One of the most common causes of a blocked drain is hair clogs. These are very normal, but they can be really difficult to get rid of sometimes. They form when we shave, wash our hair or wash our pets in the bathtub, shower or over the sink, and the hair is washed away. Over time, this hair combines with bacteria, soap scum and grease to form a solid hair clog that just will not budge! But, rest assured, if you have a clogged drain, there are ways to clear nasty hair clogs away.
Will vinegar and baking soda remove hair clogs from drains?
The short answer is probably, yes. If your hair clog is not particularly huge, it is very likely that a baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) and vinegar concoction will help to dissolve hair clogs and keep your shower drain working properly. Paul Rider, owner of a large drain cleaning company in Middlesbrough said that the mixture of vinegar and baking soda creates a chemical reaction which dissolves a lot of natural substances without damaging your pipework and helps to reduce and remove any fungi and bacteria living around the blockage. This can help to prevent drain flies and smelly drains.
To do a bit of drain cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, all you need to do is:
- Pour one cup of baking soda into the offending drain, leave it for a few minutes to do its work (Sodium Bicarbonate is an alkaline substance and is very good at powering through grease and dirt).
- Follow it up with one cup of vinegar, the fizzing chemical reaction will help break up the clog.
- Allow the mixture to bubble away, and if need be, give it a small stir with a spoon or fork handle.
- After a short while, rinse the baking soda and vinegar mixture away and flush the drain with boiling water. You will be able to tell that all the hair is gone when your drain begins to drain properly without delay. If this is not the case, simply restart the process and try again.
Another good product for drains is oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is also called sodium percarbonate and comes in powder form which is water soluble. When diluted with hot water It breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate
How long does it take for baking soda and vinegar to melt a hair clog?
Typically, for a usual hair clog in a shower drain, baking soda and vinegar should be able to make the clog budge or dissolve hair clogs within 15 to 20 minutes. If you want to, you can leave the solution in overnight, but 20 minutes should suffice,
If it does not, there are other methods of removing hair clogs without damaging your pipes that can be just as effective as baking soda and vinegar.
Other ways to fix hair clogs
There are plenty of ways to unclog drains, but some of them can do more harm than good. Chemical drain cleaners, for example, contain harsh chemicals which will tackle nasty hair clogs but will also potentially damage your shower drain. It is advised by most professional plumbers to avoid using harsh chemicals down your drain and to instead opt for something like baking soda and vinegar or one of the following methods in order to fix your clogged drain. These techniques can be used on stubborn hair clogs in a tub drain, bathroom sink drain, sink drain in the kitchen, you name it! Anywhere with clogged drains will benefit.
It may seem odd, but pliers can be your best friend if you have a clogged drain. They are no good at helping dissolve hair, of course, but they are great at removing human hair and dog hair from your drains. Simply grab the hair in your drain with needle nose pliers and pull it up out of the pipe. Once out, flush the pipe with boiling water or hot water, and you should be good to go.
A mention by Smash about wire coat hangers is a great and easy, cost-effective way to remove hair from your clogged drains. Just unbend the wire hanger into a straight line with a curved hook on one end, and then thread it through the drain. Have a rummage around for the clog, and when you find it, you can hook the hair and pull it back through. Once out, flush your drain with hot water, and then use as normal.
Plumbing snake or drain auger
A plumbing snake, sometimes called a drain auger, is a piece of professional plumbing equipment that allows you to hook or break up blockages. According to PlumbGuardian blockages in the pipes caused by hair, you will need an auger with a coiled or toothed head. Place the end of the auger into the drain and unroll it until you hit a clog. Then pull the auger back out by winding it up (or on automatic augers, pressing a button) and you should find that even stubborn clogs will come up out of the drain. Once out, as always, flush with hot water, and you’re all good.
Then, of course, there is the trusty plunger. To use the plunger, place the cup over the drain, fill your sink or bathtub with some water, and then pump the plunger harshly 6 or 7 times. Once done, remove the plunger and see if the water drains. Keep going if it doesn’t. If it does drain, you will then need to flush the pipes with boiling water.
How to prevent clogged drains
There are a few things that you can do to protect your plumbing pipes. For one, you can use a drain stopper to catch the hair before it enters the pipes. This will need emptying every now and then to stop slow drain, but that is a very simple task. If you’re not in the market for a drain stopper, you could consider washing pets outside with a hose rather than in the bathtub or sink. Additionally, those with long hair should be sure to brush said long hair prior to showering in order to remove any loose hair, preventing hair from entering the pipes by catching it outside of the shower.
Any of these methods will work to protect your drain from hair clogs, but if you do wind up with one, baking soda and vinegar should work to solve your issue.