Drano may seem like a simple solution for unclogging a backed-up pipe, but there are dozens of reasons to avoid this “quick fix.” Plumbing problems can be pricey, but if you want to protect your pipes in the long run, skip the Drano and stick to safer solutions. There are many ways to address plumbing problems, but liquid pipe cleaners tend to just make things worse.
The Trouble with Drano
Drano is a chemical solution that you can purchase at pretty much any big box store or online. It's a drain unclogging solution that boasts Miracle results and claims to be able to eat through clogs made of hair, garbage, and other debris.
And, as it claims on the back of the bottle, Drano can pretty successfully eat through a lot of things clogging up a pipe. It's not perfect when it comes to destroying clogs in the sink or drain, but it can eat through a lot.
And while that may sound like a good thing, it's important to remember that while Drano is eating through the clog, it can also be eating through your pipes.
Drano is tempting because it's really inexpensive. When you've got a clogged pipe, you probably don't want to spend a lot of money trying to unclog the pipe, clear up the drain, or fix the problem.
It's tempting because Drano seems like a quick, affordable solution. And while it does work fast and is affordable, you may be creating a problem that is much bigger and much more expensive in the long run.
We’re not out here trying to write a Drano hit piece, we just want to protect your pipes. Drano is a risk that isn’t worth taking.
Can Drano Cause Damage to Pipes?
Drano can definitely damage your pipes. Drano has been specially formulated to eat through anything that clogs your drains and pipes. Even when adding this solution to a toilet bowl or a pipe full of water, the chemicals in Drano do their job—they erode.
Drano is made up of a strong concoction created using aluminum, salt, bleach, lye, and sodium nitrate. These chemicals together create a super eroder.
Your pipes, the glue that holds your pipes together, and even your toilet bowl are susceptible to cracks and damage, thanks to Drano.
We’ve seen pipes that have been melted by Drano, leaving a big hole in a bathroom plumbing system. We’ve had friends with cracked toilet bowls— and the culprit? Drano.
This super solution can cause more harm than good in your plumbing system, and when you end up with damaged pipes or a cracked toilet bowl, you also end up with a massive plumbing problem and a large bill.
So what happened after the Drano has gone down your drain. Even if it successfully removes your clogged and doesn't happen to damage your pipes, Drano stays in the water system and can cause harm to the local water supply.
This can potentially bring harm to local plants and animals. Using alternative solutions to Drano protects your pipes and the planet.
Do Plumbers Recommend Drano?
No, plumbers do not recommend Drano. The first step to unclogging a stuck drain or a clogged toilet would be a toilet plunger or a drain snake. Plumbers will let you know that you can try out these two solutions first before seeking professional help.
There are different levels of drain snakes that you can use, and it may be worth it to just call in professional help before you spend a lot of money on a professional drain snake.
If you clog your pipes and drains often, investing in a quality drain snake may be something that you want to just do anyways. We recommend using a water-safe Shop-Vac to remove water from your toilet or sink before you use a drain snake for optimal results.
When it comes to plungers, your plumber will tell you that a basic plunger is about as good as it's going to get. Using a basic plunger and a little bit of force, you may be able to unstick a clog and save yourself a little money.
You need to use a lot of force because plungers push air bubbles through the pipes that help move the clog further down the pipes.
Because of the way that plumbing is shaped in a bathroom, water has to go up before it can go down, which means that your clog also has to go up before it can go down.
Using a plunger, you may be able to use air to force the clog further down the pipes to a place where it's no longer stuck.
Unclogging Your Drain the Safe Way
If a drain snake or a Plunger does not work for you, don't just run to the store and buy any unclogging chemical solution that you see. There are a few safe alternatives to Drano that you can try before you call in the cavalry.
First, you can try the hot water trick. This trick only works in sink or bathtub drains because you need to pour the water right onto the clog. Boil about a gallon of water on your stove and then carefully pour it down the drain.
If you’ve got a buildup of grease and grime, the boiling water may just dissolve enough of the sticky substance to break the whole clump up.
If you need a little more power, mix one-part vinegar with one-part water and pour that solution down the drain. Let it sit for a moment before running any tap water down after it.
You can also pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it with a cup of vinegar. Let the solution bubble down in your drain for fifteen minutes, and then dump boiling water down the drain.
