Dealing with slow running or completely clogged drains is one of the most dreaded moments in a homeowner’s life.
Thankfully, there are multiple affordable, easy, and safe ways to help prevent blockages and to unclog drains and pipes which already have a build-up or obstruction.
Since there are so many different drain cleaners on the market, we have picked the top drain cleaners for 2021 for you, for all types of clogs, and all types of pipes and drains.
Some are chemical-based, and others are chemical-free, but all of these products have been tested and are very efficient.
With a suitable drain cleaner, you can save yourself a lot of messy work, and quite a lot of money for having to hire a plumber to help you resolve the problem.
Read on more to find out more about these excellent drain cleaners and which types of clogs they are suitable for.
We have also added some tips on dealing with blockages, as well as reliable ways to prevent them altogether.
The Drano Max Gel Clog remover is the absolute favorite drain cleaner for 2021 because it is among the most versatile, efficient, and safe to use drain cleaners currently being offered.
You can resolve all kinds of clogs, including those caused by soap scum, hair, grease, oil, and others.
It is safe for use for all types of pipes, including metal, plastic, or PVC, as well as for septic systems, garbage disposals, and others. It is not suitable for use for toilets.
Thanks to its gel-like structure, you can safely pour it in the affected drain without any of it splashing around, and it will not stay on the surface of standing water but will move down to the clog directly.
You can leave it to act and unclog the drain overnight, but with less severe clogs, the gel usually works very quickly – for just about 15 minutes.
It has special components that can help reduce the corrosion in your metal pipes too.
This set of two 32-oz Drano Max Gel clog removers is one of the prime solutions for easy and mess-free unclogging of most types of drains.
If you are looking for an environmentally friendly drain cleaner, then you may want to try out the Bio-clean Drain Septic Bacteria.
This 1-pound tub of drain-cleaner is completely safe for the environment, for humans, animals, and your pipes.
It contains enzymes and live bacteria that eat the organic waste in the plumbing system but without harming any non-organic materials and objects.
Some of this organic matter includes food particles, hair, grease, soap scum, paper, cotton, and others.
You can safely use this drain cleaner in your bathroom, kitchen sink, as well as for septic tanks, disposals, RVs, and much more.
Plus, it doesn’t emit any fumes or causes boiling and splashing like some of the harmful chemical drain cleaners.
It may not give immediate results if there is a severe blockage you need to deal with, but with monthly treatments, you can help keep your pipes and plumbing system in pristine condition all naturally and safely.
One tub of 1 pound is sufficient for about 100 treatments, so you will save a lot of money if you decide to buy the Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria drain cleaner too.
Although it is not the prime option if you are in need of immediate unclogging, it is one of the recommended, safest, and affordable ways to keep your plumbing clean and properly functioning.
The Thrift T-100 drain cleaner is an efficient product that can be used for clog removal as well as a preventive measure against clogging.
This is a non-acidic drain cleaner that is suitable for small drains, septic tanks and grease traps.
It should not be used for disposal or toilets.
The product is activated by hot water and can remove and unclog your bathroom or kitchen drains from all of the soap scum, hairs, grease, oils, and other matter which is building up inside the pipes and causing the clogging.
You can use it as a preventive product for both grease traps and septic tanks by adding the recommended amount once or several times a year.
It has a long shelf life, so you can store it for years, and use it only when recommended or when there is a clog.
It will not cause harm to metal or plastic pipes, to chrome, plastic, fiberglass, or acrylic materials either.
Although it contains no acid, the Thrift T-100 does contain sodium hydroxide, so it does cause fumes and can be dangerous if it comes in contact with your eyes, skin, or other parts of the body or clothing.
The odorless drain cleaner comes in tubs of 1 pound each.
But overall, the 2-pack of Thrift T-100 is among the top, fast-acting drain cleaners on the market for 2021.
These single-use packs of Green Gobbler Drain Cleaner are among the most convenient and efficient of all of the products on this list.
Each pack contains 8.25-oz of the Green Gobbler drain cleaner, which is the perfect quantity to resolve a problem with a clogged drain.
It is suitable for use in kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
The cleaner can quickly remove organic materials, hair, body oils, soap scum, grease, toilet paper, toothpaste, calcium, and limescale build-up from the drains and pipes.
The set of 5 packs of this drain cleaner is perfect for keeping at home in case of an emergency clog that needs to be addressed immediately.
