Three Ways to Clean a Clogged Drainpipe

Tools, chemicals, and cleaners for fast plumbing fixes.

Bathroom sink and tub
Drain chemicals are harsh and should be used as a last resort on plumbing clogs.Joshua Bartell

Grease, hair, soap scum, and mineral deposits from hard-water environments are particularly tough on plumbing. Regular maintenance means occasionally getting your hands dirty, either with off-the-shelf dissolvers or a drain snake. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest in the problem. Next time the water starts to back up in your sink or shower, here are few DIY options to consider.

Drano Max Gel
This chemical is safe to use on PVC or metal plumbing.Drano

Chemical formulas are the heavy hitters of drain cleaners. Because they are the strongest non-mechanical solution, you’re better using chemical dissolvers as a last resort for stubborn clogs. They come in both liquid forms and as gels designed to stick to your pipes for a longer period of time and help keep everything flowing.

Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver
This product dissolves hair, soap, paper, and grease from plumbing.Green Gobbler

Enzymatic cleaners use biodegradable enzymes and bacteria to break down sludge, hair, and other organic matter. They may take a little longer than chemical cleaners, but they are gentler on your pipes and safer for the environment. These formulas are also more appropriate for repeated use because they won’t degrade your pipes the way some chemical products can.

FlexiSnake Drain Weasel Sink Snake
This product can spin 360-degrees, 18-inches down a pipe.FlexiSnake

For long-term fixes, a mechanical drain snake is usually the best option. Snaking a drain can be a bit messy, but physically removing the obstruction is always the longest-lasting solution. Snaking involves no toxic chemicals and will save you money in the long run. As convenient as they are, liquid and gel cleaners are only temporary solutions, and ultimately you can buy a snake for a fraction of the cost of a plumber’s services.