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When it comes to cleaning your drains, the temptation is often to go to war with your sink and throw everything you’ve got at the problem. And while that can work, it’s possible to go overboard, especially when using toxic chemicals.
The better approach is to collect the right liquid drain cleaners, DIY hacks and tools and take a few methodical steps to clean the drain. Often, the issue plaguing your drain just requires a small amount of work, and you might be able to clear your issues with what you already have under your kitchen sink. But if your drain is consistently draining slowly, you’ll likely need to invest in some of the best drain cleaners to help clear it up for good.
When you can bust up clogs in sinks, toilets and drains on your own, you won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a plumber, who will simply snake your drain and be on their way. To help you solve the problem on your own, we’ve rounded up some of the best drain cleaners and DIY solutions for all types of clogged drain. The good news is that most of these solutions rely on safe, everyday solutions that you might already have at home. Chemical drain cleaners can be a viable solution, but they can also potentially damage your pipes with overuse, in addition to being not-great for the environment and dangerous if they touch your skin.
While you’re at it, we also recommend investing in new drain covers. You can find drain covers designed for kitchen sinks, showers and tubs, and bathroom sinks, all of which will stop clogs from forming in the first place.
Another great option is a plunger, which can be a very effective way to clear kitchen clogs. For a home remedy, you can actually do a lot with a simple combination of hot water, baking soda, and vinegar. For more serious clogs, a worthwhile investment is a drain auger or a plumbing snake. And, of course, we can’t talk about the best drain cleaners for clogged drains without talking about Drano. Below, you’ll find the drain cleaners for every situation, from familiar favorites to DIY hacks.
Liquid Drain Cleaners
For most people, when there’s a stubborn clog in our drains that just won’t go away, we reach for our trusty bottle of Drano, the king among drain cleaners. In fact, we so strongly prefer Drano, that we really don’t want to recommend any other alternative liquid drain cleaners. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Liquid drain cleaner is often our first line of defense against a clogged drain. We’ve gathered a couple of options below, so choose the formula that suits you best.
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover
If you don’t keep a bottle of Drano under your sink at all times, then we have to wonder what you’re waiting for? The gold standard of liquid drain cleaners gets to work in as little as seven minutes, breaking up clogs so water can drain smoothly through your kitchen and bathroom sinks. The Drano formula is Phthalate-Free, Paraben-Free, Dye-Free and Aluminum-Free, and it’s safe for clogged kitchen sinks, garbage disposals, bathtub drains, bathroom sinks and more.
Drano Snake Plus Tool + Gel System
For those extra-stubborn, extra-gunky clogs, try the Drano Snake Plus tool. This 2-in-1 product comes with a flexible drain snake and liquid gel that sinks through standing water to bust up clogs deep in the pipes. The snake tool is 23-inches long so that it can penetrate down to the depths where the worst hairballs and clogs like to hide.
Green Gobbler Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover
BEST DRANO ALTERNATIVE
We like this 2-pack from Green Gobbler because in addition to busting up the usual kitchen sink and hair clogs, it can also be used on toilets and grease clogs. Like the best drain cleaners, it penetrates down deep to liquify grease clogs, hair, paper and other materials that are blocking your pipes. The bottles contain pre-measured amounts of drain cleaner so you know exactly how much to use. Finally, these drain cleaners are available now via Amazon Prime.
If your sink isn’t draining or is draining very slowly, one of the best ways to clear it is by using an old-fashioned plunger. While old-school plungers don’t always work on modern toilets, they work great on sinks and other drains (so long as they’re clean!) For obvious reasons, you don’t want to use the same plunger you use on your toilet in your kitchen sink. There’s the obvious sanitary element, but you might not have realized that there are actually plungers designed specifically for your sinks.
Sink plungers have a flat bottom, while toilet plungers have a flange. The shape is important, as using the right type of plunger helps create a firm seal.
