How effective are eco drain cleaning products?

Blocked drain cleaning products are made from strong chemicals such as sulfuric acid, potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. These ingredients can be dangerous to your health, hence the warning labels that urge customers to wear protective clothing and to keep products away from children and pets. The corrosive nature of the products can also damage plumbing pipes, despite claims to the contrary.

If you’re concerned about using these chemicals, there are a couple of environmentally-friendly alternatives on the market that are made from a combination of natural bacteria and enzymes. These products are undoubtedly better for your health and the environment but how effective are they at clearing blocked drains in Sydney?

What are eco blocked drain cleaners?

Manufacturers of Bio-clean state that the product is capable of dissolving organic waste material such as sewerage, paper, hair, animal fat, grease and food scraps. The instructions say to mix the Bio-clean with warm water and then pour it down the drain. The solution should be allowed to work for at least 6-8 hours, without interruption of water flow.

Similarly to Bio-clean, ACTIZYME Pellets are made from a blend of different enzymes that target the build up of organic waste matter. The enzymes work to break down the matter into smaller molecules, which naturally occurring bacteria can then convert into water and CO2. Manufacturers claims that some improvement should occur within 24 hours, but it may be a few weeks for very blocked drains to be cleared.

There are two drawbacks that are immediately apparent from the manufacturer descriptions of these products. Firstly, they both take a long time to act. If you’ve only got one toilet in the house and it’s threatening to flood your apartment with wastewater and excrement, chances are you won’t want to wait 24 hours or “a few weeks” for the blockage to be cleared.

The second problem is that they only work on “organic matter”. This is great for minor blockages caused by food scraps, for example, but what about blockages caused by non-organic matter? Sydney blocked drains can be caused by any number of things including condoms, tampons, wet-wipes and cotton buds. If you don’t know the exact cause of your blocked drain, it’s impossible to know whether a product like this will fix the problem.

Do these products work on blocked drains Sydney?

While we couldn’t find any Australian consumer reviews for Bio-clean, there are some mixed comments in this American thread. One customer states, “We used Bio-Clean in our 60 year old house. Followed the instructions and [it] worked from the top of the house down over a week or so... We now use it about once every six months for maintenance”.

Other customers weren’t as impressed. “Bio-Clean in our 10 year old house hasn't ever helped. Wish it had. Nor hot vinegar and baking soda, or even regular Drano”.

Another agrees stating that, “I bought Bio-Clean from our plumber for big bucks and it didn't do shit”.

ACTIZYME also has mixed reviews, scoring an overall rating of 3.2 stars out of five on productreview.com.au. A couple of happy customers say that it fixes bad smells and improved drainage. “As far as i can tell, this product does exactly as advertised”, says Ellie from South Australia. “I have small kids [and] our laundry drain gets used a lot for smelly stained undies etc. It was starting to pong, bleach didn't work to remove the smell, vinegar didn't work, but this actizyme did, so it gets a big thumbs up from me!”

Another customer was happy with the money they saved by not having to hire a plumber. “This stuff works, but you must be patient, and have another toilet to use while it's unblocking”, said Max from Melbourne.  

Less promising reviews claim that ACTIZYME made the problem worse, with two customers stating that the product accumulated in the drain, causing an additional blockage. “We live on Hindmarsh Island in South Australia, we all have septic tanks”, said one reviewer. “[We] had a blockage, used the product... Had the grey water tank pumped out - the blockage is still there... called the plumber and found a solid block of the product blocking the waste trap”.

An article in The Guardian by Erica Buist provides further insight. The journalist recently moved into a new rental property in London that had a blocked bathroom sink. Buist tested the effectiveness of two eco drain cleaners (Earth Enzymes and Enzymatic Drain Cleaning Sticks) that have similar ingredients to the Australian products discussed above. She concluded that while the bad smell resided and the sink did drain a little faster, neither successfully cleared the blocked drain.

“While either of these uncloggers could probably clear light blockages and keep drains generally clean, neither worked the magic that I'd hoped for”, said Buist. “According to what I read, you would have to use it on a weekly basis for it to be really effective. A blocked drain is a problem. Most people want to solve problems with a single action, rather than a weekly chore”.

Call a Sydney plumber to fix your blocked drain

There is another eco-friendly option for clearing Sydney blocked drains and it’s the option used by the local Sydney plumbers at JAB Plumbing Solutions. Jet blasters clear blocked drains using high-pressured water, which flushes the system out completely. There is no need for harsh chemicals and the water jet works quickly and effectively to remove even the most stubborn blockages. If you’re experiencing a blocked drain Five Dock, a blocked drain Haberfield, a blocked drain Leichhardt or a blocked drain anywhere in Sydney - call our licensed plumbers on 1800 22 555 22.