Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Zip-It Drain Cleaner: Cool Gear

Zip-It/ Cobra Drain Cleaner: a fast and simple way to clean a drain without the need for any other tool 

How do you fix a clogged sink or tub drain? Chemicals, Snake, Auger? Call a plumber? This problem must be the most common, and one of the most unpleasant, plumbing problems that we all encounter in our everyday life. In an upcoming guide, we will explore the different product options to clearing a sink drain. Without needing to go through all possible scenarios, however, we can already say that, to us, the first option after trying a plunger is the Zip-it Drain Cleaner, a simple, inexpensive, and easy to use device with very high user satisfaction ratings.

The Zip-It Drain Cleaner, also called the Cobra drain cleaner from its manufacturer's name Cobra Products Company, is available for $2 to $4 in most brick-and-mortar hardware stores, and in large numbers of online stores. It is a 17-inch plastic strip, with soft teeth on both sides, and a finger hold, which is rigid enough to be inserted into a sink drain hole, yet flexible enough to follow the tight curves of the P-trap below the sink.

Using a Zip-It Drain Cleaner

Because of its design, the Zip-It Drain Cleaner may only clear clogs if they are in the first 17 inches of piping:-) It turns out, however, that most drain clogs happen in the first foot and a half from the drain, based on the very high percentage of satisfied user reviews.What do users say about the Zip-It Drain Cleaner?

Successful at cleaning sink and tub drains

We found more than 150 user reviews for the Zip-It drain cleaner. Of the lot, 88% of the reviews indicated success at unclogging drains, and were very positive, not to say raving: "these work great!", "such an easy way to clean out clogged drains without expensive and harmful chemicals","after about 20 minutes of work all three drains were perfectly free flowing again. I was so pleased I quickly bought more to have a stock on hand just in case!", "one of those things that looks like it would never work [...] it worked very well on my bathroom drains, even those that have the stopper pretty much permanently attached. With some creativity you can get it down the drain and back out again without breaking any of the plastic tines", "so simple it's amazing! [...] In only 5 minutes I [...] completely pulled EVERYTHING out using only a quarter of it length. I ran the water and to my bath tub drain answered with the whirl wind I thought I would never see again.Just to be sure I plunged the Zip-It tool in it's entirety (the way you check your oil) and it was clean as a whistle. GET THIS PEOPLE. I wished I had found it sooner", " cheap, easy and it works!I have used these for years (sink drains only) and they've worked every time", "especially in showers used by girls with long hair, this is SO helpful in clearing drains--no more standing in ankle deep water in your shower!", "best 1.99$ I ever spent! Seriously, this thing is amazing. I ended up having to take the plug out of the sink to get the enormous glob of hair out of the drain (easy), but it worked very well", "this one is the best! Since we started using this, the drains were clear and no more slow clearing of water!!!!  I completely recommend this product", "works like a champ! Zipped three drains this morning. As said just insert down the drain, jiggle twist, turn and pull. Wear the rubber gloves. Drains running smooth",  "worked great for my sink clog! [...]  It was easy to use, just took some pulling and jiggling to pull it out at times, but nothing difficult. I inserted it down about 5 times at different entry points around the drain to make sure I had everything and it pulled up a decent amount of hair (yuk) [...] After about 5 minutes of work the sink drained perfectly with no chemicals or big to-do", "awesome little gadget! Easy and effective for unclogging a slow-running bathroom sink drain! It took me longer to open the package than it did to unclog the drain. Highly recommended", "my drains work again:   Excellent tool! [...] the teeth that pull out the hair/gunk haven't broken or bent, and it definitely cleaned out my drain", "does the job! : I purchased this hoping it would fix the drain clog in my bathtub. [...] I pushed the Zip It into the drain and pulled out a ton of hair!It only took two or three minutes to clean the drain and then clean the tool. I'm very pleased with the results. Highly recommended!", "pretty useful! This worked great in one my tubs, and nothing on my other tub. It's great how you can just throw it away and you're done. My plumber's snake is so gross after using it, I want to throw up. If you have a clog and want a cheap way of cleaning it with out calling a plumber give this a try", "great for hair clogs! These are the best, most eco-friend hair clog removers around. Before you dump those chemicals down your drain, give one of these a go. They work like a charm", "awesome! This product is awesome...I was impressed by how easy it was to use this. It gets the job done",  "clever and effective",  "it works ... cheaper than a plumber and safer than chemicals."

