What Does “Caustic” Mean When It Comes to Cleaners?

March 16, 2018 12:11 am Published by Leave your thoughts

A “caustic” substance is one that is quite powerful and capable of dissolving other substances. While caustic cleaners can be quite effective, they also pose a variety of potential dangers, including the ability to eat away tissue due to chemical action, or corrode pipes if used improperly.

Here’s a general overview of the effects of caustic drain cleaners from a longtime professional cleaning service in Fort Wayne, IN.

Using chemical cleaners

Generally when you purchase a drain cleaner, you’re going to have a choice between chemical or enzymatic cleaners. Most people go with chemical cleaners, which use sodium hydroxide (a caustic substance) or sulfuric acid. These cleaners are highly corrosive to both metals and organic materials. While it will clear a clog in your sink or shower, it could also burn your skin or damage your pipes if used at overly high levels.

You should never use a chemical cleaner on a completely clogged drain—the caustic materials in that cleaner can eat through pipes while trying to clear the blockage. This holds true for all types of pipe materials, including PVC, galvanized steel, iron and copper.

Compare this to enzymatic cleaners, which instead use a natural enzyme mixture that will live within the pipes and eat organic materials, clearing blockages. This is a much more natural and environmentally friendly means of clearing blockages in your drains.

The down side is that this can take longer than chemicals to clear the blockage—you’ll likely need to apply the cleaner and let it go to work overnight, or longer. You’ll also need to use multiple applications of the cleaner, because you’ll need to replace the parts of the enzyme colony that go down the drain. Also, if you use a chemical cleaner or bleach, that will damage the enzyme colony and remove some of its benefits.

The effects of caustic chemical cleaners

Caustic chemical cleaners can be quite harmful to the environment, and unused cleaners are considered hazardous waste. The packaging cannot be recycled, and all cleaners poured down the drain will eventually make their way into the environment.

These cleaners can also be harmful to people. It will instantly begin eating organic material such as clothes or skin, so it is important to use chemical gloves and goggles if you do decide to use them. You must keep these cleaners away from children or pets—if swallowed, these cleaners could have fatal effects.

In general, it is highly recommended that you look for alternatives to caustic cleaners if you have clogged pipes. Try using plungers or drain snakes, or use mixtures of vinegar and baking soda. Call a professional plumber if needed. But in general, the quick fix provided by caustic cleaners is not worth the potential damage they can cause, both to your pipes and to the environment, not to mention to you and your family.

For more information about cleaner options, contact a cleaning service in Fort Wayne, IN. The team at Pro Clean Building Services, Inc. would be glad to assist you!

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