5 Reasons to Never Use Corrosive Drain Cleaners Ever Again

man pouring liquid drain cleaner down shower drain

Have a plumbing clog? Don’t go out to buy a bottle of drain cleaner just yet. Even though these liquid clog removers have been a staple around American homes for decades, they have some unhealthy disadvantages--for both you and your home’s plumbing.


1. Some get dangerously hot when they mix with water.

Many chemical drain cleaners contain a corrosive substance called sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid gets incredibly hot when it comes into contact with water--so hot that it can burn you badly enough to send you to the hospital. In fact, an estimated 3,000 injuries result from drain cleaners every year in the U.S. with one-third of those involving heat burns.

2. They release fumes that are harmful to breathe.

It’s no secret that corrosive drain cleaners contain a toxic mixture of chemicals. However, you don’t need to touch or drink the mixture for it to harm you. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, just breathing in the fumes released by a chemical drain cleaner can erode your teeth and irritate your respiratory tract.

3. They emit VOCs.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another concern when using liquid drain cleaners. VOCs are harmful gases that are emitted from certain solids or liquids. Cleaning products, pesticides, adhesives, paints, and preservatives are merely a few household examples of common VOC sources. Exposure to VOCs can have many harmful short and long term effects on your health, including:

  • Headaches
  • An allergic skin reaction
  • Eye nose and throat irritation
  • Nausea, dizziness, and loss of coordination
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system

4. They can cause leaks by making your drain pipes more brittle.

Drain cleaners typically work in one of two ways using chemical reactions:

  • They get hot enough to melt a clog.
  • They become caustic enough to corrode or burn through a clog.

While that might sound fine when it comes to removing an obstruction, think about what that does to your pipes, especially after repeated use. As the drain cleaner sits on top of a clog and reacts, your pipe is exposed to a chemical reaction and hot, corrosive water. This can weaken the pipe from the inside out, warping it or corroding it. It’s only a matter of time before the pipe cracks or forms a pinhole leak.

5. They are ineffective at removing clogs deep down in your plumbing.

Your home’s drain and waste system is quite extensive. If a clog has formed all the way down close to your sewer line, it would take a miracle for some liquid drain cleaner to remove it. At that point, you may as well pour money down the drain because you’ll still have a clog on your hands, you’ll be weakening your plumbing pipes, and you’ll still have to pay for another drain-clearing solution.


At the end of the day, you still have a clog to take care of, and you want a solution that works without causing more problems. The best alternatives to drain cleaners are a good, old-fashioned plunger and a drain snake.


Every home should have two plungers: a cup plunger and a flange plunger. The cup plunger typically works best for sinks, tubs, and showers, whereas the flange plunger’s unique shape makes it best for toilets. Having two plungers also means that you won’t be using your toilet plunger to fix a clog in your kitchen sink: gross!


If you’re fairly handy, you can try using a drain snake (also called a plumber’s auger). This involves lowering a long, flexible cable down into the clogged drain. At the tip of the cable is an auger used to dislodge or cut through the blockage.

Keep in mind: using a drain snake takes practice, and if not used properly, this tool can scratch up your toilet or otherwise damage your plumbing. This is especially true of large, electric models used by professional plumbers. While using a small, manual drain snake is relatively simple for shallow clogs, we highly recommend letting a professional handle clogs in your toilet or deep down inside your home’s plumbing.

Have a clog? At Jackson Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, we offer safe, thorough drain cleaning services to help get your home’s plumbing back in order. Give us a call today at (256) 304-8883 or contact us online!
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