A clogged toilet is everybody’s worst nightmare and everyone wants to find a quick and easy solution so they don’t get caught out without a functioning toilet in their home.
A clogged toilet can strike at any time, so maybe it’s best if you find a solution that you can keep close at hand so you can grab it whenever your toilet clogs itself.
Because of this, we are often on the prowl of a new effective way to unclog our toilets (see also ‘The Best Way To Unclog A Toilet When Nothing Works‘) with minimal effort and mess.
Plungers are great but they involve so much mess and require you to get up close and personal with the contents of your toilet bowl.
Pouring a liquid clog unblocker is a much better way to unclog your toilet – so, what liquids can you use and which ones are the best?
Here we are going to be taking a look at how you can unblock your toilets using different liquids and which ones to avoid.
We will also be paying close attention to Drano, a popular brand of drain cleaner that may not be as great as you think.
So, if you want to find out the best liquids to use to unclog your toilet, then this is the place for you.
Check out the information below so you know what to pick up next time you visit the grocery store.
What Causes Clogged Toilets?
Clogged toilets are just the worst and one of the reasons why we all are so worried about them is because they can literally happen at any time.
One minute, you’re just going about your business and the next – your only toilet is non-functional!
However, there is more than one reason behind a clogged toilet and while some of the liquids in this article are great for unclogging some blockages, there are other potential causes that will need a different (and sometimes more costly) solution.
There are four main causes of clogged toilets including hard water, foreign objects, worn pipes and too much toilet paper. Some of these causes are easier to fix than others.
Using too much toilet paper when you’ve gone to the toilet is one of the easiest because toilet paper is very easy to break up and wear down any build ups.
Sometimes, all you need to do is give it another flush – or just whip up some of the liquid solutions we will recommend later on.
Using hard water in your toilet can also cause mineral build ups in your pipes, where they calcify and form a hard white substance that needs to be dissolved and worn away.
This is where most liquid toilet uncloggers come in as they contain the right chemicals needed to break down this kind of substance.
The same goes for foreign objects. Sometimes, we accidentally flush things down the toilet that definitely don’t belong there (feminine hygiene products and baby wipes are the worst offenders) so using a strong liquid will help dissolve these products to flush them away and unclog your toilet.
As for worn pipes – that’s something you will probably need a plumber in to fix and no amount of liquid will magically heal your pipes.
Pipes can wear down over time and form cracks or breakages, but other factors including drastic temperature changes or corrosion can speed up these issues.
So, it’s important to remember that the liquids below may not be the ideal solution to your clogged toilet problem because there are actually multiple reasons for a clogged toilet.
However, they can definitely help with some so it’s worth checking them out and giving them a go to see if they work!
Can Drano Unclog Toilets?
Drano is a common drain cleaning product that is designed to help clear blockages in pipes and drains around your household. However, over the years, more and more concerns have been raised around using Drano due to a range of issues.
So, it’s understandable if you are feeling a bit confused about whether you should use Drano to unclog your pipes, yet alone your toilet.
So, let’s take a look at the reasons why you should seriously reconsider using Drano around your home.
It’s important to remember that these concerns have also been raised by professional plumbers, so there is good evidence and expertise behind the reasons why you should avoid using Drano (see also ‘ Will Drano Unclog A Dishwasher? ‘).
What Is Drano?
As we said earlier, Drano is a popular drain cleaning product sold in the US.
It is lye-based which means that you can use it to unclog drains even when standing water is blocking the way because lye doesn’t float. It also contains other active ingredients including caustic and bleach, which emits heat when reactive.
These ingredients make Drano a very powerful and effective drain unblocker but it also comes with plenty of disadvantages which makes it an enemy to plumbers across the states.
So, what’s so bad about Drano that so many people would recommend you don’t use it at all?
It Breaks Your Toilet
This is the number one reason why you definitely should not use Drano for unclogging your toilet.
While you might be tempted because it’s so effective and the lye will sink to the bottom of the water, Drano is actually very damaging to your toilets and the pipes.
This is because of the heat emitted when the bleach and caustic react and begin breaking down the clog.
