Patent application title: Apparatus and Method for Removing Debris from a Drain Strainer
Sarah A. Bernstein (New York, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AA46B502FI
Class name: Brushing, scrubbing, and general cleaning implements particular handle
Publication date: 2013-01-17
Patent application number: 20130014336
An apparatus and method are disclosed for easily, cleanly, efficiently,
and cheaply removing hair and other debris from drain strainers and
refuse filters, thereby helping to improve bathroom and kitchen
sanitation and preventing hair and debris from forming clogs in the
drainpipe. The apparatus and method are used for daily or regular
maintenance of debris in a drain strainer.
1. An apparatus for removing debris from a drain strainer, comprising a
handle and at least one debris-snagging element extending from said
handle, wherein said apparatus is shorter than the distance from the
drain strainer to the drain trap.
2. An apparatus as in claim 1, wherein said handle is rigid.
3. An apparatus as in claim 2, wherein said at least one debris-snagging element are hooks.
4. An apparatus for removing debris from a drain strainer, comprising a handle and a pad, wherein said pad comprises an upper side and a lower side, said upper side of said pad being affixed to the bottom of said handle such that said handle and said upper side of said pad are substantially perpendicular, and wherein a plurality of hooks extends from said lower side of said pad.
5. An apparatus as in claim 4, wherein said handle is rigid.
6. An apparatus as claim 4, wherein said handle pivots with respect to said pad.
7. An apparatus as in claim 6, further comprising a movable joint.
8. An apparatus as in claim 7, wherein said handle is rigid.
9. An apparatus for removing debris from a drain strainer, comprising a handle, an ejector, a header, and a plurality of hooks, wherein said header is releasably coupled with said handle, wherein said ejector releases said header from said handle, and wherein said plurality of hooks extend from said header.
10. An apparatus as in claim 9 wherein said handle is rigid.
11. An apparatus as in claim 10 wherein said ejector comprises a spring.
12. An apparatus as in claim 10, wherein said header comprises a pad, and said pad comprises an upper side and a lower side, said header being releasably coupled with the bottom of said handle such that said handle and said upper side of said pad are substantially perpendicular, and wherein said plurality of hooks extend from said lower side of said pad.
13. An apparatus as in claim 12, wherein said ejector comprises a spring.
14. An apparatus as in claim 12, wherein said ejector comprises a trigger for releasing said header.
15. An apparatus as in claim 14, wherein said ejector further comprises a spring.
16. An apparatus as in claim 2, further comprising an absorbent material.
17. An apparatus as in claim 5, wherein said lower side of said pad further comprises an absorbent material.
18. An apparatus as in claim 10, wherein said header further comprises an absorbent material.
19. An apparatus as in claim 16, wherein said absorbent material surrounds at least one of said at least one debris snagging elements.
20. An apparatus as in claim 17, wherein said absorbent material surrounds at least one of said plurality of hooks.
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/506,754 filed Jul. 12, 2011, which application is fully incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention generally relates to removal of hair and other debris from drains. In particular, the invention relates to an apparatus and method for removing hair and other debris from drain strainers and drain filters, which are commonly found in showers and sinks.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Hair and other debris clogging drains is a common problem in households throughout the world. Numerous devices and methods have been developed to address this problem, an example of which is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,810,176. However, previous solutions have largely been directed to the removal of clogs that occur within the drainpipe, most often in or near the drain trap. As such, previous devices have been specifically designed for insertion into the shaft of the drainpipe. By necessity, these devices are intentionally made long enough to reach the drain trap and beyond, where clogs form in the drainpipe. Hair and clog snagging concepts have not addressed the unique problem associated with hair and debris that collect on top of and/or within the openings of the drain strainer.
 By drain strainer is meant the holed or slotted disc or plate commonly placed or found at the mouth of, e.g., a shower drain, bathtub drain, or sink drain that divides the water basin from the drainpipe and prevents hair and other solid materials in the water basin from entering into the drainpipe. For convenience, the term "drain strainer" can also refer to a supplemental drain filter, commonly placed on or near the slotted disc or plate commonly placed or found at the mouth of, e.g., a shower drain, bathtub drain, or sink drain. Hair or other debris commonly collects in drain strainers during a shower or while washing the dishes.
