Are clogged drains a recurring issue in your house? Sinks that drain slowly clog regularly, or drains that clog out of the blue are inconvenient at best. Besides being a nuscuence by creating extra cleaning and work, they are embarrassing. Depending on the cause of your clogged drain, a wide variety of solutions can help ease this burden.
Whether a simple home recipe does the trick to clean your drain or you need a specific tool such as a snake or professional drain cleaning product, taking the time to clean your drain well once can prevent recurring issues. If these technique don’t do the try, hire a plumber to conviently and effectively eliminate the clog.
Below is a list of curated techniques to unclog drains and proactive approaches to prevent drains from clogging in the first place. There are options using common household items as well as everything you need to know before beginning an extensive cleaning or calling a plumber.
How to Fix and Prevent Clogs in Your Drains
Home Remedies for Fixing Clogs
There are many different approaches to cleaning out a drain. Using what you have available at home can be successful and affordable. Depending on your circumstances, boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda might do the trick. You might find you need to purchase a liquid drain cleaning product.
Removing the clog with tweezers or other household items could be necessary, or you might want to invest in tools such as a snake. Worst case scenario, you might need to disassemble your drain or call a plumber to address your clog.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Like commercial drain cleaning products, baking soda and vinegar rely on a chemical reaction to unclog your drain. These two items are commonly found in most households and are generally considered environmentally safe. This technique can unclog your drain or act as preventative maintenance.
- Starting by pouring 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow with 1 cup of vinegar. For stubborn clogs, combine 1 cup of baking soda with ½ cup of salt and let it sit overnight before pouring 1 cup of vinegar down the drain.
- The chemical reaction should cause fizzing within the drain. Wait 5 minutes after the fizzing stops before pouring a ½ gallon of boiling hot water down the drain.
- Continue this process until the drain is clear.
There are several benefits to this technique. Baking soda is known for absorbing odors and can clear up mineral deposits; vinegar is known for being tough on calcium buildup. Combining these two can address clogged drains due to hair, calcium buildup, or other issues. This will be one of the most effective home remedies if you have the supplies readily available in your household.
If you think your drain is clogged due to buildup from toothpaste, mucus, and a little bit of hair, there is a chance that boiling water will be able to clear your drain. Hair buildup from gel and mouses can be troublesome, but a large pot of boiling water can help break up that grime.
To use this technique, boil a large pot of water. Bring the water to a roaring boil for a few minutes. Water boils at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit which is hot enough to break down minor drain clogs. You will want to pour the water slowly down the drain. Be sure to use oven mitts and be careful of your face to avoid second or third-degree burns from the steam.
You may need to repeat this technique more than once to remove even a minor clog in your drain. The most significant benefit to this technique is not its ability to clean most drains but the simplicity and availability of the materials.
Liquid Drain Cleaners
Liquid drain cleaners have an excellent reputation for successfully cleaning drains. However, you might look for products that specialize in drains clogged by hair for the best results. When selecting a liquid drain cleaner, look for a gel-based product as it moves slowly through the drain, spending more time cleaning. Draino Max Gel and Liquid Plumbr are great options for tackling hair in drains.
Neither product are for use on toilets, and Liquid Plumbr is not for garbage disposals. Each product will have specific directions to follow. Still, in general, you will pour the liquid drain cleaning product down the drain and wait based on the recommendations before flushing with hot water.
While drain cleaners at one point had a reputation for being hard on plumbing fixtures and the environment, there are now options that are effective and environmentally friendly, such as Earthworm or Biodrain. Liquid drain cleaners are easy to come by. Grocery stores, dollar stores, and larger home improvement stores will carry at least one, if not several, options.
Tweezers, Needle-Nose Pliers, or a Wire Hanger
Many items around your house might help unclog drains filled with hair. Tweezers are small and fit in tight places with the ability to pinch and pull hair out of the drain. Needle-Nose Pilers are a good option for lifting and pulling out clogged hair.
To use either of these options, you will want to remove the drain stop and use a flashlight or cell phone light to locate the blockage before trying to remove it for the most accurate attack.
A wire coat hanger can reach further down the drain for deeper clogs, but you have to rely on more of a scooping action to hook onto the hair. You can try a rotating technique where you push the coat hanging down into the drain. You twist it to catch as many loops of hair as possible before pulling it out.
As with many home remedies, you will want to try this multiple times to clean the drain thoroughly. Consider following this technique with the vinegar and baking soda technique to remove the grime and mineral deposits that the hair is sticking to on its way down through the drain.
