Help, I Poured Bleach Down My Drain! Now What?

Last Updated On June 12, 2024

Updated on January 11, 2023



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Help, I Poured Bleach Down My Drain! Now What

Did you pour chlorine bleach down your drain? Bleach is a staple cleaning product in most households, and it has multiple uses. However, don’t assume that household bleach works well for drain cleaning or in breaking up a clog. This can cause more damage than good.

We explain why you shouldn’t pour bleach down your drain, and what to do if you already did. 😉

In this PlumbingNav guide, we cover:

  • Why pouring bleach down the drain is a bad idea
  • Can you pour bleach down the drain?
  • What do I do if I poured bleach down my drain

What's In This Guide?

      Why Pouring Bleach Down the Drain is a Bad Idea

      Pipe Damage

      Bleach can damage your pipes, especially when it’s used regularly and not diluted with water. 

      The liquid chemicals can expedite corrosion, which can eat at copper or steel material and lead to leaks. While bleach won’t cause as much damage to PVC pipe or other plastic pipe compared to metal pipe, the chemicals can eat at the sealant pr dope pipe around pipe connections. This can lead to plumbing leaks. 

      When a pipe becomes irreparably damaged, you may need to pay for a professional plumbing service to replace it. There are other ways to clear a slow drain that are better for cast iron or PVC pipes, so skip the bleach.

      Even harsh chemical drain cleaners are safer to use on drain clogs, although, we recommend using a natural drain cleaner instead.

      did you know Help, I Poured Bleach Down My Drain! Now What

      Chemical Reaction

      If you pour bleach down the drain it may also interact with other household cleaning chemicals and cause a dangerous chemical reaction. 

      The mixture can come from chemical drain cleaners or products you use to maintain or clean your showers, bathroom or kitchen sink. Bleach also produces a harsh reaction when in contact with seemingly white vinegar which is commonly used in cleaning hard water spots off plumbing faucets or basic drain cleaning.

      Even after you flush your drain pipe thoroughly with warm water, you may still have some remaining remnants of the old chemicals sitting in a drain trap.

      When the reaction occurs, it can create toxic gases that create a health hazard for anyone in the direct vicinity.

      Some of the signs of exposure to toxic gases include:

      • Skin and eye irritation
      • Nausea
      • Respiratory issues

      Here is a video demonstrating why vinegar and bleach is a bad combo:

      Bleach in Water Supply

      Most people asking this question are considering bleach for a slow drain clog or to kill bacteria in a kitchen sink drain. However, some people have asked if you can pour bleach into your main water supply. This is a big NO!

      While pouring bleach down your drain to resolve a plumbing problem is a bad idea, it’s even worse to attempt using bleach in water supply lines. It would take some effort to do this given how supply lines work, but if you manage, it will get into your drinking water. No Bueno.

      Chlorine bleach is not the same as the chlorine used as a disinfectant by city water supplies. Chlorine levels in your drinking water should not exceed 4 parts per million (PPM)

      Can You Pour Bleach Down the Drain? (The Truth)

      Myth #1: Can bleach clear a drain clog?

      Bleach does not unclog drains well. Bleach contains anywhere from 3 – 8% sodium hypochlorite, which cleans and sanitizes but does not have the capability to break up organic material. 

      Instead, try a homemade mixture of vinegar and baking soda or a stronger caustic drain cleaner like Liquid Fire

      For the toughest drains, use an electric drain snake

      Check out this bleach alternative video demo on a tub drain:

      Myth #2: Why pour bleach down the drain at night?

      Some people pour bleach down the drain overnight in an effort to clean a drain pipe or get rid of drain flies. Don’t.

      Sometimes, food waste that you put down in the garbage disposal or odor-causing bacteria can make your drain smell bad, which is unpleasant and embarrassing. 

      Drain flies, while they don’t transmit disease or bite, can also cause a real nuisance. They tend to breed in areas with a lot of excess moisture and organic material. 

      To prevent unpleasant odors and the like, you should look for alternative methods outside of using Clorox bleach in your kitchen drain. Try flushing the affected drain with (near boiling) hot water every day for a week.

      You should also keep up on regular drain cleaning maintenance. For odors, try regularly using Sani Sticks or natural enzyme drain cleaners that won’t damage your plumbing. 

      See this post about pouring salt down the drain at night.

      Myth 3: Can I pour bleach down the toilet bowl?

      Many people use bleach to clean their toilet bowl. This is just fine if you wear gloves and take proper ventilation precautions. However, pouring bleach down your toilet can still lead to problems if you aren’t careful. 

      Always dilute the bleach with water. Not only does it soften its effects on your pipes, but it also breaks the bleach down into salt and water so that it dissolves into the ground safely. 

      If you have a septic system, you should be careful not to use excessive levels of bleach as it can ruin the bacteria balance in the tank. It will also counteract the positive effects of any septic tank enzymes used as treatment.

      What do I do if I Poured Bleach Down My Drain?

      If you accidentally poured bleach down your drain, you should immediately flush the drain with hot water from the tap. Let the water run for several minutes to flush the drain trap pipes.

      If you have a clogged drain, be careful not to let your sink or tub overflow. Bleach is never an option to deal with clogs. Instead, use a product safe for PVC and also rated as a main sewer line cleaner.

      A small amount of diluted bleach probably won’t cause immediate damage. However, if you’ve been pouring bleach down your drain regularly, you should take the time to examine your visible pipe connections to ensure that the bleach didn’t cause damage. If you have poured excessive amounts of bleach down your drain, consider getting a sewer line inspection.

      FAQs on Pouring Bleach Down the Drain

      Can you pour bleach down the drain?

      You should not pour bleach down the drain as it can damage your pipes and even create a chemical reaction if it comes into contact with other chemicals from drain cleaners and other cleaning supplies. Bleach should not be used to clean drains.

      What do I do if I poured bleach down my drain?

      Whether you poured bleach down your bathroom sink, bathtub drain, kitchen drain, or shower drain, you should flush the drain line with warm water. Find alternative solutions to clean drains in the future.

      Is it safe to pour bleach down the drain?

      While not always dangerous, bleach in your drain can cause a health hazard if it combines with other chemicals in your drain. The toxic fumes that emit from the reaction can cause eye and skin irritation as well as respiratory distress.

      Can bleach clear a drain?

      Bleach does not effectively clear a clogged drain. The amount of bleach required for it to be an effective drain cleaner makes it dangerous to your plumbing.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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