Best Organic Cleaners for Drains (Rated) 

As the world head towards more sustainable, eco-friendly options for almost everything, dealing with clogged drains is no exemption.  

Enzymatic cleaners are the green answer to this ugly and messy problem.  

In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive guide into choosing the best organic drain cleaner.

Enzymatic Drain Cleaners 101

  • Enzymatic cleaners contain enzymes or bacteria or both that will degrade and prevent the build-up on your drains.
  • You can use any of the following earth-friendly enzymatic products to clean and unclog your drains:
  1. Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver
  2. Green Gobbler Enzyme Drain Cleaner
  3. XIONLAB Safer Drain Opener
  4. Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria

Prevention is better than cure.

Do regular maintenance treatments using your enzymatic cleaners to save you from the hassle and sometimes costly consequences of clogged drains.

Basics of Drain Cleaners

Most people take precautions to prevent food debris, hair, oil, soap scums, and other matter from building up in their bathroom sinks, shower drains, and floor drains.

But at some point, the small amounts and pieces of these accumulate and cause clogging. This is where we need drain cleaners or use tools like a drain snake.

The popular choice for drain cleaners is harsh chemical drain cleaners which can be classified into three types:

1. Caustic Drain Cleaners.

The lye, caustic soda, or caustic potash in these formulations are strong bases because of the hydroxide ions they contain.

When concentrated solutions or solids of these substances come in contact with water, the mixing produces heat.

The heat then allows the hydroxide to react with grease to form soap-like compounds in a reaction called saponification.

The saponification products are more easily flushed because they are more soluble in water.

Hair is mostly proteins. These proteins are reactive to hydroxide ions and therefore hair clogs dissolve when in contact with caustic drain cleaners.

2. Oxidizing Drain Cleaners.

These formulations contain bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and nitrates, which are oxidizing agents.

Organic waste is usually rich in electrons. The active ingredients in these cleaners act as recipients of the electrons from the organic matter.

The chemical reaction also usually produces heat and allows further clogged material to dissolve.

3. Acidic Drain Cleaners.

These are actually designed for the worst-case scenarios. The active ingredients for these types of cleaners are sulfuric acid or muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid).

Acids are known to release hydronium ions when dissolved in water, which can then react with scale deposits in pipes that build up gradually from hard water.

Sulfuric acid at high concentrations is actually an oxidizing acid. It will break down organic matter like oxidizing drain cleaners.

Mainly, these products are popular because we see them be an effective way especially when in need of immediate results.  

However, these ingredients can also cause more damage.

  • Chemical drain cleaners are corrosive. They are not just irritating to the skin, they can also cause burns and serious injuries.
  • Inhaling fumes from this type of cleaner can also cause nausea and burning sensations in the lungs.
  • Accidental swallowing can cause pains in the chest or abdomen or worse organ shock and damage.
  • These cleaners can slowly cause pipes to PVC pipes to soften or corrode older plumbing made of metal.
  • Sodium hydroxide-based formulations can actually produce insoluble hydroxide residues especially if you have hard water. These residues can eventually build up in your pipes.
  • These toxic chemicals can destroy ecosystems as they go out into the environment. They can kill plants and animals.
  • You also run the risk of having an explosive reaction if you mix concentrated acidic drain cleaners with other cleaners like sodium hydroxide and bleach.

4. Organic Drain Cleaners

To address the potentially hazardous effects of these chemical cleaners, organic drain cleaners were formulated.

Commercially available organic drain cleaners are usually enzymatic drain cleaners.

They contain concentrated natural enzymes or bacteria that degrade organic matter build-up. Enzymes are proteins that are able to catalyze or speed up chemical reactions.

 In drain cleaners, the enzymes or the enzymes in the bacteria act on the organic debris and produce by-products that are more easily dissolved.

Reasons to Choose Organic Drain Cleaners

  1. Milder on your skin and body in case of accidental contact.

Although you still have to put on gloves and other safety measures as you would for chemical drain cleaners, you are not as prone to have serious injuries, burns, and whatnots from this type of cleaner.

  1. Safe for septic systems.

The mild active ingredients do not corrode the septic tank nor kill beneficial bacteria that break down the organic matter in the tank.

  1. Less harsh to the environment. Even when released to the environment, the remaining active ingredients are not toxic to plants and animals.

Most of the components are also biodegradable or do not produce residues that can build up in the plumbing.

The Cons of Using Enzyme Drain Cleaners

  1. The biggest downside of using enzymatic cleaners is that they take time. 

Most of them are actually designed for regular maintenance instead of addressing already clogged drains.

It can take as much as overnight before the drain gets unclogged.

