When you’ve got a drain blockage that just won’t budge, it can be tempting to head to your local hardware store for a bottle of drain cleaner. Easy and seemingly convenient, these cleaners are readily available and widely used—but are they actually helpful? Or might they be harming your plumbing? In most cases, quick fixes are just that—quick fixes. And generally, these types of fixes result in more work down the road, and potentially, further issue development. Such is the case with the majority of liquid drain cleaners found on the market today.


While liquid cleaners may seem like the easiest, quickest option to get your drain back in working condition, they aren’t the safest or the most effective method of doing so. Here to discuss the different types of liquid drain cleaners, their mechanisms of action, and whether or not they help or harm, are the drain cleaning experts at Drain Blaster Bill in Stillwater, MN. Take a gander before you hop in your car and head to the hardware store.


Liquid Drain Cleaners: The Basics

When it comes to products you can pour down your drain to eliminate blockages, there are a couple of different types. The first, and most common, are chemical drain cleaning products. These are widely available at just about any major retailer and have been in use for decades. What most people don’t know, however, is how dangerous these products can be.


Another type of liquid drain product, enzymatic cleaner, has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity as the consumer market shifts toward more natural, environmentally-friendly products. Both cleaners work to remove blockages; however, chemical drain cleaners are generally more effective due to their hefty load of highly caustic ingredients. Enzymatic cleaners work, too, but typically take longer to deliver the same effect. Keep in mind that enzymatic products cannot break down blockages consisting of man-made materials like plastic.  


What are Chemical Drain Cleaners?

Chemical drain cleaners, like the ones you can find at your local hardware store, are composed of highly caustic liquids designed to slowly burn through anything they come into contact with. Generally, they feature a blend of corrosive ingredients which may include compounds like sodium hydroxide, sulphuric acid, sodium hypochlorite, and potassium hydroxide, among others. While these are considered organic compounds in a periodic table sense, they are far from “organic” in the natural, safe sense that most people associate with the term.


What are Enzymatic Drain Cleaners?

As their name suggests, enzymatic drain cleaners utilize the power of enzymes to break down blockages. Generally, they include ingredients like lipase, various bacterial species, and other natural enzymes designed to gently digest buildup within your pipes. As these enzymes work to digest gunk in your plumbing, they release compounds that lower the pH of the surrounding area. This process creates an unfavorable environment for mold, mildew, and algae that have taken up residence, killing any spores and harmful bacteria to prevent overgrowth and subsequent clogs.


Liquid Drain Cleaners Pose a Safety Hazard

While enzymatic drain cleaners are generally considered safe, chemical drain cleaners are not. Nationwide, chemical burns from the use of caustic drain cleaners affect thousands of homeowners annually. In fact, it is estimated that every year, over 3,000 people visit medical facilities with varying degrees of cutaneous burns caused by these dangerous chemicals.


Instruction labels on these types of cleaners advise users to don extensive protective gear such as rubber gloves, splash-proof goggles, and full-length shirts and pants to avoid accidental exposure. While the requisite protective gear might make you feel like a do-it-yourself ace, it should really be a glaring red flag against using these types of products.


Not only can chemical drain cleaners cause damage to your person, but they can also cause plumbing deterioration with repeated exposure. Due to their highly caustic nature, chemical-based cleaners slowly eat away at anything they come into contact with. While you might be hoping they reserve their intense burning action for the objects clogging your pipes, that simply isn’t the case. Caustic cleaners also break down the interior of your pipes while they sit for extended periods. And, if you have a heavy-duty blockage more suited to a drain snake or water jet, these chemicals can potentially sit in your pipes for hours, causing extensive damage.


Enzymatic Cleaners vs. Chemical Cleaners

Considering the potential safety risks associated with the use of chemical-based cleaners, it makes sense then, to opt for enzymatic options, right? Well, that depends on the case. While enzymatic cleaners are indeed a safer option, they may not be effective against some of the more common types of drain blockages that chemical cleaners can tackle. Enzyme-based cleaners are most appropriate for clogs resulting from organic matter buildup but are no match for man-made materials. While they may be an environmentally-friendly, safer option, you’ll want to consider the efficacy of enzymatic cleaners before opting to use them.


So Which Drain Cleaner Should You Use?

To be forthright, neither. Both chemical- and enzyme-based liquid cleaners are effective for different situations, yet, neither option is the most reliable or efficacious drain-clearing choice. When it comes to safe and efficient methods of clearing buildup and removing heavy-duty blockages, a dedicated drain cleaning company is the most reliable and safest option.


While not as convenient, hiring a drain cleaning technician ensures the job is performed correctly and thoroughly. And at the end of the day, the safety of you, your family, and your home is more important than convenience. Plus, when you work with a company like Drain Blaster Bill, our same-day service is nearly as rapid as your trip to the hardware store.


Drain Cleaning Experts in the Twin Cities

No matter what type of drain you need cleaned, the professionals at Drain Blaster Bill have you covered. We specialize in residential and commercial drain and sewer cleaning using highly advanced tools and techniques that are lightyears ahead of household cleaning products. When you need reliable, honest, same-day service, we have the experience you need and workmanship you can trust. To schedule your drain cleaning service, contact our team at 763-913-8719, or you can message us on our contact page. We are your drain cleaning experts!