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We’ve all been there: You’re showering, and as the minutes go by, the water around your feet is getting higher and higher. Or, maybe you’re washing dishes, only to realize the dirty water isn’t going down the drain. Clogged drains and backed-up pipes are a nuisance, but they're a common problem that many homeowners face. Luckily, there are a wide variety of drain openers available that will save you from having to call the plumber.
The best drain opener for your needs largely depends on what drain is clogged and what's causing the blockage. Some products are specially formulated to cut through grease, while others are more effective on hair. Plus, if you have a septic system or garbage disposal, you’ll need a special drain opener that won’t harm your plumbing.
Here, the best drain openers you can buy today.
Best Overall: Drano Max Gel Clog Remover
When you think of drain cleaners, Drano is probably the first brand that pops into your head. This commonly recognized product is popular for good reason—it’s a great all-around drain opener that’s effective and affordable, to boot.
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover comes in 80-ounce bottles, and it’s safe to use on PVC, metal pipes, garbage disposals, and septic systems. Its thick formula cuts through standing water, allowing it to quickly dissolve any clogs, including those caused by hair and soap scum. Reviewers write that Drano Max “works miracles,” eliminating clogs caused by years of hair build-up and other tough plumbing problems.
Best for Shower: Pequa Drain Opener
If you're not diligent about cleaning the hair from the drain in your shower or bathtub, you will probably end up with clogged pipes at one point or another. In these cases, you need a heavy-duty drain cleaner that can dissolve the wads of tangled hair, helping your shower drain properly.
The Pequa Drain Opener is a highly-rated product for both commercial and residential use, and it gets top marks from users who say it's their go-to drain opener. This product comes in a 64-ounce bottle, and it can dissolve all organic matter, including hair and grease. This drain opener is fast-acting, but it's environmentally safe and won't harm your pipes. Several reviewers say they’ve successfully used this drain opener on stubborn shower or tub clogs, but many note that it works well on kitchen drains, too.
Best for Sink: Rockwell Invade Bio Drain Gel
If your kitchen sink isn't draining properly, you may want to try Invade Bio Drain Gel, which not only fights clogs, but helps to eradicate drain flies in the process.
This product comes in one-quart bottles, and it has a citrus smell you won't mind in the kitchen. The drain opener effectively cuts through scum and other organic matter, sticking to the walls of the drain to clear tough clogs. What's better, this product can also eliminate drain flies, which can be tough to get rid of in the kitchen or bathroom. According to reviewers, this product works well, clearing up pipes and killing drain flies, all while leaving a pleasant orange scent behind.
Best for Septic System: Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria
If you have a septic system, it's best to stay away from harsh chemical drain openers, as they can harm your plumbing. Instead, you'll want to use a septic system-friendly product such as Bio-clean Drain Septic Bacteria.
This powder formula uses a combination of natural bacteria and enzymes to cut through organic waste in your pipes. It is effective on grease, hair, soap scum, food particles, and more. Because it doesn't affect inorganic materials, it's safe for use on all plumbing systems, including septic tanks. Reviewers say that if you use the product as directed over the course of several days, it will effectively clear up any clogs or backups, allowing your pipes to drain better than ever.
Best for Garbage Disposal: Green Gobbler Refresh Drain & Disposal Deodorizer
Similar to septic tanks, heavy duty chemical drain openers may damage your garbage disposal, so you need to be careful about what you put down your sink. To effectively unclog your drain and freshen up your garbage disposal, try the Green Gobbler Refresh Concentrate Garbage Disposal, Drain Cleaner, and Deodorizer.
This product comes in 32-ounce bottles and contains a special blend of bacteria that digest and liquefy food particles, grease, fats, and oils. The thick formula will stick to the blades of your garbage disposal, cleaning and deodorizing the appliance. This product is septic system-friendly, and it has an orange scent that will leave your sink smelling nice. Reviewers say it is easy to use and effectively reduces odors in garbage disposals.
Best for Hair: Instant Power Hair and Grease Drain Cleaner
Built-up hair can create tough clogs in shower drains, so you're going to need a heavy-duty drain opener to get rid of these backups. The Instant Power Hair and Grease Drain Opener has hundreds of positive reviews that say it's an easy-to-use product that's incredibly reliable and effective.
This drain opener comes in a 68-ounce bottle, and its formula is designed to dissolve hair and melt grease. It's safe to use on all types of pipes, as well as with septic systems, and it is an odorless, fume-less product. If you don't believe how good this drain opener is, just read reviews from the hundreds of happy users, who say it works quickly to get rid of tough clogs in the bathroom and kitchen. Many say it has even worked on clogs that plumbers couldn't solve!
Best for Grease: Instant Power Main Line Cleaner
Grease is another common culprit when it comes to stubborn drain clogs. To get rid of your grease-induced or smelly plumbing problems, you'll need a product like the Instant Power Main Line Cleaner.
This highly-rated product comes in one-gallon jugs, and it uses a powerful formula to dissolve hair, grease, and other gunk that accumulates in drains. It's safe for use on all types of pipes and with septic systems, and many people use it to open both main sewer and lateral lines. Numerous reviewers say this product was recommended to them by a plumber, and several note that it is incredibly effective on grease clogs.
Best Beads: Comstar Pure Lye Bead Drain Opener
Most drain openers are a liquid or gel formula, but there are some products that come in other forms, such as the ComStar Pure Lye Bead Drain Opener. This product is made of 99 percent pure lye beads that are industrial strength and can clear out even the toughest pipe clogs.
Each container has one pound of product, and the lye beads will sink to the bottom of standing water, reaching the cause of blockage and breaking up tough clogs. The formula is odorless and non-acidic, making it safe to use with plastic pipes, grease traps, and septic systems. Perhaps the most compelling reason to buy this product is the glowing reviews from users who say it cut through tough drain backups where other products failed.
For a great all-around drain cleaner, you can’t go wrong with Drano Max Gel Clog Remover (view at Amazon). Its thick formula cuts through standing water, allowing it to quickly dissolve even the toughest clogs. However, if you need a drain cleaner that’s specifically made for showers, opt for the Pequa Drain Opener (view at Home Depot).
Type of Clog Not all drain cleaners are effective for every type of clog, so verify that the pick you're choosing will work on the type of clog you suspect you're dealing with. Bathroom clogs are more likely to be caused by scum and hair, while kitchen clogs usually require a formula that is effective against grease.
Time of Exposure While some formulas can work in as little as 20 minutes, others do best when left overnight to unclog your drain. Pay close attention to the amount of cleaner to use and how long to leave it sitting to avoid wasting money or time.
System Compatibility If you have plastic pipes, a septic tank, or a garbage disposal, take extra care when picking a drain cleaner. Not all cleaners are safe for all pipe types or for septic tanks, but ones that are will list it on the container.