 It is desirable to remove hair and debris from drain strainers as quickly and often as possible to (1) aid in fluid flow down the drain; (2) avoid unnecessary contact with any festering conditions caused by collection of unsanitary hair and debris in the water basin; and (3) prevent debris from slipping through the drain strainer and into the drainpipe and subsequently into the drain trap where it can form a clog. Prevention of clogs in a drainpipe is especially important due to the known difficulty of removing or dissolving such clogs. Furthermore, clogs in drainpipes (particularly organic clogs) are often dissolved using highly caustic and toxic chemicals that are dangerous for the household, the environment, and the pipes themselves. A much more desirable and ultimately safer solution would be to prevent the clogs from occurring in the first place. Presently, removing debris from a drain strainer is generally done by hand, which is inefficient, messy, unsanitary, and therefore often avoided at the expense of clog formation later on. This can be a particularly undesirable and unsanitary endeavor when the hair or debris for removal from the drain strainer is not one's own, as is common in dormitory and other shared-living arrangements.
 The present invention is specifically designed and directed to address these problems.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In one or more embodiments of the present invention is provided an apparatus and a method for the quick, easy-to-use, and highly effective removal of hair and other debris from a drain strainer.
 In one or more embodiments of the present invention is provided a disposable apparatus for removing hair or other debris from a drain strainer at low cost to the consumer.
 In one or more embodiments of the present invention is provided a reusable apparatus for removing hair or other debris from a drain strainer having a portion thereof that can be disposed of "hands-free."
 Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent in conjunction with the detailed disclosure provided herein.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 1;
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 1;
 FIG. 4 is an expanded perspective view of the header portion of FIG. 3;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 5;
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 7;
 FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 10 is an exploded perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 9 showing the component parts;
 FIG. 11 is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 12 is a front, cross-sectional view of a variation of the embodiment of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 13 is an expanded cross-sectional front view of the ejector portion of the embodiment of FIG. 12;
 FIG. 14 is an expanded cross-sectional side view of the ejector block portion of the embodiment of FIG. 12;
 FIG. 15 is an expanded cross-sectional front view of the header portion of the embodiment of FIG. 12;
 FIG. 16 is a bottom view of the handle portion of the embodiment of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 17A is a perspective, blown-up view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 17B is a perspective view of the bottom portion of a further variation on the variation of FIG. 17A;
 FIG. 18 is front, inverted view of a further example of the embodiment of FIG. 9;
 Each of FIGS. 19A, 19B, 19C, 19D, 19E, and 19F is an expanded, cross-sectional view of a variation of a debris-snagging element that can be used in accordance with this invention;
 FIG. 20A is a side view of a fifth embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 20B is a bottom, perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 20A;
 FIG. 20C is a front view of a variation of the embodiment of FIG. 20A;
 FIG. 20D is a bottom, perspective view of the variation of FIG. 20C;
 FIG. 20E is a bottom view of a further variation of the embodiment of FIG. 20A;
 FIG. 20F is a front view of the variation of FIG. 20E;
 FIG. 20G is a bottom view of a further variation of the embodiment of FIG. 20A;
 FIG. 20H is a front view of the variation of FIG. 20G;
 FIG. 21A is a rotated front view of an article of manufacture for storing multiple products designed in accordance with this invention;
 FIG. 21B is a rotated front view of a further example of an article of manufacture for storing multiple products designed in accordance with this invention; and
 FIGS. 22A and 22B are depictions of the embodiment of FIG. 3 in use.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a method and device used for the removal of hair and/or other debris from drain strainers, but which can additionally be used and/or adapted to be used to clean hair and/or other material from any surface.
 At the outset, it should be noted that specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting. Furthermore, the drawings are presented in a fashion that clearly shows the various aspects of the invention and are not necessarily drawn to scale Like reference numerals in multiple figures refer to the same or similar aspects or features.
 More particularly, and with reference to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the invention relates to a device comprising a generally rigid handle and/or shaft 12, and a header 14. Header 14 has a generally rigid backing 16 which connects to the handle/shaft 12 and a preferably relatively softer pad 18, though the pad 18 need not be softer than the backing 16. Alternatively, header 14 can be a single layer. Preferably, a series of hooks 20, such that are found in hook-and-loop fasteners (e.g., hooks found in VELCRO®) protrude from the side of the header that is opposite the base of the handle/shaft 12. However, any suitable means of snagging fibrous material may be substituted for hooks 20. In FIG. 1, hooks 20 protrude from pad 18 of header 14. It should be noted that the hooks throughout the figures have generally been enlarged to show detail. The hooks can be of any size suitable for snagging hair or other debris.
