If you have a slow drain or a stubborn clog in your pipes, you probably grab a drain cleaner without thinking about the type of pipes in your home. However, some drain cleaners work better on different materials than others. Popular PVC pipes, in particular, require special care.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- Why do PVC pipes need specific drain cleaners?
- What are the different types of drain cleaners for PVC pipes?
- How do drain cleaners for PVC pipes work?
- What do you look for in the best PVC pipes?
- Review of top 5 best drain cleaners for PVC pipes
Green Gobbler Ultimate Main Drain Opener
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Drano Max Gel Drain Clog Remover and Cleaner (x2)
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DrainScrub Powder Enzyme Drain Cleaner
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Flo-Kem 5195 Flo-Zyme Commercial Bio-Enzyme Drain Opener
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Drainx Liquid Drain Opener Solution
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
This drain opener, specifically with the main drain in mind, can actually be used on almost any drain in your home thanks to the gentle formula including PVC pipes. The natural ingredients won’t create an unpleasant smell in your home, and they won’t irritate your skin or eyes. See our full review of Green Gobbler products here.
This thick, heavy-duty formula can take on all clogs made from organic products as well as paper, making it appropriate for both clog removal and regular plumbing maintenance.
Our Top 5 Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes?
- Green Gobbler Ultimate Main Drain Opener (Our Top Pick)
- Drano Max Gel Drain Clog Remover and Cleaner (x2) (Best Budget)
- DrainScrub Powder Enzyme Drain Cleaner (Best High End)
- Flo-Kem 5195 Flo-Zyme Commercial Bio-Enzyme Drain Opener (Best Commercial)
- Drainx Liquid Drain Opener Solution (Best Fast Acting)
|What's In This Guide?|
Why Do PVC Pipes Need Specific Drain Cleaners?
PVC pipe made from plastic does not hold up to harsh chemicals, especially compared to a heavy-duty cast iron pipe made from metal. For that reason, PVC pipe needs a specialized cleaner that will do the job without causing any damage to the plastic.
This becomes more important at the end of the pipe’s life expectancy when it may already have damage to it from usage over the years.
Some high-quality PVC pipes can last up to 70 years if properly maintained, and that means using the correct drain cleaner.
Not sure if you have PVC pipe? You can identify it by its white color.
What Are The Different Types Of Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes?
Chemical Drain Cleaner
A chemical drain cleaner uses chemicals to clear out the clog in your drain.
The most common chemicals used in drain cleaners include:
- Caustic (lye, caustic soda) – best used for a grease trap in the kitchen drain.
- Oxidizing (bleach, nitrate) – best used for natural materials in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Acidic (hydrochloric acid) – strongest and best used for very stubborn clogs.
While effective, it’s important to note that the harsh chemicals in chemical drain cleaners can lead to death if someone experiences drain cleaner poisoning. The chemicals can also irritate the eyes and skin. This makes them the less ideal option when you have a kitchen drain clog.
Before using a chemical cleaner, consider trying a drain auger to dissolve the stubborn clog manually.
Homemade Drain Cleaner
You will not have to pay for a drain cleaner at the hardware store if you make your own homemade drain cleaner using vinegar, baking soda, boiling water, and possibly lemon.
These items work together to unclog your drain without causing any damage to your pipes.
This option is considered safer and more environmentally friendly than chemical drain cleaning. However, this is not completely natural since baking soda and vinegar are synthetic.
If the clog derives from soap scum, you may use an even easier solution of dish soap and boiling water to dissolve the clog.
Still not finding a homemade drain cleaner with items in your home? You can use coca-cola or a plunger, too. Watch the video below to learn more!
Enzyme Drain Cleaner
Enzyme drain cleaners use a conglomeration of natural enzymes, bacteria, and probiotics to safely eat natural materials to dissolve them before they create a clog.
While the safest and most environmentally friendly option, this method works best as preventative maintenance rather than a solution for a complete clog.
Many enzyme drain cleaners are also completely natural and nontoxic.
How Do Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes Work?
The chemicals in chemical cleaners go down the drain and, ideally, stop at the clog. When boiling water follows, the chemicals react with the water to create heat that essentially melts the clog down to soap scum until water continues to get through it again.
Enzyme drain cleaners literally eat the natural material creating the clog slowly, allowing for better water flow through the pipe.
