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How Do I Remove a Soap and Hair Clog?

Unclog Soap and Hair

To remove a soap and hair clog try the easiest, least expensive options first.

  1. If the clog is in a bathtub, sink or shower try a high-efficiency accordion style plunger first.
    • Look for a plunger that's designed just for tubs, sinks and showers, with a broad circular base to seal against the drain opening. Accordion style plungers can be purchased online and in hardware stores for around $10.
    • Sink, Bath, and Shower PlungerCheck to make sure the bottom of the plunger seals tightly against the drain opening. You may need to remove a mechanical stopper if one is present at the bathtub drain opening.
    • Use extra caution and wear fluid resistant gloves and eye protection if you believe that chemical drain cleaners may have been used.
    • Note: if several plumbing fixtures in different rooms are clogged, see our tips to unclog a main sewer drain.
  2. Handheld Drum AugerNext try a handheld drum auger if the plunger doesn't remove the clog.
    • A 25 foot handheld drum auger can be purchased for around $30.
    • This is a good next choice, since the auger can break through many clogs that are further from the drain opening, and its spiral tip can often pass through the small-diameter elbows and transitions in the lateral drain lines that flow into the main drain. And, if the clog contains hair or fibrous material the spiral tip might pull out some of the residue.
    • For detailed tips to use the handheld drum auger, visit the bathtub, sink, shower, and laundry drain tips pages.
  3. Needle Nose Drain CleanerTry using a sewer jetter if the soap and hair clog keeps coming back.
    • A Needle Nose™ drain cleaner is a sewer jetter with a tougher, braided steel jacket and a special compact nozzle tip that allows it to pass through almost as many drain elbows and transitions as a handheld auger.
    • Important: you should try a sewer jetter only if you were able to insert the handheld auger its full 25 foot length into the drain. And, you should have an alternate, clogged drain opening available nearby in case the sewer jetter can't pass through any short-radius elbows close to the first opening you try.
    • Needle Nose Sewer Jetter VideoUnlike a mechanical auger, the sewer jetter scrubs the sides of dirty pipes and flushes out greasy residue so fewer clogs come back. You can see the differences between a mechanical auger and the sewer jetter as they both take on a sticky clog in this 2 minute video.
    • To unclog a sink or shower drain with the Needle Nose drain cleaner:
    • Put on fluid resistant work gloves and eye protection. Use extra care if you believe the drain might contain drain cleaning chemicals.
    • Needle Nose Drain CleanerIf working under a sink, set up a bucket and towels under the sink trap to handle any spills, and then remove the trap. If cleaning a shower drain, remove the drain cover.
    • Make sure the work area is well ventilated. And, if you're using a gas-powered pressure washer, only operate it outdoors.
    • Connect the drain cleaner to your pressure washer trigger gun. Then, to avoid getting water on indoor floors, while you're outside check your trigger gun and supply hoses for leaks.
    • Start your pressure washer, and then guide the nozzle about a foot into the drain opening before you squeeze the trigger to start the flow of water.
    • After you have finished cleaning the drain, pull the drain cleaner out. Use care to release the trigger to stop the flow of water before the nozzle reaches the drain opening.
    • Replace the sink trap or drain cover, check for tight connections, and then remove any bucket and towels.
  4. If you're not comfortable performing any of these steps, hiring a good, licensed plumber could save you money in the long run. To find a good plumber in your area: Licensed Plumber
    • Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar services for them.
    • If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who published very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.
    • After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.
    • Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

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