 In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, a flexible or non-rigid handle/shaft can be used.
 The hooks 20 are either embedded within the pad 18, or alternatively, if no pad is used, the hooks are affixed to or embedded directly into the backing 16. Alternatively, the hooks 20 and header 14 can be molded as a single unit.
 In FIG. 1, the backing 16 is rigidly affixed or removably coupled by any suitable means to the handle/shaft 20 at a substantially fixed and perpendicular angle. This substantially perpendicular orientation is well-suited for removing debris from a drain strainer, which is typically situated along the same plane as the bottom of the water basin. The handle/shaft and backing can alternatively be molded in this orientation as single unit.
 The hooks 20 protruding from the pad 18 or the backing 16 easily ensnare hair and other debris that collects on or in a drain strainer, or just below the drain surface for easy removal.
 To operate the embodiment of FIG. 1, the user holds the handle/shaft 12 and moves the apparatus such that the hooks 20 come in contact with the hair/debris that is on or in the drain strainer. FIG. 22A depicts this operative step of placing device 500 in contact with debris/hair 510 that has collected on drain strainer 520. To enhance the snagging aspect of the hooks 20, the handle/shaft can be wiggled, shaken or similarly adjusted while the hooks 20 are in contact with the hair/debris (though this step is not necessary to achieve some degree of functionality). At this point the apparatus is lifted from the drain strainer bearing the undesirable hair/debris (FIG. 22B). The apparatus can then be disposed of without the need to come in direct contact with the hair/debris. Alternatively, the hair/debris can be removed from the hooks 20 and the apparatus reused. Alternatively, the device can be discarded without removing the contents of the hooks. As a further alternative, if a disposable, detachable header is used as described below, the pad and rigid base combination can be detached and discarded, and a fresh header can be attached to the handle or shaft prior to the next use.
 More than one configuration of hooks 20, such that are found in hook-and-loop fasteners, is effective for purposes of the present invention. Examples of suitable hook configurations are shown but not limited to those seen in FIGS. 19A through 19F. Such hook types include a "single, soft J-hook" (FIG. 19A), a "double, soft J-hook" (FIG. 19B), a "single, hard J-hook" (FIG. 19C), a "double, hard J-hook" (FIG. 19D), "V-hooks" (FIG. 19E), and "double V-hooks" (FIG. 19F). Industrial strength Velcro®, known in the art, is known to employ double hard J-hooks. Alternatively, "V"-shaped Velcro®-type hooks can be used.
 In addition, series of hooks of a single hook variation, or series of hooks containing combinations of more than one hook variation can be used effectively with the present invention. A series can be a single line of hooks that spans one dimension of the pad 18 or backing 16, or a portion of one dimension of the pad 18 or backing 16. A series can alternatively comprise a plurality of hooks in formation that resembles the shape of the face of the pad or backing from which said hooks protrude. Multiple series can be used in combination on the same pad or backing. In addition, series of other suitable hooks or debris snagging means known to those skilled in the art can likewise be used, individually or in combination, with the present invention. Hooks can be evenly spaced or unevenly spaced on the pad or backing. In addition, hooks can face the same direction or face different directions as they extend from the pad or backing.
 The handle/shaft 12 can take on any of a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention the handle/shaft can be long enough such that the user need not bend down in order to operate the device. Alternatively, the handle/shaft can be as short as approximately one inch or less, provided it is suitably long to be grasped by the user's fingers. The shaft can be longer or shorter depending upon the specific utility desired. A shorter handle/shaft, for example, would allow for easier storage of the device, more efficient display and presentation of the device to consumers, and be better for the environment upon disposal. In one preferred embodiment, the length of the device from the top of the handle to the free ends of the hooks is shorter than the distance from the drain strainer to the drain trap. For example, in a preferred embodiment, the handle/shaft is 12 centimeters tall, and the bottom of the header is rectangular, with dimensions of 2.5 centimeters by 1.5 centimeters. A hook, a loop or other means can be attached to the free end of the handle/shaft to facilitate storage and/or display of a single device or plurality of devices in one place. By way of example, a hook or loop can be attached to the free end of the handle/shaft such that the hook can be looped over a faucet or knob of the faucet near the drain. By way of another example, the free end of the handle/shaft can be attached to a suction cup, which in turn can be secured to the wall.