Some of the user reviews tell us entertaining stories:
- "you just push it down the drain and pull it back up. My bathroom sink was really slow at draining, I stuck this down there and pulled up quite a bit of hair. I figured while I was at it and I wish I would have took video of it was my bathtub drain. I never thought I had any drain flow problems with it until I used this nifty tool. I put it down the drain and I swear I pulled up what looked about as long as a full grown cats tail and as big around as one too. I did it about three more times and got so much hair out. I would definitely recommend this product to anyone that is looking to clear out their drain."
- "it fixed the hair clog problem on my wife's sink in less than 5 minutes. I was so happy with the result that I proceeded to use the Zip it on the other sink in the master bath, in addition to the sink in my daughter's bathroom and the bathtub drain in our spare bathroom. What a difference Zip it made, with no chemicals used in the process. I would definitely recommend using this product"
- "more than pleased! [...] I removed a huge amount of material from my tub (my boyflame and I both have long, long hair), and a less impressive haul from the bathroom sink[...] .  The sink and tub ran a lot smoother afterwards. Try this before more expensive options. It is safer for the environment and effective for many types of clogs. I would pay at least $20 for this even though it's just a cut plastic strip. The design is pretty damn good."
- "neat drain cleaning tool! Our shower drain never drained properly ever since we moved in our new house. The builder did not look into this and after 4 years(!) After we ordered this simple drain tool, my husband went to work right away. He inserted the long plastic tool and twisted it several times. What he pulled out was a ball of hair which was stuck to a plumber's putty! Now the shower drains perfectly! Even if there wasn't a plumbers putty in the drain, this gadget really pulls up hair (remember to twist it)."

We even have a building contractor giving us his thoughts: "great little product! I'm not just some handyman, not that there is anything wrong with being a handyman. I'm a full on contractor and yes, I often let things go in my own home because I can't be satisfied with little fixes. I always want to tear out the whole thing and do it right. I want to remodel our bathroom and one little nagging thing about it is the poorly draining sink. And yes, constantly pouring caustic drain cleaner down pipes is bad for them, but I've been doing it. So I got one of these (despite the fact that I could probably make something similar - but heck time is money) and it worked like a charm. Pulled out the expected slimy wad of hair, and also part of a chop stick and some broken glass. Second run came up with nothing and the sink drains perfectly. I haven't tried it on the shower yet - which might be trickier - but that doesn't actually have any drain problems. Totally worth it. Buy it!"

 On the other hand, 12% of the user reviews are negative and describe unsuccessful outcomes. Several of them indicate that the clog was too low for the Zip-It to be effective: "did not work for me. I think if they make this item longer in size it might have helped","useless. The drain in my bathtub is clogged and remains so after using this product. I did nothing for me. It is too short, does not reach the clog down the tube", "does not work in every case. Zip It may not work for bathtub drains.
Zip It does not work for deep clogs (even in a sink).[...] Zip It will not work if the clog is something the little spikes cannot catch (like something too soapy or greasy, "the reality is, it doesn't go all the way in my bath tub drain, only 1/3 of it got in. And it didn't remove a thing", "Zip-it probably is only good when U-tube is near the bottom of the wash basin. If it's located further down, Zipit can't reach it."

Some negative reviews mention that the clog is worse after using Zip-It. We imagine that this might be due to a clog being right around the end of the Zip-It length: "does not work. This was the first drain cleaning tool I tried,and I can tell you for does not work at all! It made the clog 10 times worse. Couldn't use the sink at all!! It went form a slow draining sink to a completely NON-DRAINING, unusable sink. Now its stuck in there and no clog removed", "this actually made my drain problem even worse. Instead of just a slowly draining sink,I think the Cobra jammed the clog down the pipe and completely stopped up the drain so it didn't drain at all."


