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Does Drano Work? How Does Drano Work? An In-Depth Review

If you have a clogged drain, you might be wondering:

Does Drano work? How does it work? Will it damage my pipes?

In this review of Drano clog removers, I answer all of these questions and more.

You’ll learn:

  • The type of clogs Drano can and cannot handle
  • How Drano works
  • How to use Drano to get the most out of it
  • And much more

So, before you spend hundreds of dollars on a plumber, read this review to learn whether Drano is the right product for your clog. 

Use the links below to navigate the review:

Does Drano Really Work?

If you have a severe clog and need a quick, inexpensive solution, you’re probably wondering:

Does Drano work?

The short answer is yes. Drano is highly effective at clearing clogs due to soap scum buildup, hair, grease, and other soft matter. It clears most clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks, garbage disposals, and shower drains within 30 minutes. Drano doesn’t work on toilet clogs, but Drano Max Build-Up Remover can help prevent them.

I’ve personally performed several tests in different clog situations and experienced exceptional results when using Drano. I even tested Liquid-Plumr vs. Drano head-to-head, and Drano came out on top.

Liquid Plumr versus Drano_which works best

Drano is a reliable product with an excellent track record. The brand launched in 1923 and was originally a crystal form created by the Drackett Company.

By 1969, the liquid Drano — the version we recognize today — hit the market.  Since then, it’s been used in millions of households and boasts hundreds of positive reviews on marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.com.

Drano became a member of the SC Johnson family of products in the ’90s. SC Johnson is a respected, top manufacturer of cleaning supplies and lifestyle brands in the United States, and Drano remains one of its most popular brands.

Drano is often recognized as the top DIY drain cleaning brand. Here are a few accolades to its credit:

Good Housekeeping named Drano Max Gel Clog Remover as the Best Overall Drain Cleaner in 2020, calling out its ability to cut through standing water and dissolve various clogs.

The Spruce chose Drano Max Gel Clog Remover as the Best Overall of The Best 8 Drain Cleaners of 2020, noting its heavy-duty cleaning action, eliminating buildup in pipes.

Chicago Tribune’s Best Reviews chose Drano Max Gel Clog Remover as one of its top five picks for Best Drain Cleaners. The reviewers were most impressed with its ability to work effectively in standing water.

BobVila.com labels Drano Max Gel Clog Remover as the Best Bang for the Buck when it comes to tough hair clogs.

Bottom line — Drano works, but it’s not a silver bullet. Some clogs may require additional products or even professional help.

How Does Drano Work?

There are three types of drain cleaners: enzymatic, caustic, and acidic.

Enzymatic is a “green choice” because it uses bacteria that produce enzymes to “eat” the clog. Green Gobbler is the best-selling enzymatic drain cleaner (read my review).

Caustic or acidic drain cleaners use harsh elements, such as sodium hydroxide or acid, to break down a clog.

Drano is not acidic. It’s considered a caustic drain cleaner because it contains chemicals like lye and sodium hydroxide.

Products that use hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid are considered acidic, but these drain cleaners are less prevalent.

Drano works by delivering its special blend of sodium hydroxide, sodium metasilicate, and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) to the clog. These ingredients create heat that helps break down the clog to the point where it can no longer hold onto the pipe’s sides.

Unlike most Drano products, Drano Dual-Force Foamer also contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a foaming agent. With this product, the foam fills the pipe, clears the walls, and destroys the clog. 

Drano Drain Cleaner
Drano Dual Force Drain Cleaner

It’s important to flush your pipes with hot water after the clog is cleared. Doing so pushes the clogging elements further out and prevents new clogs from forming farther down the pipe.

Does Drano work on all clogs or just specific clog scenarios? I’ll explore this question next.

What Type of Clogs Does Drano Clear?

Not all clogs are created equal.

In some situations, Drano is a useful product. But, in others, it’s not.

Drano can easily handle clogs due to soap scum buildup, hair in a bathtub, or grease from foods in a kitchen sink.

When choosing the best Drano product for your clog, consider the clog’s location. Is it in the kitchen or bathroom? The sink or the shower?

Understanding the location and type of clog will help you choose the right formula.

Drano label
Drano label

Here are some common situations and the best choices for the job:

  • Standing water in a bathtub? Try Drano Max Gel Clog Remover.
  • If you have a tough hair clog in your shower, reach for Drano Hair Buster Gel or the Drano Snake Plus Tool + Gel System. The added snake tool can loosen hair clumps as the gel does its work.
  • A grease clog in your kitchen sink is perfect for Drano Kitchen Granules Clog Remover. But for a clog with standing water, try the Drano Kitchen Gel.
  • A clogged disposal would benefit from Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover.

Does Drano Work on Hair?

Absolutely. Drano can clear drains that are clogged with hair easily. In fact, hair is the number one leading cause of shower drain clogs, which is why Drano designed a product specifically for it.

Drano Hair Buster Gel dissolves hair on contact. You can expect results in seven minutes or less, and it even works in standing water. Depending on the clog’s severity, allow the gel to penetrate the hair clog for 15 to 30 minutes. 

