Written by Terry Smith
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Best drain unblockers UK: Top drain and sink unblocker tools reviewed – HG Duo, Mr Muscle and tools compared
This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 5:08 am
There is nothing worse than a blocked drain. At some point – we’ve all experienced it, for most of us it comes at the most inconvenient of times too(not that there is a good time of course!). My problem came the day my girlfriends parents (now wife) were coming over for a bbq to meet us for the first time. I’m going back some years here 😀 A few hours before they were due over the kitchen sink started filling up, not draining away as well as the sink in the bathroom – somehow they were connected. Turns out the somewhere much further down the drain pipe was blocked. I fixed my problem with a two pronged attack, a drain unblocking tool and some good old HG Duo one of the best drain unblockers in the UK still.
Knowing I was limited on time, I attacked it with chemicals quickly first (which obviously failed as that would have been too easy), so I then used the drain unblocking tool, which after some faffing about did save my bacon 😀 but I wouldn’t wish that job on my worst enemy 🙂 Incidentally, I have included that drain unblocking tool in this review but the focus should be on using liquid drain blocker, it’s so much more civilised. The interesting part to this story was I noticed the slow drain for ages but ignored it and finally clogged at the worst possible moment – so a stitch in time and all that 🙂 Had I left the drain unblocker liquid in over night I am confident I would have saved a load of grief and stress.
TOP TIP TO TRY BEFORE YOU BUY THE BEST DRAIN UNBLOCKER FOR FREE: Before relying on chemicals to clear the problem you can try a couple of things for free. Firstly send some washing up liquid down the toilet bowl or drain (wherever your block is basically) and leave for as long as you possibly can. The washing up liquid will slip around the blockage given time like good old WD-40 to release rusty bolts…. Then boil up a couple of kettles of water, and whilst boiling hot pour them in carefully. If your sink or toilet is full you’ll unfortunately need to decant this first or wait for it to slowly drain away as you need the boiling water at its hottest in the pipework where the block is. It might not fix the problem, on the other hand it might not only save on chemical use, but save you a few quid as well. If that doesn’t work out for you then keep reading and we will fin da sensible priced solution together!
Our top picks for best drain unblocker and sink unblocker in the UK
Best drain unblocker in the UK overall: HG Duo Unblocker
Best kitchen drain unblocker: HG Duo Unblocker
Best value bathroom drain unblocker: Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker
Best outside drain unblocker: Jeyes Drain Unblocker for Outdoor Drains
Best liquid sink unblocker for value: Mr Muscle Drain Foamer
Best sink unblocker: Mr Muscle Sink and Plug Unblocker
Best unblocker for hair:Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker
Quickest sink unblocker: Mr Muscle Sink and Plug Unblocker
Strongest drain unblocker: HG Duo Unblocker
Best drain unblocking tool: Bailey 5431 Universal Drain Rod Set in Carry Bag (3 Pieces)
Best value drain unblocking tool: Silverline 395010 Drain Unblocker 6 m x 6 mm Diameter
What you get in this article:
What is the difference between a drain unblocker tool, drain unblocker, and drain unblocker liquid and how to use it?
So since writing this initial review things have changed a bit over the last few years. Products have cropped up as the best at specific blockages, as well as chemical formulas that to better in some circumstances than others. So in his article I intend to help you understand the difference and help you compare which drain unblocker is best for you. Wickes provide a really god breakown of how to clear a drain block systematically:
How to use liquid drain unblocker
Drain unblocker liquid is the easiest way to fix most common blockages and is by far the cheapest place to start:
Simply pour the entire contents of the bottle, or the manufacturer recommend amount directly into your drain removing as much excess water as possible before and that’s it. Now all you need to do is wait. What you’ll notice in this review is that the manufacturer recommends you to wait 30 minutes before flushing or clearing with cold or warm water. However, a pro tip if you’ve tried one unblocker already or have a serious problem currently is to give it overnight. I’ve had massively better results with the overnight trick 🙂
You are ready to go. If you’ve got a block in your bathroom I would try the Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker first as that’s the best value. For kitchen blocks the cheapest option is the Mr Muscle Drain Foamer and well worth a go before spending on heavier solutions. You have to be realistic about the ability of these products though. If you’ve got a really serious block then I woulddn’t start with these as they are unlikely to get the problem sorted. I would instead go for a much heavier option and probably the strongest drain unblocker in the UK – the HG Duo Unblocker.