The heat will then soften the PVC pipes, deforming them and even weaken metallic pipes by dissolving the material and increase the risk of splits.
This means that using Drano to unclog your toilets can lead to more serious damage including breaks, cracks, leaks and splits.
It’s Super Corrosive For Drains and Pipes
Drano contains a lot of strong ingredients but unfortunately, while they are great and break down blockages, they are also super corrosive.
As Drano works to unclog your drain or toilet, it will sit on top of the blockage and react with the material in your pipes as well.
While this can lean to breakages as mentioned above, it can also cause corrosion and rust. This means you eat up dissolving your pipes and perhaps create more blockages due to rust.
This disadvantage also applies to drains as well as toilet pipes, which is why plumbers would recommend not using Drano at all rather than just for your sinks or outdoor drains.
It’s Bad For The Environment
It’s possible to find other drain unblocking liquids that are a lot more eco-friendly than Drano.
This is because Drano is an irritant and toxic so once it goes through your plumbing system and enters the sewers, it will be exposed to all kinds of wildlife including plants and animals.
Drano can then contaminate any local water sources and natural water features, killing local plants and animals through consumption.
This means that Drano is super toxic and it should not be used because it can cause serious damage to your local wildlife.
So, Avoid the Drano
Clearly, there are many important disadvantages to using Drano in your home. Not only is it bad for the environment, but it can also spell disaster for your pipes.
This is because the ingredients used in Drano are so strong that while they work great for unclogging blocked drains, they also cause serious damage to both metallic and PVC pipes.
For this reason, it’s important that you never try to use Drano to unblock your clogged toilet. Instead, check out the alternatives we recommend below!
What Liquids To Use To Unclog Your Toilet
So, you definitely should not use Drano to unclog your toilet – but what can you use instead? Here are some example liquids you can use as a great alternative to Drano that will unclog your toilet without damaging the pipes.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
This mixture is a great option to use whenever you are caught without any liquids that are specifically designed for unclogging drains and toilets, because most people have these ingredients already in their kitchen cabinets.
All you need to do is heat up a gallon of hot water (not boiling) and add in a cup of baking soda. It’s important to remember not to use boiling water as this amount of heat can crack and damage your toilet.
Then, add in a cup of white vinegar and pour it down the toilet bowl. The soda will help unclog any grease and the hot water will soften any toilet paper or foreign objects.
Although this solution is not as tough as some professionally made chemical toilet unblockers, it’s a great option to use if you’re caught shorthanded and it will definitely help ease the block.
If you don’t have baking soda or white vinegar in your kitchen cabinets, then try using a cup of dish soap instead.
Remember to wait for around 30 minutes because this method is a little slow.
Bleach and Powdered Soap
If you want to try out this mixture, then be careful – bleach is an irritant and when pouring it into your toilet bowl, you can experience a bit of backlash.
Despite this, bleach is great for breaking down clogs and cleaning away any build of minerals in your toilet’s pipes.
To try this method out, you will need to add two cups of bleach to your toilet bowl (remember to go slow) then add a cup of soap and a gallon of hot (not boiling) water.
After about 10 minutes, your clog should begin to move and the water in your toilet goes down.
This method is a lot faster than the previous one so it’s definitely worth a shot if you have the ingredients around your home already. This way, you can quickly fix your blockage!
Bio Enzymatic Liquid
The reason why Drano is so bad for your drains and pipes is because it contains so many powerful chemicals and ingredients.
A much more kinder alternative that is still very effective at unblocking clogged toilets is some kind of bio enzymatic liquid drain cleaner and clog remover.
You can easily find these online or at your local store, just make sure that it is a bio-enzymatic liquid.
The reason why bio-enzymatic liquids are such a great alternative to Drano is because they’re friendly for the environment and the lack of harsh chemicals means that it will not damage your toilet’s pipes.
So, if you have mineral build up or toilet paper clogging up your toilet, then a bio-enzymatic liquid is the perfect solution to your problem.
