Sulfuric Acid As a Drain Cleaner

Updated July 19, 2017

Sulphuric acid is a highly caustic chemical that is found in nearly all commercial and industrial drain cleaners. It has its benefits, but can also be quite dangerous if not used properly.

What Sulfuric Acid Can Do

Sulphuric acid can do much more than dissolve the hair clog in your drain. It also liquefies grease, disintegrates rags and sanitary towels and dissolves paper. For this reason, cleaners with high concentrations of sulphuric acid are only available to professionals.

Who Uses Sulfuric Acid

Sulphuric acid is used in a wide variety of commercial facilities, including hospitals, laundries, health clubs, restaurants, hotels and schools.

Home Use

If you choose to use sulphuric acid at home, you must be sure to take safety precautions. Wear protective gear (including safety glasses and gloves). Good ventilation is imperative. Keep pets and children away from sulphuric acid at all times. Do not use if lye or other caustic chemicals are already in the pipe system; an explosive chemical reaction can occur.

Dangers to Pipes

Although sulphuric acid is an excellent pipe cleaner, it is not always friendly to those pipes. The chemical reactions may soften plastic or PVC pipes and can especially damage old, corroded pipes. The acid has also been known to crack porcelain, etch stainless steel and damage aluminium fixtures.

Dangers to Humans

Sulphuric acid is extremely caustic and will quickly burn any exposed skin. Inhaling the fumes is also dangerous, and safety gear should always be used. For the home user, it is safer to use a drain cleaner low in sulphuric acid, or one that uses other properties to dissolve clogs.

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About the Author

Megan Southwick is a freelance writer with over 7 years of experience living and working in Durham, North Carolina. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has been published on sites such as, and Most recently she has served as an editor and writer for Roots and Wings International.