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Can You Use Drano in a Garbage Disposal? (FAQs Answered!)

pipe cleaner down the kitchen sink drain

If the name SC Johnson is familiar, then you might know some of his products. Drano is one of the many of Johnson’s cleaning products the company started marketing and selling after acquiring Drackett. Drackett was a specialty chemical manufacturing company that invented Drano in the 1920s. From the company’s product list, Drano is an umbrella term for various cleaning chemicals developed from the 1920s to 1992.

To cut a long story short, Drano is an accomplished cleaner, and in 2020 alone, over 5 million units were shipped worldwide.

However, can you use it in garbage disposals? Yes, Drano can be used in garbage disposals. Read on to find out more.

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What Is Drano?

Drano is a powerful drain cleaner that effectively clears clogs by breaking down the organic materials creating the blockage. The drain cleaner is a household name for getting the job done and can be found in most hardware stores. While it’s effective at removing clogs, it’s important to be cautious when using Drano as it can be harmful if ingested or if it comes in contact with the eyes and skin. In case of skin contact, wash off with cold running water.

What Is in Drano?

Drano contains several ingredients that help facilitate its spectacular cleaning job.

One of the main ingredients is sodium hydroxide (also known as Iye or caustic soda). It is a strong base that’s highly alkaline with a pH of above 9. It can break down grease, hair, and other organic materials that may be clogging your disposal.

Other ingredients include sodium silicate, polydimethylsiloxane, and sodium hypochlorite (bleach). These ingredients work together to help dissolve and loosen clogs and may also help deodorize the disposal.

How Does Drano Work?

When poured into a clogged drain, Drano starts dissolving clogs immediately. It works with the help of the above ingredients to break down clogs and clear garbage disposals.

For instance, when sodium hydroxide comes in contact with water, it produces heat. This heat helps to loosen and break down the materials causing the clog. In chemistry, it breaks the bonds between molecules that make these substances stick on the disposal surfaces.

Bleach, on the other hand, helps to kill bacteria and remove bad odors.

Can Drano Harm the Disposal?

Image By: onebit, Shutterstock

Drano can be harmful to garbage disposal if used incorrectly. The chemicals in it can cause significant damage to the blades and also cause rusting. Besides, the high concentration of chemicals in Drano can create a hazardous gas when it comes in contact with certain materials like aluminum or stainless steel.

The company recommends Drano Max Gel Clog Remover, Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover, Drano Max Build-Up Remover, and Drano Liquid Drain Cleaner. Avoid Drano Professional Strength Crystals Clog Remover as it is not safe for garbage disposals.

If you decide to use a chemical drain cleaner like Drano, make sure to follow the instructions on the product label and avoid mixing with other drain cleaners. Doing these may reduce the efficacy of Drano.

For the record, when sodium hydroxide reacts with a metal, let’s say aluminum, it produces an aluminate and hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas is explosive, so ensure the windows are open to let in the fresh air.

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How to Use Drano in a Garbage Disposal

Here are steps to follow when using Drano in a garbage disposal. Begin by switching off the power to your disposal by flipping the switch under the sink or on the wall down.

  1. Get rid of the drain cover from the garbage disposal.
  2. Pour a cup of Drano into the garbage disposal and let it sit for 15 minutes. To ensure Drano is spread throughout the machine, switch on the disposal for a second while pouring it in.
  3. Flush the drain with running water for about 30 seconds.
  4. Switch on the power and let it run for a couple of minutes to clear the blockage. If the clog is still present, repeat these steps.
  5. When everything is clear, pour a gallon of hot water down the disposal to clear any residue.

Top 4 Safer Substitutes for Drano

As much as Drano does its job excellently, homeowners may want to spend less on cleaning solutions or at least be assured their preferred method is safe. This is why Drano has several alternatives.

1. Plunger

Sink Plunger
Image Credit Dumchev, Shutterstock

You can use a plunger in place of chemical drain cleaners. This method works best if clogs result from a drain pipe blockage. Place a plunger over the drain and pump it up and down to loosen the clog. Do it five to ten times and try flushing the disposal.

2. Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake is a flexible metal rod with a curved end that can be inserted into the drain to break up the clog. Make sure the machine is off, and maneuver your way past the blade gaps.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Another option is using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. These two ingredients work by forming a chemical reaction and fizz that breaks down clogs. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar, and let it settle for around 5 minutes. After that, flush hot water down the drain till the clog disappears.

4. Boiling Water

You can also use boiling water, especially if soap or grease buildup is the root of the problem. To get the most out of this method, pour heated water that’s almost boiling down the drain. Do this slowly to prevent the hot water from splashing back up at you, and give it ample time to dissolve the clog.

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Drano is an excellent cleaning solution to use in garbage disposals. It has sodium hydroxide and bleach that effectively unclog blocked disposals by dissolving organic compounds. However, be careful when using it; some of its compounds may harm the disposal.

Featured Image Credit: onebit, Shutterstock


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