Can You Put Bleach in Outside Drains?—Everything You Need to Know

Posted September 18, 2023 by in Home

Plenty of people assume that pouring bleach down the drain will help to unclog or dissolve any blockages within the drain pipe. As a result, bleach is often poured down clogged drain pipes in order to clear them up and keep the garbage disposal, toilet, sink, bathroom sink and all the other drains working.

Many people also use bleach in their outside drains – but does it actually work, and is it safe to do so?

Does bleach down the drain clear a clogged drain?

The short answer is no. Pouring bleach, whether it is chlorine bleach or another type, down your inside or outside drain will not actually fix anything. If you are trying to solve a blocked external drain, adding bleach down the drain can actually make your issue worse. Bleach is a very powerful cleaner, but it has no use as a drain unblocker.

Is pouring bleach down the drain pipe a bad idea?

Pouring bleach down the drain, be it inside or outside, is a bad idea. It is less harmful in outside drains, but should still be avoided. Using chlorine bleach down a drain instead of drain cleaners or drain unblockers can have a range of undesirable effects.

First of all, bleach is a very pungent liquid. Inhaled too much alone, it can cause irritation. But when mixed with other household cleaners, food waste, and whatever else might be in your drain pipe, you run the risk of creating toxic gases. Luckily, in outdoor spaces, these will dissipate fairly quickly, however, there is the chance of them entering your home too. These gases can cause anything from mild irritation and cough to asphyxiation. This is especially important with chlorine bleach as it can create toxic gases such as chlorine gas.

On top of that, bleach down the drain is very much not environmentally friendly. Bleach is harmful and bleach kills many living things, so adding it to the sewer system can be detrimental.

Bleach is also known to cause chemical reactions with certain substances. Since you do not know what is down your drain, it is best to avoid adding bleach into the mix. If you pour bleach down your drain, you may find that it reacts with substances in the pipes, and this can cause damage or potentially burst a pipe – both of which are expensive to fix.

Finally, whilst your outside drain may not seem like it’s the biggest deal, you might find that many of the effects continue into your home. Gases may travel through your pipes, as might smells, and this can make your home an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe place to be.

Bleach should not be poured down any drain, whether you’re trying to fix drain clogs in your shower drain, kitchen sink, toilet, or bath. It can cause serious damage to both you and your plumbing system, and if you have a septic system it can be even more detrimental, as bleach kills and will decimate all of the helpful bacteria within the system.

What should you do about a clogged outside drain?

If you have a blocked outside drain, there are a few ways to handle it that don’t involve you having to pour bleach down into your blocked drain. If you have poured bleach down your blocked external drain recently, be extra careful with which products you add in next in order to avoid any damage or chemical reactions.

Drain rods

Just like large drain snakes, drain rods are a plumbing tool that helps you to tackle the drain blockage without having to add any chemical drain cleaners to the mix. The rods poke and prod at whatever is blocking the drain pipes, breaking it up in the process.

Enzymatic Drain Cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners are an alternative option to chlorine bleach for unblocking your drain, and it is one that will actually work. Enzymatic cleaners work miracles on organic materials, so if you have a blockage caused by hair,

Hot water

Pouring hot water (be sure to use hot, not boiling water) can help to unblock your outside drain. The hot water works as a great drain unblocker as it melts away and dissolves whatever is causing the blocked drain.

It is important to make sure that your water is only hot, not boiling. Boiling water can be detrimental to the pipes.

Baking soda and white vinegar

This is a time-tested method of drain cleaning that works on both indoor and outdoor drains. It relies on a chemical reaction caused by the combining of baking soda and vinegar. By pouring half a cup of each down under the drain cover, you can rely on the reaction to break up organic clogs within the drainage system. For stubborn clogs, leave the mixture to soak for a while and then pour warm water (never pour boiling water) down the pipes. You should then find that your drain is unblocked. You can also use safest toilet paper for septic tanks to wipe the outer sides for a complete cleaning experience. 

Power washer

If you have one, Renwash says that a power washer can also be really helpful when it comes to handling blocked drains. Simply place the end of the power washer into the drain chamber, and then turn it on. The pressurised water will rush through and unclog drains by pushing any blockages out of the way.

Call a professional plumbing service

If none of those methods work or your blocked drain is an emergency, call a professional plumbing service to come and help you handle it. They will know what to do, even if you’ve accidentally poured bleach down the drain, and will know what drain cleaner is safe to use and what isn’t. That way, you can avoid mixing bleach with the wrong items, protect your pipework, and get nice clean drains in no time at all.

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