaner
There are some great options in this article if you’re looking for an effective liquid cleaner. We believe the ones that are gel based are the most effective, but there are some other great choices. Remember to choose one that is biodegradable though – that way you can have clear pipes and a clear conscience!