Bio-Clean for chronic slow drains?
June 25, 2013 8:24 AM   Subscribe

We have slow drains in both the bathroom sink and the tub - drano only improves flow somewhat. A plumber recommended Bio-Clean to us but despite the positive reviews online we are skeptical that it can help. Do any mefites have professional opinions or firsthand experience using Bio-Clean for slow drains?

I am decidedly unhandy and we are considering this option as a low-hassle alternative to having the drains professionally snaked or whatever.
posted by BigLankyBastard to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Anecdotal evidence:
I bought Bio-Clean from our plumber for big bucks and it didn't do shit.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:25 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried something like the Zip it? It's like $3, worked for me when Drano wasn't working.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:35 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Seconding Zip It
posted by 6ATR at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2013

Didn't work. Zip It all the way.
posted by fozzie_bear at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2013

I don't know about the "Bio-Clean" stuff, but Bio Kleen makes this and I've had really good luck with it. It seems like a similar product for way less money.
posted by corey flood at 8:38 AM on June 25, 2013

I'm 50/50 on escalating from Drano to the stuff that comes in a plastic bag overwrap where the label is 90% about how it will kill you if you use it wrong. It cleared out a persistent blockage in my bathroom sink drain in about 10 seconds and it hasn't plugged up again since like always happened with Drano.

Of course, when I used it on my tub drain it dissolved through the organic material that was all that was keeping the 80 year old iron pipe from having been _completely_ rusted through. Still waiting to find out how much that's going to cost to fix. Yay homeownership!

I took a picture of the stuff I use for reference, but all it says is "Drain Opener" which is just about the least useful name _ever_.
posted by Kyol at 8:43 AM on June 25, 2013

We had to snake out tub drain to remove the giant hair clogs - but you can buy one at a hardware store, and do it yourself fairly easily. We are by no means handy.
posted by florencetnoa at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2013

I'm 50/50 on escalating from Drano to the stuff that comes in a plastic bag overwrap where the label is 90% about how it will kill you if you use it wrong...I took a picture of the stuff I use for reference, but all it says is "Drain Opener" which is just about the least useful name _ever_.

Lye. It is cheap, it is magical, and I would encourage you to do your own research on the dangers. Anecdotally, it is the only thing I use on slow drains, and it works.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:52 AM on June 25, 2013

Nthing Zip it! This mechanical solution worked way better. I have one in every bathroom these days.
posted by answergrape at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2013

Yes to Zip It - it worked way better for us than any drano substance, and it didn't eat the pipes. (which were iron at our last house.)
posted by needlegrrl at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2013

I have a Zip-It as well as a full-on snake. Much better than chemicals, IMO. And super satisfying.
posted by padraigin at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2013

padraigin: "I have a Zip-It as well as a full-on snake. Much better than chemicals, IMO. And super satisfying."

Nthing the zip it. But instead of super satisfying, I'd call it super GROSS.

But also super effective.
posted by Grither at 9:11 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I blew five bucks on a zip it. Spent $20 on a real snake and am happy with the results.
posted by tilde at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have had no luck with Zip It on tub drains. It seems to work somewhat better on sink drains. I think this has to do with where the pipe bends under the tub -- I never could get the Zip It to follow the pipe.

This is what I do, in order of escalation:

1. Zip It (or a coat hanger, if I know there's a clog that just needs some coaxing to move on down)

2. Half a box of baking soda dumped down the drain -- and get it down in there, you want it going DOWN the drain and not coming back up, because the next step is to pour half a big bottle of white vinegar down the drain. Sometimes you get a nasty volcano of baking soda/vinegar/pipe gunk coming back up the drain, but ideally most of it will flow down the pipe and clear out a lot of the soap/body oils/other sticky goo that's holding the hair (mostly likely culprit) in place. Follow the baking soda/vinegar treatment with a lot of hot water. Repeat at least twice.

3. Plunger. Close the drain, fill the tub or sink, open the drain, and plunge, plunge, plunge! Force whatever clog is down there out of the pipe.

4. Snake. The last time I had to have a drain snaked, it cost me all of $110. Not chump change, but not super expensive either. I preferred having a plumber come and do the job for me because it was a rental and I didn't want to risk doing anything bad to the pipe.

If you have the drain snaked, chances are the snake will come up with a giant ball of hair. Prevent recurrence by getting a drain cover to catch the hair. Once a month, do the baking soda/vinegar dance to keep the pipe clear.
posted by devinemissk at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2013

Bio-Clean is (supposedly) for long-term maintenance after you've gotten your pipes running clear.
In my experience, it doesn't do shit.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:34 AM on June 25, 2013

Zip-it for sinks, small snake for tubs and larger.

(yeah zip-it is gross but it works very well. haven't bought draino or whatever in umteen yeers)
posted by edgeways at 9:45 AM on June 25, 2013

I've had great success with zip-it on shower & tub drains. It depends greatly on the way it was plumbed out. There's really no good reason not to try one before a full-on snake. They're cheap, work just as well as a full snake for short distances, and take up no storage space once you own it.

In my experience there's not a single one of the chemical solutions that works well on a soap&hair clump once it's formed, even just partial clots.
posted by phearlez at 9:46 AM on June 25, 2013

We used Bio-Clean in our 60+ year old house. Followed the instructions and worked from the top of the house down over a week or so. It worked like a champ. And I mean REALLY worked.

We now use it about once every six months for maintenance.

Great stuff!

WARNING: DON'T USE DRANO. IT EATS CAST IRON PIPES IN OLD HOUSES. (I know this because it ate through a pipe in our bathroom wall and subsequently flooded the basement. It took us a while to notice that everytime we ran the sink water was raining down inside our walls...)
posted by matty at 10:08 AM on June 25, 2013

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. At this point about once every 18 months or so I end up using the scary black jug that comes in a bag to clear out the drains when they slow down too much.
posted by monopas at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use the zip-it.

Pour in bleach, let it sit overnight, pour in several gallons of boiling water.

Obviously, make sure the drains are completely clear of draino before trying either of these things.
posted by yohko at 2:46 PM on June 25, 2013

I haven't used that brand, but biological drain maintenance was part of my multi-national employer's routine weekly maintenance. I can assure you, they wouldn't go through the effort unless it provably did something.

But yes, it's about keeping drains clear, not unclogging them.

If the drain still runs slow after the plumber has been there, they didn't do their job.

Finally, when you use Draino, only use the dangerous, fizzy dry flakes kind. The liquids don't work. You might as well just dump bleach down the drain.

Finally, Draino is fine with cast iron. "Sodium hydroxide does not attack iron since iron does not have amphoteric properties (i.e., it only dissolves in acid, not base). A few transition metals, however, may react vigorously with sodium hydroxide." IE, aluminum is a different story.

What it does do is remove the gunk that is holding the pipe together, and thus exposes holes that were already there.
posted by gjc at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I use the plunger or the Zipit to clean drains, I get lots of black gunk that seems to be soap scummy, and lots of hair. When I had a place with old, old pipes, there may also have been calcification built up, effectively narrowing the pipes. I use the Zipit every month or so, and it works great to get the hair clogs slowing the tub drain. I've plunged drains, too, with good results. Baking soda & vinegar seems to help with the black gunk, esp. if followed with a lot of very hot water. Drano is a really toxic product to keep in your home, if you use it, be very cautious.

Bio-clean says it has bacteria & enzymes. It trips my BS meter, because in a drain, it's going to get washed away pretty fast. I can't find an authoritative site, or a list of ingredients.
posted by theora55 at 9:28 PM on June 25, 2013

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