Most people are familiar with Drano and what it does, even if they have never had to use it. It is, after all, the most popular chemical drain cleaner that is readily available for purchase.

What most people don’t know, and what catches most people off guard, is how strongly pungent and disagreeable it smells.

So, if you recently found yourself with clogged plumbing in your bathroom or kitchen and resorted, like most of us would, to purchasing some Drano to clear the obstruction, you are very likely wondering,

How Long Does The Smell Of Drano Last?

The smell of Drano can last anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes under normal circumstances and following proper usage instructions. The odor will be strong as the cleaner sits inside your pipes to do its intended purpose. Once the Drano has cleared the plug, you may flush it out of your pipes and then the smell will soon dissipate.

The pungent, slightly-sulfuric and ammonia-like smell that permeates the air after Drano has been sitting in your drain for a bit is a direct result of the chemical processes that allow Drano to easily dissolve plumbing clogs and obstructions.

Crystallized drain cleaner on a ceramic bathtub drain

And while some people find this particular smell merely unpleasant, others find it unbearable. So if you are going to be using Drano, it is important that you know what to expect in terms of how long the bad smell will linger inside your household.

However, that is not the full story, so follow me below to learn more.

Can The Smell Of Drano Be Harmful?

Yes. The fumes from Drano are dangerous to breathe in. It may also cause irritation to your eyes and skin. If you inhale the toxic fumes produced by the chemical reaction directly, you may find yourself experiencing adverse effects.

As such, Drano should be used with caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely. If done properly, using Drano is no more dangerous than using other common household cleaning products.

As I mentioned before, the pungent smell that emanates from your sink, ceramic toilet, or shower after being treated with Drano to unclog stopped-up pipes is a direct result of a series of aggressive chemical reactions that take place inside your pipes when Drano comes into contact with the organic material that makes up the plug.

The chemicals in drano produce dangerous fumes

This is because Drano is composed of sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium nitrate (Chile saltpeter), sodium chloride (salt), and aluminum.

As per the National Institutes of Health’s Household Products Database, the primary chemical reactions generated by Drano inside your pipes are as follows:

Aluminum reacts with lye, which releases hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas then reacts with the sodium nitrate to produce ammonia. This is a violent reaction that produces heat and turns the resulting mixture into a highly caustic substance.

What Happens If You Inhale Drano?

If you inhale Drano fumes the damage to the sensitive mucous membranes of your nose, mouth, and throat can be severe. Additionally, prolonged direct inhalation of Drano fumes can result in lasting damage to the inner lining of your lungs.

Drano was created with the sole purpose of breaking down organic matter that builds up inside your drains. This means that if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes, it has the potential to cause severe harm by way of painful rashes and burns.

If you experience the following symptoms after using Drano in your home, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Drano fumes exposure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Blurry vision
  • Coughing

When using Drano or similar drain cleaners in your home, it is extremely important that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. Personally, I don’t use any hard chemicals without first donning some rubber gloves and protective eye gear.

How Do You Get Rid Of The Smell Of Drano?

As mentioned before, that characteristic Drano smell is a sign that the product is working as intended. So, your best bet is to let the Drano do its thing.

However, if you must absolutely get rid of the smell of Drano sooner than the 15 to 30 minutes that the Drano must sit inside your pipes, there is something you can do.

The chemical properties of Drano come about thanks to its alkaline quality. Now, if you paid attention during high school chemistry, you may remember that a surefire way to neutralize alkaline substances is to add some form of an acidic product.

Therefore, removing the smell by neutralizing Drano is actually quite simple. Simply add sufficient vinegar or lemon juice to the drain in question. The acidity of the vinegar or lemon juice will immediately act upon the alkaline molecules of Drano to stop the chemical reactions that produce an unpleasant smell.

You can use lemon juice or vinegar to get rid of Drano smell

Just remember that by doing this, you are effectively shutting down Drano’s clog clearing potential. So doing this too early will result in a failed attempt at unclogging the stopped-up pipe.

Afterward, just open up any windows and doors in the surrounding area to permit a clear airflow to air out the lingering fumes.

Before you do this, though, make sure that you have protective gear with which to guard yourself against dangerous splashes of the hot, concentrated liquid. This means rubber gloves, goggles or a face mask, and protective long-sleeved clothing.