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Man Crafts: Recycled Plastic Drain De-clogger

25 December 2010 169,756 views 38 Comments

by mikeasaurus

Hair clogging the shower or bathroom sink? eww, that's gross! This simple device is a home-made alternative to a store-bought variety. The only difference with this DIY version is that it's made from a plastic soda bottle, instead of a thicker plastic found in the commercial version. Oh, and it's free! Heck, I bet you've got a plastic bottle hiding somewhere close by, and a tardy hair-filled drain just waiting for a cleaning.

Save the cost of a plumber, the hassle of big clunky augers, and stay away from using nasty chemicals to fix your next hairball drain clog. Make your own drain cleaner in under 10 minutes using a 2 litre plastic soda bottle, and let that drain flow!

Project Estimate

tools: materials:
  • sharp knife
  • marker
  • 2-litre plastic soda bottle
  • masking tape
  • newspaper

Total: $0.00

Savings: about $5  (or $100 if you call a plumber!)


Clean out the plastic bottle and remove the label, then set aside.
To make a guide for the strip cut a 2cm (0.79") wide strip from newspaper. This will be our template to maintain a consistent width when marking the plastic bottle.

Tape the newspaper strip near the bottom of the bottle and wind it around the bottle, making sure the edges abut as you wind the strip around the bottle. Do not overlap newspaper strip. With template in place use a marker to outline the newspaper width between newspaper edges. The newspaper temple will most likely not be long enough to mark the entire bottle. After marking a section, remove template and move it up the bottle, lining up the template with the previous markings. Then, continue marking until you reach the shoulder of the bottle (where it tapers to the neck).

In order to cut the bottle you'll need to give it some rigidity. Make an incision around the circumference of bottle at shoulder, then stuff insiders with newspaper. After bottle is stuffed carefully cut along spiral marking, working your way down the trace of marker until you get close to the bottom.

Stop cutting when you come close to the lower taper portion on the bottom of the bottle, the lower portion of the bottle will be used to create a ring-like handle.

Trace out a finger loop near the termination point of one of the ends of the spiral. This loop will be the handle use to pull our cleaner after it's inserted in the drain.

This device works due to many small teeth along the edges of the strip aligned in the same direction, the teeth will all need to be pointing upwards when inserted into drain.

To make teeth, use scissors angled at 45° to make small cuts along both edges of strip at regular intervals, I used one cut every 30mm (1"). The teeth cuts do not need to be deep, only enough to create a sharp point along the edge. After teeth have been cut, gently bend out each tooth to emphasize the catch point.

After teeth have been cut, gently fold strip lengthwise. This will create a v-shape to the cleaner, giving it some rigidity. Then cut the bottom into a sharp taper. Insert tapered end into drain, holding v-shape folded lengthwise closed with your fingers until it reaches/breaches the clog. Using the handle pull the strip back up, ideally capturing hair in it's teeth.

Here's a video of it in action:
hairball

After pulling hair out of the drain, clean device by pulling out hair in the same direction as the teeth. Reinsert into drain and repeat de-clogging until all hair is removed.

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38 Comments »

  • Michelle L. said:

    OMG, I need this! What a genius idea, thanks, Mikeasaurus! (If that IS your real name.) Great tutorial!

  • Emily said:

    Totally agree – how timely. :) Thanks!

  • Amy said:

    Brilliant! My husband is going to be so grateful! I have long hair and so do my three daughters…enough said!

  • Jill said:

    Awesome, but I’m still not sure how you would get it down to the bottom of the trap in order to pull it out? Or is that even the goal? Video does not show that part.

  • polyonymous said:

    “Awesome, but I’m still not sure how you would get it down to the bottom of the trap in order to pull it out? Or is that even the goal? Video does not show that part.”

    ditto

  • Seth Dove said:

    Agreed. No where does it tell you how to get the whole thing into the drain. Weird.

  • Make A Drain Declogger Out Of A Plastic Bottle | Lifehacker Australia said:

    [...] Recycled Plastic Drain Declogger | Dollar Store Crafts Tagged:cleaningdiyplumbingvideo [...]

  • akbozo said:

    in the time it takes to make this, you can remove the trap, pull out all of the hair and reassemble it.

  • mikeasaurus (author) said:

    @Jill, polyonymous and Seth Dove,

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention, the project has been updated and now reads (in italics:

    After teeth have been cut, gently fold strip lengthwise. This will create a v-shape to the cleaner, giving it some rigidity. Then cut the bottom into a sharp taper. Insert tapered end into drain, holding v-shape folded lengthwise closed with your fingers until it reaches/breaches the clog. Using the handle pull the strip back up, ideally capturing hair in it’s teeth.
    After pulling hair out of the drain, clean device by pulling out hair in the same direction as the teeth. Reinsert into drain and repeat de-clogging until all hair is removed.

    Hope that clears things up!

  • Clayton Richardson said:

    I still don’t get it, Mike. I insert this thing folded? I cut a point in the folded part?

  • heather said:

    @Clayton, I think you fold it in half lengthwise, thus making it skinnier.

  • oldrong said:

    Man, I’m cheap, but not this cheap. Bleach will eat through your clothes if spilled on them. Being an EX plumber (retired), I have lost tons of money telling women to pour some straight bleach (the cheap store brand)down the drain at night, and let it set there all night, even the next day until you need to use the drain, and flush with lots of HOT water. DO this weekly, and you won’t have that hair/soap build up. Bleach folks. It’s still cheap, and it will keep those drains clean. ;-)

  • beady said:

    Wow, this worked great for me! What a super idea. The ring broke off as I was pulling it out of the drain, but a few paper towels and a plastic bag helped to contain the whole yucky mess, with no dirty hands. Truly a great idea! Thanks again.

