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One of the best things to happen in the plumbing field in recent times has been the development of biological drain cleaners as an alternative to dangerous and ecologically harmful chemicals. These biological products work via bacteria that consume organic waste.

There are various products of this nature on the market. The best one, in my opinion, is Bio-Clean, which is sold only by plumbing contractors. While the exact formula is a secret, Bio-Clean is a composite of bacteria, enzymes and additives, all coming from natural sources. These natural ingredients come in a powder that remains dormant in its protective container until you apply the right amount of water and pour the solution into waste matter. Then the bacteria come to life and start searching for yucky food. Once fed, their instincts turn to that other fundamental source of life, and they begin to multiply.

The Bio-Clean bugs eat their way through the filth of drain lines, septic tanks, cesspools, RV holding tanks and grease traps without harming pipes, containers or any other inorganic material. People continually find new uses for this amazing substance. It works great, for instance, in removing odor from kitty litter boxes, as well as toilets and urinals. You also can pour it on virtually any kind of organic spill and watch the gooey mess slowly disappear like the Cheshire Cat.

Since the bugs attack only organic waste, Bio-Clean is completely safe and commonly used in hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and other places subject to stringent health inspections. If you mix it with water and leave it in an open container, nothing will happen, until you drop some nasty stuff into the mixture. Then the nasty stuff will slowly disappear. If you drop some on the floor, don't worry about it. Nor need you worry about using it around children, pets or plants (because it only attacks dead organic tissue, not live matter). People can even ingest Bio-Clean without any ill effects, which some of its salesmen are apt to do from time to time. While I don't find their demonstrations particularly appetizing, they do drive home the point about its harmlessness.

Perhaps the best testimony to its safety is that you won't find any warning labels on Bio-Clean containers. This is a mark of supreme confidence by the manufacturers and sellers in our lawsuit-crazed society.


Bio-Clean is not only better for the environment than the household drain cleaners sold in supermarkets, it works better too. The popular liquid drain cleaners are basically nothing more than bottles of diluted acid. When you pour the liquid or crystals down a drain, these chemicals helplessly succumb to gravity. They can't climb the inner side and ceiling walls of pipes, so they can't reach the waste that fills most of the interior. All they can do is seep along the bottom and burn a small tunnel in the accumulation. Picture a piece of 2-inch diameter tube with about a 1/4-inch diameter tube resting inside of it. The larger cylinder represents the accumulated waste matter blocking your drain line, the smaller tube the hole burrowed by the caustic chemical. It doesn't take long for another solid to block that small hole once again.

Sometimes the blockage is so dense that it cannot be completely penetrated by the chemical. Instead the chemical accumulates until it burns a hole in the pipe wall, or reacts with grease in the system to form a caustic soap that can congeal into a substance as hard as concrete. These caustic soap dams can be harder to eliminate than the original waste stoppage.

In contract, Bio-Clean bacteria spread out along the entire inner surface of the pipe wall, eating waste away from floor, sides and ceiling alike. Depending on the size and type of blockage, it usually takes 3 to 14 days for the bugs to consume all accumulated waste inside household drain pipes. When finished, those drain lines will be almost as clean as the day they were installed.

For initial treatment it is recommended to apply for 5 consecutive days a mixture of about 1 level tablespoon of Bio-Clean powder for each inch of pipe diameter, mixed with 1 pint per tablespoon of lukewarm water. Afterwards, a single treatment about once a month is usually sufficient for maintenance.


While I think Bio-Clean is the best drain cleaning product around, you should be aware of a few drawbacks and limitations.

One is that during the initial treatment stage, it might momentarily worsen a blockage before eliminating it. This is because it works so well removing waste from the entire interior of pipes. As waste gets eaten from the upper portion of a pipe surface, it may loosen and fall in a heap that may block the flow for awhile until the bacteria can finish their feast on the floor. As a result, many plumbers who sell Bio-Clean recommend that you have your drain line rodded as part of the initial treatment. Odds are this would be the last time you'll need rodding as long as you continue to use Bio-Clean.

You also ought to be aware that Bio-Clean will not attack inorganic compounds that may get trapped in the drain line, such as children's toys. (It will work on toilet paper, tissue and sanitary napkins, because they are all made from organic substances.) Also, while Bio Clean will eventually degrade hair, this takes substantially longer than it does to get rid of most other organic build-ups. Even using Bio Clean, from time to time you may find it necessary to take a plunger to the drains where you wash your hair. What comes up, however, will be almost pure hair instead of the foul mixture of hair and gunk found in homes that don't use Bio-Clean.

Also, Bio-Clean will not work without the right combination of water volume, temperature and pH. However, using it correctly does not require a degree in rocket science. Each container comes with clear and simple instructions that virtually everyone can handle.

A can of Bio-Clean contains about 85 tablespoons of the substance. For most households, this is enough for a year or more of treatment and maintenance. This is less than the cost of a single rodding with a drain cleaning machine, and much more gentle on your fixtures and pipes.

Ask your plumber about Bio-Clean. If he doesn't sell it, ask him, why not? Both he and you are missing out on something good.




Noritz: Your tankless water heater specialist

Noritz: Your tankless water heater specialist

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