Bathrooms Shower draining

Published on September 14th, 2017 | by Henri


Cleaning tiles with drain cleaner?

Q.  After unclogging a bathroom shower with an inexpensive retail liquid drain opener, I noticed how clean it got the shower’s tile floor – grout and all – where it spilled. So I put on protective gloves and glasses and sprayed more on the remainder on the dry shower floor. After 30 minutes or so I rinsed the product off then lightly scrubbed a few areas. The floor looked like new!

I have no kids so there is no danger to anyone except myself. But could I be damaging the floor in some way?

A.  You didn’t mention which drain cleaner you used. Drain cleaners come in several forms, but basically some have an acidic base and are mostly used by licensed plumbers because of the risk their use can entail. Others have an alkaline base and come in solid or liquid form, and are available in hardware stores.

Alkaline drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide.

The lye in the cleaner is likely responsible for the cleaning of the tiles and grout. I am no chemist, but my sense is that ceramic tiles used in a wet environment are hard-glazed and should not be damaged by the sodium hydroxide.

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