3 Effective Ways to Get Hair Out of a Bathtub Drain

Having clogged drains full of hair is an annoying and common problem in many homes. Hair tends to accumulate in bathroom drains over time, obstructing water flow and leading to backed-up sinks and tubs. Fortunately, there are several effective methods to remove hair from drains and prevent future clogs.

Why Hair Clogs Drains

Hair is one of the most common causes of clogged drains because of its stringy texture and ability to twist and tangle.[1] As hair washes down the drain, strands stick to the pipe walls and collect with soap scum, toothpaste, and other debris. Over time, this creates a mass that blocks water flow through the pipe. Hair buildup is most problematic in bathroom sink drains and tub drains where hair shedding and washing are frequent. Kitchen sink drains can also become clogged with hair.

Some factors that contribute to hair clogs include:

  • Shedding – The average person loses 50-100 strands of hair per day.[2] All this shedding hair can accumulate quickly.
  • Long hair – People with longer hair tend to shed more and their lengthy strands are more likely to catch in drains.
  • Hair products – Conditioners, gels, and other styling products cause hair to become sticky and cling to surfaces.
  • Improper hair disposal – Hair going down the drain instead of the trash allows strands to collect in pipes.

Left untreated, hair clogs only get worse over time. Luckily, there are several DIY methods to clear drains and remove hair buildup.

Method 1: Use a Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool

A Zip-It drain cleaner is an inexpensive plastic tool that quickly and easily removes hair clogs.[3] This versatile drain snake is a great first option to try.

How a Zip-It Works

A Zip-It tool has a series of barbed plastic teeth. As it’s inserted into the drain and pulled back out, these teeth grab onto hair and pull it out. The hook shape allows it to grab hair around bends in pipes.

How to Use a Zip-It

Using a Zip-It drain cleaner to remove hair is a quick, easy process:

  1. Locate the drain access point. In sinks, this is usually under the drain basket. For tubs, look for a circular drain plate on the tub wall or floor.
  2. Remove the drain basket or plate to expose the drain opening.
  3. Angle the Zip-It down into the drain so the teeth curve in the direction of the clog. Push it gently but firmly until resistance is felt, around 2-3 inches.
  4. Once inserted, slowly retrieve the Zip-It with a slight twisting motion so the barbs snag on debris.
  5. Pull out any hair or gunk caught in the teeth. Wipe off with a paper towel.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5, going a little further into the drain each time, until no more hair comes up.
  7. Run hot water for a full minute to flush away dislodged debris.
  8. Replace the drain basket or plate once finished.

Regularly using a Zip-It every few months helps grab hair before it hardens or sticks to the pipes. It’s suitable and safe for all types of drains. For deeper clogs, a narrow drain snake or chemical treatment may be needed after initial Zip-It use.

Benefits of Using a Zip-It

  • Quickly and easily removes hair – The barbed design grabs and extracts hair in minutes.
  • Safe for all pipes – Won’t scratch or damage pipes like metal snakes. Plastic is safe for all drain materials.
  • Reusable – A Zip-It can be used repeatedly for years. Rinse off hair and debris for next use.
  • Provides visible results – Actually see the hair and debris being removed.
  • Affordable price – Zip-It tools cost just a few dollars and are readily available at hardware stores or online.
  • No chemicals required – Gets the job done using mechanical extraction rather than harsh drain cleaners.

With its fast, easy, cheap, and reusable abilities, a Zip-It is the top choice for regular hair removal from bathroom and kitchen drains. Keep one handy under the sink for hair clog prevention and quick clearance.

Method 2: Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a DIY chemical-free drain cleaner, baking soda and vinegar make a simple, effective hair-removing solution right from your pantry. The reaction between the base and acid creates foaming and fizzing that helps dislodge and dissolve clogs.[4]

How Baking Soda and Vinegar Work

Baking soda is a bicarbonate (base) and vinegar is an acetic acid. When mixed, an acid-base reaction occurs, producing carbon dioxide gas. All the fizzing and foaming action helps break up gunk lining the pipes.

The baking soda also serves as a scrubbing agent. As the foam bubbles through the drain, it scrubs away grime along the pipe walls. The bubbles carry hair and debris down the drain.

Vinegar also works to dissolve soap scum, while the alkaline baking soda dissolves grease and oils. Together, they help clear away the typical grimy buildup.

How to Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

This DIY hair-removing drain cleaner couldn’t be easier:

  1. Remove any drain covers or stoppers to expose the drain opening.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain. Really coat the inside of the pipe.
  3. Follow with 2 cups of heated white vinegar. Pour slowly to activate fizzing.
  4. If fizzing slows, add a bit more baking soda and follow with more vinegar. More product means more cleaning action.
  5. Let the mixture foam and fizz for 5-10 minutes. The bubbles scrub away gunk.
  6. Rinse with very hot water for a few minutes to help dissolve slimy buildup and flush away debris.
  7. Repeat weekly or monthly for preventative maintenance to keep drains hair-free.

For deeper clogs, use a sink plunger or drain snake after the foaming treatment to help dislodge the loosened gunk. Finish by flushing with boiling hot water if possible.

Benefits of Baking Soda and Vinegar

  • All-natural ingredients – No harsh chemicals or fumes.
  • Low cost – Baking soda and vinegar are kitchen staples.
  • Safe for pipes – Won’t corrode plastic or metal pipes like commercial drain cleaners.
  • Deodorizing – Eliminates odors from dirty drains.
  • Effective hair removal – The foaming bubbles lift and capture strands of hair.
  • Prevents buildup – Regular use keeps drains free-flowing and hair-clog free.