Failing that you’ll need to roll up your sleeves so to speak and get dirty. The next options are all physical rods that either attempt to dislodge the block or simply ram through it.
How to use a drain unblocker tool
A drain unblocking tool is basically a physical ram to attempt to clear the block – if it’s really really bad you’ll need a professional to ram with really sturdy pipes or the next best thing that is considerably cheaper would be the Bailey 5431 Universal Drain Rod Set in Carry Bag (3 Pieces) but you could try the cheaper Silverline 395010 Drain Unblocker 6 m x 6 mm Diameter which works pretty well though no where near as robust when compared.
When you look at the negative reviews it’s actually quite important to remember just how full of fat and nasty stuff your drains actually can be. It’s no exaggeration to say they can literally be entirely filled with hard lard greasy type fats. If you think about it, stopping water flow really takes some serious effort. Look at just how easily water leaks through pipes, window frames, walls, and other areas it shouldn’t to actually stop those problems is quite a feat, conversely to stop flow in your pipes means your pipe is completely jammed and it could be several feet of blockage, not just a few inches like you might be picturing. Here’s a pipe that’s been cut out and you can easily see why there’s reduced flow rate of water. This isn’t even ‘blocked’
So what I’m getting at here is the drain unblocker has to do so serious dissolving to clear a real block. It’s possible you’ll need a second ‘shot’ or a physical rod to really clear things up.
FAQs when buying drain unblocker
Are there any good free options to unblock drains?
You can always try to pour boiling water down your drain first. The best bet is to go with boiling water, let that clear, then washing up liquid and more boiling water. Failing that you can try some caustic soda if you have any in the shed but that’s not strictly free but worth a go!
Some suggest baking soda and vinegar for a foam action but I have to tell you I haven’t had much success with that myself. I’d rather pay a few quid for a drain unblocker than waste my time too much.
What is the best way to unblock drains?
There are three really good methods to unblock a drain. First and cheapest is to use liquid unblocker or one of the cheaper unblocking tools like the Silverline 395010 Drain Unblocker 6 m x 6 mm Diameter which is extremely effective for less than a tenner.
If things are a bit tougher but you don’t want to spend on a plumber then you’re going to need the Bailey 5431 Universal Drain Rod Set in Carry Bag (3 Pieces)but remember this is for mains drains and straight runs.
How to stop blocked drains occurring again and reduce bad odours?
The best way to stop your drains blocking is to be proactive – the common problems are hair and grease. So with the hair, make sure you fit a good trap that collects hair for you. This will need emptying but it’ll almost certainly solve the problem going forward in your bathroom. When I look at the contents of a bathroom block, it almost always stems from hair binding everything together with solid soaps. This is not easy thing to break down and left will almost certainly need some sort of solid rod to push or pull it apart.
Serious tip: If its grease in the kitchen the simplest solution is to NEVER pour it down the drain. If you absolutely have to though, you want to run the hot tap first for a bit to heat up the water in the drain pipe, and leave running while you send the grease down the sink, then leave it running for a bit after. This will stop the grease turning hard and clogging but it’s far far better to safely dispose of it in a bin. You also need to consider that its a waste of water and you’ll make it smell badly. What I highly recommend once you fully clear a block and to keep things smelling nice, is use Ecozone Enzymatic Drain Sticks. Going forward this will help you keep your drains in tip top condition and so water will flow away better too.
If you’ve got a blocked toilet you’ll need to workout how to stop the kids using so much toilet paper – this is almost always the reason my toilet blocks. I always manage to clear the problem with a plunger but it isn’t the most pleasant of jobs 😀 Who said being a dad was easy? So let’s take a look at some of the drain unblockers available to make this a bit more pleasant:
The best drain unblocker in the UK reviewed
1. HG 139100106 Liquid
HG 139100106 Liquid was the first on my list for best drain unblocker and is designed more for bathrooms and toilets than kitchens – if you need a kitchen drain unblocker then move onto the next review as that’s also a cheap one too. As I mentioned it’s best to try to solve the problem for free, but if you can’t then cheap that works is the next best alternative 🙂
The HG 139100106 Liquid works by simply pouring into your blocks toilet basin or sink and leaving it for 30 minutes. Two things about this I don’t like. Firstly, from experience I know overnight is a far better solution and far more likely to fix the problem. So my best advice would be to start the process late at night, just before bed. This especially applies to bathroom sink as you can definitely do without that overnight. Hopefully you have more than one toilet but if not, it is what it is. Being a litre bottle you get three goes at this as they recommend 300ml per hit. So if you are in a rush you can try one 30 minute. Should that fail pour in the other 600ml and leave overnight.
