Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Bathtub Drain Cleaners Reviewed

We review high-quality natural, chemical, and homemade tub drain cleaning products for your household requirements.

by Andy

No one likes a clogged drain, especially in your bathtub or shower. Not only do clogs make it hard to use your tub, but they also can cause materials to backup and fill your tub with unpleasant debris. That's why it is essential to clear a clogged drain as soon as you spot it. The best and most reliable way to do this is with a heavy-duty drain cleaner that can eat through hair and other common drain inhibitors without trouble.

Of course, there are more heavy-duty drain cleaners on the market today than you can shake a drain snake at. I wouldn’t want you using a lesser quality drain cleaner that fails to complete the job or, worse, damages your pipes. So, I've reviewed 10 of the top heavy-duty drain cleaner brands so that you can learn precisely what to look for in a high-performance drain cleaner.

Preview

Product

Drain Cleaner Type

Cleaning Task

Check Price

Drano Max Gel Drain Clog Remover and Cleaner...

Drano Max

Caustic

Heavy duty

Green Gobbler Ultimate Main Drain Opener +...

Green Gobbler

Enzyme

Light

XIONLAB Safer Drain Clog Remover –...

XIONLAB

Enzyme

Medium

Liquid-Plumr Hair Clog Eliminator

Liquid-Plumr Hair Clog Eliminator

Caustic

Medium

Flo-Kem 5195 Flo-Zyme Commercial Bio-Enzyme...

Flo-Kem 5195

Enzyme

Heavy duty

Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver, 31 oz

Green Gobbler DISSOLVE

Enzyme

Light

Liquid-Plumr Pro-Strength Full Clog Destroyer...

Liquid-Plumr Pro-Strength

Caustic

Medium

Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria

Bio-clean Drain Septic Bacteria

Enzyme

Light

Bioda Drain Cleaner & Odor Eliminator,...

Bioda Drain Cleaner & Odor Eliminator

Enzyme

Medium

No products found.

ComStar 024924305003 Pure Lye

Oxidizing

Medium


What Causes Clogged Drains?

Bathtub drains can become clogged for any number of reasons. One of the most common causes of a clogged bathtub is knotted up hair, which has a tendency to settle into drains and block the flow of water. Soap particles can also cause a clog, especially if they are allowed to solidify in between fair strands. Depending on your water quality, mineral deposits can also contribute to drain clogs.


Common Types of Tub Drain Cleaners

Caustic Cleaner

Caustic cleaners use an alkaline formula of chemicals that can dissolve grease, fat, and proteins easily. Most make use of sodium hydroxide in high concentrates, which allows the cleaner to act swiftly without producing much foam.

Oxidizing Cleaner

Oxidizing cleaners are mainly used for stain removal processes. However, in the context of bathtub cleaning, these cleaners are great when you need to remove stains and build-up caused by mineral deposits.

Acid Drain Cleaner

Most drain cleaners use a form of acid to eat through any materials that may be clogging up your drain. Many make use of sulfuric acid, which makes them ideal for working through clogs that other physical removal methods cannot resolve. However, acid drain cleaners must be used carefully, as they can dangerously mix with some other types of cleaners.

Enzyme Cleaner

Enzyme cleaners aren’t typically used for drain clearing, though they may still be useful around the house for eliminating stains and odors (such as those caused by pets). This type of cleaner can be made safely at home and may be advertised as a “natural” alternative to chemical cleaners.


Choosing the Right Bathtub Drain Cleaner

Drain Material Type

While comparing drain cleaners, be sure to check what type of material your bathtub drainpipes are made from. 

Standard options include PVC, copper, cast iron, and galvanized steel. This differentiation is significant because certain clears are more corrosive, making it dangerous to use them with certain kinds of piping materials.

The drain cleaner bottle will tell you which types of pipes it is meant for. 

Bathtub Drain

Cleaner Ingredients

Always check a cleaner’s ingredients before buying and using it. Different types of cleaners often use chemicals that may be acidic or basic, which in turn can lead to danger or harm if they are misused. Also, some cleaners may indicate that they are “eco-friendly” to denote that they do not cause long-term water contamination if used for regular maintenance.

