Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners have been popular products for clogged pipes and drains for years. Drain cleaners are commonly available in powder, crystal, liquid, foam, and gel forms. They all work in essentially the same way. The harsh chemicals in the products react with the clog to generate gas and heat. This dissolves the blockade so that the water can continue to flow.

Although they are marketed as convenient, inexpensive, and easy to find options to treat your plumbing system, they can actually cause more damage than good. The high toxicity in the drain cleans like bleach, peroxide, lye, and others are actually really hazardous. They can prove to be fatal if swallowed or inhaled and can even cause serious burns if they come in contact with the skin. It is better to stay safe and call professionals that deal with drain cleanings like those at ASAP Plumbing and Appliance Repair.

Here are five popular alternatives to chemical drain cleaners:

Dish Soap & Hot Water

While this seems relatively simple, it is extremely effective. Start by adding a few tablespoons of dish soap into hot water. Pour the solution down the drain and rinse thoroughly with more hot water. You can eliminate clogs made from grease and provide a nice cleaning for your garbage disposal.

Salt, Borax & Vinegar

Sodium borate, also known as borax, is a simple cleaning product you can find at most grocery stores. Mixing together a quarter cup of borax, along with a quarter a cup of vinegar and a quarter a cup of salt, is a great way to flush out your plumbing system. Pour these items down your drain and follow up with rinsing hot water down the drain. Of course, there is a more common household item you could combine with salt and vinegar that would have a similar effect…

Baking Soda

There are so many things baking soda can be used for, and multiple ways you can clean your drains with it! Some people prefer half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt, while others prefer half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar. Some even combine baking soda and chopped-up lemons (just remember to never put whole lemons down your garbage disposal, as the rinds are extremely bad for the blades.) Whichever method you prefer, just remember to flush your drain out with hot water, and let it sit for at least a few hours after.

Drain Snakes or Coat Hangers

Drain snakes are a great alternative to chemical drain cleaners. They work by hooking whatever is clogging your drain at the end of a long coil, or flexible plastic rod and pulling it out of the drain so that it is no longer an issue. It gets a little gross depending on what was stuck in the pipes, but it is incredibly effective. You can also effectively create a makeshift drain snake on your own, simply by straightening out a wire coat hanger. This may not eliminate tough obstructions but will break up most drain blockages.


When there is a clog in the toilet you use a plunger, so why couldn’t you use that for your sink? A toilet plunger is actually called a “flange plunger” because of the flange, or round part, that sticks out at the end. For your sink, use a cup plumber, or—since many people don’t own one of those—a flat-bottomed plunger, which will look just like a toilet plunger except without the flange on the end.

How We Can Help

If your clogged drain is so severe that none of the above methods have worked then you should reach out to a professional and schedule a drain cleaning service. The professionals at ASAP Plumbing & Appliance Repair will be able to get your drain clear in no time!

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