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Will Bleach Kill Tree Roots In A Sewer Line?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Clogged pipes are a common problem within many households, and several things could be contributing to these blockages.

Tissues, sanitary products, and hair are just some of the things that can build up within your pipes, but have you ever thought about tree roots?

If tree roots begin attacking your pipes, they can start to turn into a serious problem.

You’ll need to tackle this issue as soon as possible to avoid the roots growing too much.

There are many things people turn to to get rid of problematic tree roots, but one particularly popular solution is bleach.

But will bleach kill tree roots, or will you be wasting your time?

We’ll cover the answer in this article, including whether bleach can kill tree roots within pipes, other ways of eliminating tree roots, and why you should opt for other products instead of bleach. 

If you want to find the answer to whether bleach will kill tree roots inside sewer lines (see also ‘ 7 Awesome Tips For Sewer And Drainage Line Cleaning ‘), keep reading! 

Why Do Tree Roots Grow In Pipes?

Older pipes that were established in the 70s or the 80s are at a greater risk of becoming rotten.

If this occurs, little fractures and cracks will start growing, while the pipes themselves become insecure. 

Just one fracture can lead to tree roots growing through and attacking the entire piping system.

This is less likely in modern pipes, as they are fully intact and resist damage well.

Tree roots like to grow in pipes as they provide an optimum growing environment.

Will Bleach Kill Tree Roots in a Sewer Line?

Sewers are full of water and nutrients that are necessary for plants to grow.

Once the tree roots take place in the pipes, they will begin searching for more nourishment, growing longer and larger in the process.

Trees don’t have to be near a sewer line to become an issue. Trees further away will have thinner roots than ones that are closer.

The thinner the roots are, the easier it is for them to pass through small fissures in a sewer line.

We’ve covered why tree roots can become a severe problem, so now we can get into the different ways of killing tree roots in your pipes, including whether bleach is an effective solution

Does Bleach Work To Eliminate Tree Roots Inside Your Pipes? 

Bleach will kill a tree stump once applied to it. The same principle applies to tree roots, as bleach will kill these, but it won’t disintegrate them.

Bleach will only stop the roots from growing, it won’t eliminate them from your pipes.

You can kill the roots in the drain without killing the tree with the following solution.

First, fill a spray bottle with bleach. Cut the roots in the pipes, use a drill to make holes in them, then spray them with the solution.

The bleach will permeate the holes to dissolve the roots from the inside.

If the bleach solution isn’t diluted with water, bleach can start breaking down the roots in just 10 minutes.

This may sound appealing, but undiluted bleach has the risk of burning the actual tree.

If you still want to use bleach, use a blend of equal parts water and bleach instead of bleach straight out of the bottle.

Keep in mind that one application won’t do a lot. You’ll have to repeat the process a few times and use more of the product with each application. 

Why Is It Bad To Kill Tree Roots With Bleach?

Bleach may seem like an affordable way to destroy tree roots, but it does come with its disadvantages.

The bleach method has several downsides, which we’ll cover below.

Will Bleach Kill Tree Roots in a Sewer Line?

Needs To Be Applied More Than Once

Bleach isn’t likely to kill the roots on the first application. In most cases, you’ll need to apply the bleach a few times, which has the risk of killing the actual tree near the sewer line.

You also run the risk of killing grass and plants close to the area. 

May Harm Your Pipes

Bleach is very corrosive and can cause damage to the things it touches. If your pipes are metal, bleach can damage the layers and make the pipes weaker.

The corrosion can lead to more plumbing problems which can cost more money to fix later, so it’s best to stay away from bleach. 

Bleach Is Toxic

Bleach is dangerous and toxic to adults, children, and pets. Using bleach without skin, nose, and eye protection can lead to severe burns and respiratory health conditions.

Now you understand the risks of using bleach for killing tree roots, you may want to look for alternative solutions.

You can purchase professionally made tree root killers that are completely safe, or make your root-killing remedy right at home! 

Alternative Ways Of Killing Tree Roots Within A Sewer Line

Killing tree roots that have started attacking a sewer line can be tricky, but there are many methods you can attempt to do this.

Bleach is just one of these approaches, but copper sulfate and rock salt are just as effective too. 

You can attempt the solutions yourself below without contacting a plumber or a sewer line professional.

The methods below are also relatively affordable and effective at eliminating tree roots.

Rock salt, copper sulfate, and bleach also work to prevent tree roots from taking hold in the first place!

We’ll cover each of these methods in more detail below:

Rock Salt

Rock salt is one of the most effective methods of eliminating tree roots. Despite its power, take care, as rock salt is poisonous. 

Always wear protective gear, as wet rock salt can lead to skin burns. Always keep the salt away from pets and young children, as this can be toxic when inhaled or consumed. 

Will Bleach Kill Tree Roots in a Sewer Line?

Using this method runs the risk of killing the tree and other plants in the area, so be cautious while using this method. 

To carry out the rock salt method, begin by obtaining 2 pounds of rock salt. Place a quarter of the salt into your toilet, then flush it up to three times. 

After you finish flushing the toilet, pour the rest of the salt into the toilet. This should be all you need to kill the tree roots.

If you prefer, you can repeat the rock salt method after 2 weeks, as this will ensure all remaining tree roots have been eliminated from your pipes.

Copper Sulfate

This method works best when the tree roots in your pipes aren’t large. In this case, you can use copper sulfate to remove them. 

Keep in mind that copper sulfate can damage plastic and older ancient pipes.

It’s also not the best for a septic system, so check what type of system you have before using this method. 

To carry out this method, decant half a cup of the blue crystals into the toilet, then flush a few times. 

You can find copper sulfate online and at home improvement retailers. 


As mentioned above, bleach can kill tree roots, but it does come with its drawbacks.

If you do decide to use bleach, take care, as you can easily kill the original tree in the process.

Just like rock salt, bleach is a potent chemical that may solve the issue, but as it’s so corrosive, you may encounter more issues later.

The bleach method is best for tree roots that have already been cut. It also works well for killing tree stumps to prevent them from growing. 

Conclusion: WIll Bleach Work To Kill Tree Roots? 

Bleach is very strong, so it will work to destroy tree roots. However, its potency may lead to the whole root dying off after application, which isn’t the best idea. 

It’s best to use bleach only if the roots have been cut off before.

Rock salt and copper sulfate are also alternative methods that work well. These will kill the tree roots without harming the tree itself.

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases. When it comes to dealing with clogged drains, many homeowners turn