Clogged Material

Some cleaners are formulated to tackle specific types of clogs. As such, if you believe that your clog is mostly made up of hair, soap scum, grease, or mineral buildup, then you should purchase a pipe cleaner that can handle those clog ingredients in short order. However, most consumer-grade drain cleaners can handle all of these clog types to some degree of success.

Ease of Use/Application

Using a bathtub drain cleaner shouldn't be done in a lack-a-daisy manner, especially when that cleaner contains acids or bases that could harm you or your family if they are applied improperly. As such, you should always evaluate a given cleaner's application instructions before buying them to determine if you are capable of carrying them out safely and successfully.

Cost

As with all types of cleaner, you should only buy a bathtub drain cleaner that is valued at a price you are willing to pay. In many cases, it pays to compare several brands to determine if they offer comparable levels of performance, based upon their price. However, in some cases, it pays to buy a higher-quality bathtub drain cleaner that is easier to use or safer for the environment.


10 Best Bathtub Drain Cleaners Reviewed

1. Drano Max

Our Top Pick!

Drain Cleaner Type

Caustic

Cleaning Task

Heavy duty

Active Ingredients

Sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, sodium silicate

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

Yes

“Well spent money down the drain” – myheadhertz

First up, we have our top pick that you're sure to find at a store near you – Drano Max. Drano is a tried and true brand that continues to pack a great deal of value into every bottle of their affordably priced drain cleaner.

This particular caustic gel is made up of a unique blend of ingredients, including sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, and sodium silicate. Even so, this formula is entirely safe for use with a septic system and most types of modern plumbing.

Every time I use Drano Max on the job, I’m amazed at how efficiently it takes effect. In fact, I’ve even seen it run its entire course in only 7 minutes! Typically, you’ll only need one treatment of this gel to clean out the soapiest and most hair-filled clogs.

But if you do end up needing a second pass (or if you experience clogs in your tub regularly), you can always be sure that you’ll have some Drano on hand with this added value 2-pack.

Pros
  • Thick formula can eat through hair and standing water in only 7 minutes
  • Safe for use with all types of pipes and septic systems
  • Comes in several multi-pack sizes for added value
Cons
  • May not fully eliminate clogs in a U-bend
  • Requires a lot of volume per use

2. Green Gobbler

Runner Up

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Light

Active Ingredients

N/A

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

Unclear

“ This stuff is a miracle and well worth the money…It was a success. I will recommend this product to everyone.” - TLundy

Green Gobbler comes in as the runner up, but not because it is any less effective than other top drain cleaner brands. While it is true that I prefer Green Gobbler for lighter declogging jobs, it does manage to accomplish that job without putting up any bothersome odors. This formula is also non-flammable and doesn’t cause skin irritation, so it is extra safe, too.

Green Gobbler also takes pride in its environmentally-friendly mix of ingredients, all of which will play nice in your at-home septic system. They also want to be sure that you thoroughly enjoy your use of their products, which is undoubtedly why they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on every bottle.

Pros
  • Formula is odorless, non-flammable, and won’t cause skin irritation
  • High-density solution alters the pH of clogs to break them down
  • 30-day money-back guarantee from the manufacturer
Cons
  • Pricey per bottle at around $20
  • Only works well with hot water

3. XIONLAB

Best Septic Safe Bathtub Drain Cleaner

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Medium

Active Ingredients

N/A

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

N/A

Xionlab’s latest offering is one of the best septic safe bathtub drain cleaners around, and I’m not just saying that because they’re popular right now. Instead, this brand’s cleaner has lived up to the hype by creating an enzyme-based solution that can break down hair and soap without being corrosive or caustic at all.

This formulation even gained recognition from Terra Care, thus providing proof that Xionlabs’ cleaner really lives up to its eco-friendly billing.

That's not all though, when it comes to this product’s green qualities. As it turns out, these bottles are all made from post-consumer plastics. As such, you can be confident that you aren’t harming any aspect of the environment by utilizing this product regularly.

