Water flowing down a drain.

Many drain cleaning products contain sodium hydroxide (lye and caustic soda). It’s highly corrosive and can burn eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure may lead to ulceration of the nasal passages and chronic skin irritation.

Prevention is the key to keeping your drains clear:

1. Use a drain basket or screen to keep hair and food scraps out.

2. Never pour grease down the drain. It can turn solid and clog pipes and sewer lines.

A plunger or plumber’s snake is a simple mechanical solution, or try this simple home remedy with food-grade ingredients:

Drain cleaner

Works best when used regularly and after you’ve manually removed large pieces of debris from your drain

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 cups boiling water

Sprinkle baking soda down the drain. Pour in the vinegar and let it fizz for five to 10 minutes. Pour in boiling water (careful — don’t burn yourself with the steam). Beware of sodium hydroxide in disinfectants and oven, bathroom and toilet bowl cleaners. Try these simple green cleaning recipes instead and download our Sustainable Shopper’s Guide to Cleaners.