Whether you were simply brushing your teeth, wrapping up a relaxing shower, or exiting the bath after a long soak, few things trigger as much fear as seeing that the water isn’t draining right. Once the water finally goes down, taking a peek and finding a mess of hair isn’t just worrying; it’s gross. As a result, you’ll quickly start figuring out how to get hair out of the drain.
Several strategies can work well when you need to get hair out of a drain. Manual options like hair snakes, plumbing snakes, and augers may do the trick. You could also try natural solutions like baking soda and vinegar. Plus, there are drain-clearing chemicals available.
However, those aren’t the only choices. If you want to determine how to get hair out of a drain, here’s what you need to know.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- Signs of a Hair Clog in a Drain
- How to Get Hair Out of Drain
- How to Prevent Hair Clogs in Drains
- What Dissolves Hair in a Shower Drain?
- Can Short Hair Clog a Drain?
- Does Shaving in the Shower Clog the Drain?
- Can Pet Hair Clog a Drain?
- What’s the Best Way to Get Hair Out of a Drain Fast?
Signs of a Hair Clog in a Drain
In most cases, a clogged drain is pretty apparent. The most common signs of trouble are the slow water draining in your tub, shower, or sink. Water backing up into your sink, bathtub, or shower or the sound of bubbling or gurgling can also indicate a clog.
At times, clogged drains may come with foul odors. However, this mainly depends on what’s caught in the drain.
Looking into the drain is typically the best option if you’re trying to figure out whether hair is responsible. Hair clogs may sit near the drain’s opening, so they’re often relatively discernable with a glance. However, if the clog isn’t visible, that doesn’t mean hair isn’t part of the problem, so keep that in mind.
How to Get Hair Out of Drain
1. Hair SnakesA hair snake is one of the most straightforward options for getting hair out of a drain. These small, plastic items usually feature a long, thin piece of plastic with small teeth or barbs. For convenience, they’re usually available in packs of three or five, so you can keep a few around with a single purchase.
Using a hair snake is easy. Insert the pointed tip into the clump of hair as far as it will go, then twist it. Slowly pull the hair snake back out of the drain, which usually brings the hair up with it.
If the hair snake doesn’t get all the hair, you can clean off what it collects before reinserting it and trying again. However, if enough comes out, the rest may go down the drain, so you could potentially rinse it away.
2. Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar is an effective way to clean drains and can help with clogs. They can clean away grime, and the bubbling action may shift stuck debris, allowing you to clear the drain.
Pour one cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar, and then let it sit until it stops bubbling. After that, flush with hot water. You can also use a plunger to help the process, but it isn’t always necessary.
If you’re wondering, “how long does it take for baking soda and vinegar to dissolve hair?” it’s important to note that baking soda and vinegar together technically don’t dissolve hair. While vinegar is acidic, baking soda neutralizes the acid, so it isn’t going to dissolve hair. Instead, the combination tackles gunky material that’s holding the hair in place, like shampoo and soap, making it easier to handle the clog.
Plus, the foaming action created by vinegar and baking soda can help push the clog, which may dislodge and move it through your pipes. If you want to try that, cover the drain as soon as you pour in the vinegar, directing the resulting pressure at the clog. Then, you can plunge or rinse it with hot water to see if it worked.
3. Plumbing Snake
Plumbing snakes are handheld tools with a clog-clearing head attached to a long wire.
With a manual plumbing snake, you push the head – preferably a coiled or toothed head – into the drain until you reach the clog. Use the handle to turn the wire, allowing it to grab the hair. Then, pull it out and see if that fixes the problem.
In most cases, plumbing snakes are designed for smaller drains. As a result, it can work well in a sink, but it might not be ideal for showers or bathtubs.
4. AugerWhile plumbing snakes are suitable for smaller drains, augers work best in larger pipes, such as those you find in bathtubs and showers. They essentially work the same way, too. There’s a head attached to a cable length– usually 25 to 50 feet long – allowing you to grab clogs.
With augers, you’re more likely to find an array of manual and electric versions. In many cases, electric auto-feed options are ideal if the clog is severe, though you may be able to get away with a hand crank version if the clog is more typical.
5. PlungerUsing a plunger to clear a hair clog is a convenient option since most people have a plunger available. Place the plunger over the clogged drain, then fill the sink, tub, or shower pan with water to seal the edge of the plunger. Pump the plunger rapidly, going up and down five to seven times.
