Clogged drains (and the disgusting grease/hair/toothpaste sludge that comes with them) are an unpleasant fact of life. The easy solution is to use a conventional drain cleaner—but who feels good about dumping harsh chemicals directly into the tub or sink? The good news is that environmentally friendly alternatives exist. But can they possibly compete with the old noxious standbys? We put a few green drain cleaners to work on our problematic pipes and found that though they might require a little more patience than their more toxic counterparts, several brands are definitely worth trying.

Earth Enzymes
Mix the sand-like granules from the bottle with warm water and pour it down the problem pipe. After 24 hours, flush with water and voila—a cleared drain. It’s biodegradable, non-toxic, and works pretty well to unclog that pesky plug.

$19.50 (1 gallon),
Total Solutions’ Bio-Flow contains enzymes and bacteria that help break down grease and food in your drain. It works well on clogged sinks while deodorizing the area with a minty scent. The ingredients can irritate your eyes and skin, though, so make sure to avoid splashing it as you pour.

This liquid is the result of a partnership between CLR and the EPA’s Design for the Environment program, meaning it’s an eco-friendlier option than most commercial products. It seems to be the best bet for more serious clogs, plus it comes with a money-back guarantee.

Liquid-Plumr: Power Jet
This drain cleaner is also free of harsh chemicals because it uses a jet of liquid and air to blast out clogs. It works surprisingly well for minor clogs that cause slow drainage. Take note: The container can be difficult to recycle, depending on local regulations.

Drainbo Natural Drain Cleaner
We love the pun-y name of this non-toxic liquid, which contains only natural ingredients. Its eco appeal makes it worth a shot for slow drains, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well for serious blockages.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in August 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007