A Snake Device
A snake device can be helpful, especially if you live in an old house with old plumbing systems. A snake device is a tool specific for cleaning drains, and they are very effective at what they do. There are several varieties of snake devices. Often there will be a plastic snake with your liquid drain cleaning product.
You can purchase disposable plastic snakes if you are inclined to throw them away when you are finished. These are an affordable and handy option for bathroom sinks as they are often 18-24 inches long. You can invest in a heavier-duty snake if you foresee this as a common issue in your household.
As with many tools, you have options for snakes. For most purposes, a manual snake will be sufficient. Snakes come in different lengths and gauges. 25 ft is plenty for sinks and 1-story homes, but there is no harm in purchasing a 50 ft snake.
You will want at least a ¼ inch gauge for most showers and sinks. As with many techniques following up with hot water or a liquid drain cleaner can help prevent future clogging.
Disassembling and Reassembling the Drain
Cleaning your drain trap might be essential to remove clogged hair. The trap is the U-shaped pipe at the bottom of your piping. It will have a nut on each side. To remove the drain trap, you will need the following:
- A bucket or tray to place under the plumbing to catch any water or debris.
- Locking pliers or a wrench. It is likely you can use your hands
- A brush or rag to clean the trap
To clean the trap, place the bucket or tray under the plumbing to catch water and debris. Unscrew the nuts on each end of the trap.
This can often be done by hand but if the nuts are stuck, wrap a rag around them and then use a pair of locking pliers. The rag is essential to prevent slipping and cracking when you use the pliers. Push any hair or debris through the trap using a brush or rag.
Scrub any mineral deposits or buildup off the inside of the pipe before returning it to its respective spot. Make sure everything is returned in the correct order and tightened accordingly. Before checking this task off your list of things to do, check for leaks.
Home Remedies for Preventing Clogs
Comb Your Hair Before Entering the Shower and Do Not Comb Your Hair Over the Sink
Combing your hair before you get in the shower is a quick, easy, and proactive approach to keeping drains hair free. Combing can pull out any loose hairs before they come out in the shower. Be thoughtful when brushing.
We often brush our hair at the bathroom vanity, and you will want to avoid doing this over the sink to prevent clogged drains. Don’t forget to do a quick scan and grab any loose hairs to throw them in the trash can after your shower.
Do Frequent Hot Water Rinses
Pouring hot water down your drain is not the most effective technique for solving a clog, but it is an excellent technique for preventing clogged drains. Hair can get caught in grime buildup, and hot water can dissolve that grime, breaking hair loose to flow freely through the drain. Boiling water is more effective than the water from your faucet, so take the extra time to boil water in a kettle or pot.
Use a Drain Protector
Drain protectors are an inexpensive preventive measure to keep drains free and clear of clogs. They generally come in silicon and recess into the drain. Another option is a drain protector that is attached to a drain stop. These fit seamlessly into your sink without detracting aesthetically.
These gadgets will get clogged, so they need routine cleaning to keep them functional.
Use a Strainer
You can use the same drain strainers in your kitchen sink. It will be necessary for the drains to be similar in size for the strainer to be compatible. These metal filters work best when they have small holes that are close together. They will catch hair while allowing water to pass freely through the wire mesh.
Use a Fabric Softener Sheet
A fabric softener sheet can be laid flat over your drain. These sheets are perfect because they allow water to pass through them while preventing hair from entering the drain. Unfortunately, this solution is a single-use solution. The fabric sheets will need to be replaced after each use to avoid mold and buildup.
Calling a Plumber
Sometimes despite your best efforts, you may need to call a plumber. Clogs can indicate more significant issues or be so stubborn that a home remedy isn’t enough. The benefit of having a plumber is the convenience and high success rate. They will stay until the job is complete. If you need to call a plumber, make the most of the experience and be present to learn little tricks of the trade. This can be a great way to get more bang for your buck.
Depending on your location and plumber of choice, having a clog removed can cost anywhere from $100 – $275 to have a clog removed.
The cost will increase significantly if it is necessary to use a roto-rooter or an electronic snake. That can cost up to $500, but the solution is long-lasting and addresses larger issues. Make sure you hire a licensed and insured plumber from a reputable company.
Drains clogged with hair are a common issue we will all run into at some point. Being proactive is ideal. There are many affordable options to prevent drain clogs, including options using basic household items.
Sometimes despite best efforts, drains will still get clogged with hair. Home remedies are a great place to start.
They are affordable, simple, and address the problem quickly. If those techniques don’t work, products specific to cleaning drains are a logical next step, as calling a plumber can be expensive, even if it is worth the additional expense.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.