Clogs happen, and dealing with them is never fun. Most of us are likely to take the easy way out, using Drano or another type of chemical drain cleaner rather than calling a professional plumber. While this is much easier, it could cost you much more time, effort, and money in the long run. There are better (and still affordable) options that are much safer for your septic system and your household, because Drano and septic systems don’t get along.

How Your Septic System Works

Your septic system brings waste through your home’s pipes into a septic tank containing bacteria that separate solid waste from the liquid. The liquid then moves through the tank out onto the leach field. If any aspect of the septic system isn’t functioning, it could cause waste to back up into the house or cause solid waste to get out onto the leach field. One aspect is the balance of bacteria in the septic tank. There must be bacteria to break down the solid waste or sludge and move the liquid up to the tank’s top. But, some things can harm or kill good bacteria.

Drano and Septic Systems Video

Drano and Septic Systems

Made of bleach, aluminum, and salt, Drano and septic systems don’t get along. Drano and other chemical agents cause a harsh chemical reaction, working to break down clogs caused by soap, grease, and hair. Even though Drano manufacturers claim that it is safe for pipes and septic systems, most plumbers and septic experts will advise against using it. Why? The chemical reaction can weaken your PVC pipes over time, creating costly problems. It can also kill the good bacteria in the septic tank, causing the solid waste to build up. In the end, by attempting to save money, you will cost yourself much more money to fix the damage done.

Not only is it harmful to your pipes and septic system, but it can also be harmful to pets and humans who breathe the harsh fumes. It can damage the tools that plumbers will use to clear up the clog that the chemical drain cleaner didn’t fix, as can happen.

Shower Drain with Words: "Drano and Septic Systems"

What to Use Instead of Drano

Boiling Water

Boiling water can help break down minor clogs like soap buildup, grease, and sometimes hair. Boil a half-gallon of water and pour it directly into the drain at a steady pace.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

If your clog is stubborn, you can try vinegar and baking soda. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour half a cup of vinegar down after the baking soda. Pour slowly to avoid the mixture overflowing. Seal off the drain for half an hour. Then pour hot water down the drain. Make sure the water is hot.


To plunge a clog, place the plunger cup over the opening of the drain and cover with enough water that the plunger cup is submerged, then pump the plunger up and down quickly and repeatedly.

Plumber’s Snake

A plumber’s snake sometimes called an auger, is a metal coil that you send down the pipes to break up clogs. You can buy one at any home improvement store, and it costs approximately $25 – $75, depending on the grade of durability.

When using, make sure to wear rubber gloves and have a bucket near because it can be a messy process. Send the coil down a few inches, then begin turning the crank or handle until you reach the obstruction. As you turn the handle the other way to bring the coil back up, it should get the clog with it in pieces or as a whole. Test your pipes by either flushing or running the water. You may need to snake the drain more than once to break up the clog thoroughly.

Some Tips to Prevent Clogs

The easiest and cheapest option is to prevent clogs from happening in the first place. Do not flush anything other than toilet paper, including “flushable” wipes, q-tips, feminine hygiene items, condoms, cotton balls, grease, coffee grounds, etc.

Contact Your Septic Company

If you’ve attempted to clear your pipes and nothing is working, you could have a larger problem with your septic system. Now is the time to contact your septic company to ensure that your whole system is working correctly.

While Drano is a quick fix, taking care of your septic system will save you money, time, and frustration in the long term. Have questions or need to schedule an inspection or repair? Contact Advanced Septic Services at (352) 242-6100.