With regular use, the drains in your home can become clogged with clumps of hair, causing drainage issues and unpleasant odors. However, not all drain cleaners are well-equipped to clear and break up difficult hair clogs. For a fast-acting product that tackles your backed-up pipes, this list includes some of the best drain cleaners for hair.
Types of Drain Cleaners
When shopping for the best drain cleaner for hair, there are multiple options. Several kinds of drain cleaners, including liquids, gels, powders, and drain snakes, are in today’s marketplace. While all these types of drain cleaners can help solve your plumbing issues, they work differently, depending on the drainage issue and individual preference.
Liquid drain cleaners, a common solution to quickly dissolve a pesky drain blockage, typically combine bleach and lye to create liquid with natural enzymes or corrosive chemicals that dissolve or loosen hair clogs.
Use liquid drain cleaners to break up minor hair blocks when they begin to form. They’re usually slightly less expensive than gel drain cleaners. Store drain cleaners, including liquid varieties, out of the reach of young children or pets.
Made with a formula similar to a liquid drain cleaner, gel drain cleaners contain an additional thickening agent. Gel drain cleaners are designed specifically to move through pipes slower than liquids, so the active ingredients have more time to eat away at the grime that’s stuck to pipe walls.
Gel is effective at attaching to the hair that causes clogs, dissolving it more quickly than most liquids. Overall, a gel drain cleaner is more efficient than a liquid cleaner at breaking up a tough hair clog, but it can be more expensive.
Powders and Granules
Granular and powder drain cleaners have a dry consistency. After pouring a scoop of the cleaner down the drain, flush the drain with water to cut through grease and hair. When hot or cold water comes into contact with the powder, the chemical agents are activated to dissolve grime and hair buildup.
Powders and granules are best for flushing away the grease and oils that coat pipes that catch hair. They also can be a good option for tackling clumps of hair in the drain.
Another type of drain cleaner, pods are similar to laundry or dishwashing detergent pods. The cleaning agent is wrapped in a thin shell that dissolves when it comes into contact with water. Most pods are better at deodorizing a drain than unclogging it, and in fact, they may exacerbate a blockage if it’s severe.
Drain-cleaning pods are best for pipe maintenance after a clog has been dislodged to help create a fresh scent and deter the residual buildup that’s responsible for trapping hair in pipes.
A drain snake is a long tool designed to take out the physical material that’s clogging your drain. To use a drain snake, first feed it into the pipe until it meets resistance. Next, use the handle to rotate the tool, breaking up the clog, or grabbing it. After the clog seems to be weakening, pull up the snake along with the clog out of your pipe. Lastly, run hot water to drain away anything that remains. Repeat the process as often as necessary to completely unclog a pipe.
Drain snakes may take care of smaller clogs without the use of another type of drain cleaner. Environmentally-conscious consumers, in particular, may want to try to clear their clogs with a drain snake before trying other methods. While snakes may help get rid of most of the scum and hair, a liquid, gel, or powder drain cleaner can usually finish dissolving the hair and remove built-up scum that coats pipes.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drain Cleaner for Hair
The different types of drain cleaners aren’t the only shopping considerations. When trying to clear a hair clog, most consumers want to consider several other characteristics, including organic vs. chemical, working time, odor removal, and application method.
Organic vs. Chemical
Drain cleaners for hair clogs usually fall into one of two categories: organic or chemical. This distinction refers to the active ingredients in the drain cleaner that dissolve or break up clogs.
An organic or natural drain cleaner is typically enzyme-based, and it utilizes bacteria to break down organic proteins, including hair, mildew, and food particles. They don’t contain harsh chemicals and are less corrosive than chemical drain cleaners. While natural enzyme drain cleaners are less toxic, they also are typically less powerful and slower at breaking up hair clogs.
Chemical drain cleaners are either alkaline-based, with ingredients such as sodium hydroxide (lye) and potassium hydroxide (caustic potash); or acid-based, with high concentrations of sulfuric acid (oil of vitriol). Both types of drain cleaners can dissolve hair in pipes. Chemical drain cleaners are more corrosive; in fact, they may eventually damage your plumbing if used frequently or in large amounts. They must be safely handled and carefully stored.
Every drain cleaner has a prescribed working time that dictates how long the product needs to sit in the pipes before it’s flushed or washed away. Working time can vary, depending on the type of drain cleaner and the severity of the clog.
The product’s label indicates how long to wait for the drain cleaner to work. It can be as short as 15 to 20 minutes, but sometimes, the manufacturer recommends letting the cleaner remain undisturbed in the pipe overnight. Chemical gels and liquids usually have a shorter working time compared to natural enzyme cleaners.
If hair or another substance has blocked the drain for a long time, the drain may have an unpleasant odor. This odor is caused by bacteria that grows in the dirt and hair stuck in the pipes. Most drain cleaners also effectively eliminate the odors associated with clogs as they dissolve and flush away the debris.
However, some drain cleaners emit unpleasant fumes as they work. If sensitivity to odors is a concern, look for an odorless drain cleaner designed to eliminate the odor.
When your pipe starts to show signs of a hair clog, the first step is to use a drain snake to remove as much of the debris as possible. A drain snake can break up the biggest blocks and prime your pipes for the second step: drain cleaner.
With the exception of the drain snake, the application process for most drain cleaners is quite similar. First, read the directions on the label. Many cleaners recommend safety goggles or gloves to protect your eyes and skin during use. The label also should tell you how much cleaner to use based on the type of drain that needs unblocking.
