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Five Solutions For Your Horribly Clogged Drains

Photo: Curology (Unsplash)
5 Neat Things5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.

A grim fact of life, and of plumbing, is that drains will become clogged. Hair is typically the culprit, but there are untold other ways to completely brick a drain (ask me about dropping the cap from one of my bottles of ointment down my bathroom sink pipes!). And so it is a handy thing indeed to know about your options for clearing a clogged drain. Here they are!

The Mind-Blowing Option: A Plunger

There is no logical or reasonable explanation for why the fact that you can use a plunger to clear a clogged drain should be so mind-blowing to me, and yet! It is literally never not mind-blowing to me and it is a literal thing I know to be true. Not only do I know it to be true, in my own real, actual life, I have successfully used a plungerrecently, even!to clear a stopped up sink drain. But still, yup, mind-blown. ANYway! Plungers. Don’t forget about them for sink drain-clearing duties.

The Controversial Choice: Drano

Well, look. Drano works and is not terribly expensive and is very easy to find. So those are some good things it has going for it. But Drano presents a number of problems, and it’s fair to tell you about them so you can make informed drain clearing choices in life. The main problem is that Drano is not super safe for pipes! This is especially true of PVC piping, which can soften when exposed to Drano because Drano literally heats up while it sits in pipes. It can also be corrosive to metal pipes. And, it’s not especially environmentally friendly. Drano, man. It’s kind of a wicked bummer.

The Heavy Duty Option: A Plumbing Snake

Hey, remember when I mentioned that I recently plunged my sink drain? Yeah, that was a temporary fix for what was a very seriously clogged drain. So that meant that a drain snake was required to truly get the job done. (The plunger was a good temporary fix though! Don’t sleep on the plunger!) The big thing to know about plumbing snakes, which are also called augers, is that there are two types: One for sink and tub drains, and a different one for toilets. It’s annoying if you get the wrong one, so make sure to be detail-oriented when snake shopping.

Bonus points if you sing Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” to your drain while you snake it.

A Less Involved Choice: A Zip “Snake”

If you’re not ready to invest in a drain snake, there’s a kind of lo-fi version that’s more small space- and small budget-friendly. Zip-style drain “snakes” are intended for single use only, and this set is a good one because it comes with both plastic and metal designs that can work in a variety of drain styles. As a bonus (“bonus”) a zip style snake will pull up a really gnarly looking clump of hair and etc. that you should feel free to admire, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I am into that sort of thing!)

The Prevent-It-In-The-First-Place Choice: Tub Shroom

The Tub Shroom is one of those products that comes up over and over again in my little corner of the world. People absolutely RAVE to me about it (they also tweet completely disgusting photos of it at me because, as we’ve well established, I love disgusting things!) The idea behind the Tub Shroom is that it catches hair in a more contained way than standard drain catchers dothe Tub Shroom will still need to be cleaned, but it won’t leave a visible clump of hair that needs to be picked up after every shower, the way most drain catchers do.


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Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person