Hair clogs are one of the most common causes of blocked drains. It is most likely that if you have a blocked shower drain, you are likely experiencing a hair clog. This is due to hair falling out in the shower or bath and being washed away into the tub drain, then forming a solid clump in the pipes. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to fix this, and some ways to stop it from happening, too.
Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar are one of the simplest and the most natural methods of unblocking a drain. It can be used in kitchen sinks, shower drains, or even a bathroom sink drain. It works by creating a chemical reaction within the drainpipe that will dissolve hair clogs and other natural causes of blockages such as food, dry skin, soap scum, etc.
To use vinegar and baking soda to get the hair out of the drain, you need to:
- Pour 120ml of baking soda into your blocked drain
- Pour the same amount of white vinegar into the drain
- Cover with a damp cloth for a few minutes (around 5 minutes is enough, but for tougher blockages, you may wish to leave this longer)
- Run warm water down the drain in order to rinse away the blockage and the baking soda concoction.
If this baking soda and vinegar reaction doesn’t work the first time, you can continue trying the same method, as each time the chemical reaction will thin out the blockage. Failing that, try one of the other methods listed here.
Pull it out
If you can see the hair clog in the plughole or slightly further down, you might be able to pull the bulk of the clog out. This is not a particularly pleasant method of removing hair from your drains but it is quick and easy, and much better for your plumbing system than using chemical drain cleaners. You will probably want to wear rubber gloves during this process.
The best way to pull hair clogs out of your shower drain is by using tweezers or needle-nose pliers, as it will provide you with a much better grip than trying to use your hands, and is much less slimy and uncomfortable. Simply push your tweezers or needle-nose pliers into the drain opening and grab what hair you can see, then pull all the hair up and out of the plughole. Dispose of the hair clog by wrapping it in tissue and placing it in a bin, not in a toilet or anywhere where it could cause further clogs.
A drain snake or plumbing snake is a small piece of plumbing equipment that resembles a rolled-up piece of wire. It is used to break up clogs in toilets, bathrooms, and even kitchens, by poking apart the blockage. You can purchase drain snakes or augers online or in a local hardware store. If you need to, you can also send a wire hanger into a makeshift snake.
To use your plumbing snake, simply push one end of the snake just into the offending drain opening, and then twist the handle of the snake clockwise circular motion to push the snake all the way down the drain. When you locate the blockage, the auger will stop. From there, pull and push the drain snake backward and forwards until the blockage is gone. Then pull the snake out and do a hot water rinse through the drain to wash away any remaining hair clumps in your bathtub drain.
When using a drain snake, be careful not to use too much force as you can damage the pipes.
Pay for a professional drain cleaner
Drainage companies like Rider Drains offer a service where they use their tools to do a professional drain cleaner. They are trained in doing so and will have much more tools to help them through the process. They will likely have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don’t know about that will help them to get the job done much more efficiently.
Typically, a professional plumber will use cameras to locate the blockage and then might use a drain bladder, a plumbing snake, a motorized auger, or a hydro jetter to remove hair blockages. These tools will allow them to fix your clogged tub drain, even if you’re struggling with some really stubborn hair clogs.
Enzymatic drain cleaners
An enzymatic drain cleaner is unlike other liquid drain cleaners. It is much more gentle and contains fewer harsh chemicals than other drain cleaners, instead opting to contain useful enzymes that ingest the bacteria and blockages. This type of cleaner will do a great job on natural blockages by dissolving hair, ingesting other particles, and breaking the blockage down. They will also help to remove any foul smells caused by the blockage.
Simply purchase an enzymatic drain cleaner and follow the instructions on the packet. The best cleaners of this kind are:
- Drain Maintain Fragranced Plughole Sticks
- Mr. Muscle Drain Foamer
- EcoZone Drain Sticks
How to prevent hair clogs in the future
There are plenty of ways to remove hair clogs from your clogged drain, but it would be much easier if it never got clogged in the first place. Luckily, there are products around to help with that.
If you have long hair or you know it comes out a lot, or even if you find yourself using too many blocked drains drain cleaners and having to regularly unblock your drains, it is worth investing in a drain stopper. A drain stopper is a piece of metal or plastic that sits over your plug and prevents large debris from entering the plumbing system. You will still have soap scum and residue from beauty products, but without the hair, it is less likely that they will form blockages.
If you don’t want to buy a product to help you with your blocked drains, you can always limit the amount of hair that goes into them by brushing your hair before bathing or showering, and not shaving over your bathroom sink drain.