A common household nuisance, clogged drains often result from hair buildup. Over time, strands of hair can accumulate in your drainpipes, leading to slow drainage and unpleasant odors. To keep your plumbing flowing smoothly, it’s essential to know what will dissolve hair in a drain effectively.
In this guide, we’ll explore various methods and products to help you maintain clog-free drains and prevent plumbing headaches.
Understanding the Problem
Before delving into solutions, let’s first understand why hair causes drain clogs. Hair is made of a protein called keratin, which is resistant to breaking down in water.
When soap scum, grease, and other debris combine with hair in your drains, it creates a sticky mass that gradually obstructs the flow of water. Over time, this can lead to stubborn clogs that require immediate attention.
- Boiling Water: Start with the simplest method—boiling water. Pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain can sometimes loosen hair clogs. Be cautious not to use boiling water if your pipes are plastic, as it may damage them.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar: This classic DIY solution can help dissolve hair clogs. Begin by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a plug or cloth to contain the fizzing reaction. After about 15 minutes, flush the drain with hot water.
- Zip-It Tool: A Zip-It tool is a cost-effective and straightforward device designed to pull hair and debris out of drains. Insert the tool into the drain, twist it, and then pull it out, along with the accumulated hair.
- Plunger: For bathtub and shower drains, a plunger can work wonders. Seal the overflow outlet with a wet cloth, fill the tub or shower with a few inches of water, and plunge vigorously to dislodge the clog.
Chemical Drain Cleaners
Chemical drain cleaners are readily available at most stores and can be effective at dissolving hair clogs. However, they come with some important considerations:
- Safety: Chemical drain cleaners are harsh and can be dangerous if not used correctly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use appropriate safety gear, including gloves and eye protection.
- Environmental Impact: Many chemical drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. Consider eco-friendly alternatives if you’re environmentally conscious.
Several natural ingredients can help dissolve hair clogs safely and effectively:
- Enzymatic Drain Cleaners: Enzymatic drain cleaners use natural enzymes to break down organic matter, including hair. They are safe for pipes and the environment.
- Borax and Salt: Mix equal parts borax and salt, then pour it down the drain. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before flushing with hot water. This mixture can help break down hair and grease.
Prevention is often the best solution. Here are some preventive measures to keep hair from clogging your drains:
- Use Drain Screens: Install drain screens or catchers in your sink, shower, and bathtub drains to trap hair before it enters the pipes.
- Regular Cleaning: Routinely clean the drain screens and remove any hair or debris to prevent buildup.
- Professional Plumbing Maintenance: Consider scheduling annual plumbing inspections and maintenance to catch and address potential clogs before they become severe.
When to Call a Professional
While the methods mentioned above can be effective for minor clogs, there are instances when it’s best to call a professional plumber:
- Severe Clogs: If the clog is persistent and severe, a plumber can use specialized equipment, such as a drain snake or hydro-jetting, to remove the blockage.
- Old Plumbing: If you have older plumbing that may be damaged or deteriorating, attempting to clear a clog yourself can lead to more significant problems. A professional can assess the situation and provide the right solution.
Maintaining free-flowing drains is essential for the overall health and functionality of your plumbing system. Knowing what will dissolve hair in a drain and adopting preventive measures can save you from the inconvenience and expense of dealing with stubborn clogs.
Whether you choose a DIY method, a natural solution, or the expertise of a professional plumber, keeping your drains hair-free is a step toward a smoothly running household.