Chemical Toilet Unblockers
Unfortunately, sometimes you need those strong chemicals to try and break down tougher foreign objects like feminie hygiene products or baby wipes.
While toilet paper is easy to break down and minerals easy to dissolve, tougher products need tougher chemicals to help ease them down to the sewers.
Luckily, there are still some great alternatives to Drano that can unclog toilets without causing such massive damage to your toilets and its pipes.
A great brand to use is Green Gobbler Drain Clog Remover.
This industrial strength drain unblocker is non corrosive as it does not contain any sodium hydroxide or bleach, meaning that it still works at dissolving sipes, toilet paper and more foreign objects that could be clogging your toilet but without damaging your pipes.
This means that you can use Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver for both PVC, copper, steel and iron pipes safely. It’s also biodegradable so it’s not harmful to the environment.
This makes Green Gobbler Drain Clog Remover a great alternative to Drano. It fixes all the faults and yet it still does a great job.
Ask A Plumber Q&A
Good morning everyone, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Could you please introduce yourselves?
Plumber 1 (Jack): Sure. I’m Jack, been a professional plumber for 15 years now.
Plumber 2 (Megan): And I’m Megan, I’ve been working in plumbing for a decade.
Interviewer: Great, let’s start with a common problem – a completely clogged toilet. What are the most effective ways to unclog it?
Jack: If the toilet is just slow running, not completely clogged, a flange plunger can often do the trick. However, for more severe clogs, we use tools like a toilet auger or a trained snake. These are designed specifically to navigate the bends of the toilet trap and reach the clog directly.
Megan: Sometimes, chemical drain cleaners like Drano are used. They can be effective against organic matter, such as soap scum or human waste. However, we usually recommend using them as a last resort.
Interviewer: Why is that? Many people think about putting Drano in their toilet right away when they have a clog.
Jack: The problem is that Drano and other similar products generate heat. This heat can soften PVC pipes and even corrode older, metal pipes. This could potentially turn a simple clog into a much bigger issue.
Megan: Also, Drano, being a caustic or oxidizing chemical, can cause a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with certain materials. This can lead to the release of toxic fumes, which can cause difficulty breathing or other health issues.
Interviewer: That’s certainly concerning. Are these issues only related to toilets, or can these chemicals also affect kitchen sinks and other drains?
Megan: They can absolutely affect other drains. Whether it’s a toilet drain, kitchen sink, or bathroom sink drain, these are all susceptible to damage from caustic or oxidizing chemicals.
Jack: And remember, using too much chemical cleaner, especially in completely clogged toilets or sink clogs, can cause water overflow. It’s always best to start with a plunger or toilet snake, and if that doesn’t work, call a professional plumber.
Interviewer: Speaking of, what do you do differently when a toilet is so clogged that home remedies just won’t cut it?
Jack: If we’re called in, it means the clog is likely in the sewer line, or it’s a very stubborn clog. At that point, we bring out the bigger tools – professional grade augers, drain snakes, or even a hydro jet to remove clogs.
Megan: We’re also trained to handle any chemical reactions that might occur, and we have the necessary equipment to deal with it safely. For instance, if someone has already put Drano or a similar product in their toilet, we know how to avoid flushing and creating toxic fumes.
Interviewer: That’s really good to know. Before we wrap up, what advice would you give to homeowners dealing with clogged drains?
Jack: Try to prevent clogs in the first place. Avoid flushing anything down the toilet that’s not human waste or toilet paper, and in the kitchen sink, avoid washing down large pieces of food or grease.
Megan: And if you do have a clog, try to clear it with a plunger or toilet snake first. If that doesn’t work, rather than reach for a Drano product, it might be time to call in a professional plumber.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Speaking about Drano, or similar chemical drain cleaners, do these products always work in unclogging a toilet?
Megan: While products like Drano can be effective in clearing certain types of clogs, they aren’t a magic bullet for every clog. For example, if you have a slow running toilet, a chemical drain cleaner might not be effective. They work by generating heat through an oxidizing chemical reaction, which can break down organic matter, but they’re less effective on inorganic materials.
