Does Bleach Unblock Drains?

A blocked drain can be a nuisance for a variety of reasons – whether by causing water to lie, creating a bad smell, or even causing flooding. Usually, it is a priority for homeowners to unblock drains as quickly as possible, and there are a variety of DIY methods available that you might consider in order to fix the problem, but tackling the issue yourself is often not the best solution, as all of these methods have advantages and disadvantages.

These DIY methods offer varying levels of success in unblocking drains, but they will often cause other problems and are not the most sustainable or effective long-term solution. Here, the drainage specialists at Lanes will provide guidance on the best ways to deal with a blocked drain, comparing DIY methods to those used by professionals, and answer the question: Does bleach unblock drains?

a big bottle of great value concentrated bleach

Is bleach an effective solution to a blocked drain?

The short answer to this is: no. While bleach is a corrosive substance, it will not unblock a drain successfully in the way that many other such substances can. Most drain blockages are made of food waste, hair, fat, oil, grease, and other things that should not be poured down drains, but often are. While it is corrosive, bleach is unable to burn through or break down these types of blockages and will only make the problem worse.

You should not try to use bleach to unblock drains in your house
This holds true for other corrosive substances, like bicarbonate of soda or even the consumer unblocking liquids you can buy in supermarkets. The corrosive nature of these products can burn through blockages but can also cause problems within your drainage system. Products that are strong enough to burn through blockages can also do serious damage to the pipes and connections within your drainage system, corroding them to the point that bigger problems can emerge.

For example, this type of damage can cause pipes to leak, create openings for root ingress that can lead to further blockages, or create other more serious problems over time. All of these problems can be expensive, time consuming and inconvenient, and in all such cases you would need to call in a drainage expert to fix the problem and repair your drainage system. Instead, it is better to call in a professional and have them fix a blockage at the earliest opportunity, to avoid creating bigger problems in your system.

This also means that you should not use bleach to clean your drains. If you are facing symptoms like a persistent bad smell, it can be tempting to try bleach, but this won’t clear any blockages – which are often the cause of bad smells – and therefore fail to fix the problem.

Is bleach an effective solution to a blocked drain?

Calling a drainage professional in at the earliest opportunity – i.e., when the blockage first starts to cause problems – is the simplest solution. A drainage specialist will have a number of techniques at their disposal to help unblock your drains, and unlike DIY methods, a professional will do a thorough job and ensure that bigger problems do not arise later down the line.

A recurring problem when using corrosive substances and DIY methods to unblock drains is that the blockage is not completely removed. Instead, some of the materials that comprise the blockage will stay together and be washed down the drain. By hiring a professional, you can be assured that they will remove the blockage and dispose of it appropriately, rather than washing it away.

If they are not removed, these materials can then adhere to each other, or other materials, and create bigger blockages further down your drainage system, including fatbergs. A fatberg is an accumulation of fat, oil and grease (FOG), food waste, sanitary products and other items that can fuse together into hard masses and cause significant blockages in sewer systems. It is extremely expensive and time-consuming to treat these blockages, and once again, they are best avoided. You can do this by avoiding behaviours that cause blockages in the first place – by not washing FOG down your drains, by disposing of wet wipes and sanitary products in bins, and by clearing food waste from plates before you wash up.

If you have a drainage problem and you need help from a specialist, contact Lanes Group on 0800 526 488 or use our online enquiry form to arrange a call back, and we will be happy to provide our award-winning domestic drain unblocking services for you.