Best shower drain unblockers
In May 2021 we tested seven popular shower drain unblockers including Mr Muscle, Ecozone and Buster, as well as a home remedy of bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar, to see which method dealt with hairballs the quickest.
As with any bleach-based products, make sure you always wear gloves, old clothes and follow the instructions carefully.
Pricing and availability last checked: 16 June 2021.
The best shower drain unblockers
Only Which? members can view the shower drain unblocker test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the bathroom drain unblockers we tested. to get instant access to our test scores and Best Buy recommendations below.
Bathroom Blocks Away Plughole Unblocker
The manufacturer recommends applying this product last thing at night.
They suggest pouring two litres of warm water into the plughole prior to adding 100ml of the product.
The following morning, pour another two litres of warm water down the drain.
Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker
Buster says its Bathroom Plughole Unblocker has an 'ultra-powerful formula' that clears hair and sludge.
If you have a plughole blocked with hair, pour the entire bottle down the plughole.
Leave for at least 15 minutes and afterwards flush through with lots of hot water.
Did Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker get rid of the hairballs within 15 minutes?
Ecozone Plughole Hair Unblocker
Ecozone says its 'powerful enzymatic formula' dissolves hair.
To use this product, pour two litres of warm water into the plughole followed by half the bottle.
Leave the liquid to work for 12 to 24 hours, then follow with another two litres of warm water.
The Flexisnake is very different to the other products we tested. Did this difference make it more or less effective?
To use you need to uncoil and straighten the snake below the handle and sleeve.
Then you insert the snake into the plughole and placing one hand on the sleeve, rotate the handle with your other hand.
This entangles the hair for you to pull it out.
HG Hair Unblocker
First you should try to remove as much of the standing water as possible.
Then carefully pour the entire contents of bottle one down the blocked drain, followed by the entire contents of bottle two.
Leave to work overnight.
Mr Muscle Power Gel Drain Unblocker
Mr Muscle says its Power Gel can 'destroy the worst clogs'.
If you have a blockage, pour 500ml down the drain and wait five minutes (or for tough clogs leave to work longer).
Then flush the drain through with hot water.
Soda Crystals can be used in various ways to clean multiple items, including your clothes and your washing machine.
To use you must mix 200g of Soda Crystal in 500ml of hot water.
Then pour down the drain and leave for 30 minutes.
Afterwards flush through with hot water.
It's the cheapest product in our selection, but is it one we'd recommend?
Did the home remedy bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar work?
On the internet you might see advice claiming that bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar can help to unclog blocked pipes.
We wanted to see if it's true so we tried it out.
This concoction made from equal parts bicarbonate soda (125g), salt (125g) and vinegar (125ml) failed both attempts to remove the hairball.
We were forced to use a plunger to force the hairball out.
How to stop hair getting stuck down the drain
Prevention is the best cure. Our tips below will help to stop a hairball clogging your drains in the first place:
- Combing your hair - try to brush your hair before a shower or bath to prevent hair from going down the drain.
- Pop-up plugs - if you have a pop-up plug, unscrew it every now and again to check and remove any debris. Run water down the drain while the plug is still unscrewed.
- Drain protectors - an affordable option to have an extra layer of defence between loose hair and the plughole.
- Hair Catcher - it looks like a drain protector but it's designed especially for hair.
- Enzyme sticks - a cleaning product you put down the plughole around once a month which should work over time but won't clear a severe blockage.
How we tested shower drain unblockers
To find out which of our selected drain unblockers was the best, we put the whole selection through the following test.
We had a freestanding catering sink and used one 44mm U-bend per test, which was stuffed with a hairball we made from equal parts straight, wavy and curly human hair mixed with shampoo.
To ensure each clog was firmly lodged in place, 500ml of boiling water was poured into the plughole before the tests began.
The products were then applied following their instructions and left for the minimum required time for tough clogs.
Afterwards, the U-bends were flushed through with eight litres of hot tap water.
If necessary a plunger was used at this point. We have noted above when a plunger was needed.
The pipes were examined with a tube camera before and after the products were applied to see how well the product had worked.
Then we timed how long it took for eight litres of cold tap water to pass through the U-bend and pipes.
We compared these timings to a test using an unused U-bend. The quicker the water passed through the better the product had worked.
Each product was tested twice.
How we choose these kitchen drain unblockers
We selected one product per brand, looking for products available in national retailers.
We purchased all the products we tested.