If you have ever dealt with a clog in your kitchen sink or bathtub, you likely reached for the Drano first thing. Drano has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It dissolves all manner of clogs in a simple and effective way, almost as if it were magic.
While Drano is great for dissolving clogs in kitchen and bathroom drains, it isn’t an ideal choice for clearing toilets.
In the information that follows, I will give you several reasons why this product isn’t the right choice for a toilet clog, as well as some suggestions for how to clear toilet clogs safely and effectively without the aid of caustic products like Drano.
- What is Drano
- 6 Reasons to Avoid Using Drano In Toilets
- What If You’ve Already Poured Drano Into the Toilet
- Safe Ways To Unblock A Clogged Toilet
What is Drano
Drano is a clog-busting product with chemical ingredients that dissolve all kinds of materials much the same way lye does. The product originally came in a crystal powder form, but these days, you can find it in powder, gel, and liquid formulations.
Drano works to clear clogs by creating a chemical reaction that eats away at the organic material. It is a slow process, but when used correctly, it is very effective at getting things moving again.
6 Reasons to Avoid Using Drano In Toilets
As effective as Drano is at clearing clogs in sinks and bathtubs, it should never be used to clear a toilet clog. Toilet drains are very different when compared to sink or tub drains, making it difficult for Drano to even reach the clog.
Drano is also a caustic substance that can have a chemical reaction and lead to structural damage to the ceramics and waste pipes. Before you pour Drano down your toilet, here are 6 reasons to avoid it.
1. Drano Is Designed For Sinks and Bathtubs
Drano was created to unclog kitchen and bathroom drains. The trap design of the toilet makes it nearly impossible for Drano products to reach clogs in toilet plumbing, which means it will likely be ineffective at clearing a clogged toilet anyway.
With this said, there is one Drano product, Drano Max Buildup Remover, that can help restore water flow in a slow-running toilet. This particular product has microorganisms that eat away at the toilet paper and other organic matter to keep your toilet running as it should. It won’t, however, clear a completely blocked toilet.
2. Chemical Reaction Heat Can Crack Porcelain
As Drano works to clear a clog, the chemical reaction generates heat. In kitchen or bathroom pipes, this heat isn’t a problem, but in a toilet, it can get hot enough to crack the porcelain. If this happens, the only solution is to replace the toilet itself.
3. Oxidization Can Soften PVC Pipes
In addition to potentially cracking the porcelain, the heat generated by Drano’s chemical reaction can also soften plastic PVC pipes, leaving them vulnerable to cracking and collapsing later on.
4. Damage Old Corroded Pipes
If yours is an older home, it likely has old, corroded pipes. You must take care when dealing with these pipes as they are susceptible to damage if the wrong chemicals or tools are used to unclog them. Using Drano in the toilet can potentially damage older pipes by dislodging rust and other debris, which can cause major blockages and leaks down the line.
5. Caustic if It Comes Into Contact with Skin
Drano is a powerful chemical. Just as it dissolves clogs, it can cause burns on the skin. Let’s say you pour Drano down the toilet, but it doesn’t work to clear the clog. You then decide to use a plunger to try to clear it. As you plunge, some water splashes up onto your skin, or possibly in your eyes. The likelihood that there is Drano in the splashes is good, and you could end up with serious burns.
6. Harmful to the Environment
Drano and other cleaning agents like it have the potential to be harmful to the environment. They travel from your home’s plumbing into the sewer system and out to rivers, lakes, and oceans. They can leach into the soil, causing problems for plants and animals alike. For this reason alone, you should never put Drano down the toilet, or any drain for that matter.
What If You’ve Already Poured Drano Into the Toilet
So far, we have only talked about why you shouldn’t use Drano in the toilet, but what happens if you have already poured the cleaner down your toilet and it hasn’t worked?
First thing – resist the urge to plunge into the toilet. Plunging creates splashing, which is exactly what you don’t want to do (see #5 above).
Second, head to your local home improvement store and purchase a toilet auger if you don’t have one. They are relatively inexpensive and are the safest way to deal with a stubborn toilet clog.
Lastly, put on some rubber gloves and eye protection and use the drain auger to gently coax the clog along. Try to avoid splashing as much as you can. Flush the toilet several times to clear the trap of Drano.
Safe Ways To Unblock A Clogged Toilet
Now that you know that Drano is not a good choice for clearing toilet clogs, let’s take a look at some of the safest ways to clear the clog.
1. Try Warm water and Liquid Dish Soap
Sometimes, all a blockage needs is a little lubrication to help it along its way. This method works well and is safe for you and the environment.
First, pour a half-cup or so of dish soap into the toilet bowl. Follow it up with a pot of boiling water. Let the combo sit for a few minutes. If the clog doesn’t clear on its own, you can try using a plunger to help it along.
2. Use a Toilet Plunger
Everyone has used a toilet plunger at some point, but are you using the right kind of plunger for the job? To easily unclog a toilet using a plunger, you need a flange plunger. This plunger is shaped like a bell and is designed specifically for plunging a toilet.
If you are using a flat plunger, it may not be creating sufficient suction power as this type of plunger is made to clear clogs in sinks or bathtubs with flat surfaces.
3. Try Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and vinegar is an effective drain cleaner that may work to clear a toilet clog. The combination creates a foaming action that can dissolve minor blockages.
Turn the water off to the toilet and flush it to drain as much water from the bowl as possible. Pour equal parts baking soda and vinegar down the toilet and allow it to sit for several minutes. Turn the water back on, allow the toilet to fill, and then flush. Again, if the clog remains, try plunging it to help it along. The baking soda/vinegar concoction likely weakened the clog, so it plunges easily.
4. Use Plumber’s Snake
Finally, stubborn toilet clogs sometimes need a stronger hand. A plumber’s snake will usually dislodge most clogs with ease. Unfortunately, though, these drain snakes only reach so far, so if the clog is beyond its reach, they will be ineffective.
To use a toilet snake, simply insert the end of it into the drain and gently guide it down. When you feel resistance, you have reached the blockage. Gently twist the snake to dislodge the clog and slowly bring it back out. You may need to repeat these steps to fully clear the clog.
Drano is an effective drain cleaner for kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, and bathtubs, but it is not recommended for use in clearing toilet clogs. The product can cause damage to the porcelain and plastic pipes, and it may even cause injury if it comes in contact with your skin.
If your toilet has a stubborn clog, avoid the instinct to reach for the Drano and try one of the other safer methods for clearing the blockage I’ve outlined above.
As a retired Master Plumber Jamie has over 30 years of hands-on experience, making his plumbing knowledge second to none. He has also worked on both residential and commercial HVAC installation and repair projects.