We updated this article in November 2022 to add more information about each featured product based on extensive testing done by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Our original top-rated picks, selected by the GH Cleaning Lab remain the same with the exception of our original pick for Best Drain Cleaner for Hair Clogs which was replaced with a new pick from Liquid-Plumr.
Clogged toilets and slow-draining showers and sinks aren’t just gross — they can also wreak havoc on your home. Standing water is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, and backed-up pipes are prone to freezing and bursting, which can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs. To make matters worse, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the cost of the fix, since plumbing backups are considered a maintenance issue, which policies often don’t cover.
Okay, that’s the bad news. The good news is that, with a little vigilance and about $10 worth of drain cleaner, you can prevent plumbing mishaps from occurring. The Cleaning and Home Improvement experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute have tested chemical and enzymatic drain cleaners for years. “Our advice to homeowners is still to try a plunger first since a few vigorous pumps are often enough to suction out clogs, especially if you catch them early,” says Dan DiClerico, Director of Home Improvement & Outdoor at the Institute. But if the backup remains, reach for one of our recommended drain cleaners.
Our top picks:
Caution: Always use a plunger before (not after!) any chemical cleaner to prevent the chemical from splashing back up onto your skin or into your eyes.
After our picks, read on to learn more about how we test drain cleaners, what to look for when shopping for them and how to use them safely.