Pros
  • Eco-friendlier formula was recognized by Terra Care
  • Septic safe enzymes won’t interfere with a septic system
  • Bottles made from post-consumer plastics
Cons
  • Lower volume of solution compared to other similarly-priced bottles
  • Bottles often ship without proper cap

4. Liquid-Plumr

Easiest to Use Bathtub Drain Cleaner

Drain Cleaner Type

Caustic

Cleaning Task

Medium

Active Ingredients

Biodegradable surfactants

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

N/A

“It really works! My bathtub was clogged by a ton of my hair and this product did an excellent job to unclog it. Very easy to use.” - Yoko

Some of the most popular drain cleaners on the market today are challenging to pour into your drain properly. Not so with Liquid-Plumr Hair Clog Eliminator, which is among the easiest to use bathtub drain cleaners available to consumers and professionals alike.

That’s because this product features a tapered open end, thus allowing you to pour it squarely in the drain without splashing or dribbling.

In terms of its productivity, this type of Liquid-Plumr also makes the grade. That’s because it has been reformulated with 70% more active ingredients that target hair with unmatched precision. These ingredients are made up of mainly biodegradable surfactants, though, so you can count on them to break down and leave your septic system alone.

Pros
  • Reformulated with 70% more active ingredients to target hair clogs
  • Tapered bottle is easy to pour in
  • Utilizes biodegradable surfactants to make the solution septic safe
Cons
  • Slow to activate
  • Requires the use of boiling water

5. Flo-Kem 5195

Strong Enzyme Drain Cleaner

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Heavy duty

Active Ingredients

Proprietary “Bio-enzymes”

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

N/A

“Works great for me and almost no odor”pr22210v2

Flo-Kem 5195 is another strong enzyme drain cleaner that is sometimes overlooked by non-plumbers. While I will admit that its short shelf life and need to buy in bulk do act as drawbacks for this product, I still recommend keeping a bottle around if your groundwater regularly caused tub drain clogs. That's because this product's bio-enzyme formula works wonders when it comes to opening up stuck drains and killing off troubling odors.

Oddly enough, Flo-Kem 5195 even smells relatively nice, and that's saying something for a drain cleaning. Its milky white appearance also provides visual confirmation that every valuable drop has made it down the drain. That goes for almost any kind of drain, by the way, as this product is safe to use in sinks as well as tub drains.

Pros
  • Cuts down on odors while removing clogs
  • Milky solution is safe to pour and doesn’t require extra ventilation
  • Can also be used on sinks
Cons
  • 1-year shelf life is rather brief
  • Usually has to be ordered in bulk

6. Green Gobbler DISSOLVE

Works Best with Standing Water

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Light

Active Ingredients

N/A

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

Yes

“I poured a dishpan full of hot water into the dirty water. There was a whoosh and the dirty water rapidly poured into the drain and cleared out.” - Happyinthekitchen

This iteration of Green Gobbler is slightly different in that it works best with standing water, which is a rarity when it comes to consumer-grade drain cleaners. In fact, I’ve poured this enzyme formula into several very troubling stuck drains and seen results in mere minutes.

As I’ve learned, that’s because this product’s formula manages to liquify all organic material, thus allowing it to flow down to the sewer or septic system effortlessly and safely.

Though this isn’t a big issue for me as a professional plumber, I believe that this product is particularly beneficial to consumers like you because it comes with two pre-measured uses in each package. As such, you won’t need to fiddle with measuring cups or risk a spill to use this kind of Green Gobbler.

Pros
  • Comes with two pre-measured applications
  • Enzyme solution liquifies hair and soap
  • Also safe for use with sinks hooked up to a septic system
Cons
  • Must be ordered online, which takes time
  • May only slightly open non-hair clogs

7. Liquid-Plumr Pro-Strength

Best Liquid Bathtub Drain Cleaner

Drain Cleaner Type

Caustic

Cleaning Task

Medium

Active Ingredients

PipeGuard+ Formula

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

Yes

“If you're looking for a lot of clog destroyer in one go, this is a great option for you.” - BeckyS

Of course, I couldn’t make a list of the best liquid bathtub drain cleaners without mention Liquid-Plumr Pro-Strength. This cleaning solution is always an excellent option for DIY plumbers who not only want to clear out their drains but also protect the same from future obstructions.