You won’t have to worry about measuring the amount of cleaner to use, as they are conveniently measured and packed separately already. Plus, you will receive a set of 5 hair grabber tools along with these drain cleaners.
The substance is biodegradable and eco-friendly. It doesn’t cause any toxic fumes when used.
The good news is that this drain cleaner needs just about 15 to 30 minutes to unclog a drain, and all you need to do is pour it in the drain or toilet bowl and then flush it out after the recommended time is up with cold water.
If you have a complete blockage of the toilet or a drain at home and on the verge of calling a plumber, why not try out the powerful Pure Lye Drain Opener first?
This is among the most recommended drain cleaners for severe and complete clogs and blockages on the market.
It is made of 99.4% lye, or sodium hydroxide in bead sized form, and has industrial strength.
The Pure Lye Drain Opener is offered in bottles of 1 pound, 2- bottles per pack, and is suitable for grease traps, drains, septic tanks, and others.
It is entirely safe for metal and plastic pipes, as well as for your fixtures and chrome trims in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Due to its bead form and its content, it will sink to the clog itself and will help break it up quickly without being spilled around the drain.
It is odorless and works very quickly in breaking up the build-up of organic matter in sinks, bathtubs, showers, septic tanks, toilets, and others.
Still, you will need to take precautions when applying it and not allow it to get on your skin, eye, mouth, and body parts, so make sure you use protective gloves, а mask, and goggles when handling it.
The drain cleaner needs to be poured into the clogged or affected drain, and then after the recommended few minutes, to be flushed out with hot water for an almost instant effect.
The Liquid Clog Remover by Green Gobbler is an excellent solution for quick and efficient clogging resolution, as well as for preventive actions to keep the drains and pipes functioning without problems.
This liquid drain cleaner by Green Gobbler can dissolve all kinds of gunk and clog due to hair, soap scum, paper, grease, sludge, and other organic materials that end up in the drains and pipes. In fact, it can dissolve and liquefy hair completely.
It will help dissolve partial build-ups and complete obstructions in just a few minutes. You will see the results immediately and even better ones after several treatments.
You can use it safely for sinks, showers, bathtubs, and toilets. It is safe to use for septic systems too.
The substance sinks in standing water and reaches the clog in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t emit toxic fumes and is eco-friendly.
The Liquid Clog Remover comes in 1-gallon tubs and is one of the best deals you can find on the market when shopping for a top-rated drain cleaner for 2021.
The XionLab Safer Drain Opener clog remover offers the perfect balance between efficiency in clog removal and prevention and safety.
This is an innovative drain cleaner that doesn’t emit harmful gases, and will not harm the natural enzymes in your septic system.
It attacks the organic matter, which is clogging your drains directly, without danger of damage or corrosion to your piping and fixtures.
The Safer Drain Opener is heavier than water, so it will directly fall to the problematic area and begin dissolving the organic matter.
It is acid-free, non-flammable, and is biodegradable. Plus, its 32-oz container is made of recycled plastic, so you will be lowering your carbon footprint if you decide to use this efficient drain cleaner.
The solution is suitable for kitchen and bathroom drains, including bathtubs, showers, and sinks, as well as for septic tanks.
It can be used to resolve clogs or to help prevent the build-up of organic matter, which can lead to problems with your piping and drains. It is especially efficient for dissolving hair and grease blockages.
By buying this product, you will also help support the charities which the company donates to for every bottle sold.
This is one of the most universal of all drain cleaners for 2021. It can handle mild build-ups and clogs in any type of sink, bathtub, shower, toilet, garbage disposal, as well as the mainline drain in your home. It is safe for steel and PVC pipes too.
It can efficiently break up hair, paper, grease, baby wipes, soap scum, sludge, and other organic matter, which is blocking your pipes.
You can forget about using a plunger to try to resolve your clogged toilet problem. Instead, all you need to do is pour the recommended amount of this odorless solution into the toilet and let it do its job before flushing it.
It doesn’t cause corrosion and doesn’t contain sodium hydroxide.
With this case of 4 gallons of this efficient and safe drain cleaner, you can rest assured that the majority of your clogging problems will be over with minimal effort and without the need for any messy unclogging or expensive plumber services.
Or even better, you can use it to clean up any build-up periodically and avoid more severe clogging altogether in the future.
So, don’t wait until it is too late and you end up with a complete clog and start using this safe and efficient drain cleaner as soon as possible!