Because these are gentle solutions, you can try them out a few times in order to break up the clump.
If you’re looking to unclog a kitchen sink, there’s a good chance that oil and grease are playing a part in the clog. You can use the above methods to unclog a kitchen sink too.
If your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal, you can also try turning on the disposal with no water running, dumping several cups of ice and a little dish soap down the disposal, and then running water after the ice is almost all gone.
This should cause your sink to fill with dirty water from the drain, and though it’s gross, it means that it’s working.
Using dish soap in a kitchen drain to help remove clogs is smart because the dish soap breaks down grease and oils quickly and safely.
If you want to prevent clogs from forming in your kitchen sink, it's a good idea to avoid putting any excess oil down your drain, and always run your disposal using cold water.
The cold water keeps the oils together, as opposed to hot water that breaks the oils up, just for them to cool down and congeal in your pipes later.
What Damage Can Drano Do?
The damage caused by Drano is not just a risk to your pipes. It’s a risk to you and your family’s physical health as well. Do you remember how we said that Drano can eat through almost anything, including your pipes?
Will Drano can cause serious damage to your eyes, skin, and lungs. It's a concoction of dangerous chemicals, and just as it eats through clogs in your pipe, it can severely damage your skin and eyes when contact is made. Especially for little kids, Drano is extremely dangerous.
Drano is also dangerous when the fumes are inhaled. Your lungs aren’t made to be able to handle the kinds of chemicals found in Drano, and when those chemicals get stuck in your lungs, the results can be dangerous.
Because Drano is often used in conjunction with something like a drain snake or a plunger, the chemicals easily splash up and out of the water and onto your skin.
It’s important that you are always careful when using any type of chemical, but especially something that has as many corrosive chemicals as Drano does.
What to Do If Drano Gets on Your Skin
If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve got Drano on your skin or eyes, act fast. If you end up with chemicals in your eyes, immediately begin flushing your eyes with water.
You will want to flush your eyes for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Flushing your eyes is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it’s the best way to rid your eyes of harmful chemicals that could be causing permanent damage or blindness.
If the Drano gets on your skin, immediately wash it off. Rinse with water first, and then use a gentle soap if a rash or chemical burn has not formed. If you have a rash or chemical burn, call your primary care provider and determine if the injury needs to be treated at an Instant Care clinic.
If you end up with clothes covered in Drano, you’re going to want to remove the clothes, shower off, and either dispose of or wash your clothing.
Because the chemicals may eat through your clothes, you may want to double-check for holes after the clothing has been properly cleaned and the skin underneath the clothing has also been cleaned.
Preventing Drain Clogs in the First Place
Preventing drain clogs is the best way to save time, money, and a plumbing-fueled headache.
One easy way to prevent clogs in your shower and bathtub drains is by using a hair and debris catcher over your drain. There are lots of different types of drains, but with a quick Google search, it's pretty easy to find a hair catcher that will go over your current drain.
In the shower, you lose hair while washing your hair or shaving, and those hair follicles float in the water and down the drain. Over time those hairs build up, and they become a huge pain to try to remove from your drain.
Using a hair catcher is a great way to prevent excessive amounts of hair from floating down your drain.
In your bathroom sink or other sinks around the home, be vigilant in making sure that nothing but water or solutions that are supposed to go down the drain, go down your drain.
We've been known to water our plants in the sink, and believe it or not, if enough dirt floats out of your pot and down the drain, you end up with a problem.
Make sure that you don't flush anything down your toilet except for toilet paper in order to prevent clogs in your toilet. Believe it or not, the majority of clogs in the toilet come from something being flushed that should never have been flushed in the first place.
Make sure that you talk to the kids in your home about the appropriate things to flush and things not to flush down the toilet— and if you have guests in the home, check with their kids too.
Especially over the holidays, you might find that your younger guests are flushing things that they're not supposed to, and that's when the plumber gets called. It's a thing. Look up Brown Friday.
You need to make sure you know what your sink can handle, and if you don't have a garbage disposal, you need to be very conscious about what is going in your sink as far as food scraps and waste.
If you find yourself with a lot of food scraps over and over, consider composting instead of trying to stuff things down the drain. It's better for the environment and easier on the plumbing.
Don’t make a costly plumbing mistake because of Drano’s masterful marketing. There are so many safer ways to unclog your drains.