To find your drain clogged with hair is nothing new. It could be someone’s long hair or even hair from your pets. This can even happen in the kitchen as the hair from the bathroom sneaks into your kitchen drain. Now, those parts of the house are already prone to this problem if you use oils and grease in your daily cooking endeavors.
At that point, you might notice that it starts collecting into balls and gets sticky. It can also turn your pipe water into hard water and make matters worse. Then it gets worse because hard water contains minerals that create scum when they inevitably interact with soap. This is just an open invitation to free-falling hair. Gross! Yes. At that point, you are going to have to come up with some serious fixes. However, since we are not the first generation to deal with this issue, there are tons of solutions. And clogs created by hair are relatively easy to tackle.
One way to deal with it is to get a water softener and make sure a bad situation does not escalate to worse. If you let it be and the hair travels to the main sewer, you will have to call a plumber. But if you catch it before that at any point, there are a variety of solutions. We will look at some of those in this piece.
If you have an eye for these kinds of problems, you will see them right away. That also means that you can reach for those home remedies and fix your clogged drain right away with minimum effort.
At this stage, you are likely to be dealing with grease and soap scum. This has a tendency to make the insides of your drain pipe sticky and latches on to any piece of fallen hair. This can happen for no fault of yours and can be sorted out quite easily with boiling water.
Boil a pot full of water and pour it down the shower drain. This increase in temperature essentially breaks up the grease and soap scum. With the right amount of water (which depends on the amount of goop in your pipes) you can wash the dirt away and get the hair unattached from the corners of the drain pipe.
Ideally, you should do this every week to make sure the drainpipe is clean. This way you won’t even have to deal with a clogging situation. If you haven’t done it in a while, you will need more than a little water to make sure the greasy bits, along with the hair stuck to them, are flushed down the drain.
Ideally, you must use a funnel so that you don’t accidentally spill any hot water on yourself or any bathtub accessories in the vicinity. As we all know, that might lead to burns and create a new problem when it could have been avoided altogether.
If there is a large amount of matted hair because you haven’t done this in a while, just boiling water might not be enough. Even in those cases, it might clear the blockage partially and make the next drain cleaner’s job a little easier.
Unclog By Hand
Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty. Don’t worry, it does not have to be literal. Put on some cleaning gloves and get a pair of tweezers before getting to work. You might also want to get a screwdriver and a flashlight.
Now let’s get to work. Start by removing the drain cover. If your fittings have a screw, you will need to remove it with a screwdriver to have full access. You don’t want to be putting on and taking off your gloves multiple times. That just makes the whole process needlessly difficult.
Once the drain cover is off, locate the clog with your naked eye or by using a flashlight. If it is not too deep, you can remove the hair ball that is clogging your drain with your fingers or tweezers. If it is a bit deep, you can also use a clothing hanger to pull the ball of hair out.
This method does not work if your drain is also clogged by minerals possibly because of hard water. Do this until you are sure you got it all out. Pour some water or run the faucet to check the progress. You should be able to see the result right away.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Speaking of the next option, here is another option. That’s right. We haven’t ventured into the territory of buying chemicals or equipment to unclog the drain.
Using baking soda and white vinegar is another way to unclog a drain pipe. This combination is powerful enough to deal with a little more than hair. So, you are in good hands. It is possible that you have used this before or heard someone talk about it because a lot of people prefer these natural remedies before running to the store.
That is because these methods do less damage to the pipes when compared to chemical alternatives. These natural alternatives are not caustic and do not eat away at your pipes. They are also safe, eco-friendly and can unclog a drain just as well as a chemical cleaner. In fact, baking soda acts as a disinfectant that fights fungi and bacteria.
Even in this process, you will need to boil some water. A tea kettle will do the trick. Pour the water into the clogged drain and give it a minute. At this point, take a small cup of vinegar and add ¼ a cup of baking soda to it. When the mixture is ready and you have waited a minute for the boiling water to loosen the grease in the pipe, pour the concoction into the drain.
If you are dealing with a heavily clogged drain, you might even hear the soda and vinegar mix do its job because it causes an acidic reaction. Depending on the level of clogging, you might have to repeat the process a couple of times. The best way to find out when to stop is to run some water through the clogged drain.
