How to Deal with Hair Clogs in Your Drains?

A clogged drain is an annoyance, but it can develop into a slow water drainage problem quickly which can lead to flooding and even a sewer backup. The main materials found in clogged bathrooms and to a lesser extent kitchen drains is loose hair. Hair has a tendency to fall into the drain, even if you’re careful it seems to find its way there. This is a problem because hair is tough and it tends to tangle with soap scum to form a sticky clog which is hard to remove. In this article, we will look at how to clean away hair and some preventative tips to reduce the risks of clogs in the future.

4 Ways to Clean Hair from the Drain Safely

Hair becomes stuck and tangled along the inner surfaces of pipes because they may be coated with grease, oil, and soap scum. The hair flows into the drain, becomes stuck, and then it forms the basis of a drain clog that can be hard to remove safely. When they are faced with this problem, many people reach for a chemical drain cleaning product. But, these cleaners contain caustic chemicals that are harmful to exposed skin and the walls of the plumbing pipes. This is why professional plumbers will always prefer a manual clog removal over the use of harsh chemical cleaners. There are safer cleaners that you can make at home using store cupboard ingredients and a manual removal may be possible. Here are four ways to clean the hair out of the drain safely.

1.   Baking Soda, Lemon Juice, and Salt

One of the most effective products for cleaning many areas of the home is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). This is an effective disinfectant, it can kill bacteria and fungi and it can neutralize foul odors that may be emanating from the drain. Baking soda can be combined with salt or lemon juice to create a powerful cleaner.

Baking Soda and Lemon Juice Method

  1. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain.
  2. Follow with 1/2 cup lemon juice.
  3. Plug the drain and let the mixture sit for one hour.
  4. Pour a pot of boiling water into the drain.

Baking Soda and Salt Method

  1. Mix together 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup table salt.
  2. Pour the mixture down the drain.
  3. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Leave the mixture overnight if the drain clog is tough.
  5. Pour a pot of boiling water into the drain.

These two cleaning agents can be applied multiple times without harming your plumbing pipes. But, if they don’t work after a few attempts it’s time to try another method or contact your local professional plumber.

2. A Hair Snake

This is a simple plastic tool that’s easy to use, and inexpensive and it should be in all home plumbing toolkits. This tool removes hair that’s located in or near the entrance to the drain safely. Simply insert the hair snake into the drain, twist it to capture the hair, and then pull it free. It’s unlikely that you would get all the hair in one go and a few attempts may be necessary.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

This is a variation on the natural cleaner we showed earlier but the vinegar adds an extra kick with a natural and kind chemical reaction.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

  1. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain.
  2. Follow with 1 cup vinegar.
  3. Plug the drain and let the mixture sit for one hour.
  4. Pour a pot of boiling water into the drain.

When these two components are combined they remove all bacteria and dirt they come into contact with because they have absorbent properties. They also facilitate the removal of clogged hair and act as a strong disinfectant.

4. A Plumbing Snake (Augur)

An augur is a flexible rod with a crank at one end and a drill bit at the other end. This is an inexpensive tool, it’s available in a variety of sizes and it makes sense to have a couple in your plumbing toolbox.

The Plumbing Snake Method

  1. Feed the snake into the drain until it comes into contact with the clog.
  2. Gently turn the handle to pull the snake and clog from the drain.
  3. Parts of the broken clog may enter the sink or tub.
  4. Remove the clog parts, but wear gloves to protect your hands from bacteria.
  5. Run the cold water to flush the drain clear.

This process can be repeated multiple times, but if it doesn’t work after repeated attempts it’s time to contact your local plumbing professional.

What is the Difference Between an Organic and Chemical Cleaner?

The main difference is the active ingredients that are used to break apart or dissolve clogs. Organic cleaners use an enzyme-based approach, which breaks apart organic proteins such as hair with bacteria. Chemical cleaners use caustic chemicals to melt the clog and this can damage the pipes if it’s used frequently.

5 Tips to Prevent Hair Clogs

Prevention is better than the cure, here are five tips to prevent hair clogs in the drains, they are:

  1. Fit a drain cover to every drain in your home.
  2. Run the hot water monthly to loosen any dirt lingering in the pipes.
  3. Always comb or brush hair away from the drain.
  4. When shaving, keep the water running to prevent sticking.
  5. Avoid using bleach and chemical drain cleaning products.

What About a Toilet Plunger?

A basic cup plunger can be an effective method to push a smaller clog out into the drain. But, it won’t remove the clog or the hair tangled in it and it’s not a great method for a stubborn clog. The process is simple, run some water in the drain, place the cup plunger over the drain and move it up and down. This changes the pressure in the pipe which may loosen the clog and get it moving. Don’t push too hard or you may cause damage or injure yourself if your hand slips off the handle. This process can be repeated, but if it fails try one of the other methods or call your local professional plumber.