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Many people use drain cleaner in sinks, toilets and floor drains. However, drain cleaners can be corrosive and should be avoided.

Drain cleaner

Every year, children and adults receive treatment in hospital for injuries caused by corrosive (caustic) drain cleaner with sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. These types of drain cleaners are sometimes called caustic soda or lye. Look for the warning label and read the instructions on the product's packaging, in order to reduce the risk of accidents.

These types of drain cleaners can quickly cause serious and permanent chemical burns to the mouth and oesophagus as well as the eyes and skin.

How to reduce the risk of accidents

  • Prevent blockages in the drain by avoiding pouring grease and oil in the drain. Instead, wipe your frying pans with paper towels, for example. Rinse the drains with hot water from time to time.
  • If you still get a blockage in the drain, try to use mechanical methods first, such as cleaning by hand or using a plunger or drain cleaning cable (snake). Or hire a professional.
  • If you would like to use a drain cleaner to clean the drain, choose a non-corrosive product whenever possible. Corrosive drain cleaners are chemical products that are so dangerous that families with children should completely avoid having them at home.
  • If you have drain cleaner in your home, it is important to look for the warning label and read the information on the product packaging before using the product.
  • Keep drain cleaners in their original packaging out of the sight and reach of children. Do not rely on the so-called child-resistant closures.
  • Avoid corrosive drain cleaners.
  • If you have used a corrosive drain cleaner and the blockage in the drain remains, you may need to hire a professional. In that case, remember to inform the professional that you have used a corrosive drain cleaner.

In case of an accident

Call 112 and request Poisons Information if someone has ingested an agent that may be corrosive or has accidentally gotten a potentially corrosive agent on the skin.

Read about labelling and hazard symbols here

Information on drain cleaners from the Swedish Poisons Information Centre (in Swedish only)external link

Read more in the brochure Varning för propplösare (Drain cleaner warnings - in Swedish only)

Last published 10 November 2020