Are you considering a using a chemical clog remover? Do you understand how these products work? There are three varieties of chemical removers commercially available. All three are effective at clearing clogs, but the ingredients are toxic. Chemical clog removers can even damage pipes if misused. The chemicals in these products are also hard on the environment.
How Chemical Clog Removers Work
Many people reach for a chemical drain cleaner because they are easy to use. They require no tools or plumbing know-how. All cleaners work by generating heat and dissolving organic materials. All can burn skin and eyes, eat through fabric and create noxious fumes, especially when mixed with other household products such as cleansers.
- Caustic drain cleaners: These formulations use lye, potash and other caustic ingredients. These cleaners work by burning and corroding organic material and metal.
- Oxidizing drain cleaners: These products contain bleach, peroxide or nitrates that oxidize and dissolve clogs. They are sometimes used for clogs containing food particles, or in clogs with standing water.
- Acid drain cleaners: Acid cleaners are dangerous and often only available to plumbers. These products contain sulfuric and hydrochloric acid.
An important caveat: never use a plunger after pouring chemicals down a drain. Plunging causes water, and anything in the water, to splash.
Green Alternatives to Chemicals
Did you know that there are effective alternatives to chemical clog removers? You can work out many clogs with a plunger or auger. For sinks, even a long pair of tweezers can sometimes reach a hair clog. If you get to know the basic anatomy of your tub and sink drains, you can safely remove hair and other clogs. You can mix your own safe and inexpensive drain cleaner from baking soda and vinegar. These cleaners work to clear and prevent clogs. Here are two variations to try:
- Pour ½ to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow with the same amount of plain white vinegar. Let the solution work for 15 minutes, then run hot tap water down the drain.
- Mix ½ to 1 cup salt, vinegar and baking soda in a container. Pour the solution down the drain. After an hour, pour hot water down the drain.
These eco-friendly solutions may not work as quickly as a chemical cleaner, and you may need to repeat the process a few times. Decrease the chances of food and hair clogs forming by using sink strainers and drain screens. Don’t pour oil or grease down a drain.