You can also pour the baking soda and vinegar separately down the drain. In that case, you must pour them one after the other without any delay. You might see some fizz in the drain for a few minutes. That is quite natural. Pour some more water, preferably hot, after the fizzing stops. You will have to wait an hour or two to see if it has worked. So, be patient.
You know how greasy utensils need to be soaked overnight? Sometimes you have to do the same for a clogged drain too. Pour half a cup of salt and one cup of baking soda in the drain and leave it that way. In the morning, flush the pipe with two cups of boiling water and see if it worked.
Here’s another solution with equipment that is lying around in the house. If you suspect that the soap and hair clog is not too bad, you can probably suck it out with a vacuum cleaner. Even for this, remove the cover and make sure the drain is dry. This means, you might have to leave it exposed for a bit.
Place the vacuum’s nozzle attachment at the top end of the drain. Set the vacuum to its highest setting and suck out as much gunk as you can. If the clogging is deep inside the pipe, this may not work but it’s worth a try. And even if you are only able to disturb the rigidity of the clog, the job becomes just a little easier for the next cleaner.
Here’s another one that only needs equipment to release clogs caused by hair. It starts by loosening up the hair in the drain. Remove the drain cover and apply some petroleum jelly to the seal of the plunger.
This will create better air suction and make the process more effective. If you are clearing out a tub drain, place the plunger (air) tightly on top and run the faucet. Wait till the water submerges the plunger and get to work.
Push and release the plunger vigorously a few times to try and make the clog move towards you. Turn off the faucet and look for the clog. Use a flashlight if needed. If you can see the ball of hair, remove it with tweezers or a gloved hand. Run the water again and make sure the drain is clear. If you use a plunger regularly, you can avoid a clog altogether.
Plumber’s Snake or an Auger
If that doesn’t work either, let’s get some equipment out that is possibly lying in your toolbox. This is actually one of the easiest and oldest ways to unclog a drain pipe (blocked by hair or something else) using tools. You are likely to solve your problem with this unless your clog is too deep. In that case, you must get professional help.
A snake or an auger are extremely flexible items and have a claw at one end. Most homeowners have a plumber’s snake precisely for these situations. An auger is usually reserved for more stubborn clogs. Either way, both of them work like little drill bits which can keep going through soft blocks.
Insert the snake or auger into the drain and keep pushing the obstruction as far as you can. Of course, this also depends on the length of your snake. Once you reach the saturation point (in terms of length), grab the end of the snake or auger in your hand and pull it back towards you. You might want to do this gently so that the gunk doesn’t fly into your face. Run the faucet to see if it worked. If it doesn’t you might have to consider the possibility that your drain pipe has roots growing in it.
But otherwise, not only is this an effective way but also saves you from having to put your hand into a clogged drain pipe. A lot of people skip the water, soda + vinegar options and jump right to this remedy for that reason.
But if you don’t have a snake or an auger remember that anything firm and thin like a wire hanger will do just fine. It is a cheap solution with a high rate of success.
If all else fails, you have no choice but to get a few basic chemicals and let them unclog your drain. This, fortunately, works for hair and other stubborn obstructions. And you don’t have to worry too much about the damage to pipes. Using chemicals once in a while will not do irreparable damage.
Get a set of gloves and some safety goggles if you can manage them. The amount of chemical you need to use depends on the brand you buy. Don’t ever try to get creative with the chemicals by mixing two brands. It could emit poisonous gases and you are going to be in close proximity so it’s not something you want to try.
There are a lot of strong chemicals out there designed specifically to unclog drains. All you need to do is pour them down the drain and watch them do their unclog. It’s that simple and quick.
The Bottom Line
As they say, prevention is better than cure. And while there are many ways to unblock a drain clogged with hair, there is a lot you can do to avoid that situation entirely. The simplest way is to get a shower drain hair catcher. If your problem is shaving hair, keep the tap running so that none of them stick to the pipe. You could also brush your hair before showering so that they don’t fall into your drain pipe.
Remember that the simpler solutions are actually the most practical ones. And if you still find hair in your drain, you now know what to do.