Snaking the drain is one of those nasty jobs that we put off, and just deal with a clogged or slow draining sink or tub because we don't want to bother with calling the landlord, or figuring out how to do it ourselves. Like so many things, after we actually do it, we realize it's just not a big deal and wish we'd done it sooner. It's also satisfying —and gross.
We took them to one of my friend's home (who shall remain nameless) who had, just days previously, moved in with her family. Her place was built in the early 1920s (who knows if the plumbing was original or not) and everything was draining slowly. She wasn't sure if it was the pipes, or if there was a clogging issue.
Clog Remover Cleaning Tool
My first attempt used the Clog Remover Draining Tool, which looks like a long zip tie with thorns. In theory you insert it in to the drain, and it's able to bend with the pipes, snagging hair when you pull it back out. I attempted to use it on three different drains and each time the only thing it brought up was a little drain goo. Because the snaking action was pretty forceful, I was also mildly concerned that it would tear up the flange or drain on its way up. In the end it didn't remove much, so I moved on.
The Drain Weasel Plus
The Drain Weasel Plus is like a little plastic auger that you use to drill down into your drain. To get started, you select one of the two wand lengths and connect it to the hand crank. In theory, the wand (which, in fact, feels a lot like velcro) will attract hair and other foreign objects that are stuck in the drain.
When you insert the snake into the drain and start winding the crank, you want the wand to make a sweeping motion around the perimeter of the drain. It feels a little flimsy in your hands, but works surprisingly well and is insanely easy to use.
We first snaked the sink and the results were hardly satisfying and not a lot came up. The sink was still draining really slowly, so we decided to see if these would work on the tub instead. And that's when things got gross and nasty.
As you can see, this attempt was successful and gross and we all gagged and were very satisfied at the same time. It's hard to tell exactly what all that was in there (it's difficult to stare at it long enough to make it all out), but I do know there was a contact lens, which then fell back down the drain as I was pulling it out.
I'm sorry, did you want a closer look?
There you go.
The Drain Weasel Plus is marketed as 'reusable'. The directions say you can re-use the wands by simply rinsing or brushing the hair off with a stiff brush. I think it's a little overambitious of the company to suggest cleaning and re-using a little plastic wand covered with disgusting I-don't-know-what, but it makes for good marketing I guess? For $15.99 though, at least they send two lengths of wand, so, if you don't feel like dealing, you can definitely use the product twice. I was so grossed out I tossed those suckers in the trash as fast as I could after taking the photo. But, if you do decide to give them another go, something like a nail brush would work well for cleaning.
And the best news! After snaking the tub and coming up with that great big nasty treasure, its now working 100% better than it did before we snaked it. My friend will have to call her landlord about the sink, to see if there's a larger issue going on there....
One Last Note:
Before my friend told me about her drain situation, I did also try them in my own bathroom. But, long before that, when we moved in, our wonderful landlords handed over a tiny mesh drain catcher (like this one) for the tub and requested we use it at all times. We have, and because of this, I wasn't able to retrieve any hair from that drain. That mesh drain catch works, really well and you might not ever need a drain snake at all.