Korky Beehive Mini Sink and Drain Plunger
The innovative shape of the Korky Beehive makes it one of the best toilet plungers, and they also make a small, flat-bottomed option ideal for sinks and drains. The T-handle shape makes it easy to grip, while the ridged beehive design creates effective suction.
HDX Force Cup Sink and Drain Plunger
This option from HDX has a traditional plunger look, and it’s made from wood with a rubber cup for a more durable product. The 19-inch handle gives you enough leverage when dealing with tough clogs.
DIY Drain Cleaning Solutions
Sometimes, the best drain cleaners for clogged sinks are already in your cupboards.
You’re undoubtedly aware that combining baking soda and vinegar is a way to make a volcano for a grade-school science project, but you might not have thought to use this combination beyond the classroom. Baking soda and vinegar can help clear mild clogs and stains, too. Simply sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, pour 1/2 cup of vinegar after, and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then, pour boiling water down your sink to help break up the debris. For clogged toilets, we recommend a similar approach, but swap out dish soap for the baking sod and vinegar.
Dish Soap + Boiling Water for Clogged Toilets
This is our go-to solution for clogged toilets when the plunger just isn’t working, and it works like a charm. Simply boil a pot of water and get some liquid dish soap. Once the water is finished boiling, let it cool slightly. Squirt a healthy amount of liquid dish soap down the drain, then slowly and carefully pour the hot water into the drain. Let this mixture rest for 10-20 minutes before trying the plunger again.
We swear by this home remedy for clogged drains, so give it a shot before calling in a plumber to help.
Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda
Got a lot of clogs to clear? Skip the cardboard boxes and get this large 3.5-pound bag of baking soda. It has a resealable top and opens wide enough to more easily scoop out the baking soda in a mess-free way.
Good & Gather White Distilled Vinegar
This gallon jug of vinegar is a great value buy if you’re using it for around-the-house jobs. A gallon might seem like a lot, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you go through it once you realize how many uses vinegar has for jobs other than breaking down clogs.
Harris 30% Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner
Vinegar is typically diluted down to 5 percent, but for a more concentrated solution, this option from Harris has 30% vinegar. The more powerful version is a good option for heavy-duty jobs, although you might want to dilute it yourself for some tasks.
Specialized Drain Cleaning Tools
There are some specialized tools that can help you clear out your drain, and there are many manual solutions that are cheap, safe to use, and require little skill or expertise. A great example is a snake, which inserts into the drain and is pulled back up to remove whatever is causing a blockage. It can be kind of gross to see what’s in there, but it’ll at least serve as a reminder to take care of your plumbing.
Vastar 19.6-Inch Drain Snake (3-Pack)
BEST FOR HAIR CLOGS
This 3-pack of drain snakes is available in either 19.6-inch or 25-inch models, and both are available now via Amazon Prime. Each snake has thorns on the side to help collect hair, gunk and other debris that has slipped down your drain, clearing away clogs so water can flow smoothly again. These drain snakes may not rival the tools used by plumbers, but they’re a handy solution for most clogs. Amazon customers have given these snakes more than 31,000 reviews, and they’ve earned the Amazon’s Choice rating. One of our favorite drain cleaners for clogged drains, this flexible snake might just be the low-cost solution you need.
Cobra Zip It Drain Opener
This plastic tool has sharp teeth that help you pull out clogged debris from inside your pipes. The thin size allows it to reach into pipes that are a minimum of 1/8″. It’s a simple (and cheap) tool, so you can easily have one for each drain in the house if you wanted to.
RIDGID PowerSpin Plus
Got a big clog to clear? Take it on with the RIDGID PowerSpin Plus, which is a manual tool that can be also be powered by your drill to quickly clear grease, hair, and other gnarly, hard-to-clear messes.
Green Gobbler Hair Grabber Drain Tool
This hair grabber tool comes in a set of five, and each has spiked barbs at the end to quickly extract hair and other kinds of clogs. Each tool is nearly two feet long, making it an effective way to reach deep and clear the toughest blockages. It’s designed to work for sinks, showers, and other drains.