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Which drain snake is best?

If your home is suffering from foul-smelling or blocked drains, it’s usually a good indication that they need cleaning. Hiring a professional can be costly and time-consuming, so you may prefer to tackle the job yourself. A drain snake is a long, flexible cable designed to be fed down the drain to break up blockages and remove clogs.

Drain snakes come in various forms and lengths for different problems. One top choice is 3PK Zip-It® Drain Cleaner, which is 20 inches long and has specially shaped barbs along the shaft to pull out hairs and other contaminants. There are several other options of various lengths and materials for different types of blockages.

What to know before you buy a drain snake


Ideally, a drain snake should be used as close to the blockage as possible and is fed down sink or bath drain outlets, toilet bowls or through a drainage access point. Usually, on a sink or a toilet, the blockage is within the trap and is easy to access. Blockages within the pipework may be more difficult to locate and remove.


A shorter drain snake of around 20 inches is sufficient for most household uses and is long enough to reach blockages at the trap. If the pipework is clogged in another location, a much longer drain snake may be needed. Some professional models have retractable shafts and can be 25 or 50 feet in length.

Manual vs. electric

Long drain snakes are designed to be twisted as they’re inserted. Some have a built-in hand crank and are sufficient for small clogs. A drain snake over 25 feet long is usually too difficult to rotate by hand and may need to be powered by a hand drill to remove stubborn clogs.

What to look for in a quality drain snake


Plastic or silicone are the best choices for use on a sink or toilet, as they won’t scratch the hardware or porcelain. A metal snake with a sharp head has the necessary rigidity to break up stubborn or hard-to-reach blockages. 


The head of the snake is an important consideration. Plastic drain snakes usually have a pointed head. Metal snakes use a sharp or coiled head that’s designed to twist into and break up the blockage. Some have a grabbing tool on the end to help pull contaminants out of the drain.


Plastic and silicone snakes often have barbs along the shaft. These are designed to remove hair from drains rather than push it further into the pipework. Longer metal snakes don’t carry this feature, as they can prevent the snake from moving smoothly through the pipes.

How much you can expect to spend on a drain snake

Drain snakes can vary significantly in price, with a simple 20-inch plastic option costing under $10. Longer snakes with a mechanical crank are around $20-$30, whereas an electric model with a motor can cost up to $100.

Drain snake FAQ

When should I use a drain snake?

A. If you notice an unpleasant smell or the water takes a long time to drain away, this is usually a sign that something is wrong. Often a plunger or a drain cleaning detergent can solve the problem. If not, it’s time to try a drain snake. 

Is a drain snake difficult to use?

A. A drain snake is relatively simple to use; the biggest issue is that it may get stuck in the pipework. To ensure this doesn’t happen, feed the snake through the drain slowly and with a twisting motion. If it meets resistance, pull the snake back to try to remove the blockage rather than pushing it further into the pipe.

When is it time to call a plumber?

A. If you’re unsuccessful in removing the blockage using moderate force, it’s probably best to call a professional. Using too much force may compound the problem and damage the pipework.

What’s the best drain snake to buy?

Top drain snake

3PK Zip-It® Drain Cleaner

What you need to know: At 25 inches in length, this plastic drain snake is suitable for most sink and toilet blockages.

What you’ll love: It has a barbed shaft to remove hair and comes with multiple products in one pack.

What you should consider: It may not be strong enough for stubborn clogs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drain snake for the money

Senhai Sewer Dredging Tools

Senhai Sewer Dredging Tools

What you need to know: This budget-friendly kit contains five plastic snakes with barbs and two stainless steel snakes with retractable claws.

What you’ll love: They’re small enough to fit in narrow drains and are effective for removing hair and other light contaminants. 

What you should consider: The plastic snakes are not the most durable and may snap under pressure.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

DrainX Drain Auger Pro

DrainX Drain Auger Pro

What you need to know: This professional drain snake is 25 feet long and has a manual hand crank. 

What you’ll love: It’s suitable for most drain pipe sizes and has a strong metal spiral head. It comes with work gloves and a drawstring storage bag.

What you should consider: Its metal construction may scratch toilet bowls or drain hardware.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Chris Gillespie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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