The 5 Best Safe, Non-Corrosive Drain Cleaners for Old Pipes

By Mr. Hayes

Mar 30, 2020

Are you dealing with a persistent clogging issue that a plunger can’t fix? In this case, the clog is deeper down the line and depending on where it is, there are various causes. For people with old plastic or galvanized metal pipes older than 20 years, it’s important to choose the best drain cleaner for old pipes. People with old pipes have fewer options since caustic and acidic cleaners are mostly out of the question, but that doesn’t mean the problem can’t easily be fixed.

In this article, we share the top 5 non-corrosive drain cleaners for old pipes, reviews of each product, and tips on unclogging your old pipes & preventing future clogs. In just a few minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know to protect your pipes and say bye-bye to those annoying clogs.

ProductDescription
#1) DrainScrub Powder Enzyme Drain Cleaner and Septic Treatment

  • #1 Best Enzymatic Drain Cleaner
  • Size: 2 lb
  • Type: Enzymatic
  • Good for: Shower, Sink, Toilet, Septic Tank, Disposal
  • Dimensions: 7.5″ x 5.5″ x 8.5″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Model: 8541814697
  • Price: $$$
#2) Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver

  • Size: 31 oz
  • Type: Enzymatic
  • Good for: Hair, Soap, Paper, Grease
  • Dimensions: 2.5″ x 4″ x 9.2″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Model: GGDIS2CH32
  • Price: $
#3) Thrift Odorless Drain Cleaner

  • #1 Best Non-Acid Drain Cleaner
  • Size: 2 lb
  • Type: Non-Acidic
  • Good for: Drain, Grease Trap, Septic System, Roots
  • Dimensions: 4″ x 4″ x 7″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Model: GIDDS-TY-0400879
  • Price: $
#4) Green Gobbler Main Line Opener & Toilet Clog Remover

  • Size: 64 oz
  • Type: Non-Corrosive
  • Good for: Grease, Hair, Soap Scum, Paper, Baby Wipes
  • Dimensions: 6″ x 6″ x 9″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 4.9 lbs
  • Model: AX-AY-ABHI-88187
  • Price: $$
#5) XIONLAB Safer Drain Clog Remover

  • Size: 32 oz
  • Type: Non-Corrosive
  • Good for: Sink, Shower, Bathtub, Kitchen Sink
  • Dimensions: 3.2″ x 3.2″ x 9.9″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2.55 lbs
  • Model: XL01
  • Price: $$

Best Drain Cleaner for Old Pipes Reviews

The first type of drain cleaner to reach for when unclogging old plastic or metal pipes is enzymatic. Enzymatic cleaners contain beneficial bacteria that work similarly to probiotics that people take. The key difference is that instead of making healthier BMs, the bacteria in enzymatic cleaners work to dissolve clogs without noxious chemicals.

While it’s still advisable to wear gloves when handling all drain cleaners, there’s no need to worry about inhaling harmful fumes like when applying caustic and acidic formulas. You’ll find that using any of the products in this guide is more enjoyable than corrosive cleaners.

Below, we share our reviews of each cleaner along with the pros & cons according to owner reports. Before choosing any product in this guide, we recommend matching your clogging issue to the recommended drains for each product since some cleaners do not dissolve paper products.

#1) DrainScrub Powder Enzyme Drain Cleaner and Septic Treatment


DrainScrub is the best enzymatic drain cleaner currently on the market. It’s great for both unclogging drains and preventing future clogs. The company behind DrainScrub, Helix Laboratories, Inc., is so confident in the effectiveness of its product that it offers a satisfaction guarantee. Also, you’ll be happy to know that DrainScrub is made in the USA and environmentally-friendly.

DrainScrub works by rapidly populating your drain pipes with friendly microbes and enzymes. Once the 100% natural bacteria have a chance to begin reproducing, they feed on all the organic waste in your pipes. The really cool part is the enzymes work for the bacteria to help break down the waste into small enough particles for them to eat.

Organic waste that the bacteria eat includes human waste, food particles, hair, soap scum, and anything that’s organic. Since the bacteria in DrainScrub feed on a wide variety of waste, this product works quite well for a wide variety of drain types.

Recommended Uses and Plumbing Fixtures

  • Toilets
  • Tubs
  • Showers
  • Sinks
  • Disposals
  • Septic Tanks
  • Outhouses
  • RV Holding Tanks
  • Marine Holding Tanks
  • Sump Pumps
  • Safe for all types of old pipes including plastic, PVC, metal, galvanized

Pros

  • Safe to use on all types of old pipes
  • Treats the widest variety of drain pipes
  • The top choice in our guide for RV owners
  • Recommended for cast iron pipes
  • Goes to work the first application and continues to work as the beneficial bacteria reproduce and populate your plumbing
  • The best choice in our guide for septic systems
  • Helps to eliminate odors in old pipes
  • A noticeable reduction in calls to the plumber to have the lines snaked
  • Unclogs slow-draining tubs

Cons

  • The highest upfront cost of the products in this guide
  • You might not like the odor
  • Does not work for non-organic clogs

#2) Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver


Green Gobbler is another top enzymatic cleaner that’s won over a lot of fans since its inception. The Gobbler is very easy to apply because of the dual-chamber bottle. There’s no need to measure, simply pour half of the bottle for each use.

Similar to DrainScrub, Green Gobbler is made in the USA and guaranteed to work. Additionally, it works to unclog a wide variety of plumbing fixtures, including toilets since the formula can dissolve toilet paper. Families with long, thick hair will also find that Green Gobbler is one of the best drain cleaners for hair and soap scum.