After that, pull the plunger up to break the seal. If the water drains, you successfully cleared the clog. If not, repeat the process until the water goes down.
6. Wire Hanger
If you don’t have access to a snake or auger, a wire hanger could do in a pinch. Untwist the end and straight out the hanger. Make sure to leave a small hook on the end you’ll insert, as that could help you grab the hair.
Press the hook end against the side of the pipe, working on getting it underneath the clog. Try to aim the hook toward the center, then slowly pull it up. If not all hair comes out, repeat the process until it’s handled.
7. Needle-Nose Pliers
Needle-nose pliers are convenient for grabbing clogs near the tops of drains because they’re longer and slimmer than regular pliers. With the pliers open – up to the full width of the pipe – lower it into the drain until it reaches the clog. Then, close the pliers, hold them firmly shut, and slowly lift the hair.
In some cases, this may get the entire clog in one go. If not, repeat the process until all hair is out or enough is removed to rinse the rest down the drain.
For clogs that are near the surface, tweezers may allow you to remove them with greater ease. Tweezers are designed to grip and pull individual hairs, so they may give you a better grip on the clog.
Usually, flat-tipped tweezers will work better than pointed ones, as they can grab several hairs at a time. Once you grip the clog, maintain firm pressure on the tweezers and pull up slowly. If you don’t get it all in one try, keep going back in with the tweezers until it’s gone.
9. Cotton Swabs
If the clog is visible and near the top of the drain opening, you can try scooping it out with a cotton swab. Hold the swab on one end firmly, ensuring you won’t drop it into the drain. Then, move it into the clog, moving straight into the center if possible.
Use a circular motion as you pull it out, keeping the tip angled toward the sides of the drain pipe. That allows you to pull the hair up without falling off the cotton swab.
Once you get the hair out, that may be enough to allow the rest to rinse away. If not, grab a fresh cotton swab and repeat until you remove enough hair to address the clog.
10. Remove By Hand
While it isn’t always pleasant, if the clog is reachable, you can pull it out by hand. Since there’s going to be more than hair that comes out, make sure to wear gloves if you go this route.
Additionally, pull the hair out slowly. If you move too fast, the hair may fling buildup as it exits the drain. That could land on any part of the bathroom, any item nearby, or on your person, so it’s best to slow down to ensure that doesn’t happen.
However, if you recently put a commercial drain cleaner into your drain, don’t remove it by hand. Drain cleaners can contain caustic chemicals that injure people and harm many materials. Since that’s the case, touching the clog with your hands or most clog removal tools isn’t safe.
11. Commercial Drain CleanerCommercial drain cleaners include chemicals that can dissolve hair and other buildups that may clog your drain. This option uses powerful corrosives that can burn skin and clothing and produce harsh fumes. As a result, you need to wear gloves, exercise caution, and ventilate the area.
With this, you need to refer to the manufacturer’s directions regarding the amount to use, how long to let it sit, and how to rinse it away after the time elapses. Follow them precisely, as missteps can lead to issues like plumbing pipe damage.
Since this approach is hazardous, treat it as a last resort. Additionally, it’s important to note that calling a plumber to handle the clog can come with extra charges if the drain cleaner doesn’t clear it. Dealing with the clog after drain cleaner was used makes the task more hazardous, so many plumbers increase the cost due to the higher degree of risk.
12. Hire a Professional
For especially stubborn hair clogs, the best way to get hair out of the drain could be to hire a professional. Contact a plumber in your area to learn about rates and general availability. Many plumbers accept calls 24 hours a day, so you can usually get help quickly.
The benefit of calling a professional plumber is that they have access to high-quality equipment that isn’t always affordable to non-professionals. Plus, they have the expertise to determine the cause of your issue, including whether something other than hair may be responsible.
How to Prevent Hair Clogs in Drains
Don’t Wash Hair Down the Drain
Washing hair down the drain is a recipe for clogs. While some going down the drain is unavoidable, try to catch, collect, and throw out as much as possible in the trash.
For people with longer hair, you can ball up any hair that sticks onto your hands as you wash. Then, throw the ball out when you’re down showering or bathing. Using a wide-toothed comb when you wash your hair may also help catch some, though that isn’t always the case.