With its non-toxic, inexpensive, and readily available ingredients, baking soda and vinegar is one of the best methods for freeing drains of stubborn hair clogs. The active bubbling leaves pipes clean and hair-free.

Method 3: Enzyme Drain Cleaners

For a commercial product approach, enzyme-based liquid drain cleaners specifically designed for hair offer a highly effective solution. Enzyme cleaners use bacteria to dissolve organic matter like hair, soap scum, and oils that cause clogged drains.[5]

How Enzyme Drain Cleaners Work

Enzyme cleaners contain bacillus bacteria and enzymes that target the grimy gunk lining pipes. When poured down the drain, these ingredients immediately start breaking down hair, soap scum, fats, and other buildup through a process of liquification.

The enzymes literally digest the hair and organic sludge so it washes smoothly down the drain instead of sticking to pipe walls. Continued use keeps eating away at gunk so it doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.

Some enzyme cleaner brands also contain foaming agents or bubbling ingredients to provide additional hair-grabbing cleaning action. The more foam, the better hair removal ability.

How to Use an Enzyme Drain Cleaner

Using an enzyme cleaner to remove hair from drains is very simple:

  1. Remove any drain baskets or stoppers to expose the full drain opening.
  2. Pour the required amount of enzyme cleaner down the drain according to package directions. Often 4-8 oz is recommended.
  3. Let the cleaner sit for 5-15 minutes to allow enzymatic digestion of gunk.
  4. Flush the drain with very hot water for 1-2 minutes to rinse away dissolved gunk.
  5. Repeat weekly or as needed to control recurring hair clogs. Maintenance doses may be smaller.

For extremely slow drains, follow up by using a plunger or drain snake to help dislodge the loosened gunk so the enzymes can keep working deeper.

Benefits of Enzyme Drain Cleaners

  • Specialized hair removal – The enzymes directly digest and dissolve hair.
  • Degrade organics – Also eliminate soap scum, fats, oils that clog drains.
  • Safer than caustics – Contain no harsh acids or bases that corrode pipes.
  • Prevent clogs – Regular use stops hair from accumulating over time.
  • Better smelling drains – Eliminate odors rather than just mask them.
  • Easy to use – Simply pour and wait, then flush.

Enzyme cleaners offer the perks of a commercial product specially designed to dissolve tough hair clogs. The liquifying bacteria leave drains hair-free and running smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Hair From Drains

Why does my bathtub drain get clogged with hair so often?

Bathtub drains are very prone to hair clogs because of the large amount of hair shed and rinsed off during bathing and showering. Lying in a tub also causes more hair shedding versus standing upright in a shower. The drain’s curved shape allows strands to easily catch and tangle too.

What is the best way to prevent hair clogs?

Prevention is the best way to avoid frustrating hair-clogged drains. Install drain catchers and cover drains when not in use. Dispose of hair from brushes and combs in the trash, not down the drain. Avoid letting hair go down the drain by collecting shed strands after showering. Use drain cleaners monthly to remove any accumulated hair before it hardens.

Why does my bathroom sink drain clog faster than my kitchen sink?

Bathroom sink drains handle a lot more hair from daily grooming activities like styling, shaving, flossing and brushing over the basin. Kitchen sinks get greasy food particles but not as much hair buildup since hair care usually happens in the bathroom.

What is the safest DIY method for unclogging hair from drains?

A Zip-It plastic hair removal tool is very safe for DIY hair drain cleaning. It won’t scratch pipes like metal snakes. Baking soda and vinegar are also safe options since they contain no harsh acids or bases that corrode pipes, just simple kitchen ingredients. Avoid caustic chemical drain cleaners.

How can I unclog a shower drain naturally?

For shower drains, the best natural uncloggers are baking soda and vinegar or enzyme cleaners. The foaming reaction or enzymatic digestion help dissolve and remove hair. A Zip-It tool also works well for manually extracting strands of hair from shower and tub drains.

What should I do if a drain snake doesn’t clear a hair clog?

If a regular drain snake fails to open up a hair clog, try using an enzymatic liquid cleaner to dissolve the mass of stuck-together hair. Let the enzymes sit overnight if needed to fully liquify the clog, then follow up with the snake again to dislodge the loosened gunk. Using a zip-it first can also help remove hair so the snake reaches deeper.


Hair in drains is a pesky yet common nuisance. Fortunately, a variety of methods exist to effectively eliminate clogs and keep drains free-flowing.

For quick removal, a Zip-It cleaning tool conveniently grabs hair with its barbed design. Baking soda and vinegar make a simple, natural drain-cleaning solution as the acid-base reaction bubbles away gunk. Commercial enzyme cleaners liquify hair using bacteria specially designed for drain cleaning.

Using these methods, particularly on a preventative basis, provides a straightforward way to enjoy hair-free drains and avoid future clogged pipes and backups. Implement them regularly as part of a drain maintenance routine to minimize hair buildup over time.

By actively removing accumulated hair from bathroom and kitchen drains, plumbing problems and headaches can be avoided. No one wants standing water or inspection of those gross pipes. So be proactive and keep drains open, pipes clear, and water flowing freely with these 3 effective methods for hair removal.