 The handle/shaft can be solid or hollow, and preferably made of any suitable, generally rigid material, such as wood, metal, glass, molded plastic, and so forth. Preferably, the handle/shaft has a substantially round or oblong cross-section, but other cross-sectional shapes would also be suitable, e.g. rectangular. The shaft and handle can be separate features of the apparatus or can be combined into a single element or feature of the present invention.
 The handle/shaft can be shaped and/or molded to be aesthetically pleasing and attractive to the consumer, such as in the shape of a heart or a key. Logos or other brand identifying material can be affixed or molded on the handle/shaft. In addition, or in the alternative, the handle/shaft can be ergonomically shaped and configured to facilitate gripping of the handle/shaft and operation of the device. Such a configuration would be particularly desirable for elderly or arthritic users of the present invention.
 FIGS. 1 and 2 depict a handle/shaft 12 that is a single, integrated unit. FIG. 2 depicts an alternative configuration for the hand/shaft 12 with double soft-J hooks protruding from pad 18. The hooks 20 of FIG. 1 are single soft-J hooks.
 FIG. 3 depicts a variation of the embodiment of FIG. 1 wherein the shaft 12 and handle 22 are different features, the combination of which is aesthetically designed to resemble a key.
 Pad 18 and backing 16 can be round, oblong, square, elliptical, or any other desired shape. Pad 18 is sufficiently thick and of suitable material to anchor or embed the hooks 20, such that are found in hook-and-loop fasteners. The materials and thickness of materials capable of achieving this function are sufficiently known to those in the art. The plane of the pad is orientated such that it is substantially perpendicular to the long axis of the shaft 12, for reasons described above.
 Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, to aid in lateral reach toward a drain strainer, it may be desirable for the shaft/handle 12 to extend from the pad at a non-perpendicular angle or for the pad to be secured to the shaft by means of a movable joint or hinge 30. FIGS. 5 and 6 show two possible configurations for joint/hinge 30. Any suitable joint/hinge 30 known in the art for connecting header 14 to handle/shaft 12 could be used. Movable joint/hinge 30 can also facilitate adjustment of the apparatus when hooks 20 are in contact with the debris or hair to aid in the efficient snagging thereof. Alternatively, the joint can be a non-movable joint for removably coupling the handle/shaft with the header.
 Pad 18 is secured to the bottom of backing 16 by any means known to those in the art. The hooks 20 are also secured to pad 18 or backing 16 by means known to those in the art. As an example, an adhesive such as glue can be used for this purpose. Alternatively, the device need not comprise a pad or backing; instead the hooks can be embedded directly into the bottom of the shaft/handle. In this variation, the shaft/handle, or at least the bottom portion of the shaft/handle, should be of suitable material to anchor hooks, such as those found in hook-and-loop fasteners. The materials capable of achieving this function are sufficiently known to those in the art. In another variation the pad and the shaft may be manufactured as a single unit of the same material. Similarly, the hooks, pad and shaft may be a single unit of the same material wherein the hooks, pad and shaft are manufactured of the same material and created in a single process. The materials capable of achieving these variations are sufficiently known to those in the art.
 In a further embodiment of the present invention, shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, a header 114 is attached to a handle/shaft 112, the header 114 being designed to enter a refuse filter such as that commonly found or employed in the mouth of kitchen sink drains. Hooks 120, such that are found in hook-and-loop fasteners are embedded/attached in the header as described above, such that a pad with hooks or plurality of pads with hooks as described above can be secured to the outer surface of the header 114 or the hooked ends of said hooks 20 protrude from the lower header surface 128. In this case, each hook protrudes from the lower header surface 128 at an angle that is approximately perpendicular to said surface as measured from the point of protrusion. The number, types, and spacing of the hooks can vary in accordance with the description above with respect to the embodiment of FIG. 1. The header 114 can be permanently affixed to the handle/shaft 112. Alternatively, the header 114 can be removably attached to the handle/shaft 112 for easy and sanitary disposal and replacement of a fresh header after use. The header 114 can be hollow or solid and can be made of a rigid or semi-rigid material, such as the material used for the shaft or handle, or it can be formed from the same or similar material described above with respect to the pad. The header 114 can be any of a variety of suitable shapes, such as spherical, cylindrical, semi-spherical (FIG. 7), semi-cylindrical (FIG. 8), or other suitable shape, with hooks protruding from any surface that might come in contact with hair or other material in a drain filter or drainpipe. The shape of the header 114 employed can depend on the shape of the handle/shaft 112 to which the header is attached, and it can further depend on the shape and type of drain for which the device will be used. By way of example only, if an elongated shaft or handle 112 is used (FIG. 7), a spherical, cylindrical, or semi-spherical header 114 would be appropriate. Alternatively, if the header 114 is attached to a disc-like or semi-disc-like handle 112 (FIG. 8), a semi-cylindrical header would be appropriate. However, it should be understood that a variety of configurations of shafts and handles can be paired with a variety of configurations of headers, without compromising the effectiveness of the invention.