If you have a particularly tough clog, it’s okay to repeat the clog removing process a second time after flushing the drain with hot water.

Does Drano Work on Toilets?

If you have a clogged toilet, Drano is not the best solution. Yet, one Drano product can help prevent toilet clogs.

Drano Max Build-Up Remover is the only Drano product recommended for use in toilets. It works by releasing microorganisms that break down common clogging elements such as toilet paper and organic matter in pipes. 

Use this product when your toilet starts to drain slowly, but not when it’s fully clogged.

No other Drano products contain microorganisms. Instead, standard Drano products work by penetrating clogs. Since many clogs are beyond the trap in a toilet, most Drano products can’t effectively reach those areas.

If you want to try a DIY method first, use a plunger. For really tough clogs, consider a toilet snake. These snakes are often called augers and can be found at home improvement stores.

In What Situations Does Drano Not Work?

Drano is an excellent DIY choice for the occasional clog.  But there are times when it doesn’t work and you should opt for calling a professional.

Here are some situations where you’ll want to try other methods or call a plumber:

Repeat clogs: If you keep getting a clog in the same area, it’s time to call a professional.

Persistent clogs: If there is no progress after using a Drano product twice in a day, it’s time to contact a plumber. If the pipe lends itself to a drain snake, try that as well before reaching out to a professional.

Clogs from uncommon elements: If the clog is not caused by hair, grease, soap scum, or biological materials, Drano products may not help. For example, if your clog is caused by dumping clay-based products down your sink, you may need additional help.

Outdoor drains: Check with your local government to find approved products to empty a clogged drain or treat a slow outdoor drain. In this situation, I recommend contacting a professional.

You prefer a green solution: If you want a chemical-free, natural solution to unclog a drain, Drano isn’t for you. Drains empty into a water source. If you want to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals in your local water supply, you’ll need to research green alternatives such as Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria.

Drano works in many situations, but sometimes it is not the best choice. Repeated use can even cause some issues if you’re not careful.

Does Drano Damage Pipes?

The short answer is no, Drano products are safe for use on plastic and metal pipes. Drano products are not acid-based and therefore don’t corrode pipes.

If you use the product outside of the recommended guidelines, you might experience some issues with glue erosion at pipe joints or even melting or cracking pipes.

Here’s why:

Repeated use in a short period can stress the pipes. The active ingredients in Drano generate heat, and continuous exposure to this heat can degrade pipe strength over time.

In short, if you have recurring clogs, don’t use Drano. If you have occasional clogs, it’s a great choice, and it works fast.

How Long Does It Take Drano to Work?

When using Drano, be sure to follow the instructions. In general, pour the product down into the affected drain, wait for a set amount of time, and then flush the drain with hot water.

Depending on the product, and the degree of the clog, it can take up to 60 minutes to work. Here is a quick rundown of what you can expect from each product:

  • Drano Max Gel Clog Remover: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Drano Kitchen Granules Clog Remover: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover: 60 minutes
  • Drano Liquid Drain Cleaner: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Drano Snake Plus Tool + Gel System: 30 minutes (after using snake)
  • Drano Hair Buster Gel: In as little as 7 minutes, but up to 30 minutes
  • Drano Kitchen Gel: 15 to 30 minutes

Even if you have to wait for an hour, wouldn’t it be worth it to remove a clog and save some money? I think so.

Drano Product Offerings

Drano has nine products formulated to handle multiple types of clogs or prevent future plumbing problems:

  • Drano Max Gel Clog Remover: For tough clogs
  • Drano Kitchen Granules Clog Remover: For greasy kitchen sink clogs
  • Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover: For garbage disposal clogs
  • Drano Liquid Drain Cleaner: Budget choice for clogs
  • Drano Snake Plus Tool + Gel System: For clogs that need manual loosening
  • Drano Max Build-Up Remover: For preventing buildup in pipes before clog forms
  • Drano Advanced Septic Treatment: For treating septic tanks with enzymes
  • Drano Hair Buster Gel: For tough hair clogs
  • Drano Kitchen Gel: For standing water kitchen sink clogs

You can view more details about all of these products on Amazon.

Bottom Line: Does Drano Work?

Does Drano work? Yes, Drano effectively clears most clogs within 30 minutes. It works on clogs due to hair, soap, scum, grease buildup, and more.

Still don’t believe me? The proof is in millions of unclogged drains and thousands of positive reviews.

If it was a harmful product, destroying pipes and drains everywhere, there is no way the brand would have survived for this long.

The fact is, Drano a brand under the umbrella of SC Johnson, a respected company with a track record of happy customers (myself included) dating back decades.

If you have a clog caused by hair, grease, or organic matter buildup, it’s worth a try because it works! Plus, it’s a very affordable product, so you have practically nothing to lose by trying it.

If you have a persistent clog or drain issue that Drano isn’t designed to handle, I urge you to call a pro. You can get free quotes on Home Advisor from plumbers in your area.

Want to learn more about Drano products? Visit Drano.com or check them out on Amazon.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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