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Drain Cleaners: The Good, the Bad & the Risky

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A clogged drain isn’t just an inconvenience with its annoyingly slow drainage and unpleasant odors; it can also introduce health and environmental hazards. Surprisingly, the method used to unclog the blockage can intensify these dangers.
When faced with a slow-moving drain, many people turn to chemical drain cleaners to quickly solve the problem. But are they the best line of attack? Drain cleaners are not all created equal, and understanding their pros and cons is essential for maintaining a healthy plumbing system.

Before Reaching for a Drain Cleaner

There are a few important steps to take before trying harsh chemicals on your drain problem:
  • Plunging: Use a cup plunger for sink, tub, and shower drains, which seal best on a flat surface.
  • Snaking: A plumbing snake is a flexible, coiled cable with a handle on one end and a corkscrew-shaped auger or blade on the other. It can work well for dislodging clogs near the surface.

Next Step: Find a Non-Corrosive, Enzyme-Based Drain Cleaner

Drain cleaners, such as BioClean (which we typically have in stock), contain natural bacteria and enzymes that safely break down the clog. Regular use helps to prevent future clogs and backups. Whether you’re connected to a public sewer system or a septic system, enzyme-based drain cleaners are a wise choice, as they promote the safe, natural breakdown of waste.


  • Environmentally friendly: These cleaners are biodegradable and pose minimal harm to the environment.
  • Safe for pipes: They are gentle on plumbing systems, preventing long-term corrosion and damage.
  • Non-toxic: They don’t produce harmful fumes or chemical burns.


  • Slower: Enzyme-based cleaners may take longer to clear clogs than chemical alternatives.
  • Limited effectiveness: They may not work well on non-organic materials.
  • Availability: They might not be as widely available as chemical cleaners, requiring specific sourcing.

Try to Avoid Harsh Chemical Cleaners

Drain cleaners like Drano, Liquid Plumr, and others contain caustic chemicals that can cause serious harm to people, pipes, and the environment. Harsh chemicals in these cleaners can corrode your pipes over time and pose safety risks when mishandled, leading to chemical burns, respiratory issues, or, in severe cases, even death.
When you pour Drano down a drain, an intense chemical reaction occurs. The combination of corrosive chemicals generates heat near boiling temperatures and can produce toxic fumes that irritate the respiratory system and eyes. If the chemicals splash back from the drain and hit unprotected skin or eyes, the damage can be severe — such as chemical burns that require immediate medical attention. If you call a professional for help, you must alert them that you’ve used a chemical drain cleaner in your drain and pipes before they begin any work to ensure they approach the issue as safely as possible.


  • Quick: Drano is known for its fast-acting formula, which can quickly dissolve clogs.
  • Accessible: You can find Drano in most grocery stores and home improvement centers, making it convenient for immediate use.


  • Harsh chemicals: Drano contains strong chemicals like sodium hydroxide (lye) and sodium hypochlorite (bleach), while other brands may contain sulfuric acid. These chemicals can damage pipes over time, potentially harming your health if not handled properly. For maximum safety, wait 24 hours before using a sink you treated with Drano.
  • Temporary solution: Chemical drain cleaners often provide only a temporary fix, as they don’t address the root cause of the clog. Repeated use may damage the plumbing system.
  • Environmental impact: The chemicals in Drano can harm the environment, including plants, animals, and water supply, if not disposed of properly.
Your choice of drain clearing methods can impact your safety and the environment. Call us for guidance if you have a clogged drain and need help with the best way to handle the situation. We are always happy to help!
Save time, call Prime! Contact our team at (443) 741-1129 to request service in Baltimore.


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