August 4, 2011 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Is there a German equivalent for American Drain-O? I'm having problems with a sink that won't drain.

The sink is draining awfully slowly in the apartment I'm renting in Munich. I suspect it's just the usual-- hair or crud stuck in the U-Bend, etc. I went to a couple of supermarkets/drugstores (Tengelmann, Rossman, etc.) to look for drain cleaner that resembles American Drain-O but either couldn't find it or recognize it. Does it exist? What names should I be looking out for? I'd like not to have to bother my landlady to call for a plumber. Thanks for any help!
posted by ms.codex to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Why don't you just pull the U-bend off and clean it out?
posted by theichibun at 6:54 AM on August 4, 2011

If you are renting and there is an issue, why can't you bother the landlady (or is the renting culture there that much different)?
posted by TinWhistle at 6:55 AM on August 4, 2011

I can't help you with specific products, but chemistry class has gotten me through a bunch of slow drains: baking soda & vinegar dumped liberally down the drain. It will start foaming wildly, put a cup or something over it so it doesn't foam back into the sink, you want the foamy stuff to go down. Let it sit for a half hour, then dump a teakettle of boiling water after it.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:55 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is not directly answering the question, but have you tried other methods of opening the drain? When I have a slow drain I usually start by dumping a large pot of boiling water down it. If that doesn't work, I put some baking soda down the drain, then follow it with a cup or so of vinegar and stop up the drain (with a stopper or a damp wash cloth held firmly in place) for a few minutes while the acid + base react and hopefully push the clog out. On preview, I guess my method is the same as 8dot3's, though in the opposite order. I've never had to resort to Drano.
posted by Orinda at 6:58 AM on August 4, 2011

Response by poster: If you are renting and there is an issue, why can't you bother the landlady (or is the renting culture there that much different)?

No, I suppose I could ask her, but I thought there might be an easier and faster fix that I could do myself.

Never heard of the vinegar/baking soda stuff-- maybe I'll try that, thanks!
posted by ms.codex at 7:01 AM on August 4, 2011

This looks like the German equivalent of the Mr. Muscle Vloeibare Ontstopper I use in the Netherlands. (Same manufacturer, different brand.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:10 AM on August 4, 2011

Posted too soon, sorry! Here's the clarification: it's a chemical that you pour down the drain, then rinse through with warm water after half an hour or so. This is the British version - you'll probably find that page more informative than the Dutch one I linked to just now.

The German link in that last comment lists three products, which I guess all do the same sort of thing; the direct equivalent would probably be the Power Gel. Hopefully your German's good enough to verify that they do what you want and let you decide which one to get.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:19 AM on August 4, 2011

Look here, or if you don't read German, at the English site (which, however, doesn't show you any products, but talks about methods, effects and risks).

In any case: your search term is Rohrreiniger.

[But seriously, just take apart the U-bend and rinse it out, instead of introducing more chemicals to your household]
posted by Namlit at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2011

Germany has (or at least, had, when I lived there) Drano. I don't know how good your German is, but look for stuff that says "Abflussreiniger" or "Rohrreiniger" or "Rohrfrei".

Domestos was the stuff I always used. Look for something called "Domestos Rohrfrei Express Gel" (it looks like this).
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 7:39 AM on August 4, 2011

Please don't use Draino, that stuff is terrible for the environment and it also corrodes pipes. You can use a drain snake (sorry but I don't know the German) which is a mechanical device to clear blocked drains.
posted by number9dream at 8:05 AM on August 4, 2011

Have you tried just using a simple plunger, you know, the kind used for toilets, a stick with a rubber cup at the end?
posted by mareli at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2011

You need "Abflussreiniger", or "Abflussfrei", or "Rohrreiniger". Something like this. I don't know where you are in Munich, but if you're anywhere near Universität, go to the Suckfüll Hardware store in Türkenstraße and let them advise you - they have the good plumber-strength stuff. Otherwise, "Abflussfrei" (household-strength) is available at any DM Markt, Rossmann or Müller Drugstore. In my experience, it works better than american Drano. Good luck :) (Oh, and calling a plumber for a clogged drain is very unusual in Germany. Your Munich landlord will probably not help you at all. German, and especially Munich, renters are expected to deal with stuff like this themselves. Sorry.)
posted by The Toad at 9:22 AM on August 4, 2011

Drano is basically caustic soda i.e. a really strong alkali. It's good for breaking up grease-based clogs. Dishwasher powder is also loaded with alkaline salts - not quite as vicious as caustic soda but still quite effective, and you may already have it in your kitchen. Pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain to heat it up and fill the U-bend with as much hot as it will hold, then dump about a dishwasher-load's worth of dishwasher powder down there, and follow it with about another half-cup of boiling water to encourage it into the bend. Leave that for half an hour and then flush with another kettle of boiling water. If that doesn't work, I doubt Drano would either.
posted by flabdablet at 9:25 AM on August 4, 2011

Oh and if you worry about the environment - I've had good experiences with baking soda and very hot water. Use one or two bags of "Kaiser Natron" (available at Tengelman in the baking aisle), pour it down the drain, add about 3 cups of boiling water, let stand for a few minutes and try to flush it out with hot water from the tap. Obvs this only works when the drain still drains a bit and isn't completely clogged.
posted by The Toad at 9:26 AM on August 4, 2011

I frequently get a slow drain in the shower, from a combination of long hair and liberal use of conditioner. I solve it by pouring down about a cup of straight bleach, and letting it sit overnight. In the morning, follow it with a pot of very hot (not necessarily boiling) water.

It always works! I got this trick from a friend who's a plumber.
posted by ErikaB at 9:46 AM on August 4, 2011

Drain cleaners like Drāno are lye (sodium hydroxide) and often bleach, enzymes (what kind of enzymes, I have no idea) and occasionally some extra fizzing agent. I usually use straight lye; it works like a charm on the usual hair-and-goop shower or sink drain clogs. Presumably it dissolves the hair and saponifies the oily goop. Anyway, I'd try asking for Natronlauge for clearing drains?

Please don't use Draino, that stuff is terrible for the environment and it also corrodes pipes.

IANAenvironmental biologist, but I wouldn't think lye would be bad for the environment. Once it's reacted with the organic goo in the sewer system it should be no different from dumping an equivalent amount of salt and soap down the drain (and it rarely takes more than a couple of teaspoonfuls to unclog my drains). Bleach, of course, is not good for the environment.
posted by hattifattener at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2011

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