Personally though knowing what I know and being an all or nothing kind of bloke, I’d pour in the whole litre late evening and hope to leave it to work its magic through the night. Then come in with a kettle of boiling water to finish the job. If this doesn’t fix the problem then you’re at that point where you’re going to need to go with a drain unblocking tool or call a plumber. It works by slowly eroding away at the blockage in extreme cases:
Two words of advice on this unblocker, if you’ve inadvertently got some metallic object lodged or perhaps a stone or cement, then theres no chance of this will work. You’re more likely to clear the problem with a hook or unblocking tool to give it a manual prod. You could up the game to the HG Duo which is more potent still if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty!
The other thing is have a care when you pour this down the drain. It’s designed to dissolve nasty organic matter, it’ll not differentiate between that and your fingers.
- Very cheap option
- Decent chance of it clearing the blockage if you check online reviews
- Trustable brand
- No known reports of damage to the plastic pipework or ceramic toilet pan etc
- Won’t clear metal or stone
2. Mr Muscle Drain Foamer
Good old Mr Muscle, I’ve been subjected to his naff ads when I was growing up. On the plus side, they’ve now got a product to match up to the over the top ads – Mr Muscle Drain Foamer is probably the best drain unblocker in the UK to get rid of nasty smells in a kitchen sink as well as unblock. And the better news still is the price, it’s only a few quid like the HG 139100106 Liquid which is comparable in cost but designed for the bathroom instead.
The way Mr Muscle Drain Foamer works is pretty much given away in the name. You gently pour it down your kitchen sink where it can sink to the blockage and will foam up. Assuming the build up is the usual – old fat and food, you have a pretty good chance of this working. It works by creating pressure, pushing the nasty blockage about and hopefully dislodging it. The hope is once dislodged hot water from the tap will be enough to finish pushing it away. I have to say, in my experience, nothing works quite this well for the money. It’s definitely the best liquid sink unblocker at this money. The big plus is that if this does work to remove the block, it’s a nailed on certainty to get rid of unpleasant odours too.
It’s super simple to use too. From their demo video here’s the important parts. First is application:
Step 1) Simply pour in when your drain is empty allowing water to flow straight into your drain.
Step2) Wait for half an hour or check if the recommended time varies on back of packaging
Step 3) Flush with hot water and you’re good to go:
The manufacturers say give it half hour, I say give it as long as you can. There’s no harm is there and you give yourself the best possible chance of an easy fix.
There’s a few negative reviews online that it didn’t work. Some of those reviews were a mistake picking the wrong type of drain unblocker – there’s a big difference between the type designed to break down fat in kitchen pipes and hair in bath traps. Fortunately if you’ve read my review you’ll now know the difference and give yourself a reasonable chance of pulling off a fix without a plumber or a physical unblocking kit! That said, if this doesn’t workout you can always try with something stronger – The HG Duo which is pretty much unrivalled by the first two reviews when compared for ability to clear a blockage.
- Super cheap liquid sink unblocker that actually works
- Best sink unblocker in the UK for the money
- Easy to apply
- Solves the problem quickly
- Highest rated for kitchen sinks online
- Only for kitchens
- Not the strongest solution
3. HG Duo Unblocker
When you comparer HG Duo to normal drain unblockers it’ll become pretty obvious the competition don’t stand much of a chance. This two part formula comes together to unclog seriously tough blockages in both the bathroom and kitchen.
Now you’re probably thinking that goes against everything I’ve been telling you to this point given I say drain unblockers are generally for either bathroom or kitchen and not for both applications. In this use case, you simple change the amount of each component you add. So in the bathroom you’ll addd a 2-1 ratio from bottle B to A, whereas in the Kitchen those ratios are reversed. So, here’s my problem with that. Given both bottles are equal volume, unless by some miracle you have blockages equally in the bathroom and kitchen you’ll end up with waste chemicals since it’s clear one method is more effective, you’ll be putting in a less effective method the second time…not really ideal is it and a trade off for the extra strength no question.
Like the other drain blockers there’s a specified minimum time, in this case it’s an hour, but just as I always mention leaving overnight is your best bet. If you’ve already tried boiling water and other options before this super strength one then chances are leaving overnight is going to be your best bet.