This product accomplishes this later task using its unique PipeGuard+ formula, which coats the drainpipe’s interior with a protective layer while simultaneously loosening stuck on hair and minerals.

All of this takes place in just 15 minutes, making this one of the quickest drain cleaning options available at most consumer stores. It also usually accomplishes its primary cleaning task in a single pass, so you only need to buy a multi-pack if you regularly experience clogs in your tub drain.

Pros
  • Works in 15 minutes and only requires a single treatment
  • PipeGuard+ formula prevents future clogs
  • Ideal for breaking down mineral deposits
Cons
  • Bottle shape makes it a little hard to pour
  • Only protects pipes for around a month

8. Bio-clean Drain Septic Bacteria

Best Natural Cleaner with Enzymes

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Light

Active Ingredients

Natural bacteria and enzymes

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

N/A

“Bioclean proved to be powerful, even in a soapy mixture.”SECCO Home Services

I'll admit, I had not heard of Bio-clean until recently. But now, I recommend it to my clients as the best natural cleaner with enzymes. I'd go so far as to say that this natural drain cleaner for a tub really goes the extra mile when it comes to packing in added value. Though this single container may look meager, you can actually get over 100 treatments out of it if you follow its usage instructions.

You’ll need to do a new treatment every month to keep your tub drainpipes clear, though, so the nearly $50 price of this drain cleaner may not justify itself for you. But believe me, when you see its natural bacteria and enzymes digest organic matter, you might reconsider passing over Bio-clean.

Pros
  • Single container can be used up to 100 times
  • Natural bacteria and enzymes digest dead material
  • Does not interfere with septic tank operation at all
Cons
  • Must be used monthly for full effect
  • Very expensive at almost $50

9. Bioda Drain Cleaner & Odor Eliminator

Odorless Product

Drain Cleaner Type

Enzyme

Cleaning Task

Medium

Active Ingredients

Proprietary blend

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

N/A

Bioda Drain Cleaner is among the very few odorless products in this collection, which is why I generally recommend it to folks who are sensitive to the smells put off by traditional caustic cleaners.

Even when it’s in the tub drain, you’ll see that this product can do a number on annoying odors by eliminating the in-drain residues that cause them to come back again and again.

While it’s in there, it will even make work of most hairballs and soap collections as well. While I cannot say for sure what is in Bioda's bio-enzymatic formula, I can confidently tell you that it is made in the USA. As such, I am confident that it is safe to use on a regular basis, even if your home has older piping.

Pros
  • Does not produce smelly fumes
  • Preventative bio-enzymatic formula works throughout plumbing system
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • May not work in non-tub clogs
  • Very slow to activate

10. ComStar 024924305003

No products found.

Best Cheap Bathtub Drain Cleaner

Drain Cleaner Type

Oxidizing

Cleaning Task

Medium

Active Ingredients

Lye

Septic Safe

Yes

Works with Standing Water

No

“I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t use it for myself but this product is really like magic! I can’t recommend it more.” -timenotlinear

Finally, I want to be sure that the budget shoppers out there know about the best cheap bathtub drain cleaner - ComStar 024924305003. These beads are made from pure lye and cost only around $6 per bottle. Though that price may not inspire greatness, you can take my word for it that their re-engineered shape makes them uniquely able to fully contact and clean the inside of a wide tub drainpipe.

ComStar also knows that users of this type of lye bead aren't just busy unclogging a tub drain or two. That's why this product has been tested for safe use with grease traps, septic systems, and cesspools. That can even increase positive bacterial action in those locations, making it less likely they'll off-gas bothersome odors. 

Pros
  • Affordably priced per bottle
  • Can be used with grease traps, septic systems, and cesspools as well as drains
  • Beads are easy to apply and are 99% lye
Cons
  • May not work if wrong water temperature is used
  • May have recently changed their formula

Effective Unclogging Methods for Tub Drains

Homemade/DIY Drain Cleaners

Currently, several homemade drain cleaner solutions may be worth trying if you don't want to run out for a store-bought drain cleaner at the moment. For example, a 1 to 1 solution of vinegar and baking soda tends to do a good job at deodorizing a drain when applied carefully.

