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We’ve all been there at some point or another: Suddenly your bathtub isn’t draining properly. Maybe it’s slow to drain while you shower, or maybe there’s a puddle of standing water that simply won’t go away.
Clogged bathtub and shower drains are bad for your feet and for the health of your environment. They can cause mold and mildew to begin forming.
But they can also sometimes be more difficult to unclog than sink drains, especially if the blockage is further down in the pipes than a plastic snake can handle.
There are several DIY methods you can try to take care of a clogged bathtub. Is bleach one of them?
And if so, how do you use it?
Can I Pour Bleach Down The Drain To Unclog It?
Bleach is known as a major household cleaner, often sold as Clorox. Many people rely on it to remove stains from clothing and disinfect household surfaces.
It is capable of killing more than 99.9 percent of the bacteria and germs festering in any given area.
With this in mind, it’s possible to pour bleach down a drain to clean it. This might appeal to anyone who’s worried that mildew and mold might be growing down where you can’t see it.
But bleach isn’t actually useful for getting rid of clogs. Though you may have seen bleach eat through certain fabrics in your washing machine, it’s not actually capable of dissolving soap scum and hair.
These two materials are the primary components in most bathtub plumbing clogs.
If you do want to clean your drain after unclogging it — which may be a good idea if the clog has been there for a while — you’ll want to dissolve the clog first. Fortunately, there are a number of easy household solutions that you can use without needing to invest in expensive cleaners.
How Does Bleach Unclog Your Drain?
Bleach isn’t actually useful for unclogging a drain. Though it’s corrosive enough to eat through a variety of materials, it won’t eat through a clog.
However, you can use bleach to sanitize your drain. This method might be used when you’re dealing with mold growth and grime that other cleaners haven’t taken care of.
Though the mold might be deep in the drain, escaping spores could lower the air quality in your bathroom.
You’ll need to consider whether bleach is actually safe to use in your pipes, though. Bleach often creates harmful and potentially fatal gases when mixed with certain other materials.
For example, mixing bleach and ammonia creates deadly mustard gas.
Not only is ammonia common in cleaning products, but it’s also a component in your urine. For this reason, experts often recommend that you avoid pouring bleach down your bathroom drains or into your toilet.
If you do decide to sanitize your pipes with bleach, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Mix 1/5 of a cup of bleach with water and pour it down the drain.
- After about ten minutes, pour a few cups of boiling water down after it.
- Make sure you don’t wait too long to flush the bleach from the drain, as it can have corrosive effects on your piping.
But it is much safer to use household items like baking soda and white vinegar instead. These items are more effective when you’re dealing with a clog, too.
Will Bleach Dissolve Hair In A Drain?
Bleach is not able to dissolve hair in a drain. You might think that it could, due to its corrosive properties.
But even though it can burn your skin and damage your pipes, it won’t actually eat through hair. It also won’t eat through soap scum that builds up around the hair.
Most clogs happen when wads of hair and grime get stuck inside the pipes. Over time, they can build up until the tub stops draining properly.
If a slow-draining tub is left for too long, eventually the drain might become completely blocked.
There are some products marketed as chemical drain cleaners like Drano. These are meant to dissolve grime and hair in your pipes.
But many of these chemicals are too harsh for your piping, so they can cause damage to your plumbing system.
How To Actually Remove Hair From A Drain
The removal process for a clog will vary slightly depending on how deep the clog is. You might be able to unscrew your drain pipe, lift it up, and manually clear the debris inside.
But in some cases, the clog will be situated deep in the plumbing where you can’t reach.
If you know that the clog is caused by hair, then solutions like boiling water won’t work. You can use boiling water to dissolve grime and soap, but not hair.
Still, if you’re unsure of the clog’s origin, boiling water is the first option to try.
The best natural solution to use is a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Now, mixing these two materials together will create a bubbly mess, so follow these steps instead:
- Measure out a cup of baking soda.
- Pour it down your drain.
- Wait for ten minutes.
- Without rinsing the baking soda out, measure out a cup of vinegar.
- Pour this down the drain as well.
As the substances mix in the pipes, they will bubble up and dissolve any debris that’s left. They may also be able to dislodge and sweep away remaining hair.
After waiting a few minutes, you can pour a cup of boiling water down after to rinse the substances out. This will have the added bonus of dissolving any remaining soap scum or grime.
All in all, this is a much more effective, eco-friendly solution. If it doesn’t work, bleach won’t be any better.
That’s the point at which you’ll want to consider hiring a professional plumber.
Is Using Bleach To Unclog Drains Safe For Your Plumbing?
Pouring bleach down a drain can be dangerous. In addition to corroding your pipes, it can mix with other substances to create poisonous gas.
If you have a septic system, bleach can kill the vital bacteria inside that are used to break down and process waste.
With all of that in mind, it’s not a good idea to pour bleach down your drain. If you’re facing a stubborn clog that won’t go away even with boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda, then you should find a plumber who can take care of it instead.
If you pour bleach into a clogged drain, it might simply get trapped in the clog. When anything else goes down the drain, it can mix with the bleach and create gases.
Sometimes there are even explosive reactions that can cause your pipes to burst.
What To Do If I Poured Bleach Down My Drain
The best way to avoid potentially dangerous issues with bleach is by not pouring it down your drain at all. But if you did, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate the damage.
You will want to pour hot water down the drain to dilute the bleach and wash it out. Do this within the first few minutes to avoid potential corrosion.
Boiling water is best if you were trying to dislodge a clog, as it can loosen soap scum and grime.
Undiluted bleach is harmful to your septic system and to any wildlife that might interact with your wastewater. It needs to be diluted with many gallons of water.
You might just want to let your tub faucet run for a while, assuming it’s draining well enough to do so.
You should never chase bleach down the drain with other household cleaners, even if you think they’re probably safe. It’s just too risky.
Don’t pour anything with ammonia or acid down the drain.
If you did pour bleach down your drain and still have a clog, you should call a plumber. They will be able to safely remove the clog and explain how to clear the bleach from the pipes without potentially corroding them further.
Bleach won’t work to unclog your bathtub drain. And though it can be used to sanitize your pipes, it may also damage your septic system or poison local wildlife.
A better solution is to pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain, as the reaction will dissolve hair and grime.