Choosing the Best Drain Cleaner for Kitchen, Bathroom and Other Drain Clogs

While homeowners may be tempted to grab any off-the-shelf drain cleaner (or a “homemade solution,” such as baking soda and vinegar) to clear a clogged drain, professionals have many more effective options to choose from. To open a clogged drain quickly and effectively, picking a cleaner capable of dissolving each clog’s unique collected matter is important.

Once you’ve arrived at the job site, determine whether the situation is an emergency (a complete blockage) or a drain that’s still slowly draining. Based on your findings, you can make an educated decision about what drain cleaner to choose.

Knowing the severity of the clog will tell you whether you need a fast-acting solution or one designed for maintenance. Hercules offers drain-cleaning products designed to eliminate a variety of different drain clogs.

Let’s look at different drain cleaning solutions to determine which suits particular clogs and fixtures.

Best drain cleaner for kitchen sinks.

The best liquid drain cleaner to clear a kitchen sink clog is Hercules Glug® Kitchen Liquid Drain Opener because it is specially formulated to dissolve clogs that contain grease and food particles. Safe for garbage disposals, it also uses a deodorizer designed to eliminate the smell of leftover food in a DWV (drain, waste, and vent) system.

Hercules Glug for Kitchen Sink

Another option is Hercules Glug® Crystals Drain Opener, which requires hot water and works quickly to clear sluggish drains and dissolve grease, hair, soap, food, and other organic material. Note: Glug® Crystals Drain Opener is not safe for use with disposals.

Hercules Glug is composed of thousands of little sodium hydroxide crystals, or flakes, that, because of their size, reach a higher maximum temperature faster, dissolving difficult clogs more quickly than other types of openers. The flakes attach to the blockage, attacking it throughout.

Many similar products use sodium hydroxide prill (little beads), which is denser with less surface area than the flakes. As a result, the prill does not attach to the clog as easily and, in fact, can pass through the clog without dissolving it.

Hercules Glug Crystals for Kitchen Sink

Flow improvers like Hercules® PT-BIO1™ are an ideal maintenance solution to keep kitchen drains clean without using acids, caustics, or harsh chemicals. This solution can be used to eliminate odors on surfaces or as a cleaner, degreaser, and emulsifier during mechanical snaking.

Best drain cleaner for bathroom drains.

The best bathroom drain cleaner is Hercules Glug® Bath Liquid Drain Opener. It works wonders on blockages common in bathrooms because it contains bleach to eradicate clogs containing hair and soap scum.

Application-specific, caustic, liquid drain openers like Glug® Bath Liquid Drain Opener clear sluggish drain lines and help prevent clogging. Its maximum strength, non-acidic formulation is poured through standing water to the clog and will begin working instantly. Glug® Bath Liquid Drain Opener will not harm plumbing fixtures and is safe for use on plastic pipe, porcelain, and all metal pipes (except aluminum).

Hercules Glug Liquid for Bathroom

Hercules Glug® Crystals Drain Opener also works great to clear bathroom drains. Hercules Glug® Crystals Drain Opener is the best drain cleaner for hair because it is formulated to quickly dissolve hair, soap, and also food and other organic material, as mentioned earlier.

Best drain cleaner for commercial /food service maintenance.

In commercial food service, the main enemy is grease. Commercial kitchens usually have grease traps with an inlet and outlet, plus one or two baffles within. When wastewater enters the trap, grease will solidify and rise to the surface, while the gray water will flow and rise to the clear side of the trap, exiting through the outlet.

A grease trap must be cleaned out regularly; otherwise, the grease will be pushed out the outlet side of the trap or back up into the inlet pipe. A grease backup will impede the flow rate, and the sanitary system will no longer be considered self-cleaning. As the flow slows, the grease buildup steadily worsens, eventually solidifying to create a solid blockage.

Flow improvers such as the fast-acting Hercules® PT-BIO1™ work well in commercial applications by dissolving grease more quickly and by eliminating drain-line buildup.  Its formula controls odors by digesting bacteria and biodegradable grease and soil removers.

