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Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe? A Plumber’s Opinion

Chemical drain cleaners are common in most households. However, they can cause damage to pipes or those living in the home. Therefore, it is imperative to keep a drain clean, and there are safe ways to do so. Read on if you are looking to learn more about chemical drain cleaners and what alternatives are available. 

click to learn about whether or not chemical drain cleaners are safe.

Types of Chemical Drain Cleaners

There are several different types of chemical drain cleaners that are used for different clogs and cleaning jobs. 

Acidic Cleaners

Acidic cleaners use acid to break down clogs. Usually composed of sulfuric acid or muriatic acid, these cleaners sometimes need to be used several times before a clog is entirely resolved. Acidic cleaners are primarily used for clogs caused by hair. 

Oxidizing Cleaners

Oxidizing cleaners are slightly less harsh than acidic cleaners but may not be as effective when cleaning a drain and getting rid of a severe clog. Oxidizing cleaners are usually composed of bleach, peroxide, or nitrates which can take a significant amount of time to break down debris in a drain. Therefore, these are best suited for easy-to-break down materials like food. 

Caustic Cleaners

Caustic cleaners have a much higher pH than acidic cleaners and are typically made of lye or potash. Caustic cleaners are best suited for grease clogs and are similar to acidic cleaners in breaking down drain material. 

What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?

Chemical drain cleaners are commonly used in many homes. They are heavier than water, allowing them to sink through standing water to reach a clog. The substances that compose drain cleaners can decompose organic matter such as grease and hair. However, they can pose health risks and risks to pipes, if used multiple times in a row. 

How do Chemical Drain Cleaners Work? 

Chemical drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction between themselves and what is causing the clog to dissolve and move it out of the way. However, chemical reactions can be unpredictable and often have unexpected outcomes. For example, one way that chemical drain cleaners work is by creating heat to turn the grease into a liquid so that it is no longer causing an obstruction. If the grease does not want to liquefy, the heat-creating reaction can continue lingering in the same spot for quite some time, trying to move the clog along. Heat for a prolonged period can then wreak additional havoc on your pipes, leaving you with a bigger problem than before. 

If the chemical drain cleaner works and the clog is removed, that does not mean that the chemicals are no longer in your system. If the chemical drain cleaner leaves a trace, and then you mix in a different chemical later on, the combination of the chemicals mixing can create a hazardous risk for your plumbing and for yourself. Avoid further issues, and next time you have a clog, if one of the natural remedies we discuss later on doesn’t work, give Goodbee Plumbing a buzz!

Why It is Important to Clean Drains

While cleaning drains is not everyone’s favorite task, it is essential to keep drains clean for various reasons. Clogs can cause water to stay in one place in a pipe for an extended period, causing leaks. Keeping the water in your pipes free-flowing will make leaks less likely. Additionally, not cleaning your drains can cause hair and other debris to build up in your pipes, attracting drain flies. Drain flies are small flies attracted to organic material that can sit in drain clogs. They can also crawl through the drain and infest a bathroom. Keeping a drain clean will ensure drain flies are less likely to inhabit your drains and bathroom. 

A clogged drain will also cause unpleasant odors in a home due to rotting material. The odor is unpleasant, but the rotting material can cause health problems to individuals living in the home. Debris stuck in a drain can also cause the water in a house to become contaminated, causing further health issues. In the same way that leaving rotting food out in a kitchen can cause health issues, a clogged drain can do the same. In addition, these clogs can cause unpleasant odors, causing further disruption to a household. Keeping a drain clean will ensure that there is no rotting material causing problems to those in the home. 

Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe?

Chemical drain cleaners may be a common household item, but are they safe? Unfortunately, there can be many risks to using chemical drain cleaners.


Chemical drain cleaners can sometimes eat away at metal pipes. Using the substance once to break down a clog is usually safe. However, using a drain cleaner multiple times can slowly begin to break down a pipe. Most pipes cannot withstand several uses of a drain cleaner due to their chemicals. It is best to use a non-corrosive alternative or hire a professional. 

Another concern with chemical drain cleaners that most people overlook is that they can conceal a larger problem in your plumbing system. The chemical drain cleaners can hide the fact that you might have a more widespread issue. For example, if you have a kitchen sink that is consistently clogged, you might think it’s an issue with the disposal and use a chemical drain cleaner. However, clogs are linked to backed-up sewer lines or broken pipes, so if you just use a drain cleaner rather than calling a professional, you are not only ignoring the problem but could be making it worse. 

Lastly, chemical drain cleaners also kill the natural bacteria found in your septic tank, which is essential to break down waste. If you are frequently using drain cleaners to fix a clog, you are lowering the effectiveness of your septic tank, which will cost more in the long run to replace. Don’t cover up the problem with a chemical drain cleaner; instead, call the team at Goodbee Plumbing, and we’ll locate and correct the problem as soon as possible.


With any chemical cleaner, there is always a health risk. Chemical drain cleaners can produce harmful fumes that can cause burns to the skin, eyes, and inner lining of the respiratory system. They can cause severe burns if they come into contact with skin. It is advised to use gloves, masks, and protective eye gear when handling chemical drain cleaners.

If you have children or pets and use chemical drain cleaners, it’s important to keep them out of reach, so they are not accidentally ingested. Having drain cleaners with chemicals in your home requires more care than hiring a professional like the team at Goodbee Plumbing to fix any issues your plumbing system may have. 


In addition to potentially causing more damage to your drains and being a health risk, chemical drain cleaners are also bad for the environment. Many drain cleaners are harmful to aquatic life since chemicals can end up in the water supply, and the bottles with reside end up in a landfill. Other methods, such as hydro-jetting or using natural ingredients, are much safer. All-natural methods include creating a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or using boiling water. To learn how to naturally unclog a drain, check out our blog on the topic.

Alternatives with Goodbee Plumbing

Goodbee Plumbing offers several alternatives to using chemical drain cleaners to keep your drains clean. We offer a variety of products, one being Total-C. Total-C is a 100% biodegradable, non-hazardous, and non-corrosive drain cleaning. It is environmentally safe and something that our customers can use on their own. Using a drain cleaner that is non-hazardous will eliminate the health and safety risks that can come with using chemical drain cleaners. Contact us today to learn more about the products we offer to make your life easier. 

Sometimes, a clog may be too much to handle on your own. In this situation, it is best to call a professional. Drains are a frequently used plumbing system component and will eventually require professional cleaning at some point. There are several signs that it may be time for your drains to have a professional cleaning. If your drains have frequent or recurring clogs, it is usually time to have a professional take a look. Frequent clogs can be a sign of a problem that a professional will be able to detect. If your drain is slow to empty and takes much longer than usual for your sink or shower to drain, there may be extensive build-up. Issues like these can cause damage to your pipes and should undergo a plumbers evaluation. If your drains are emitting odors, it could be time for a professional cleaning. A professional can clean your drain much more than a drain cleaner will. Finally, if your pipes make strange noises when you use your drain, this is a sign of a much more significant problem that will need to be addressed by a professional plumber. These can lead to severe issues that will be much more difficult to fix if not tended to immediately. 

Contact Goodbee Plumbing

Goodbee Plumbing can take care of all drain and plumbing problems you may have. We offer our services in Covington, New Orleans, Slidell, and the surrounding areas. Our services range from drain cleaning to sewer services to water treatment. Contact us today to schedule a service with one of our experienced professionals. 

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