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Clearing a clog is a chore—and with so many people offering their advice on ways that have worked for them, it’s hard to find the right way to do it.
One of the most recommended drain clog clearing “hacks” involves bleach.
“Just pour it down your drain,” they say. “It’s cheap, easy and you already have it in your home.”
But is that true? Is bleach effective in breaking up clogs? More importantly, is it safe to pour down your drains? Let’s find out.
So, does it work?
Bleach is a great disinfectant. It’s a great stain remover. It is not a great drain clog remover.
Bleach has no effect in dissolving the common culprits of household drain clogs, like hair, food scraps, and grease. Also, pouring bleach can harm the integrity of your drains and pipes. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
Yeah, about those toxic fumes...
Bleach is an eye and respiratory irritant. Both bleach and its fumes can have detrimental effects. If used undiluted, bleach will:
- Corrode eyes
- Irritate skin and mucous membranes
- Cause respiratory issues for those with asthma or heart conditions
Bleach can also create a toxic gas if it comes in contact with other household cleaners, like ammonia.
Even in small amounts, bleach and ammonia can create chloramine gas, which can irritate your respiratory system.
If bleach is mixed with acid, it creates chlorine gas, which, when inhaled, can cause breathing problems, burning eyes, vomiting, pneumonia, and even death. Acids are present in many household toilet bowl cleaners, some glass and window cleaners, drain cleaners, and rust removers.
The unintentional mixing of chlorine with ammonia or acids is one of the most common household accidents, resulting in thousands of injuries each year.
It damages plumbing, too
The volatile combination of bleach and acid also produces a significant amount of heat. If you pour bleach down the drain after using a drain de-clogger, the heat from the reaction can damage your pipes, and in extreme cases, cause your pipes to burst.
The corrosive qualities of bleach can discolor your sink or drain, damage the blades of your garbage disposal, destroy rubber gaskets, and corrode plastic and lead pipes (in older homes).
Bleach can cause even more damage in areas where lead pipes have been repaired with brass fittings and copper pipe, due to a reaction between the two metals.
There are better, more effective options
There’s really no reason to pour bleach down the drain. It’s ineffective, corrosive, and dangerous to handle. Take one quick trip to the store, and you’ll find a ton of effective drain cleaning options, with a range of ingredients and applications.
If you prefer to skip chemical-based products, there are now bacteria-based enzymatic drain cleaners that are safe and very effective on dissolving clogs from food or cooking grease, including Green Gobbler.