Since the active ingredient is not a strong base or acid, the reaction takes a while to proceed and break down the unwanted debris.

Using them can also require several applications, depending on how bad or stubborn your clogs are.

  1. They have shorter shelf life.

Because of bacteria or enzymes in the formulation, they are prone to deactivation or deterioration.

Best Organic Drain Cleaners

Commercially available “organic” liquid drain cleaners are not necessarily made up of purely organic components so to speak.

They are usually a combination of enzymatic or bacterial components and some inorganic but less harsh components to work their magic.

Aside from the bacteria or the enzyme, they can also contain any or combinations of the following:

  • Non-ionic surfactants – These are added to allow dirt, grease clogs, and organic matter to be rinsed with water
  • Buffers – These are usually phosphate salts that maintain the pH conditions suitable for the survival of the bacteria or preservation of the enzyme
  • Fragrance – Aside from masking the possibly unpleasant smell of the debris in the clog, this can also leave your kitchen or toilets pleasant-smelling.

Our Top Picks for the Best Organic Drain Cleaners

  1. Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver

Ultra-thick formula allows it to adhere to the pipes. Comes in an easy to use bottle  with two chambers containing ready to pour, pre-measured amountsFast-acting and non-flammable. No sodium hydroxide, chlorine/chloride, or halide content0ffers a money-back guarantee

Stagnant water can dilute the product and make it less effective. You may have to manually remove some of the stagnant water before using this product for the best results. May not do the job for severely clogged drains

  1.  Green Gobbler Enzyme Drain Cleaner

Designed to target fats, oils, grease (FOG)  and other food waste keeps the grease traps working efficiently and reduces the expensive pump-out of septic tanks with regular use. Regular use ensures that the beneficial bacteria thrive and degrade more organic materials more productivelyPurges your grease traps and drain lines of the unpleasant odors usually associated with it0ffers a money-back guarantee

A total of 4 to 8 treatments $3-6 per treatment can be used up to 64 times for weekly drain preventive maintenance costing 39 cents per treatment.

  1. XIONLAB Safer Drain Opener

Designed mainly to dissolve fats, oils, grease, lint, soap scums,  and hairIndustrial strength, thick and heavy non-splashing gel formulation to allow and maintain effective contact with the pipes and the clogged pointOdorless, non-flammable and biodegradable0ffers a money-back guarantee

Not designed to breakdown paper, food particles or plastics

  1. Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria

Contains both enzymes and naturally-occurring bacteria have 4 active enzymes best used for slow drains and monthly preventive maintenance

Needs to be mixed with water before using needs to be left overnight to work needs several reapplications for partial drain blockage will not work on stubborn clogs

The good news is organic drain cleaners can also be prepared at home using natural products. 

Typical DIY formulations use vinegar, baking soda, salt, and hot water. Some even use lemons and cream of tartar.

Vinegar contains acetic acid while lemons have citric acid and cream of tartar, tartaric acid.  

These weak organic acids are not capable of reacting with metal pipes or components of your plumbing system.

Technically, baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is not organic but is at the very least so much less harsh than sodium hydroxide.

When the bicarbonate from baking soda reacts with the hydronium ions from the organic acids, carbon dioxide and water is produced.

Bubbles are created throughout the clog and you end up with are more loose material that can finally be flushed.


What’s the best natural drain cleaner?

The most popular DIY home remedy for unclogging and cleaning drains is the use of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water.

The first step is to pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Then, pour ½ cup of vinegar before plugging the drain for an hour. Lastly, flush a pot of boiling water and repeat if needed.

How do you unclog a drain organically?

Strictly speaking, you cannot unclog drains using purely organic substances but you can choose less harsh inorganic ingredients.

You may use the following combinations:

  • ½ cup each baking soda and vinegar
  • ½ cup each baking soda and table salt
  • ½ cup each baking soda and table salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup each borax and table salt, ½ cup vinegar

Pour these down the drain, let sit for at least an hour, plug the drain then flush with a pot of hot water

What drain cleaner do plumbers recommend?

Most plumbers recommend Drano Max Gel Liquid Clog Remover.

This is a sodium hydroxide-based formulation. It should solve your problem fast but always remember to use appropriate PPE because this is corrosive.

Are natural drain cleaners safe?

Yes. Generally, natural drain cleaning products are safer than chemical drain cleaners.

Natural ingredients are less corrosive compared to the harsh inorganics but you must still use the same PPEs just to prevent any possible skin irritation.


You can always choose the greener option, to use enzymatic cleaners, for regular drain cleaning and maintenance.

Assess the severity of the clog first then pick the most suitable cleaner for it.

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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