3 Effective Ways to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain
We all want thick, great-looking hair, but not in the bathtub or shower drain. Strands of hair combine with soap scum to create a hairball clump that can stop water drainage completely. The best way to solve hair clogs is to keep the hair out of the drain each time you bathe. But, if the damage is done, here are three easy and effective ways to get hair out of a bathtub drain.
How Often to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain
Ideally, you should remove hair from around the drain after each time you bathe. Those two or three seconds of sweeping up the hair with a paper towel or tissue will save time and expense later.
If you notice that water is not draining quickly from the tub, take action right away to remove hair buildup before the pipes become completely clogged.
Before You Begin
Any drain-clearing method can put you in contact with bacteria so wear gloves and safety glasses. Drain-clearing chemicals often contain ingredients that also harmful to eyes and skin.
If you choose to use a liquid drain-clearing product, read the label carefully. Never use a product that contains sulfuric acid (or any type of powerful, highly concentrated acid). It can cause damage to the plumbing.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- 1 pair safety glasses
- 1 pair rubber gloves
- 1 hair remover tool
- 1 drain snake
- 1 bucket
- 1 plastic funnel
- 1 bottle liquid drain opener
- 1 roll paper towels
How to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain with a Hair Removal Tool
A hair removal tool is a thin, flexible piece of plastic with sharp teeth along the edges. Found in a hardware or big box store and often sold in multiples, the tool is inexpensive enough to be tossed along with the hair it removes.
Remove the Bathtub Stopper and Insert the Tool
- Remove the stopper from the bathtub drain.
- Push the end of the tool into the drain. When the tool hits the blockage, push it up and down several times.
The teeth along the edge of the hair removal tool are sharp. Wear gloves and keep a firm grip on the handle at the top of the tool.
- Slowly pull the hair removal tool out of the drain. The hairball should be clinging to the tool.
- Use a paper towel to remove the hair or dispose of the entire tool.
- If there is no hair on the tool, try again. However, the clog may be lower in the pipe than the tool can reach.
How to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain with a Drain Snake
A drain snake is a sturdier version of a hair removal tool that can reach lower into the drain. The snake is a flexible metal cable coiled inside a drum. You can extend the cable up to 25 feet into the drain system where a metal corkscrew-like end snags the clog. The clog and the cable are pulled straight out of the drain.
Remove Bathtub Stopper and Standing Water
- Remove the bathtub stopper.
- While the snake can be inserted through standing water, it is best to bail out standing water with a bucket or absorb it with towels.
Insert the Snake
- Uncoil and insert the corkscrew end of the drain snake into the drain until you feel resistance. Tighten the thumbscrew on the drum.
- Rotate the drain snake to capture the clog by turning the handle on the drum.
Remove the Snake and Clog
- Slowly pull the cable out of the drain.
- Remove the hairball from the corkscrew end of the snake. Dispose of the hair.
- Retract the cable into the snake drum.
How to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain with Liquid Drain Opener
Liquid drain openers that are safe for all types of plumbing use a mixture of bacteria, enzymes, and live cultures to liquify the hair and soap scum. They work slowly and are best for small clogs that are not very deep in the drain.
Put on safety goggles and protective gloves before pouring the drain opener into the bathtub.
Remove the Stopper and Standing Water
- Remove the bathtub stopper.
- Bail out standing water with a bucket.
Add the Liquid Drain Cleaner
- Consult the product label for instructions on the amount to use.
- Pour the liquid drain cleaner into the drain. Use a plastic funnel, if needed, and try not to splash it onto other surfaces.
- Follow the label directions on how long to allow the product to work. Some require an hour, others up to 24 hours to dissolve the clog.
Flush the Drain
- After the required waiting period, flush the drain with very hot water.
- If the clog remains, repeat the steps but allow the drain cleaner to work longer.
Tips to Keep Bathtub Drains Hair-Free Longer
- Add a hair-catching screen or stopper to the tub drain.
- Clean the screen or stopper after each bath.
- Brush your hair to remove loose strands before taking a shower or bath.
When to Call a Professional
If none of these methods work, the clog may be deeper or larger than these products can handle. Call a professional plumber for assistance.
Zehbour Panossian et al. Corrosion of carbon steel pipes and tanks by concentrated sulfuric acid: A review. Corrosion Science, vol. 58, 1-11, 2012. doi:10.1016/j.corsci.2012.01.025