After you pour in the correct amount of gel, liquid, or powder, wait the recommended time for the cleaner to break up the clog. The last step in clearing a clog is to flush your pipes with either hot or cold water, as directed. Difficult blockages may require more than one application.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve learned how the different types of drain cleaners work on clogs, it’s time to start shopping. Keep reading to find a list of some of the best drain cleaners for hair clogs.
Green Gobbler Liquid Hair & Grease Clog RemoverPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Green Gobbler’s clog remover is a non-corrosive liquid drain cleaner that doesn’t damage pipes or septic systems, but works hard to dislodge pesky clogs. Formulated with fewer harsh chemicals than most cleaners, it’s safer for you and your home’s plumbing. This liquid clog remover cuts through the hair that can build up in the shower, sink, and toilet.
Pour 1 quart of Green Gobbler drain cleaner slowly down the drain; it usually takes at least two hours to unclog the hair. To maximize the unclogging action, you may want to wait overnight before flushing with hot water.
Whink 6217 Hair Clog Blaster!Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Whink’s liquid drain opener can pass through standing water to target difficult hair clogs and break them down quickly. Thoroughly shake the closed drain cleaner container, and slowly pour 8 to 10 ounces of the Whink formula into the blocked drain. Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes before flushing with hot water. Repeat as necessary to fully dislodge the hair clog. For difficult blockages, the drain cleaner may need to sit overnight.
Safe for pipes and septic systems, this cleaner is designed for bathroom sinks and shower drains. It’s not recommended for toilets, garbage disposals, or dishwashers. Wear thick rubber gloves during application.
Bio-Clean Drain Septic BacteriaPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
By using natural enzymes that digest clog-causing proteins, Bio-Clean’s powder drain cleaner is a safe way to clean and maintain pipes, drains, and septic systems. The Bio-Clean formula includes no harsh or dangerous chemicals, which means that it’s skin- and pipe-friendly. This natural cleaner can get rid of hair clogs and even liquefy some paper products.
After dissolving the powder in warm water, pour the mixture into the drain. Wait for at least 6 to 8 hours before flushing with water. As a natural drain cleaner, this product isn’t as fast-acting as some of the alternatives, but it’s a natural choice for your home.
Easiest to Use4
Professor Amos' Drain Cleaner & Drain Opener LiquidPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Professor Amos’ fast-acting drain cleaner is an excellent option for those who need their pipes unclogged fast. After pouring it slowly down the drain, wait for 15 minutes, and flush with hot water. If your clog persists, the company recommends repeating the process.
This drain cleaner is formulated to dissolve difficult hair clogs caused by pets or long hair. It’s safe for all types of pipes, including PVC, copper, and steel.
Thrift Alkaline Based Granular Drain CleanerPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Without the fumes that many chemical drain cleaners produce, Thrift’s alkaline drain cleaner clears hair clogs by liquefying the hair. Thrift’s odorless dry granules are activated by hot water to dissolve the sticky grime and sludge that traps hair without damaging pipes or brass, porcelain, and metal fixtures.
This product is intended for use in sinks, tubs, and shower drains. However, it’s not designed to be used in toilets or sink disposals. Thrift requires careful storage, and users should wear protective goggles and gloves during application.
Best Clog Defense6
TubShroom the Revolutionary Tub Drain ProtectorPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
TubShroom’s drain protector prevents hair clogs from ever forming. Unlike drain covers that fit on the outside of the drain, it fits inside most standard bathtub drains. This plastic plug’s fitted design catches almost all hair and traps it. It’s available in several colors.
Best Drain Snake7
FlexiSnake Drain Weasel Sink Snake CleanerPhoto: amazon.com Check Latest Price
One of the quickest ways to remove a hair clog is with a drain snake. With this option from FlexiSnake, the 360-degree rotating handle spins an 18-inch wand tipped with strong micro hooks to grab clogged hair. After inserting the rod, spin the hooks and pull up the debris. Five disposable wands are included.
Safe to use on all plumbing fixtures and free of dangerous lye and bleach, Green Gobbler is still powerful enough to dissolve thick, greasy hair clogs, thus earning the top spot on our list ofrecommendations. In addition to clearing the clumps, Green Gobbler coats the walls of pipes and traps, making it harder for hair and grease to stick and preventing future clumps. Once you’ve cleared your drains, the TubShroom will keep your drains pristine going forward, so you’ll want to consider installing this easy-to-use preventive tool.
How We Chose the Best Drain Cleaners for Hair
Our first consideration in choosing the best drain cleaners for hair clogs was the effectiveness of the treatment: The cleaners need to work, and work well. Ideally, the best drain cleaners would also work quickly. However, since many users are sensitive to caustic chemicals and fumes, in some cases we were willing to allow a longer wait time in exchange for fewer hard chemicals. In addition, we looked at the method of application: Granules can be more effective, but they must be stored completely dry and can sometimes splash out of the drain when activated, while liquids and gels can be poured through existing standing water. In the end, we sought a balance between ease and safety of use, chemical exposure, and effectiveness, and we found a number of excellent products that meet those standards.
If you still have questions about the best drain cleaners for hair clogs, this section may help. Find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about drain cleaners for hair clogs here.
Q. Why does hair clog drains?
Hair gets stuck in drains when the insides of the pipes become coated with soap scum, grease, and oils. When hair flows down the drain, this coating is “tacky,” so hair sticks and slowly collects until a clog forms.
Q. How do I stop my hair from clogging the drain?
The best way to stop a hair clog from forming is to use a drain cover. Routine cleaning and maintenance help prevent sticky grime and sludge from coating the walls of pipes.
Q. Will shaving in the shower clog the drain?
Shaving can cause or exacerbate a clog, especially if you use a thick shaving cream or high-lather soap. When you shave, rinse with hot water to help dissolve the soap residue left behind.