drain cleaner

Does Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes?

Clogged pipes are an irritatingly frequent issue that many homeowners and business owners are bound to face. In the best-case scenario, they slow down how the water flows down the drains. 

But with many worse issues that can happen due to clogs, it’s no wonder why people turn to commercial drain cleaners. Some people wonder: if it’s so effective against clogs, is drain cleaner safe for pipes too?

This article will answer this question as well as provide a few alternatives that are guaranteed safe to use. We’ve even included a few ways that you can clean out any clogs without needing to grab that bottle of drain cleaner. 

If you’d rather hire a professional to deal with the issue instead, you can call our team at Clover Contracting for help whenever you need us.

Does Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes in My Home?

Regardless of what brand they are and whether they’re liquids, gels, or powder, many of the drain cleaners you can get from stores contain some strong chemicals. These chemicals can often classify drain cleaners into one of three types: caustic, oxidizing, and acid. Though all three of the chemicals in the cleaners work in different ways, the result is the same.

However, the answer to the question, “is drain cleaner bad for pipes?” is yes across all of them. Just like how the caustic, acidic and oxidizing chemicals eat away at the clog, they do the same to your pipes. It doesn’t matter what the material of the pipes are, the chemicals in the cleaners are strong enough to damage the pipe.

Are There Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners?

If you’re looking for a drain cleaner that’s safe for old pipes and new pipes, many of these products can be found with a little searching. Some drain cleaners that you can find online or in stores are often enzymatic – or just enzyme – drain cleaners, meaning they use bacteria and enzymes. The combination of the two allows any organic material to break down and get washed away. 

Since these drain cleaners don’t have the same chemical components as most cleaners do, they tend to be far safer for your plumbing too. The enzymes you put into the drain can last much longer, cleaning out the lingering food grease and hair that might still be deeper in the pipes. So, if you’d prefer a more eco-friendly option that doesn’t have the same chemicals as those other cleaners, try getting a bottle of enzymatic cleaner instead!

How to Clean Out Your Clogged Pipes Safely

Since the answer to “does drain cleaner damage PVC pipes?” is a resounding yes regardless of what chemical cleaner you use, the best and most reliable way to clean out a clogged drain quickly is to use tools or a few items from your pantry. These methods might take a bit of time or energy, but getting that clog out is often much more important.

Use Vinegar

When getting asked “is drain cleaner safe for pipes?”, many homeowners will find the answer is the same regardless of the chemical quantities. One great alternative, though, is vinegar.

Hot water and vinegar are an excellent combination for cleaning grease from your kitchen drain. Though ideal for metal pipes, the heat from the water will loosen the clog itself while the vinegar acts as a scouring agent to get rid of any soap or grease. However, do be aware that you might need a few attempts with this mixture to get more stubborn clogs to loosen. 

To use vinegar to remove the clog, start by pouring boiling water into the drain and letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, mix a cup of vinegar with a cup of hot water – or more as needed – before pouring the mixture into the drain too. Cover the drain with a plug and let the mixture work at the clog for another 15 minutes. Finally, take the plug out and rinse out the pipes with more hot water.

Use a Wire Hanger to Pull Out Clogs

If you’d rather avoid using vinegar, a wire hanger can work just as well. With how many stores now sell plastic hangers, your old wire hangers might be headed for the back of your closet or even the trash. Instead of just getting rid of them, try keeping a few around in case you need to clean out a clog. 

With a pair of pliers or your hands, unwind the entire hanger, making sure to adjust the hooked end so it fits into your drain. Once it’s a straight length of wire, feed the hook in through the pipes. 

Keep rotating it until it meets resistance without getting stuck on the plumbing. After giving the hanger a few more twists, pull the hook back out and clean off the end. If you repeat the process and there’s still resistance, keep trying until you’re sure the clog is out.

Grab Your Trusty Plunger

If all else fails and nothing seems to reach the clog, the last thing you can try is a plunger. Most of the time, these clogs are simply held together with grease or soap scum, so all that’s needed is to loosen it. Just make sure to remove the plug and fill the sink with an inch or two of water before pumping the plunger for 30 seconds to a minute.

How You Can Avoid Clogs in the Future

Though many people might ask “is drain cleaner safe for pipes?”, the answer is always a yes unless you use chemical-free cleaners. While you can use other drain cleaners, it’s important to avoid relying on them. Instead, here are a few tips that you can follow to stop using damaging chemicals.

  • Keep a drain strainer over the most used sinks and tubs to keep hair and other clogging elements out.
  • Flush your most problematic drains with hot water – not boiling – once every week to loosen the grease
  • If you find yourself questioning “does Liquid Plumber damage pipes?”, the answer is frequently yes. Avoid using these kinds of cleaners as much as possible unless you know for a fact that you won’t be getting the clog out yourself.


As with most cleaning products, drain cleaners can damage the pipes you use them on. However, you can still use them to get rid of stubborn clogs that are out of reach, as we mentioned. Many bottles of chemical drain cleaner have specific instructions to follow, and as long as they are abided by, your pipes will be safe. 

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