Every commercial facility should have a sanitary sewer and grease trap maintenance program. Hercules® PT-BIO1™ is an ideal maintenance solution to keep drains clean without acids, caustics, or harsh chemicals. This product can be used to eliminate odors on surfaces or as a cleaner, degreaser, and emulsifier during mechanical snaking.

Hercules Grease PT4

The pine scented Hercules® PT-4™ is formulated to safely liquefy and disperse grease, soap scum, food residue, sludge and other waste build-up in all types of plastic or metal plumbing. It quickly cleans and deodorizes all parts of drainage systems.

Best drain cleaner for severe drain clogs.

Acids are very aggressive cleaners and are best used for the most severe emergency, waste-line stoppages. These drain cleaners are sold only through plumbing wholesalers to plumbing or maintenance professionals who understand the hazards acid cleaners present and the proper PPE and safety guidelines necessary when using this type of drain cleaner.

Hercules Sizzle®: Sizzle is a powerful remover that effectively removes scale, salts, mineralized deposits, slime, and corrosion to help clean the drain and prevent future clogs.

Hercules Sizzle

Hercules Clobber®: For the most extreme emergency, waste-line stoppages, Hercules Clobber® is the fastest and most effective method of cleaning the drain. It rapidly disintegrates paper, rags, food and all organic matter.

Note: Before using these acidic drain cleaners on metallic drain lines, Oatey recommends confirming that the integrity of lines is in good condition to help prevent pipe/joint damage during the cleaning process.

Best drain cleaner for septic systems care.

Septic system care is critical because replacing a failed system is costly. Bacteria helps make a septic system function properly, so a septic system is designed to keep bacteria busy working inside the tank or in the drain field. Bacteria breaks down the organic material (heavier solids) left behind in a septic tank and creates sludge that falls to the bottom.

A septic system needs occasional “pumping” to remove this sludge from the tank to avoid blockage and buildup. But once a system gets pumped out, all the bacteria that breaks down organic material is lost. In addition, many drain cleaners will kill beneficial bacteria in the tank.

Once a septic tank is emptied and wastewater starts draining into it, you usually must wait for the bacteria to begin to develop again. Hercules® Bacta-Life® contains a blend of specialized microbes, highly potent enzymes, micro-nutrients, and growth accelerators. Dispensed into a septic tank, it helps restore the good bacteria that was lost, so the system can work optimally again.

Hercules BactaLife

Regarding septic system maintenance, Hercules® Septic-Flow improves efficiency and keeps septic systems in peak condition.

To temporarily eliminate septic system backups and overflows, choose Hercules® Cesspool Cleaner.

Hercules® Aid-Ox for septic systems is formulated to maintain proper drainage and treat clogged and sluggish cesspools, seepage pits, drywell and drain fields.

Hercules Septic Flow

Best drain cleaner for main sewer line clogs caused by root growth.

In old clay sewer lines, drain sections were connected by inserting a non-bell (hub) end of the pipe into the hub of the next section and filling the gap with concrete. With time, the concrete deteriorates, leading roots to grow through the openings and start to expand, damaging the piping. The sanitary system will shut down if a sewer line has a large root blockage.

The best drain cleaner for root blockage is a root destroyer that will gradually clear sewer lines. Hercules® R-D™ Root Destroyer is a special, flake-like formula that prevents and stops root growth in external drain lines. Because this formula interacts with water, the drain line must be mechanically opened (snaked) to allow for water flow if it is completely blocked. Once the line is open, the service tech can apply Root Destroyer at or near the root clog’s location. Adding a treatment before bedtime will allow the Root Destroyer to work overnight without being flushed out too soon.

Hercules Root Destroyer

Hercules® R-D™ Root Destroyer uses a non-acidic, non-caustic herbicide formula that is safe for pipes leading to septic tanks, cesspools, and drywells.

Let’s wrap up with a few final pointers:

  • To choose the right drain cleaner for your application, first determine if it is a slow drain or a blocked drain. 
  • Also, determine the matter creating the slow or fully blocked drain.
  • Always confirm drain-line integrity to help prevent pipe or joint damage during the cleaning process. 
  • Practice proper safety habits when cleaning any drain by protecting yourself and the finishes around the drain opening. Eye protection, proper ventilation, and protective gloves are always recommended.

For quick reference, check out the product guide below to help you choose the right product for your job.

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