  • Sherry said:

    Maybe I’m old school, but I think if someone takes the time to create a tutorial to help, it should be appreciated or at the least, if you don’t like it, don’t use it. I myself have had a clogged sink, no immediate store, and an empty coke bottle. I guess I’m just that cheap. ;]

  • PJMurphy said:

    @akbozo

    This fix is designed for a shower drain. If your shower drain has a trap that can be dis-assembled, it’s probably behind the drywall of the ceiling of the room below the bathroom. I’d say that most people would be a little reluctant to start carving holes in their living room ceiling to unplug a slow drain.

    Now, once you’ve cleared the hair clog, get yourself some plastic screen that’s designed for a window or a screen door. Cut it into circles that will fit into the drain and rest on the metal grid. This will collect the hair and stop it from getting into the drain in the first place. IF THERE IS NOTHING TO STOP THIS SCREEN FROM GOING ALL THE WAY INTO THE DRAIN THEN DON’T DO THIS!!! IF THIS BIT OF SCREEN GOES ALL THE WAY INTO THE DRAIN YOU WILL BE SPENDING A TON OF MONEY TO PUSH IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH YOUR DRAINAGE SYSTEM!!!

  • HowTo: Hack Together a Drain Declogger For Next to Nothing, Daily Wonder - How To Pedia said:

    [...] declogger for next to nothing. You Will Need: 1 two liter soda bottlemasking tapesome newspaperClick through for full [...]

  • HowTo: Hack Together a Drain Declogger For Next to Nothing, Wonderment Wonder How To - How To Pedia said:

    [...] declogger for next to nothing. You Will Need: 1 two liter soda bottlemasking tapesome newspaperClick through for full [...]

  • Maia said:

    I just spent an hour making this thing, and then when I tried it, it broke in my drain :( So now I have a bunch of goop and plastic in my drain!

    I guess I will see if bleach does anything.

  • HowTo: Hack Together a Drain Declogger For Next to Nothing, Uncategorized - How To Pedia said:

    [...] declogger for next to nothing. You Will Need: 1 two liter soda bottlemasking tapesome newspaperClick through for full [...]

  • Jessica Peter (& psyche on Craftster!) said:

    Nice. Just saw this on your top 10 list, and I think I need to give it a shot! Just finished off a bottle of pop too…

  • frank said:

    “just spent an hour making this thing, and then when I tried it, it broke in my drain :( So now I have a bunch of goop and plastic in my drain!”

    The above comment would put anyone off this contraption. Styrene plastic is not the strongest material on the block. If you are crafty and want to complicate this thing, put a backbone on it with nylon string. Puncture holes at intervals along the length of the strip and put knots in it to prevent pull-through. I have not tested this but it should make retrieval easier. Cut down package sealing tape could serve the same purpose to strengthen the strip.

    My method of drain cleaning is pull/push. I have a strong wet/dry vac to vacuum the gunk out (the mess goes in the vac). Use a rag around the vac hose to make a seal. The overflow openings in a sink or tub are sealed with package sealing tape (remember to put a tab on the end of this for easy pull-off). Sometimes you can push the clog through by reversing the vac hose to blow. You will need to remove the drain plug mechanism from the tub to seal the opening with the tape. If the tape is applied to a clean dry surface, even blowing will not dislodge it.

  • heather said:

    @frank, thank you so much for the comment & suggestions. I love the ShopVac idea. I usually use a plunger first, and then when I get desperate, I break out the tools to de-gunkify the drain. Ick!

  • FuzzyFolk said:

    This is fantastic!

    I was going to buy one of the metal ones at the weekend.

    Now I can get rid of my disguising hair clog, and have money left for buying more craft goodies!! yey!

  • jill said:

    appreciated but how do you get the darn thing into the drain? They left out the most important part. Just try to feed it through like a snake? I can never get a snake into my drain for some reason.

  • heather said:

    @jill, yes, just like a snake.

  • Condo Blues said:

    This is genius! And so much cheaper than my power drum auger.

  • Craftelf said:

    This is a really interesting idea. I absolutely love making things from recycled bottles. This is both cost effective and good for the environment. Way to go!

  • lacoste shua lace said:

    I wasn’t aware of the many ripples and depth to this story until I surfed here through Google! Great job.

  • anna said:

    Get a hair catcher/strainer for the drain. They sell them at the dollar store.

  • Velorna said:

    I like this! Will do next time I have a clog.

  • Jenn said:

    What a great idea! I’m going to try this on our shower.

  • Ideas on unclogging your clogged sink » MyGreenCircle said:

    [...] begin unraveling the beauty of this plastic de-clogger as it has been named by Dollarstorecraft.com, we must look into how clogged sinks are usually [...]

  • Seniorinnen said:

    Amazing! I need just this! jeje amazing idea!

  • SUZYbandaids said:

    [...] coat hanger. Well, harharhar on me! Not a metal coat hanger in my house! So i was like ok, i saw this idea on Pinterest that people say “it like, totes works!” So I gave it a [...]

  • TadpoleBuckshot said:

    This one is good enough if the clog is light and located in the straight part of the pipe. However in my case this didn’t do the job.

    A hanger with a little hook bent into the end is what did the trick. Sometime you need to break out the big guns for Chewbacca hair clogs.

  • Pcoladeb said:

    I’ve got a better idea. Go to Walmart and buy a plastic device made for unclogging drains with little teeth. It costs about $3 and works great. Can be reused over and over. Same concept as the one you make from a soda bottle.

  • staci said:

    BRILLIANT! And thank you for the pictures with your tutorials!! :D Yaaaay!

  • daphne said:

    love the idea. Thank you very much :)

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