We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

1 September 2021

Best shower drain unblockers

We've all seen the tangled mess of a drain clogged up with hair. Sort it quickly with our top choices of bathroom drain unblockers.
Joey Willoughby-Rainsford

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. 

The products below are primarily for bathrooms, so if your sink and drain is clogged with food rather than hair, take a look at our results of the best kitchen drain unblockers.

As with any bleach-based products, make sure you always wear gloves, old clothes and follow the instructions carefully.

Pricing and availability last checked 01 September 2021.

The best shower drain unblockers

Only logged-in 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. Join Which? now to get instant access to our test results and Best Buy recommendations below.

Bathroom Blocks Away Plughole Unblocker

Bathroom Blocks Away Plughole Unblocker

Cheapest price: £5.99 available at Lakeland.

Size: 250ml

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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. 

What did we think of Bathroom Blocks Away Plughole Unblocker? Login or join Which? to see our full results. 

Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker

Buster Bathroom Plughole Unblocker

Cheapest price: £2 available at B&Q. Also available at ASDA, Homebase, Morrisons, Ocado, Robert Dyas, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose

Size: 300g

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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?

Find out with access to our full test results. Login or join Which? now. 

Ecozone Plughole Hair Unblocker

Ecozone Plughole Hair Unblocker

Cheapest price: £7.99 available at Robert Dyas. Also available at Amazon

Size: 250 ml

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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. 

What did we find after 12 hours? To find out login or join Which? today.

Flexisnake

Flexisnake

£10.57 available at Amazon, similar products available from a variety of retailers.

Length: 45.72 cm

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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. 

How did the Flexisnake compare to the other products we tested? To find out login or join Which?.

HG Hair Unblocker

HG Hair Unblocker

Cheapest price: £6 available at Amazon, Tesco. Also available from Robert Dyas

Size: 450ml

Suitable for a septic tank: No

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.

To see how well the HG Hair Unblocker worked login or join Which?

Mr Muscle Power Gel Drain Unblocker

Mr Muscle Power Gel Drain Unblocker

Cheapest price: £2.60 available at Waitrose. Also available at Asda, Amazon, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Wilko

Size: 500ml, also comes in 1 litre

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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.

Did this product really only need five minutes? Log in or join Which? to find out.

Dri Pak Soda Crystals

Soda Crystals

Cheapest price: 79p available at Ocado. Also available at Tesco

Size: 1kg

Suitable for a septic tank: Yes

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? 

Log in or join Which? to find out.

Did the home remedy bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar work?

Bicarbonate soda, salt and vinegar

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 defense 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 overtime but won't clear a severe blockage.  

What are the chemical hazard symbols and what do they mean?

Many drain unblockers contain chemicals that are hazardous to us and the environment. 

Below you can see the symbols found on some products, what they mean and the safety advice for handling them. 

Explosive (symbol: exploding bomb)
Explosive (symbol: exploding bomb)
A substance that under defined test conditions when dry or under the effect of flame or heat may explode.
  • Read and use instructions for the given material.
  • Ensure containers are stored in a cool, well-ventilated place with tight-fitting lids.
  • Store away from sources of heat and ignition. 
  • Ensure the material and its containers are disposed of in a safe manner.
Flammable (symbol: flame)

Flammable (symbol: flame)
Flammable if exposed to ignition sources, sparks or heat. Some substances with this symbol may give off flammable gases in contact with water. 
  • Avoid ignition sources (sparks, flames and heat). 
  • Keep your distance. 
  • Wear protective clothing.
Oxidising (symbol: flame over circle)

Oxidising (symbol: flame over circle)
May cause explosion, fire or damage to living tissue resulting in chemical burns. Reacts with other substances to produce a highly exothermic reaction.
  • Read and use instructions for the given material. 
  • Ensure containers are stored in a cool, well-ventilated place with tight-fitting lids. 
  • Store away from sources of heat and ignition. 
  • Ensure the material and its container are disposed of in a safe manner.
Corrosive (symbol: corrosion)

Corrosive (symbol: corrosion)
May cause burns or destruction of living tissue on contact with skin.
  • Wear suitable protective equipment (PPE).
  • Remove and dispose safely of any contaminated clothing.
  • In the event of contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. 
  • In the event of contact with the eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water for 15 minutes and seek immediate medical help. 
Acute toxicity (symbol: skull and crossbones)

Acute toxicity (symbol: skull and crossbones)
May cause a severe health risk or even death if ingested, inhaled or penetration of the skin occurs even in low volumes or quantities.
  • Wear suitable protective equipment (PPE). 
  • In the event of contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. 
  • In the event of contact with the eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water for 15 minutes and seek medical advice. 
Hazardous to the environment (symbol: environment)

Hazardous to the environment (symbol: environment)
Presents or may present a danger to one or more parts of the environment. These substances are usually very toxic to aquatic organisms.
  • Ensure containers are stored in a cool, well-ventilated place with tight-fitting lids.
  • Take measures to safeguard against accidental spillage.
  • Ensure the material and its containers are disposed of in a safe manner.
Health hazard/Hazardous to the ozone layer (symbol: exclamation mark)

Health hazard/Hazardous to the ozone layer (symbol: exclamation mark)
May cause irritation (redness or rash) or less serious toxicity. May damage the ozone layer. 
  • Keep away from skin and eyes. 
  • Avoid release to the environment.
Serious health hazard (symbol: health hazard)

Serious health hazard (symbol: health hazard)
May cause serious and prolonged health effects on short or long term exposure.
  • Do not swallow the material, allow it to come into contact with skin or breath it in.
Gas under pressure (symbol: gas cylinder)

Gas under pressure (symbol: gas cylinder)
Contains gas under pressure. Gas released may be very cold. The gas container may explode if heated. 
  • Do not heat containers. 
  • Avoid contact with skin and eyes.

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. 

MCALPINE ADJUSTABLE INLET TUBULAR 'P' TRAP WHITE 40MM

The setup

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 Fellie Kitchen Sink Stainless Steel Sink Catering Single Sink

The test

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.