The Best Drain Unblockers For Different Blockages

blocked sink

When searching for the best product to unblock drains, the results can be a little overwhelming. Different blockages have different needs and it can be hard to wade through all the differing advice.

With over 25 years of experience in all things drainage, we’re experts on the tools and products best for unblocking different drains. So, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide on the best drain unblockers so you can rid your sinks, pipes and drains of clogs without damaging your system. 

How to Choose the Right Drain Unblocker

There are a number of factors to consider when looking for the right drain unblocker for your particular blockage or drain. The majority of chemical drain unblockers that you can buy have a base of sodium hydroxide, also called caustic soda. This allows drain unblockers that contain it to effectively eat through the blockage in your pipes without damaging them. 

However, caustic soda can be dangerous for stubborn blockages in toilets and waste disposal because of the risks of overflowing. Here are the best drain unblockers to buy for different drains and blockage types.

The Best Drain Unblocker for Hair

removing strands of hair blocking the drain

Chemical-based drain unblockers are your best bet for heavy hair blockages. The caustic ingredients are great for dissolving soap scum and clumps of hair. So if you’re looking for the best drain unblocker for bathroom sinks and shower drains, go for a chemical-based one. Or read more about hair snakes in the tools section below.

The Best Toilet Drain Unblocker

If you’re suffering from a blocked toilet, you should never use caustic soda products because of the risk of toxic overflows. Only combat these with plungers or enzyme-based drain unblockers. These are more gentle than chemical-based unblockers and contain concentrated enzymes paired with bacteria cultures that work by digesting organic substances like food and mould. 

The Best Drain Unblocker For Fat

If you have a slow-draining kitchen sink, use a more gentle enzyme-based unblocker. But if the block is solid, chemical bases are better. Chemical-based drain unblockers work by producing gaseous heat that dissolves solid blockages effectively. This makes them good at tackling the congealed fat that can build up from pouring oil, grease and food down your kitchen sink. 

You are at risk of causing corrosion on your stainless steel sink and plug holes when you use these more aggressive products, so do bear this in mind. It may be safer to just call in a professional.

The Best Outside Drain Unblocker

For solid blocks in your outside drains, use caustic soda to help. We have also provided a step-by-step guide for how to unblock your outside drains with a drain rod or read more about drain rods below.

Which is the Best Drain Unblocker: Gel, Liquid or Powder?

Liquid and gel products are generally considered to be more effective drain unblockers than powders. This is because powders can clump together and cling to the sides of your pipes instead of working to remove build-ups and debris like liquid and gel unblockers do. 

The Best Drain Unblocker Tools

You’re not only limited to products like the above, which are often single-use and fairly expensive. Investing in some basic drain tools can benefit you in the long run and provide a more cost-effective solution. 

Below is our guide to some of the best tools for unblocking drains, just make sure you use rubber gloves and protective clothing before you attempt!


Man using plunger to unclog sink drain in kitchen

When it comes to stubborn blockages in your drains, the humble plunger is your greatest friend. Plungers are particularly good for plug holes that are all backed up. Here are our tips for using a plunger effectively:

  • Improve the suction potential by smearing vaseline around the edges of the plunger’s cup
  • Fill the sink with a couple of inches of water
  • Cover any overflow holes so more pressure builds
  • Plunge away!

Hair Snake

Hair snakes are lightweight tools, usually made of plastic, that are specifically designed to draw hair up out of a plughole. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are relatively cheap. Their functionality is quite limited but they are the best shower drain unblockers and provide a method of regularly clearing hair from plugholes before they become big blockages.

Drain Snake

Man using a mini plumbers snake to unclog a bathtub drain

A drain snake is a manual tool in the form of a length of cable with a corkscrewed end. The cable has a handle attached to it that functions to crank the cable through the blocked drain to reach the clog. Then the cable is manoeuvred to break through the clog.

Motorised drain snakes are also available and are used for bigger pipes and more significant clogs. The motor aids to push the cable through the pipe to the stubborn clog. It goes without saying that these are more expensive than manual drain snakes.

Drain Rods

Plumber Fixing Problem With Drains

Drain rods are tools that are ideal for tough blockages in your outside drains. A drain rod is exactly what it sounds like and can be fitted with other tools like chimney brushes for example. They work by being manoeuvred around the perimeter of a blocked drain to loosen up the debris in order for it to then be removed by a jet wash.

High-pressure Water Jets

Hydro jets are a drainage engineer’s best unblocking tool. These provide a highly effective method for forcing a blockage out and also help to clean drains and pipes well, too. The high pressure of the water jet is able to fully clear the sides of the pipes of residue and debris, to ensure a blockage is far away from happening again. 

This is another tool that is quite expensive and needs some skill and know-how to operate and is best done by a professional, especially as it needs to be a pretty significant blockage to warrant it. 

How to Prevent Drain Blocks

For plumbing problems, the best cure is always prevention. You can help guard against troublesome blockages by avoiding these common causes:

  • Pouring excess oil or fats down the kitchen plughole
  • Letting food bits go down the kitchen drain
  • Not regularly removing hair from bathroom drains and allowing it to build up
  • Flushing sanitary pads and nappies down the toilet
  • Excessive use of toilet paper

In general, you should be keeping on top of cleaning your drains with simple household methods around once a week.

For best results, a CCTV drain service once a year is highly recommended. This consists of a drainage engineer pushing a micro camera through your full piping system to map it out and discover any issues before they become major problems. We are proud to offer free CCTV drain surveys that are fully comprehensive, just get in touch with us to learn more.

Professional Drain Unblocking Services

If you’re still not sure which drain unblocker works best for your particular clog or drain, our friendly experts are always on-hand to give professional advice. We have decades of experience in fixing all manner of drainage woes and can give you free, impartial advice.

Really, when it comes down to it, the best drain unblocker is to get a professional in. Home methods can provide short-term solutions but often don’t get to the root of the problem. You’ll find your blockages keep coming back. 

To fully eliminate blockages and any leftovers, call us to book one of our highly-trained drainage experts. Every drainage engineer is equipped with high-end technology including quality jet washers that are an unbeatable drain unblocker.

Get in touch with us today to cure your drains of all clogs.

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