Safely Unclog Any Drain With These 9 Drano Alternatives

Your health and your home’s plumbing will thank you for it.
Emily Benda Gaylord Avatar
Unclogged drain with running water


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Clogged drains are a common, albeit annoying, occurrence in any home. While it may be tempting to pick up a container of Drano to fix blocked pipes, most plumbers warn against using the commercial cleaner due to its harsh chemicals. Drano ingredients can be harmful to your health and your home. For example, sodium hydroxide (lye) slowly dissolves the organic matter causing a clog, but it can also corrode plumbing pipes in the process. In addition, drain cleaners like Drano should never be used to clear toilet clogs, as the aforementioned physical change produces enough heat to crack porcelain.

To fix clogged drains, opt for a safe homemade drain cleaner, a drain snake, or another Drano alternative that gets the job done without damaging pipes or exposing you and other people living in the home to harsh chemicals. The following nine alternatives are better options for solving a clogged drain.

1. Soap and Hot Water

Pot of boiling water

This option works best on a grease clog in a kitchen sink or garbage disposal. Fill a pot with boiling water and mix in a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Slowly pour the mixture into the clogged drain and rinse with hot tap water. This method will heat the grease in the drain to a liquid state so it can travel down and out of the pipe.

2. Drain Snake

Person using drain snake in white sink

A drain snake, like this highly rated option available at Amazon, is a handy tool to clear most clogged drains. They are long and flexible with small hooks that manually pull out parts or all of the clog with minimal effort. Drain snakes are commonly used for hair clogs in bathroom sinks and showers.

To use, simply lower the snake into the drain until it has a good hold on the blockage and then pull the clog up. They are pretty cheap and can be reused. For more complicated clogs, consider a sturdier option like this one available at Amazon for about $20.

3. Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Vinegar and baking soda used to unclog toilet

This home remedy for clogged drain problems is a solution recommended by many home cleaning experts. Start by pouring ½ cup of baking soda followed by ½ cup of vinegar down the drain. Let the solution sit for an hour. Finish by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. Repeat the process until the drain clears.

RELATED: 10 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Clean With Baking Soda and Vinegar

4. Salt, Borax and White Vinegar

Cleaning ingredients borax and vinegar

This is another way to solve those clogged pipes using simple ingredients many likely have around the home. Pour ¼ cup of salt and then a ¼ cup of Borax down the drain. Then, pour ½ cup of white vinegar down followed by a pot of boiling water. Let the solution sit for an hour and then run hot water down the drain to rinse it out.

5. Baking Soda and Salt

Baking soda being poured in sink with spoon

Start by mixing together ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of table salt. Pour the mixture down the clogged drain and let it sit for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. The tougher the drain, the longer the solution will need to sit. Then, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain to clear it.

6. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Baking soda with lemon and towels

This is another natural drain-cleaning solution if you don’t have vinegar or salt on hand. Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the clogged drain and follow it with ½ cup of lemon juice. Stuff the drain with an old kitchen towel to keep the solution contained and let it sit 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the kitchen towel and finish by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain.

RELATED: 10 Times Boiling Water Can Help Around the House

7. Green Gobbler

Green gobbler drain snake in drain

Green Gobbler contains a noncorrosive, biodegradable formula, which makes it safer to use on pipes than other chemical solutions. This highly rated Green Gobbler kit available at Amazon includes premeasured powder packs and drain snakes for a two-way approach to clearing stubborn clogs.

To use, pour one packet into the drain and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Clear the solution by pouring boiling water down the drain. Green Gobbler is also sold as a liquid solution at Amazon.

8. Bio-Clean

Bio clean powder with measuring cup

Bio-Clean is another biodegradable drain-clearing product that doesn’t contain harmful or hazardous chemicals. Available at Amazon, Bio-Clean can be used on most drains and won’t cause any damage to pipes and septic systems.

To use, dissolve the powder in warm water and then pour the solution into the clogged drain. Wait 6 to 8 hours before flushing with warm water. Repeat the process as many times as needed to clear the drain.

9. Plunger

Person using plunger to unclog sink

While you might think of a plunger as a tool to clear toilets, it can also be used to clear other drains such as a kitchen sink clogged with food. It’s best to purchase a plunger for this specific purpose rather than using a plunger that you’ve used previously in a toilet.

To use a plunger on a sink, fill the sink up about halfway with warm water and slowly plunge the drain until the water is able to drain.

RELATED: How to Unclog a Shower Drain