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How to Fix a Clogged Drain with the Drano Snake Plus

Hair... It Clogs. Go Figure.

As something commonly identified as female, I am known for shedding a significant amount of hair. I (along with family members and room mates with whom I have lived) have always been concerned about the potential for all this hair may lead to blocked drains... and indeed, clogs have 'gone down'.

While I have historically outsourced my plumbing problems to others (e.g. landlords, building managers, older family members...), Drano's sponsorship of HubPages' August 2011 Clogs to Coins contest inspired me (along with other HubPages staff members) to give their products, specifically the Drano Snake Plus, a try. What makes me particularly interested in the Snake Plus is how useful it is for hair-related clogs. You see, it comes with a special tool that goes down into your drain and pulls out offending strands. Intriguing, no?

Lacking 'naturally' clogged sinks of my own, I got together with HubPages team members Jason Menayan and Robin Edmondson to create a clogged sink right in HubPages headquarters so that we could give this tool a try.

What follows is our experience with the Drano Snake Plus- complete with tips on use and an explanation of how Drano's gel works.

The Demonstration

What we did was this: amass a sizable collection of hair, sneak up to the fourth floor bathroom (What? Use our own on the third floor??? Hah!), stuff the hair down the drain, and follow the instrcutions on the Drano Snake Plus box.

You can see a quick video rundown of the process to your right. It really was simple, and using the flexible tool made a big difference, for though I know that Drano gel is powerful, I know also that there are few things so formidable in this world as a large, ominous clump of hair that has just been vigorously tamped down a drain by an overenthusiastic 23-year-old.

The Process

Are you going to go about fixing a clogged drain somewhat soon? Gosh, it's simple. Here are the steps, and be sure to refer to our helpful photos (courtesy of Jason Menayan) to the right.

Using the Tool & Fishing for Clogs

  1. Remove the drain plug (while making lots of "EW!!!" noises)
  2. Feed the 18" flexible tool that comes in the Drano Snake Plus box into your drain. If your drain is so clogged that it's filled with standing water, chances are the water might flow out once you breach a hole in the Hair Fortress currently blocking its passage.
  3. Without forcing the tool, feed it in as far as it will go, then shimmy it up and down two inches so that you can loosen the clog. Try to feel around for some sort of connection- it's like fishing, and you want to try to CATCH this drain turd!
  4. Slowly and gently begin pulling the tool out of the drain. You'll probably feel the clog getting pulled up along with the tool. At this point, feel free to make extra loud noises of disgust.
  5. Marvel at the small bundle of grossness to which your sink has just given birth. Swear to shave your head and eyebrows for the rest of your life so that you may never again produce something so disgusting.
  6. Discard the drain turd.

Clearing Out the Rest with Drano

  1. Slowly pour the entire container of Drano into your sink.
  2. Let it sit for 30 minutes - use that time to learn some sweet new dance moves.
  3. Return to your bathroom. Marvel at the smell that the chemical battle between Drano and the residual clog material has produced.
  4. Flush away this residual (and now thoroughly defeated) material with HOT water.
  5. Rejoice (perhaps with those new dance moves!)

Yeah, it's that easy.

Lye helps break down hair protein, thus lessening the threat any residual drain hair might leave.

Lye helps break down hair protein, thus lessening the threat any residual drain hair might leave.

The SCIENCE!

As it happens, Jason Menayan understands some of the chemical two-stepping going on between Drano Pro Concentrate Gel and the nasty stuff clogging drains. Here is his fascinating explanation:

How does Drano work?
Most bathroom sink clogs are made of hair and soap, which can get trapped and solidify, respectively, in the curved recesses of the sink's pipes.
Drano liquid has two active ingredients: sodium hydroxide (lye, a very strong base) and sodium hypochlorite (bleach). The sodium hydroxide will do two things: first, it will dissolve any hardened soap or grease through a process called saponification (it actually converts them into a more liquid form of soap, which can wash away). Second, it will help break down and soften any hair. Lye is the same stuff used in hair relaxers and perms, since it breaks down hair protein.
The addition of the new red hooked tool helps in two ways: it pokes a hole in the clog that allows the liquid gel to penetrate more effectively, and it also helps drag out the tangle of hair, if there is one. See the video in this Hub to see exactly how horrifying such hair clumps can look!

The Gist: One Need Not Always Outsource Plumbing Problems

What I've learned from this whole exercise is that:

  1. The stuff that ends up in drains is pretty gnarly.
  2. Unclogging drains need not be always outsourced to professional experts or annoyed family members / significant others. There exists technology and tools that makes it easy even for the Squeamish Elite.

I hope you take discomfort and comfort in turn from my life lessons- and that you, too, turn your household chores and plumbing mishaps into useful online guides. Hey, sometimes life gets messy, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn new things and make the most of menacing mishaps!

Comments

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on September 01, 2011:

Simone, Correction, it was:

Home -> Home Improvements -> Plumbing Improvements

and Drano isn't even available in the UK. If it were I would be a much happier (unclogged) man.