 To operate the embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 8, the user grasps handle/shaft 112 and runs the header 114 of the device over the drain filter or drain pipe to a depth sufficient for the hooks to come in contact with the hair or other material for which removal from the filter is sought. Once the hooks come in contact with the debris, the user can wiggle or adjust the device slightly to aid in securing the debris to the hooks (though this step is not required, some movement may increase the effectiveness of the device). At this point, the user extracts the device from the filter. The debris that has collected in the hooks 120 can then be removed from the hooks or the device disposed of in its entirety. Alternatively, if a disposable, detachable header 114 is used, the header 114 can be detached and discarded, and a fresh header 114 can be attached to the handle/shaft prior to the next use.
 As mentioned above, the header of the device can be removable from the handle/shaft allowing the user to discard the header after use and replace it with a fresh header for subsequent use. Any suitable means of detaching and replacing the header portion can be employed.
 In one embodiment, shown in FIGS. 9 through 16, depicted is the device with a disposable header and ejection button; the device is made to resemble a key. In this embodiment the header 214 comprises a base 208, backing 216 and pad 218. Hooks 220 extend from pad 218 as described above. Generally rigid shaft 212 is hollow and houses ejector 240. Ejector 240 has a generally rigid upper segment 242, generally rigid lower segment 246, spring 244 and generally rigid ejector block 248. Spring 244 has upper end 245 and lower end 243 and is preferably made of metal, though other suitable materials could also be used. Spring 244 is coiled around lower segment 246. When compressed (described below), the spring 244 is compressed between the upper segment 242 of ejector 240 and one or more notches or similar means of resistance (not shown) situated within the shaft 212 that protrude from the inner wall of shaft 212 some suitable distance below the lower end 243 of spring 244. To operate, the user presses the trigger or free end 250 of ejector 240, which causes spring 244 to compress and ejector block 248 to release header 214 as will be herein described.
 When shaft 212 houses ejector 240, ejector block 248 is positioned between prongs 262 which extend from the bottom of shaft 212. Prongs 262 are substantially rigid but can be flexed to a certain degree and still revert to their initial configuration, such as are the characteristics of molded polypropylene and the like. The positioning of ejector block 248 between prongs 262 flexes prongs 262 outward and apart from each other, causing protrusions 260 to mate with, and thereby establish a frictional fit with, corresponding depressions 270 located on the inside of sidewalls 272 of base 208 of header 214.
 Ejector block 248 is tapered such that when the user pushes down the trigger or free end 250 of ejector 240 causing ejector block 248 to move toward the bottom of the apparatus, prongs 262 relax, causing protrusions 260 to disengage from depressions 270. This essentially "unlocks" header 214 from shaft 212, and ejector block 248 then pushes header 214 off shaft 212. This process of ejecting header 214 can be done directly over a garbage receptacle or the like to avoid the need to touch the debris that has been collected in hooks 220 via the debris collection method described above.
 Once header 214 has been removed, the user releases ejector 240. This causes the spring 244 to relax and return to its rest position, and allows the user to attach a fresher header 214 to the shaft 212. Though preferred, a spring is not required to release and replace the header as described above. Depending on the rigidity/flexibility of the materials used, in certain embodiments of the present invention that are not preferred it may be necessary to put the fresh header 214 in place around the prongs 262 and protrusions 260 before releasing ejector 240 to lock-in the fresh header 214.