What you’ll find when you checkout other peoples opinions is the ability to clear blocks isn’t always possible calling it as waste of money! Some say caustic soda worked better, conversely others mention caustic soda worsened the block! What I’m getting at here is no two blockages are the same matter. Overall HG Duo definitely gives you the edge on an even playing field and is the best drain unblocker in the UK at the moment from my perspective.
The key to maximising your chances are to remove as much stagnant water as possible so the formula gets straight into the pipes. This give the least diluted solution direct to the source of the problem blockage. Give it overnight from here and then run your taps as per the instructions in the morning and see where you’re at. But to call it a waste of money is not true, it’s definitely worth a go, and as you know, people leave negative reviews far less frequently than positive. Most people using this product silently and happily use it again. I would realistically say it is fixing you 9 out of 10 times. Beats a plumber callout and it’s what I do with a block no question about that when you compare the situation and take a step back. And remember if it doesn’t work the first time you still have another chance in the same set pouring what’s left of the set in and crossing fingers 😀
Just remember though, this isn’t an outside drain solution, with all the mention of strength I just wanted to clear that up! 🙂 If this fails there are really only two options left, get a drain unblocker tool or call a plumber. It depends largely on whether or not you’re willing to get your hands dirty!
- Very strong and your best chance of clearing a serious block
- Instructions pretty clear
- Multiple attempts in one set to clear the problem
- Definitely a last resort option
- Clears blockages caustic soda cant sometimes
- Doesn’t fix all blockages
- Bit on the expensive side so worth trying a cheaper solution first
4. Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker
If you’ve got a bathroom blockage the Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker is where I’d go first, no question on that and when I compare it to its direct rival the HG 139100106 Liquid I feel like this is a better shout because of the price point – granted HG 139100106 Liquid gives you more chances but still, this is my favoured means of attack, especially if you’re willing to leave the chemicals down for a decent amount of time.
Not only is it the cheapest, it’s also probably the most effective as well. You basically pour in the whole bottle an cross your fingers. 😀 No seriously though – cross your fingers 🙂 Remember to get rid of all the stagnant water so this can go straight down into the pipes. I don’t like to be receptively boring but it’s crucial to give this formula as long as possible. You’ll notice the manufacturer saying give it 15 minutes but the reality is two days wouldn’t be too long! he more time you give it, the more chance this formula has at dissolving hair, and other nasty organic waste down there as well as soap and bits and pieces.
I can’t over stress enough to leave it be, I know it’s kind of exciting to know if this has worked to clear the blockage, but when the time comes, boil up a kettle of water and get it boiling straight into that pipe. Well done, there’s a seriously decent chance you’ve just fixed the problem without a plumber!
If that didn’t fix the problem though you’re at a cross roads, do you go for the HG Duo which is considerably stronger, or do you buy a physical unblocking drain tool? When I compare the options available I’d have to say the drain unblocking tool is the best probability for success though I know for a fact I will use HG Duo as I’m not a fan of getting stuck into the old muck 😀
From a cost standpoint this is my choice for the best bathroom drain unblocker.
- Best priced chance to clear drain block
- Good at dissolving hair for bathroom blocks
- Highest block clearing rate on Amazon
- Just throw it in an empty plug hole
- Only one shot so might want to buy two
5. Jeyes Drain Unblocker for Outdoor Drains
So far we haven’t looked at a solution for the outside drains. Jeyes Drain Unblocker is the solution you’re looking for. Not only is it the highest rated with thousands of feedback, when you compare the effectiveness to other outside drain unblocker, this is ahead of the pack making it my best choice for outside drain unblocker in my mind.
Given the external drains are so large, I tend to throw in loads of Jeyes own the drain which I should point out is NOT the manufacturer recommendation, they suggest 100ml so you essentially get ten goes at it. However, that didn’t work for me so I panicked and poured down way more which worked. I felt that gives me the best shot at clearing whatever grease and built up fat and muck that is on the inside of my pipes. The manufacturer says give it half hour – this is quite difficult if you’ve got a load of kids or guests, be it the sink running, dishwasher, washing machine, the flush of a toilet etc. So rather than do it at night, what I do is pick a time we are all headed out and I know no one is in. Be it we are hitting the shops for a couple of hours or work and school. The point is I set it up so that I don’t have to worry about the fluid being washed away and letting it do it’s thing.