Thanks again.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on September 01, 2011:

Simone, I published it last night, but when i looked at the categories at the top it started with Home -> Improvements or something, so I think I have automatically barred myself.

Have a look, if you like... as I said, it is a lot of whining and moaning on my behalf.

Regardless, thank you for your support, I really do appreciate you taking the time.

Cheers!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 01, 2011:

Whoah! What a Hub! I hope you have the chance to publish it before our Clogs to Coins contest is closed on September 4th!!

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on August 30, 2011:

Simone, I started to write it, more for gaining closure for myself, and sort of therapy, but I have not finished writing it and already it is over five thousand words in length. 5,000 words of me whining and moaning. I whine and moan a lot!!!

Thanks for the comment, however.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 30, 2011:

You know, Twilight Lawns, you SHOULD write a Hub about that! You might win a prize in the Clogs to Coins contest!

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on August 26, 2011:

I have an almost continuously blocked waste from my shower. Nothing seems to shift it without a nasty knock-on effect.

But this is due to extremely bad plumbing. If I were to start telling you all about it I would find I had written a hub, it was so awful.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 25, 2011:

Thanks y'all! And I'm glad you've been happy with Drano's performance, Cari Jean! I'm pretty impressed with the samples we've been given... I hadn't realized the extent to which it would actually break down clogs!

Cari Jean from Bismarck, ND on August 25, 2011:

Our landlord recommended this product for us - I think he was getting tired of coming over the unclog my hair from the our shower drain! It works pretty slick and its nice to know we can do it ourselves.

Carrie Smith from Dallas, Texas on August 22, 2011:

Fantastic hub, very entertaining! I'll definitely save this for those days when my (long) hair clogs up my drains, as it normally does several times a year. Voted up!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 22, 2011:

Superb article Simone!!! Full of details and demonstrations! I'll bookmark it for future reference! Voted UP!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 22, 2011:

I'm glad you will, travel_man1971!

And that's very interesting, Sally's Trove! I've never lived in a home with cast iron pipes before. I think it really does depend on the condition of the pipes, as well as the nature of the chemical being flushed down them. From my understanding (and from what I gained from a conversation with a local pipe maintenance man), Drano contains a lot of elements in it to make it less dangerous, so it is less likely to be an issue (as opposed so other more industrial liquids one might purchase that are more powerful, but also more... risky, pipe wise), though if one has been told to not flush any cleaning chemicals down one's pipes, I'd stick to that rule! Thanks for the comment and the helpful link.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 21, 2011:

For many years there's been a debate about whether chemical drain cleaning products (including Drano preparations) should be used on cast iron pipes. My older home has cast iron pipes, and my certified plumber says absolutely don't use drain cleaning chemicals.

On the other hand, other certified plumbers (and Drano FAQs) say these cleaners do not harm metal pipes. I think there's more to the story, including how old the iron pipes are, what condition they are in, and the density of the clog.

I found this article on the subject enlightening and worthy of reading, no matter what kinds of pipe you have:

http://www.askthebuilder.com/Drain_Cleaner_Debate....

I'd hate to see someone run into preventable trouble while following the instructions in this excellent Hub.

Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on August 21, 2011:

Hahaha! I think, I'll share my experiences of fixing a clogged drain. Wew! I don't have to eat a day's meal just thinking of the gory details I've faced just doing it.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 19, 2011:

Hahaa, good point eddiecarrara! And man, I'm sorry YOU get stuck with the task, especially considering that you're not responsible for the clogs in the first place!

Oh, I can BET that Golden Retriever fur can cause nasty clogs, K9keystrokes. Thanks for the +1!!

India Arnold from Northern, California on August 18, 2011:

Nice hub. I regularly give my Golden Retiever dog baths. He has this long feathery hair on his legs, chest, and tail which gets left behind in the tub. Not really thinking about it, I generally simply rinse in on down the drain. I have to say, your explaination on how hair clogs a drain and how the Drano Snake Plus works on hair inparticular, has convinced me to keep a bottle on hand for any Dog Hair plumbing clogs that may show up. Thanks for a great review of Drano's useful product.

Up and awesome and totally useful! (This hub would have received a ton of votes in the contest, but since you're a little early and exempt, the hub deserves a +1 from me for solving my dog hair issue alone!)

Hubhugs~

K9

Eddie Carrara from New Hampshire on August 18, 2011:

I don't even have any hair, but with 3 women living in the house, I seem to be the one delegated to the task of turd fishing about every 3 mo. I don't know why a hair ball makes me want to barf, it looks fine in dreadlocks. I would rather fish the hair out of the drain than out of my sandwich, just a thought :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 15, 2011:

Those rubber ducks! Up to no good! I hope he didn't give you too much trouble, waynet.

That was our goal, anglnwu! I'm glad we've achieved it! It's amazing how easy gross stuff can be once one stops thinking about it and just DOES it.