While the product is sold as a use-once, throw-away item, several users report success at reusing it multiple times: "you don't have to throw them away after one use either. Just wipe them clean. We use these 3-5 times each and they work like a charm. Great value...", "so cheap and can be used several times", "I reused one of these on my two bathroom sinks and the master bathroom tub drain", "I don't dispose of them after each use, I use them several times before they get bent and need to be disposed of", " it says on the package to throw the tool away after you use it but I just took toilet tissue and cleaned it off pulling in the direction of the spikes, not against them. It cleaned off nicely and I can use it again and again, "my live-in plumber! AMAZING.....I bought this item because all of a sudden, the water in my tub would not go down. I purchased the Zip-IT, brought it home, stuck it down the drain, pulled it out, and there was a rag attached to the zip it!!! Yes a rag had gone down my drain (without my knowledge), and the Zip-It cleared my drain!! Amazing!!!!", "

Usage Tips

What is pulled out by the Zip-It tool is not appetizing to say the least, and many users mention the need for gloves:  "before you begin folks, you should probably wear some goggles and dish washing gloves. Also enlist some needle nose pliers to pull out the hell that this tool surfaces", "make sure you have gloves or paper towels handy to grab the nasty gunk that will come out of the drain",  "I put on some rubber gloves thanks to another reviewer's advice and got after it... Glad I had the gloves on to help pull stuff off the tool and away from the drain as I worked."

Several users mention that pulling out the tool must be done with care so as not to damage the plastic teeth. Users suggest twisting as you pull for an easier time: "the teeth get hung up a bit on the drain plug rigging as you try to take it out but I found that if you twist it as you remove it retains the hair and clears the metal bit by bit", "it does have very sharp edges, so be aware [...] Just be patient and don't freak out if it gets stuck", "they are fragile, but only when used carelessly. I broke some of the teeth off when I became too enthusiastic."

User's manual

A user review gives an improved manual for use:
1) Put on some gloves
2) Get a bag, such as a left-over plastic bag from the market
3) Have some paper towels handy
1) If you are like me and don't know how to remove the adjustable sink plug (not sure what they are called), this tool fits fine along the side
2) Stick it all the way down the drain and SLOWLY work it up. If you pull too fast it will fling "stuff" all over
3) Repeat several times going around all sides of the adjustable sink plug
4) Use the paper towels to wipe off excess grim from the Zip-It and your sink
5) Put the water on full-blast and if it doesn't flow down the drain easily, then do it a few more times
This was easy.
This was quick.
I rinsed the Zip-it off and stored in the garage for next time. One Zip-It = multiple uses.
Worth it!"


They show excellent success, but they can be quite gross...


We collected 169 user reviews from multiple sources: Amazon Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool
, Amazon Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool 12-PackSears Zip-It Drain CleanerZip-It Drain Cleaning Tool - Reviews | RateItAllCobra Zip-It Reviews |, COBRA Zip-it Drain Cleaner #2 Reviews |, Cool Tools: Zip-It Drain Cleaner, Cobra Products 400 Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool Review - InfoBarrel, Family Handyman Unclog Drains with the Cobra Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool.  We found an excellent 88% user approval rating, with a 5% margin of error at 95% certainty. This is a particularly good result, given the fact that, from the tool's design, we know, before using it that it will only work with clogs that are close the the drain.

Conclusion: "Recommended by"

The Zip-It drain cleaner is a very simple, inexpensive drain cleaning cool that has a high likelihood of resolving drain clogs when the clog is within a foot and a half of the drain, and that enjoys excellent user reviews. It is usable even by those with absolutely no affinities with tools. While it is advertised as a throw-away tool, many users report being able to use it multiple times. Given its very low $2-$4 unit price, ordering it online often results in proportionally high shipping costs. We recommend you purchase it in a local brick-and-mortar store, or online in a multiple-unit pack such as this one. We have no reservation in endorsing the Zip-It drain cleaner.

Find out more about's reviews, rating system, and  statistical analysis here.

1 comment:

plumbing said...

In a pitcher, combine 1/3 cup vinegar with 1/3 cup baking soda. Notice the fizz this combination makes. Pour your concoction down the drain as soon as possible for full effect. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes and flush with hot water.

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