Nothing clogs bathroom drains (except toilet drains) more than hair. It is very easy for hair to form a ball inside the draining which restricts the flow of water out of the fixture.
At first, you will notice that your bathroom sink, shower or bathtub is draining slowly and if the clog is not cleared at that point you will end with a full clog. This is manifested by standing water in the bathtub or sink.
So, how can you unclog a drain that is clogged by hair? There are several ways.
To remove hair clogs from a drain, pour a cup of baking soda inside the drain followed by another cup of vinegar. Wait for the 2 to react and dissolve the hair for 15 minutes the dump a gallon of boiling water to dissolve any hair still left and flush it down the drain.
Of course there are other methods of removing hair from a drain but I find the baking soda, vinegar and hot water combination to be very effective. It is also eco-friendly (natural) and septic-safe as well.
Hair is not soluble in liquids but a combination of baking soda and vinegar will break down the ball of hair making it easy to flow down the drain. Chemical drain cleaners like Liquid Plumr and Drano can also be used but are not safe for the environment, plumbing pipes and septic systems.
Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove hair clogs from drains. Start by pouring a cup of baking soda inside the drain then follow it up with another cup of hydrogen peroxide. Wait for about an hour for the solution to break down the clog before using the drain.
If you do want to get rid of hair from a drain without using vinegar, consider buying a drain hair removal tool also known as a zip it tool. Alternatively, you can pull out the hair using tweezers, a wire coat hanger or by disassembling and cleaning the drain line.
As I have already mentioned, there are several ways of removing hair out of drains naturally. Let us look at each and every one of them.
1. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar have been used for many years in many homes to clear clogs from drains. They clear many types of clogs and not just hair.
Baking soda is an alkali while vinegar is a mild acid. When the 2 substances are combined together, a fizzing reaction is created which is what breaks down clogs.
Fortunately, baking soda and vinegar are readily available in most homes. Secondly, they are safe for your plumbing and will not harm the good microbes in a septic tank.
Here is how to remove hair from drains using baking soda and vinegar.
- Drain any standing water. If your drain is completely clogged and there is standing water in the sink or bathtub, you will first need to drain the water. The idea here is to have the reaction happening directly on the ball of hair.
- Pour 1 cup of baking soda inside the drain. If you do not have baking soda you can use half a cup of borax. Borax is okay to use in the United States though it is banned in places like Europe.
- Slowly add 1 cup of vinegar. I say slowly because baking soda and vinegar reacts very fast and you do not want the solution to splash on your hands or face. Again, if you don’t have vinegar you can use hydrogen peroxide instead.
- Wait for about 15 minutes for the solution to work out its magic.
- As you wait, start heating about 1 gallon of water.
- After the 15 minutes dump the hot water inside the drain.
While the baking soda and vinegar reaction is what breaks down the clog, boiling water is very effective in melting the soap scum and oils which bind the hair together to form a ball.
The hot water also helps to flush the hair and other debris down the drain so that your fixture can drain as fast as it should.
In some cases, you may need to use a plunger to force everything down the drain. You will however only need to plunge for about a minute or two.
2. Snake the Drain
For a drain that is clogged by hair, you will rarely need to use the usual plumber’s snake. There is a special plastic snake made specifically for this purpose called a drain hair removal tool or a Zip-It tool.
This tool is flexible enough to snake its way through the drain and it comes with hooks to grab and pull out the hair. What is even better is that the tool cannot damage the plumbing since it is made from plastic.
If you need to remove hair from a bathroom sink drain, you will only stick the tool through the side of the stopper, twist and pull it out. You can however opt to remove the stopper if it stands in your way.
Removing hair from a shower drain will definitely require you to remove the shower drain cover. Fortunately, that is quite easy.
Look for a screw on the cover and loosen it then simply lift off the cover. If there is no screw, look for a slot on the side of the cover, insert a flathead screwdriver and pop out the cover. Alternatively, grab the cover with pliers and pull it out. More on that in this post.
There are several types of bathtub drain stoppers. Check out what you have and then you can use this post to know how to remove it.
You may need to snake the drain a couple of times before completely removing all the hair. If you need the tool check the image below from Amazon.
3. Pull out the Hair using a Wire Hanger
If you do not have a hair removal tool and you want to get rid of the hair from the drain immediately, a wire coat hanger will come in handy.
