Drano and other chemical drain cleaners are quick fixes to drain clogs and the convenience of using them makes them an alluring option. While these are commonly used products, you may want to think twice about using Drano, not only to protect your pipes but also to protect the environment.
Drano can have potentially damaging effects on the environment. As a strong alkaline chemical-based cleaner, it can alter the pH of nearby waterways, further impacting the ecosystems and food chains around it. Along with this, Drano can have damaging effects on your building’s piping system and is hazardous if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes.
For these reasons, you will often find that plumbers avoid using acidic and caustic drain cleaners like Drano. Read on to understand the effects of Drano.
Does Drano Pollute Water?
Because Drano is a strong chemical alkaline cleaner, it can act as a pollutant to waterways. It does this by altering the pH balance of water and the mix of chemicals can have potentially harmful effects on the ecosystems around your local drainage and sewage areas.
The entry of cleaning chemicals like Drano into waterways can create a chain reaction of compromised health to wildlife and endocrine disruption in wildlife and humans alike.
Does Drano Cause Corrosion?
Drano is a lye-based chemical drain cleaner that works by creating a strong heat reaction to melt away and unclog your drains. This is a short-term solution and you will find that many plumbers advise staying away from Drano which is listed as corrosive to metals.
While newer plastic and copper pipes built within the last couple of decades should withstand the occasional use of Drano, most older piping is at risk of corrosion. The heat reaction causes old PVC piping to melt, and metal piping to warp, weaken, and eat away at the glue sealing the pipes together.
The long-term risks of using Drano to your piping and the environment make it a less than ideal option for drain care.
Is Drano a Hazardous Material?
Drano is a hazardous material to your building’s piping system, the environment, and your health if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. With plenty of warning labels, Drano can act as an irritant to the skin, causing burns if it is not rinsed off promptly, and causing severe damage to your eyes if not flushed immediately and tended to by a medical professional.
Drano is a strong alkaline chemical-based cleaner that is listed as corrosive to metal and is known to melt and damage plastic piping. It can also alter the pH of nearby water sources and sewage systems impacting ecosystems and food chains around it.
Can I Put Drano in My Garbage Disposal?
You should not pour Drano into your garbage disposal as this can lead to corrosion and damage to your garbage disposal system. Unless specified as safe for use on garbage disposals, like Drano Max Build-Up Remover, you should avoid using acidic or caustic drain cleaners in them.
If you have unknowingly poured Drano into your garbage disposal or used formulas that are garbage disposal friendly, you should flush it with plenty of warm water to completely clear it from the system.
How Should You Dispose of Drano?
If you have finished a bottle of Drano and are wondering how to dispose of it or you need to dispose of Drano that has been sitting, it is relatively easy to do. If you are uncomfortable with pouring Drano down your sink, you can reach out to your city’s waste management facilities for guidelines on how to dispose of cleaners and hazardous materials. Otherwise, you can follow these steps:
1. Pour the Drano down your sink drain.
Careful not to spill the Drano elsewhere or allow it to touch your skin as this can have harmful effects.
2. Flush the drain with hot water.
Again, being careful not to allow any backsplash of the product onto you, flush the drain with plenty of hot running water until you feel the Drano has cleared your piping system.
3. Rinse the container well then recycle it.
Gently rinse the container with hot water, being very careful not to let any of the product splash onto you or surrounding areas. Allow the bottle to dry then recycle it. Many waste management facilities will not recycle the plastic from the lid and this may be disposed of in the garbage.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE: How to Dispose of Drano?
Are all Drain Cleaners Bad for the Environment?
All drain cleaners are not created equal and some operate more gently than others. For example, enzymatic drain cleaners rely on enzyme-producing bacteria to eat away at clogs over a longer period of time. These types of drain cleaners are ideal for regular preventative care and soft clogs. Enzymatic drain cleaners are the most environmentally friendly option.
Acidic drain cleaners are effective at clearing most clogs in relatively short amounts of time. Most new metal and copper piping are resistant to corrosion from acidic drain cleaners however older piping is at risk of corrosion and damage. Because acidic drain cleaners are so strong, they can disrupt the pH of waterways and have damaging effects on wildlife and plant-life in the area.
Caustic drain cleaners like Drano are made with alkaline chemicals that help dissolve clogs with the assistance of water. These drain cleaners are considered safe to use in buildings with newer piping systems (new plastics, copper, etc.) but should not be used with old piping as it can have corrosive effects. Though less damaging to the environment than acidic drain cleaners, caustic cleaners can also irritate the skin and disrupt the pH and health of nearby waterways.
Are there any Natural Alternatives to Drano?
If you have opted out of using Drano and other chemical drain cleaners, there are natural alternatives. First, if the clog is caused by the accumulation of grease or oil, you can pour dish soap down the drain followed by at least a gallon of boiling water, careful not to burn yourself.
The second alternative for difficult clogs is to use baking soda, vinegar, and hot water. First pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. The acidic vinegar will mix with the basic baking soda causing a pressurized chemical reaction to help clear the clog. After this, flush the drain with plenty of hot water.
Can You Dump Drano Down a Toilet?
You should not pour Drano down your toilet as this can have long-term corrosive effects on your toilet’s piping. The only formula that can be poured into your toilet is Drano Max Build-Up Remover which has been specifically formulated to be safe for toilets.
To be cautious, even if you use the toilet-safe formula or you have accidentally poured other formulas of Drano into your toilet, you should flush your toilet several times to clear it from the piping system completely to avoid damaged pipes in the long run.
Are Drano Containers Recyclable?
Drano containers are recyclable however many recycling facilities may not recycle the lids which can then be thrown in the garbage. The container should be carefully rinsed out with hot water until all of the product is removed. Do this with care to avoid any product splashing onto you. Allow the container to dry then recycle it.
Does Drano Burn Your Skin?
Drano’s main purpose is to dissolve natural clogs and can therefore lead to skin irritation and burns if it comes into contact with your skin and is not rinsed off immediately. If a little splashed onto your skin and you rinse it off immediately, you should be okay but monitor the area for any irritation afterward and visit your doctor if needed.
If Drano splashes into your eyes, you should immediately rinse your eyes under cool running water. You can either call your local poison control center or seek medical attention if your eyes are burning and showing signs of irritation after flushing them with plenty of water.
The Verdict – Should I Use Drano?
When possible, it is best to stay away from Drano and other caustic or acidic drain cleaners. Because most drain clogs in North America are from fats, oils, and grease, do your best to prevent clogs by disposing of these items correctly. If a clog occurs, try plunging the drain, using a snake, or natural/enzymatic drain cleaners and if all else fails, you should call a plumber.
Read our related Drano articles:
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Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.