What Do You Look For In The Best Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes?
Complete Clog Breakdown vs. Pipe Maintenance
A complete clog requires something more heavy-duty than a drain cleaner made to attack mild clogs and prevent future clogs. If you buy a product made for maintenance and expect it to break down a full blockage, you may find yourself disappointed.
Start using an enzymatic drain cleaner early to avoid the need for a chemical drain cleaner such as Drano, or professional plumbing services.
Pipe and Drain Safety
Verify that the product you select specifies that it works for PVC pipes as well as the drain you need to clean. For example, one item may work for a bathroom sink drain and bathtub drain without necessarily providing the best solution for garbage disposal, washing machine, or septic tank.
Best Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes Reviewed
Now let’s explore our favorite units so you can decide on the perfect choice for your situation.
Our #1 Rated Pick: Green Gobbler Ultimate Main Drain Opener
Our Top Pick
This drain opener, specifically with the main drain in mind, can actually be used on almost any drain in your home thanks to the gentle formula, including PVC pipes. The enzymes won’t create an unpleasant smell in your home, and they won’t irritate your skin or eyes.
This thick, heavy-duty formula can take on all clogs made from organic products as well as paper, making it appropriate for both clog removal and plumbing maintenance.
- Won’t cause corrosion
- Natural and safe for plumbing
- Eats through paper
- It does not deodorize well
- Not suitable for washing machine
- May cause rust in pipes
Drano Max Gel in the 80-ounce containers is a #1 seller on Amazon for a reason. It works well and comes at a surprisingly reasonable price for two of them. It’s also completely safe for PVC pipes.
This clog remover uses chemicals to bypass standing water and eat through hair and soap scum. You also get a money-back guarantee in case it doesn’t work.
- Easy to use
- Works on nonorganic clogs
- Quick acting formula
- Contains chemicals
- Only works on mild clogs
- Loose cap
Best High End
DrainScrib provides this nontoxic powder drain cleaner that uses enzymes to not only break down organic waste in your pipes, but also create a healthy balance of bacteria and enzymes necessary for long-term results.
This product provides better results than most enzymatic drain cleaners thanks to the large mix of materials and extra-strength formula.
- Natural and safe for plumbing
- For mild to moderate clogs
- Satisfaction guaranteed
- Can’t use drain for 6 hours
- Don’t mix with antibacterial cleansers
Our #4 Rated Pick: Flo-Kem 5195 Flo-Zyme Commercial Bio-Enzyme Drain Opener
This natural drain cleaner makes commercial maintenance easy. You can use it for a drain trap, waste treatment plant, or a standard drain system. The bacteria works on all proteins, such as fat, grease, oil, and soap scum without damaging any of your plumbing.
- All-natural bacteria
- Easy to use
- Industrial grade
- Won’t break up non-organic materials or mold
- Can’t use for AC drain
- Made for maintenance, not tough clogs
Our #5 Rated Pick: Drainx Liquid Drain Opener Solution
Best Fast Acting
If you need to take care of a clog quickly, try this easy to use chemical drain cleaner by Drainx that works in 15 minutes. It’s safe for all types of plumbing and drains, including your floor drain, and it works on most clogs.
If you aren’t satisfied, Drainx offers a one-year warranty, but you probably won’t need it.
- Use with cold water
- Easy and quick acting
- One-year warranty
- Toxic chemicals
- May cause corrosion on metal pipes
- Not safe for regular maintenance
Final Thoughts On Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes
If you have a clogged drain in your plumbing system, you need to take action. However, will a caustic drain cleaner work on PVC pipe?
Chemicals can damage plastic pipes, so be careful to read the label to ensure that the product will work for your needs. Our list of the 5 best drain cleaners for PVC pipes will help you find the best cleanser for you.
FAQs For Drain Cleaners For PVC Pipes
Is Drano OK for PVC pipes?
Yes. However, you can find better options if you are willing to pay just a bit more.
How do you clean PVC pipe drains?
Start with a drain cleaner. If that doesn’t work, try a plunger or a drain snake.
What do plumbers recommend for unclog drains?
Plumbers recommend using enzymatic drain cleaners as maintenance to prevent a clog before it happens.
Will vinegar hurt PVC pipes?
No. Vinegar is safe on all pipes.
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BrantI'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!
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