 Trigger or free end 250 of ejector 240 can extend through an opening 280 in handle 222, and beyond the top of handle 222 for easy thumb or finger access thereto whilst holding the handle 222.
 The features of the embodiments of FIGS. 9 through 16 can be configured in any number of suitable arrangements, from the standpoint of both aesthetics and functionality, examples of which are depicted in FIGS. 17A, 17B, and 18. FIGS. 17A and 17B show further variations of the trigger 250, a further variation of the handle 222, and a further variation of the protrusions 260. Shaft extension 290 serves the same purpose as the prongs 262 of FIG. 10. While the header is locked-in to the shaft, the ejector block (not shown) is nested within shaft extension 290. To release header 214, trigger 250 is moved along shaft 212 toward header 214, causing the ejector block to release header 214 as described above with respect to FIGS. 9-16.
 The features of the header ejection mechanism described in connection with FIGS. 9-17B are commonly used in the shaving industry for razor blades having replaceable cartridges.
 With reference now to FIG. 18, a further variation of a releasable header embodiment of the present invention is provided, the header 214 of which is releasably attached to a handle 212 housing an ejector (not shown). The handle and ejector are functionally equivalent to that portion of a spring-loaded click-pen that allows the user thereof to hold the pen and extend the writing tip by pressing a trigger, the trigger being generally located at or near the end of the pen opposite the writing tip. In this embodiment, to remove the header 214, the user presses trigger 250, thereby extending the opposite end of the ejector beyond the handle/shaft 212. By pressing the trigger, the ejector engages the header 214, thereby pushing header 214 off handle 212. A fresh header can then be applied to the device.
 Referring now to FIGS. 20A-20H, a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in which the device as described above in connection with FIGS. 1-3 is further characterized by an absorbent material 25. The presence of a hygroscopic material, such as cotton, paper, sponge, and so forth, in the vicinity of the hooks 20, has been discovered by the inventor to enhance the debris-snagging characteristics of the hooks, particularly when the debris is wet, oily, soapy, and/or rests in a pool of liquid. To realize this advantage, absorbent material 25 can be adhered by any suitable means known in the art to the bottom of pad 18, or alternatively to the bottom of backing 16, thereby forming a layer of absorbent material 25 (FIGS. 20A and 20B) through which the hooked ends of hooks 20 protrude.
 Alternatively, absorbent material 25 can cover a portion of the bottom surface of pad 18 (or backing 16), while hooks 20 extend from the remaining portion thereof (FIGS. 20C and 20D). In this variation, absorbent material 25 can be adhered, by means known in the art, to the bottom surface of pad 18 and/or the side surface of backing 16 and pad 18.
 A generally circular header 14 is shown in FIGS. 20E-20H, in which absorbent material 25 is adhered to the bottom surface of pad 18 (or backing 16) in either the form of a ring around an inner circle of protruding hooks 20 (FIGS. 20E and 20F), or in the form of a circle surrounded by a ring of protruding hooks 20 (FIGS. 20G and 20H). Other suitable configurations and locations for the absorbent material 25 will be apparent to one skilled in the art. For example, one or more of the hooks themselves can be encased or otherwise housed in the absorbent material. It is further possible to adapt any of the other embodiments of this invention disclosed above to incorporate an absorbent material therewith.
 The user operates the device of FIGS. 20A-20F in the same fashion as described above with respect to the other embodiments. The absorbent material absorbs wet, soapy, or oily substances dispersed within the hair/debris, thereby improving the hooks' ability to snag and collect the hair/debris for removal from the drain strainer.
 Referring now to FIGS. 21A and 21B, a means is shown for storing multiple products embodying the present invention. Multiple products 302 can be manufactured/molded as a single piece along a rod 300 made of, e.g., rigid plastic or the like, such that the individual pieces 302 would be easily pulled or plucked from the rod 300 by breaking, tearing or otherwise severing links 306 which connect products 302 to the rod 300. The products can extend from multiple points and in multiple directions along the rod 300. A ring 304 or similar means can be molded or affixed at one end of the rod 300 for hanging and/or displaying the products simply and efficiently. The products can then be removed from the rod 300, one by one, as needed.
 The above description and drawings are considered that of certain embodiments of the present invention only. Aesthetic and non-aesthetic modifications to the invention will occur to those skilled in the art and to those who make or use the invention. Therefore, it is understood that the embodiments shown in the drawings and described herein are merely for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.
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