If you don’t want to use any kind of chemical for your drains, then this eco-friendly and chemical-free drain cleaner by CLR could be the perfect option for you on the market right now.
This is a more compact and durable alternative to having and storing a plunger at home.
The Pressurized can is 7 inches high and is filled with a lemon-scented, CFC-free pressurized gas.
It is easy and mess-free to use. All you need to do is point the can’s nozzle into the water, which is slowly draining, and press it to release the gas.
It will act as a plunger, and will hopefully force the clog to move down the pipe. It works instantly.
It is suitable for sinks and bathtubs and garbage disposals.
One of these cans can be used 15 times.
It is a much cleaner, affordable, and space-saving alternative than keeping a plunger at home, and it contains zero environmentally damaging or dangerous chemicals like acids, lye, or others.
The Liquid-Plumr Clog Destroyer is another superb option either for slow running as well as for completely clogged drains. It is a great way to protect and prevent such issues too.
It is one of the few available drain cleaners on the market which can resolve problems with fully clogged drains.
You can use it for all types of pipes, new and old, plastic or metal. It is also safe and efficient to use for garbage disposals and septic systems.
The cleaner and un-clogger are easy to use, and it works immediately.
The Clog Destroyer will help remove the nasty odors from your drains as well.
It is not suitable for use in toilets, but it will handle all other clogs and drain problems in your home.
This drain cleaner is sold in 80-oz bottles, and is another highly-recommended choice if you want an efficient and reasonably priced drain cleaner and unclogging solution.
Tips on handling clogged drains
Realizing that your drain may be clogged is one of the worst nightmares of any homeowner.
The first sign that you may be dealing with a clogging problem is when the water starts taking more time to drain after using the sink, shower, bathtub, or toilet.
But instead of panicking, you should know that there are ways to handle a slowed down drain before matters get serious and messy.
The first thing you should try is using a plunger. This simple and yet indispensable tool can help create a vacuum that may be able to suction out the hair, soap scum, or other matter which is causing your drain to malfunction.
Another tip is to try releasing the build-up of organic matter from the drain by pouring some hot water directly into it. Try using near-boiling water, and pour it carefully and slowly down the clogged drain. This simple hack may be able to clear out part of the build-up.
One highly efficient home remedy for unclogging drains is to use vinegar and baking soda.
Mix a cup of vinegar with baking soda in a bowl in an equal ratio. Stir it, and then pour the fizzing mixture slowly into the problematic drain. You will be able to see the chemical reaction which occurs, as bubbles and fizzing will most likely happen as the mixture “attacks” the organic matter build-up.
Let the mixture do its magic for about an hour, and then flush the drain with hot water. Hopefully, this simple hack will resolve your problem.
Another way to tackle the build-up of gunk in your drains is to use a wire hanger.
First, you will need to straighten it and then form a hook on one of its ends. Then poke the hook into the drain until you feel the clog, and start pulling out the hair and other gunk that has gotten stuck inside.
This is a messier procedure, but you will be amazed at the results. After you make sure that you have gotten all of the gunk out and have disposed of it, flush the drain with near-boiling water to flush out all of the smaller particles.
Instead of a wire hanger, you can use a plumber’s snake, which is a wire that you can use to dislodge any build-ups and push away or remove the clogs.
If none of these home remedies seem to work, you should opt for an efficient and yet safe drain cleaner – one which will help you unblock the drains but without causing potential harm to your pipes and fixtures.
If you are striving to live a more eco-friendly life, you should choose a biodegradable and environmentally friendly drain cleaner.
The last resort is calling a professional plumber to take care of your clogged drain.
In any case, the earlier you handle a problem with your drains, the fewer potentially serious and costly consequences there will be.
This is why experts recommend that you use a reliable drain cleaner on a regular basis as a preventive maintenance measure so that you don’t have to deal with messy and unpleasant clogs.