Green Gobbler’s eco-clean formula begins to liquify grease, hair, paper, soap film, and all organic matter on contact. Unlike DrainScrub, Green Gobbler is better to use for its fast-acting power rather than as an unclogger & preventative combo treatment. If your clogging issue isn’t persistent and more of a one-time deal, you’ll probably find that Green Gobbler is your best bet since it’s affordable and provides two full treatments.

Pros

  • One of the fastest-acting non-corrosive drain cleaners on the market
  • Odorless, eco-friendly formula
  • Safe for all types of old pipes, including plastic
  • A great choice for removing pipe sludge
  • Excellent value for the money
  • Recommended for homes built as far back as the 1930s or more
  • Clears grease clogs like a champ

Cons

  • Does not work for everyone
  • Two applications per bottle
  • More negative reports than DrainScrub

#3) Thrift Odorless Drain Cleaner


If you’re not a fan of enzymatic cleaners and want a caustic drain cleaner that’s easier on your pipes, Thrift is the best non-acid drain cleaner on the market. The non-acidic formula contains sodium hydroxide aka lye. Compared to an enzymatic cleaner, Thrift is more powerful and goes to work faster.

Once you apply Thrift, it has the ability to clear a clog in as little as 60 seconds. The non-acidic formula is safe to use in all types of drain pipes, including plastic, and it won’t harm your valuable plumbing fixtures.

A couple of final advantages of choosing Thrift are its indefinite shelf life, easy application, and value for the money. Compared to Green Gobbler, Thrift costs less per application.

Pros

  • Works faster than Green Gobber and DrainScrub
  • Quickly dissolves grease clogs in old pipes
  • Recommended for clearing old galvanized pipes
  • Works better than Drano
  • Unclogs completely blocked pipes
  • Clears cast iron pipes
  • Unclogs tough kitchen sink clogs

Cons

  • Caustic drain cleaners are harsher than enzymatic (use gloves and eye protection)
  • Can potentially damage PVC pipes and PVC sealant

#4) Green Gobbler Main Line Opener & Toilet Clog Remover


Green Gobbler’s Main Line Opener works a little differently than its Drain Clog Dissolver. Unlike Drain Clog Dissolver, Main Line Opener is not an enzymatic cleaner.

Instead, it’s an odorless, biodegradable formula that works to dissolve clogs and buildup in pipes to prevent future clogs. Of the products in this guide, Main Line Opener and DrainScrub are the best unclogger & preventative treatment options.

One advantage of choosing Main Line Opener over Thrift is no sodium hydroxide to worry about. Compared to Thrift, Main Line Opener is a better choice for treating delicate PVC pipes. The non-corrosive formula makes Main Line Opener compatible with just about any type of drain pipe, and the large bottle provides up to 4 treatments.

Pros

  • One of the best maintenance drain cleaners for old pipes
  • Industrial-strength formula, minus the corrosive ingredients
  • Does not contain sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • Gentle enough to use in antiquated plumbing
  • A good alternative to caustic drain cleaners
  • Eliminates foul odors in old pipes
  • Septic-Safe
  • Odorless

Cons

  • Does not work for everyone
  • Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver is better for hair

#5) XIONLAB Safer Drain Clog Remover


The final product in our guide is the most environmentally-friendly of the bunch. This non-corrosive, non-toxic formula is great for all types of drains, minus toilets. If you want to clear toilet drain pipes, DrainScrub and Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver are better choices.

However, if you want to unclog a kitchen sink, bathtub, shower, disposal, and/or bathroom sink, this is an excellent formula. It’s most effective for clearing hair, soap residue, fats, oils, and grease. If you need to clear a completely clogged drain, the Xionlab formula is heavier than water and will reach down past standing water into your pipes.

Another clear advantage is its compatibility with all pipes, including all types of old pipes of all ages. Additionally, people who want to avoid hurting the biological enzymes and beneficial bacteria in a septic system will like that this formula is septic-safe. Lastly, the company even donates a portion of its proceeds to combat drug addiction, which we’re huge fans of, and we hope you are too.

Pros

  • Made in the USA, non-toxic, and odorless
  • Works great for clearing drain pipes in 1940s homes and older
  • Compatible with all pipes, including old PVC pipes
  • Does not contain sodium hydroxide or any corrosive ingredients
  • Powerful enough to clear persistent clogs with a single application
  • Good for pipes in old brownstones
  • Septic-Safe

Cons

  • Not 100% effective
  • Does not work to clear paper clogs in toilets
  • Pricier than other options

How to Unclog Old Pipes with Drain Cleaner

The most important thing to do is follow the directions to a T and always use a single product. Once you match your clogging issue to one of the formulas in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to getting rid of your clogging issue. Remember, enzymatic cleaners are the safest to use in old drain pipes because they don’t contain any strong acid or alkaline chemicals.

Before you buy a drain cleaner, consider using a good home drain snake to remove most, if not all, of the clog. This is a much better option that’ll cost you less in the long run. Instead of relying on a drain cleaner to dissolve and/or liquefy the matter causing the clog, you remove it with a snake. Then, follow up the snake treatment with a good maintenance drain cleaner such as an enzymatic cleaner.

Another excellent option to avoid clogging issues is to install drain protectors throughout the sinks and tubs in your home. Drain protectors and hair catchers are great for grabbing hair before it starts to accumulate in your drain pipes.

Bottom Line

The best drain cleaner for old pipes is certainly an enzymatic one. Enzymatic cleaners are the safest and most non-corrosive options for clearing clogs. Yes, they do take longer to work than caustic and acidic cleaners, but they come with more long-term advantages than corrosive cleaners offer. Plus, they’re safe to use in all types of old pipes.

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