- Grab a wire coat hanger from the closet and straighten it using a pair of pliers.
- Use the pliers to also make a hook on one side of the hanger.
- Remove the tub stopper, shower drain cover or bathroom sink stopper.
- Insert the hooked end of the wire inside the drain until you get to hair clog.
- Start pulling out the hair. This will take longer and it will also gross you out so have some rubber gloves on.
- When you have removed much of the hair, flush the drain with boiling water to wash down whatever strands of hair that are still sticking on the drain line.
4. Try Tweezers
As I have already mentioned, hair combines with oils, shampoo, soap scum and other bathroom products to form a clingy ball that sometimes is hard to plunge or snake through.
In such a scenario, tweezers can come to your rescue. The thing about tweezers is that they will grab the hair ball tightly and all you will need to do is pull it out.
What you may not know is that the hair clog is usually not that far from your drain opening. It is therefore very possible to get to it using tweezers.
Again, you will need to start by removing your drain stoppers. You can’t insert the tweezers inside the drain with stopper still screwed on the drain.
After removing the drain stopper, grab a flash light and inspect the nature as well as the position of the hair ball inside the drain line.
With that information in mind, stick the tweezers inside the drain, grab the hair ball and pull it out. You will need to repeat the steps to make sure you have gotten rid of as much hair as possible from the drain.
Again, this method is gross. The clog will be unsightly and may also smell horribly. The best thing is to get over and done with it as quickly as possible.
Don’t forget to later flush the drain with hot water to clean it up. You can also add vinegar to help with the smell.
5. Remove and Clean the Drain Trap.
This method will work if the hair clog is in the bathroom sink drain. Actually, this is in my opinion the best method to get rid of hair from bathroom sink drains. Or any other clogs for that matter.
If you look under your bathroom sink, you will notice that part of the drain has a U-shaped bend. That bend is called a P-trap or a drain trap and is there by design rather than accident.
All the drains in your house have a P-trap only that you cannot see most of them. A P-trap has 2 functions:
- It traps potential drain clogs, preventing them from clogging the drain line.
- Hold water at all times preventing sewer gases from coming up to the house.
If you have a hair clog in your bathroom sink, I can guarantee you that it is inside the P-trap. Removing and cleaning the P-trap is very effective in clearing the clog.
Here is how to remove hair from a bathroom sink drain:
- If you use the area under the sink to store items, remove them.
- Place a pan or bucket under the trap. As I said, the trap is always full of water and you do not want it spilling on the floor.
- Disconnect the P-trap. If you have a plastic drain line, you can disconnect the trap using your bare hands. Only use a wrench if the connections are too tight.
- With the P-trap out, inspect its interior and remove all the hair that is trapped there. It will gross you out but do it fast.
- Clean the P-trap as well as the tailpiece and the pipe connected to the wall.
- Connect the P-trap back to the drain.
- Turn on the hot water faucet to flush out the drain line and also to make sure that the P-trap is tight (not leaking).
6. Try Vacuuming the Drain
A very fast way of getting rid of hair from drains is using a vacuum. This method does not always work (depending on the position of the clog) but I have seen it work a couple of times.
You will need to start by removing the drain stopper and also make sure that you dry the drain to increase your chances of success.
Use a nozzle attachment and plug the drain opening then set the vacuum to its highest setting. It should be able to suck the hair from the drain in just a few seconds.
Should You Use Chemical Drain Cleaners?
I won’t lie to you. Chemical drain cleaners like Drano and Liquid Plumr are very effective in dissolving hair and removing it from drains.
If you don’t want to use vinegar and baking soda or snake the drain, you can definitely consider chemical drain cleaners. These cleaners work by producing high amounts of heat which dissolve and break down the hair balls.
Chemical drain cleaners are however not very friendly to plumbing pipes due to the high amount of heat produced. They are also bad for the environment and should especially never be used by folks who are on a septic system.
And basically that is how to get hair out of drains. I hope this guide was of help to you.
Remember that if you are unable to clear a clog on your own you can always call a plumber. Plumbers have better tools and experience and therefore better suited for the job. They are however not cheap.
To prevent hair from clogging your drains, consider installing a hair drain catcher. These cheap devices are very effective and are also easy to install.