Jack: Exactly. In cases where the toilet is only draining slowly, the chemical cleaner might just pass through without reaching the clog, which means the clog remains. And on the other side of the spectrum, if you have a completely blocked drain, the water flow stops and the product might just sit in the toilet without reaching the clog.
Interviewer: I see. And what if Drano, or any other chemical drain cleaner, is used in corroded pipes?
Megan: That’s a risky situation. If you have older, corroded pipes and you put Drano or similar products in your toilet, the heat generated by the chemical reaction can further damage the pipes. In worst case scenarios, the pipes might even burst, leading to a far more serious problem.
Jack: Additionally, these products can create toxic fumes when they react with certain materials. If your bathroom isn’t well ventilated, this can lead to a hazardous situation.
Interviewer: And what about sink drains?
Megan: The same principles apply. If the sink drain is completely blocked, the chemical cleaner might not reach the clog. If it’s slow running, the cleaner might just pass through without doing much. A drain snake is often a more reliable solution for sink drains.
Jack: Right, it’s all about knowing what tools to use for what situation. For slow running toilets, sink drains, or toilet drains, mechanical tools like a toilet snake or a plunger can be more effective without the risk of damaging the pipes or creating toxic fumes.
Interviewer: That’s certainly helpful information. Thank you again, Jack and Megan, for shedding light on how to deal with these common, yet frustrating, plumbing issues.
Interviewer: Shifting gears a bit, are there any DIY solutions that you recommend for a clogged toilet or sink drains, before resorting to a chemical drain cleaner?
Megan: Absolutely. One simple method for a clogged toilet is to use hot water and dish soap. The heat and the soap can help to break down some clogs, especially if they’re composed of toilet paper or other organic matter.
Jack: Right. Another technique is to use baking soda and vinegar. The reaction between these two can sometimes dislodge clogs in toilets and drains, and it’s much less harsh on the pipes.
Interviewer: Very interesting. If those don’t work, when is it time to use a tool like a toilet snake or a toilet auger?
Megan: If the clog is stubborn and can’t be cleared with hot water, soap, or baking soda and vinegar, then it might be time to use a more aggressive method. A toilet snake or a toilet auger is designed to reach clogs that are stuck deeper in the drain or the sewer line.
Jack: And they’re much safer for your plumbing system than chemical drain cleaners. They physically dislodge the clog without generating heat or causing any chemical reactions that could damage your pipes.
Interviewer: But I have heard people still prefer using Drano or a similar product to unclog their toilet. Why do you think this is?
Megan: I think it’s because these products are marketed as a quick and easy solution. However, as we’ve discussed, they can potentially cause serious damage to your pipes and create toxic fumes. They might work in some cases, but they aren’t a universal solution for all clogs.
Jack: That’s correct. And remember, if you’re not comfortable handling a tool like a toilet snake or a toilet auger, or if these methods aren’t working, it’s always better to call a professional plumber. We can make sure the clog is removed without causing any damage to your plumbing system.
Interviewer: And if I understand correctly, the golden rule is to avoid flushing anything down the toilet or the sink that could cause a clog in the first place?
Megan: That’s right. Toilet paper is designed to break down in water, but other items are not. Try to avoid flushing things like wipes, feminine hygiene products, or large amounts of paper towels. These can easily cause clogs in toilets, drains, and even the main sewer line.
Jack: And in sinks, try to avoid washing down large amounts of grease or food particles. These can build up over time and cause clogs.
Interviewer: Excellent advice. Thank you both for this insightful conversation.
So, there’s more than a solution to the dreaded clogged toilet issue that we all will probably face at some point in our lives.
You don’t have to get your hands dirty with a plunger or use a product like Drano that can only make the situation worse. Instead, you can try out one of the many options above.
You can whip up a solution using a few things from your kitchen or stock up on a biodegradable, non-harmful drain clog remover like Green Gobbler or a bio-enzymatic liquid that is perfectly safe for your toilet.
So, pick out one of the methods above and stock up your cabinets so when your toilet inevitably becomes clogged, you can swiftly and easily unblock it in no time!