Yeah, I've been in the doghouse with the fourth floor kids these days Teddletonmr... I hope they forgive me soon!!

Waaah! SORRY Twilight Lawns!!! I hope you were able to work up an appetite... eventually!!

Yeah, it's amazing how much a snake can do on its own, eh carcro? I'm so glad I know about them now.

And agreed, Jeannieinabottle! And YAY!!! I am so glad you're making Hubs of thus stuff! I can't wait to read your contest entry!

Yeah, I suppose this is a good thing to be comfortable doing if one is a homeowner, texasgirlfw. Thoug.. I hope you don't find yourself in a position to do this any time soon!

texasgirlfw on August 15, 2011:

Thank you for this great informtion. I own my own home and need to learn as much as possible how to do these things.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on August 15, 2011:

Wow... that was totally gross. I took some of my own totally gross photos this weekend while using Drano since I really did have a clogged drain in my bathroom. Thanks to Hubpages, every situation in life becomes a potential hub. I might just be obsessed!

Great hub, by the way. A little gross, but still great.

Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 15, 2011:

Good stuff, I found this out a few years ago, there are several types of coil snakes you can buy to unclog stubborn drain blockages. I bought one and have never had any problems since. No need for draino or liquid pluber any more. Thanks for sharing this info, very funny pics!

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on August 14, 2011:

Lovely. So badly timed. It is just coming up to my dinner time... I think I'll pass.

Mike Teddleton from Midwest USA on August 14, 2011:

Simone from now on, dealing with drain turds will be a reason to LOL thinking of this hub, you may want to avoid the 4th floor.

Thanks for the laugh.

anglnwu on August 13, 2011:

You managed to make a "eww-inducing" chore sounds less than daunting. Funny as usual and a wonderful read.

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on August 12, 2011:

Yeah the toilet does have some mishaps tagged to it lol. Found a rubber duck blocking our toilet once and I told him to get lost!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 12, 2011:

Hahaa!! I won't go NEAR the toilet stuff. You're a braver man than I! But man... toilet mishaps... the stories I could tell....

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on August 12, 2011:

That was a large pubic mass ya fished outta the sink...well done, it's heroes that fight the hair turds...I will do battle with the brownies and stuff that lives in my toilet, although our turds have expressed their wishes to remain anonymous!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 12, 2011:

Hehee thanks for stopping by, MicheleLynn!

And thanks for the vote, happypuppy! At least we've got something to shed, eh?

I live in a victorian too, Just Ask Susan - boy, it's crazy how much time one must spend getting the drains to work properly! I'm glad I'm comfortable unclogging stuff on my own now since I know the next nasty drain blockage is only right around the corner... O_O

That's an interesting method, Jennie Demario! I'll have to try that.. I'm not accustomed to the idea of using plungers in non-toilet scenarios!

Yikes, FloraBreenRobinson- perhaps it's fortunate that most drain unclogging takes place in bathrooms then.. you're right by the toilet!

There's definitely something to be said for short hair, leroy64. And drain strainers are a MUST, but even those sometimes fail to do the trick- trust me T__T

Hahaa, thanks 50!!!

And you're right, alastar packer. I just don't see how chemicals alone will be able to dissolve the most intense clogs, so thank goodness for snakes. Yeesh!

alastar packer on August 12, 2011:

Very timely info here on Drano Snake as the old methods aren't working so well.

50 Caliber from Arizona on August 12, 2011:

Lucy! you got som splaining to do! A the dress added much to the fun of a great hub!50

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on August 11, 2011:

I know that unclogging sinks is fun; but, you do not want spend all day unclogging sinks. Doesn't Home Depot or Lowes sell strainers for those sinks that receive a lot of strands? My sister uses them and the hair collected is just as disgusting. Personally, I believe that short hair could help keep sinks clog free. Besides, most women look good with short hair. Can you believe I live in the land of big hair-Dallas, Texas.

FloraBreenRobison on August 11, 2011:

I knows these are great, but I have a strong gag reflex, and I see a bunch of hair on a drano snake I will likely lose my last meal.

Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on August 11, 2011:

Well done Simone.. I need to try this. I normally just fill my sink half way with water and then start plunging like a maniac. Sometimes it works but only if you catch the hair ball before it shoots back down the drain. lol.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2011:

Simone, Loved the video! I live in a Victorian home (140 years old) and my drains are constantly getting clogged. The fact that I live with 2 Newfoundland dogs that are constantly shedding does not help the drain clogging situation. (I am not sure how their hair gets into the drains but it does) I use those little drain screens that you can insert into the sinks and they work pretty good, but when I do get a bad clog I get out a snake and it will usually do the trick. Thanks for your tips. Loved your hub. :)

happypuppy on August 11, 2011:

I shed a lot of hair as well. My drain gets clogged quite often. Thanks for sharing these tips. They sure come in handy. Voted useful!

MicheleLynn from Wilmington , NC on August 11, 2011:

you crack me up

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