Pros and cons of using commercial drain cleaners
If you are still deliberating on whether you should use a commercially available drain cleaner to resolve slow draining or a complete block, then here are some of the main pros and cons which may help you decide:
- The commercially available drain cleaners come with detailed instructions about how to use them safely and are generally safe to use by DIYers
- Drain cleaners rely on some sort of chemical reaction to resolve clogs, so there is no risk of mechanically damaging your pipes with them
- You don’t need special tools or have professional skills to use a drain cleaner from the store
- The drain cleaners are ready to use, without the need of being mixed or otherwise prepared, so all you will need to do is pour them in the problematic drain straight from the container
- Many of the good quality drain cleaners do not emit a smell, so you can use them at home or anywhere else without fear of bad odors
- Most of the drain cleaners can resolve the problem in a matter of a few minutes, so they are a quick solution
- Drain cleaners are an excellent solution if your drain has been clogged by hair, grease, soap scum, or food
- Buying a drain cleaner is much less expensive than hiring a professional plumber to tackle the problem
- A majority of the drain cleaners from our list can be used for preventive maintenance so that you don’t end up with slow draining or clogging problems
- You should be careful about the content of the drain cleaner because it may contain pollutants that can get into the groundwater, soil and pollute the environment and drinking water
- Drain cleaners are universal, and usually, work by dissolving organic matter, so they may not be efficient if you have a non-organic object or a mineral build-up blocking your pipes
- In some cases, the drain cleaner may simply resolve the clogging but without preventing further build-up in the pipes and clogging
- Some chemical-based drain cleaners can be dangerous if not handled properly and may cause burns and emit toxic fumes
- Using the wrong drain cleaner can actually damage your pipes, by softening PVC pipes or corroding metal ones
- Some chemical drain cleaners may cause damage to septic tanks or garbage disposals
- Very few drain cleaners are capable of resolving complete blocks
Simple ways to prevent clogs
If you want to ensure that your pipes and plumbing system functions well and that you don’t end up faced with a messy drain clog, some simple solutions can help you minimize the risk of clogging.
Here are some tips which will save you the time, hassle, and money for dealing with clogged drains:
- Use natural enzyme and bacterial drain cleaners or biodegradable solutions as preventive care and maintenance. These drain cleaners do not cause corrosion, and in most cases will not kill off the bacteria in your septic system
- Place strainers on top of your drains. Strainers are inexpensive items that can help collect the larger particles like food, hair, and others and prevent them from ending up in your drain and pipes
- Remove the hair and other gunk from the drain in the sink, shower or bathtub with a wire, or with needle-nosed pliers. Even though this is not a particularly pleasant task, it will help prevent serious clogging in the future
- If the mainline of your sewer tends to get clogged every year or quite often, the problem could be caused by roots, collapsed pipes, clay tile joints, and others, so it makes sense to ask a plumber to visually inspect the mainline with a scope and identify and resolve this problem once and for all
- Use a lint catcher for the washing machine drain. This will help capture and trap the lint which can come from the fabrics you wash, as well as particles from leftover tissues or others that make their way into your laundry. The simple solution is to install a lint catcher or even a nylon stocking at the end of the drain hose, and then make sure that you check it and replace it on a regular basis if it is full
- Don’t dump the grease from cooking down the drain. Warm fat will easily get attached to the pipes, and build up over time, eventually causing a clock in your kitchen sink. So instead of draining the leftover grease after frying or cooking something, collect it in a can or other container to reuse it, or to dispose of it in a safe manner by taking it to a recycling center
- Don’t dump the coffee from the filter or portafilter of your coffee maker into the drain
- Throw away as much of the leftover food from your plates and pots into the trash instead of the garbage disposal
- Place a washcloth over the shower drain before bathing your dog
- Never rinse of buckets and tools with cement, sand, joint compound, or grout down the drains. If these materials from your home construction project harden up in your drains, you can end up with very hard to remove rock-hard clogs
- Use a pop-up stopper and clean it once a week. Pop up stoppers which are used for drains in sinks can efficiently trap a lot of the hairs, soap scum, toothpaste, and grease from cosmetics which will otherwise end up in your pipes
- Abstain from flushing anything different than human waste and toilet paper in your toilet
- Throw feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, dental floss, Q-tips and other similar items in the trash rather than attempting to flush them down the toilet
The best types of drain cleaners for different clog types
Keep in mind that the different types of clogs require different approaches if you want the best results.
The chemical drain cleaners on the market are usually basic or acidic. Each type is efficient for handling different types of clogs caused by different types of organic matter.
For showers and baths or bathroom sinks, where the clogs are usually caused by hair, soap scum, gunk, and oils from cosmetics, so an acidic solution or one which attacks this type of matter should be used.
As for kitchens, where the drain is usually clogged by grease and parts of food, using an alkaline-based drain cleaning solution is a better approach.
Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API