Similarly, a solution of lemon juice and baking soda can help break down small clogs that don’t involve hair. Some DIY cleaning experts also swear by a solution of ¼ cup salt, borax, and vinegar. This paste can break down some more moderate clogs if allowed to sit for several hours.

Plunger

If you've detected only a partial clog in your tub drain, then you may consider using your standard toilet plunger to push it down. Do so with caution, though, as doing so can force a clog further down the drain where it will be more challenging to access and clear later on.

For a few extra dollars, it might be worth investing in a high pressure plunger, like the Samshow (pictured here). These special plungers work on sinks, toilets and bathtubs. 

Toilet Plunger

Snake Drain Auger

Snake drain augers are also a worthwhile option when it comes to removing otherwise resilient clogs from your tub drain. So long as you pick up a long enough snake drain auger, you should be able to use its teeth to drag up and physically clear clogs made out of even the most knotted hair. This Vaster Drain Snake is among the best options, without a doubt.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

There are also the chemical drain cleaners, many of which I’ve taken the time to review in this guide. Though most chemical drain cleaners come in a liquid form, options are also available in gel and powder form to meet your unique drain clearing needs.


How to Unclog Bathtub Drains Safely

Unclogging your tub drain involves several steps which depend upon the type of drain cleaning method you are implementing. Most liquid drain cleaning solutions simply require you to pour the liquid down and allow it time to activate.

To do this safely, you should always make sure your bathroom is properly ventilated. Also, be sure to wear eye protection, as well as gloves and other skin protection garments due to the risk for chemical burns.

For more insights into unclogging your bathtub drain manually, check out this video. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to better understand the best safety practices associated with unclogging a bathtub drain, be sure to check the use instructions that came with your drain unclogging liquid or tool of choice. This can be especially important because the mixing of some drain cleaners can cause poisonous gases to form.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are the best methods for preventing clogged drains?

When it comes to preventing hair from flowing down your drain and clogging it up, try implementing a grain guard. These come in removable forms (which are typically made of rubber or plastic) or metal (which can be permanently mounted over the drain opening).

Meanwhile, you can decrease the likelihood of a drain clog caused by mineral deposits by softening the water that leads to your bathtub or shower fixtures.

What chemicals dissolve hair in a drain?

Usually, you’ll need a strong acid to break down hair. This is because hair is made of proteins, which tend to retain their form when exposed to weak solutions. Most standard drain cleaning liquids are rated to break down hair with ease. But in particular, those that use sulfuric acid tend to perform best on this front.

Is Drano bad for pipes?

When it comes to using Drano as a one-off solution for a bathtub drain clog, you are not likely to cause any damage to your pipes. However, if your tub is connected to PVC pipes, they may react slightly and degrade more rapidly. The same is true of most types of metal piping, which may deteriorate and crack if they a routinely exposed to strong acids or bases.

When should I call a professional plumber regarding my clogged bathtub drain?

Generally speaking, you should call in a professional when a clog gets out of hand for your personal skills. However, if you are using a chemical drain cleaner and the clog still does not dissolve, never try to use a physical unclogging method after. Always call in a professional to avoid the risk of personal injury.

How much does professional drain cleaning cost?

Precise rates will differ from plumber to plumber, especially if your clog turns out to be more complex. But most plumbers charge a flat rate between $50 and $100 for basic unclogging services.


Conclusion

By now, you’re probably ready to get back out there and tackle your clogged bathtub drain once and for all. But now that you know all about what goes into a quality drain cleaning solution, you can choose an option that fits your needs and prevents your pipes from coming to any hard.

Before you go, though, let me make one final recommendation for Drano Max. For what it’s worth, this is my go-to pick when it comes to liquid drain clearing. Not only does this solution’s formula make work of almost any common clogging agent, but it also comes at a great value when you buy it in a multi-pack online.

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