Get a Drain Hair Catcher
Drain hair catchers, including drain screens and other variants, are devices you place over or into your drain to trap hair as it enters. There are versions for showers, bathtubs, and sinks, so you can handle all of your drains.
Usually, you’ll either need to clean or replace these regularly. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions to learn about replacement or maintenance recommendations.
Keep Water Running When Shaving
Shaving causes many small hairs to make their way to the drain. By leaving the water running while you shave, you’re only rinsing a minor amount down at a time. As a result, this may reduce the odds of clumping, allowing you to avoid clogs.
Brush Hair Before Showering
Brushing your hair before you shower helps remove loose hairs that may otherwise come out while shampooing, conditioning, or rinsing your hair. As a result, less ends up heading toward your drain, making it an easy way to avoid clogs later.
Clean Drains Regularly
Usually, hair clogs take time to build up. By cleaning your drains regularly – using the white vinegar and baking soda option or simpler manual approaches like the hair snake – you can remove as much gunk and hair as possible before it causes a problem.
What Dissolves Hair in a Shower Drain?
Some chemicals can dissolve hair in a shower drain. For example, that’s what drain cleaners designed for hair clogs aim to do, so they feature caustic or corrosive chemicals that break hair strands down.
However, not everyone wants to turn to solutions like drain cleaners. They’re dangerous to use for several reasons. Along with contact being harmful, the fumes are hazardous. Plus, they can damage plumbing pipes in many cases.
Since that’s the case, many people would prefer an alternative. Here are two potential options.
BleachIf you’re wondering, “Does bleach dissolve hair in drains” the answer is that it can. Bleach is a base, while hair leans acidic, so the resulting reaction can cause hair strands to break down.
That doesn’t mean the hair will dissolve fully if you’re using bleach. However, it could break it down enough to loosen the clog and send it down the pipe, which is usually sufficient to handle a clog.
It’s important to understand that letting bleach sit in your plumbing pipes for long periods isn’t ideal. Bleach can damage a wide array of materials, so they may harm your plumbing if you don’t rinse it away soon enough.
Additionally, don’t mix bleach with other chemicals. Bleach can react with various chemicals, including some found in other cleaners or drain-clearing solutions. As a result, even if bleach could work, it’s usually better to try safer options first.
Hydrogen peroxide can dissolve organic matter, such as sloughed-off skin cells. While you typically wouldn’t leave it in a drain long enough to completely dissolve a hair clog, its ability to deal with other types of gunk can make clearing the clog easier. Plus, it can cause some hair strands to break apart, which is also beneficial when dealing with a clog.
Can Short Hair Clog a Drain?
Yes, hair of any length can clog a drain. The issue isn’t just with the hair; it’s the fact that other substances going down your drain – such as soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, and shampoo – can cause the hair to stick together.
Essentially, personal care products can cause gunk to gather on the side of your pipes. As hair gets caught in it and more grime builds up, it traps an increasing amount of hair. In time, that creates a clog, even if the hair is short.
Does Shaving in the Shower Clog the Drain?
Shaving in the shower could clog the drain, as even small hairs can get caught in other gunk and result in a clog. However, if the hairs are short and you leave the water running, you can reduce their impact.
By continuously washing small hairs from shaving down the drain in tinier quantities, they may not clump as quickly. Just be aware that they could still get trapped in any buildup in the pipe, so make sure to clean it regularly with vinegar and baking soda to reduce the odds of a clog.
Can Pet Hair Clog a Drain?
Just as human hair can clog a drain, so can pet hair. Whether it’s more of a fur or hair texture, it has the potential to get stuck in pipe buildup. Over time, that can lead to a clog.
Many of the preventative steps mentioned above work just as well with pet hair as they do with human hair. Brush your pet before bathing, use a hair catcher, and avoid sending pet fur down the drain when possible to help prevent clogs.
What’s the Best Way to Get Hair Out of a Drain Fast?
If you need to get hair out of a drain fast, manual options like hair snakes, needle-nose pliers, tweezers, and similar approaches are the best and safest options since they don’t rely on chemicals. Vinegar and baking soda, followed by plunging, can work well, too. However, if they don’t, you may want to call a professional instead of using chemical drain cleaners, allowing you to avoid hazardous materials.
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