Looking closer at timing, The manufacturer says half hour but longer the better is the real answer – any edge you can get without calling in a plumber to blast out the drain saves you a fortune. You can repeat this process if it doesn’t work the first time but the costs add up. Personally I throw some caustic soda down the drain if the drain unblocker doesn’t get it, then I get out the unblocker pipes, sadly, that’s your best bet otherwise you can end up slinging fifty quid down the drain 😀 no pun intended.
Give a bit of consideration to the fact this is corrosive on metals too – that should tell you everything you need to know about the strength of the acid in this 🙂
- Best choice for outside drain unblocker
- Reasonable price
- Highest rated to clear your outside drain
- Might not work first time if block is severe.
- 100ml suggested might not be enough
6. Silverline 395010 Drain Unblocker 6 m x 6 mm Diameter
The Silverline 395010 Drain Unblocker is without doubt a cracking tool and with some patience you’ll be able to drill your way through whatever fat, or block you have and it’s equally as effective in bathrooms as it is kitchens, which when you compare the different options is unusual as drain unblockers go. So it’s definitely a great tool. When I reviewed this a couple of year back it didn’t have anywhere near as much feedback and was very much an unknown. The design hasn’t really changed at all – its still effective for the money.
But with that said you’ve got to go steady and be patient with this thing. The negative reviews you’ll see online are almost always with regards to the mechanism bending. We need to be clear, this is NOT a ram rod. It is a drill bit. Treat it as such and you’ll have a really good chance of clearing blocks that chemical drain unblockers would not have managed. If you look at the construction and think carefully its obvious how this is intended to be used. The grapple on the end is design to drill it’s way into the clog. You then pull backward releasing some of the blockage, then push forward, slowly breaking your way through the entire block. This isn’t a quick method for the most serious blocks but it will work.
It’s obviously no where near as robust at the best drain unblocking tool we reviewed and compared with this model but it is certainly much cheaper and worth a go before spending upwards of forty quid on a real drain ram rod.
Don’t be put off either, one chap managed to clear an entire length of pipe with this tool, you just have to be reasonably steady:
The best advice I can give you on serious blocks is try with a friend or helper, one can hold the tool while the other operates it. Four hands seem to be ideal to slowly work away at your blockage!
- Top selling and rated drain unblocker
- Very well priced – less than HG Duo when compared
- This unblocker can be used for cleaning sinks, drains and showers.
- Push too hard and you’ll buckle it.
7. Mr Muscle Sink and Plug Unblocker
I really like Mr Muscle Sink and Plug Unblocker for a couple of reasons. Its a really good all rounder that can do the job of both HG 139100106 Liquid and Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker. Whilst more expensive to clear the block when compared with these two options, you do get two packs and far more chemical. The clearance rate is considerably higher and I would compare the performance to HG Duo which is arguably the best liquid drain unblocker available in the UK at the moment.
It’s really easy to use. Just pour this straight into the drain with as little water sitting as possible. Leave it for just 5 minutes and you’re good to go according to Mr Muscle. That said you want to leave be for much longer if possible to give yourself the very best chance of clearing the block. As a sink unblocker I think its second to none and by far the easiest and safest seriously strong block remover.
A word of warning, this is so potent you really don’t want to mix it with other cleaning products – you run the risk of a chemical reaction and literally releasing chlorine gas…
- It can be used for kitchen, bathroom, and even bathtub drains.
- Super effective for an ease to use liquid
- Well priced
- As good as HG Duo when compared for unblocking ability.
- Only needs 5 short minutes
- Other cheaper unblockers might do the job before spending on this.
8. Bailey 5431 Universal Drain Rod Set in Carry Bag (3 Pieces)
These are great. The Bailey 5431 Universal Drain Rod Set is just as reliable as it was three years ago when I initially wrote this review. Amazingly they haven’t much improved on this design but instead made a lockable set so you don’t nee to twist in a clockwise direction to hold the screwing mechanism together.
The set is pretty flexible I have to say. You can normally get around a 90 degree angle or two before this will give up on you which isn’t far off what the professionals have to work with. The most important thing is to read the instructions and make sure you keep turning them clockwise so they don’t come apart when inserting or puling out. If you’re not comfortable with that extra complication then pay more for the Bailey 5503 when they become available again.
Don’t forget to give them a good clean off after use obviously. I’d personally pour boiling water over them first to kill anything unwanted.
- Normally clear most blocks
- Pretty well price
- Bailey 5503 available if you don’t want to rotate clockwise
- Involved process
- Have to rotate clockwise or will fall apart