What happens when hair goes down the drain?
Whether it’s hair from you, family members or even a pet, all of it ends up down the drain when washing or shaving. But exactly what happens when hair enters our bathroom or shower drain? And how to get hair out of shower drains?
Hair alone does not block drains, rather it’s the combination of hair along with shampoos, oils and soaps which act to bind the hair strands together, which then creates a blockage. Shower and bathroom drains tend to be fairly narrow, too, making them more affected by a blockage.
If the congealed hair travels even further along the plumbing system, it may stick to walls of pipes if those pipes have experienced a build-up of kitchen grease, cooking oils and other substances. Eventually, this could lead to an inconvenient blockage deeper in the drainage system.
How to prevent hair going down the drain
Prevention is better than the cure, and sometimes being more mindful and avoiding hair being washed down the drain is enough to prevent a serious accumulation. Shaving, showering and washing pets are the three main ways hair enters our drains, so let’s take a closer look:
- Shaving: If you’re wondering how to shave without getting hair in the drains, there are a few tricks you can employ for next time. For shaving facial hair, you may wish to cover the sink with paper towels or other coverings – this can catch the hair, which can then be put in the bin. Prepare a cup or bowl of water to rinse off the blade rather than rinsing it into the sink. You can also place a hair trap over the plughole, a contraption which catches hairs. When shaving body hair, you may wish to lay out a towel, and then shake the hairs out into the bin or vacuum them up.
- Showering: As humans, our hair naturally sheds in the shower, which is especially true for those with long hair. Brush your hair before showering, as this will loosen up your hair, giving it a chance to shed before you get in the water. Like the point above, hair traps or hair catchers can be a godsend for stopping the hair from falling into the drain in the first place even if they are an undesirable chore to add to the cleaning regime.
- Washing pets: Even our furry friends need a bath sometimes, but unfortunately this can result in lots of hair entering the drains. If it’s warm enough, wash your pet outside using the hose, or water from a bucket. However, if that’s not an option, give them a brush and rub down before you bathe them and this should remove some excess hair – you could also choose to use a de-shedding tool. When it comes to bathing them in the bath, place a hair catcher over the drain, and also try and scoop out any hair clumps from the bath during the wash before they have a chance to reach the plughole.
How can I remove hair from drains?
There isn’t just one technique for removing hair in drains – here are a few of the most popular for manual removal:
- For visible hairs trapped around a plughole, use some tweezers to pull them out.
- To reach even deeper, you can untwist a wire coat hanger, straighten it out and leave just a hook at the end – you can then carefully feed this into the drain to prise out any hair clumps.
- A plunger is a tried and tested method for removal which creates suction, bringing blockages up through the drainand closer to the surface.
- If you want to try a unique approach, others have used their vacuum cleaner in attachment mode, on the highest setting and suctioning around the plughole to help remove hair in drains. Obviously we do not advise doing this when there’s recently been water in use, which can then clog the vacuum cleaner, so do proceed with caution here.
If manual methods don’t work or aren’t as effective for getting hair out of your drains as you hoped, you may wish to try commercial products to dissolve the hair in the shower drain.
What can dissolve hair down the drain?
The previous section dealt with manual techniques for hair removal. Now we’ll look at methods of how to dissolve hair in shower drains to get rid of a blockage.
- Straightforward drain cleaner is designed to break down congealed hair and scum. Simply follow the instructions on the container for easy unblocking. Be mindful of how much you use – overuse can affect the surrounding pipework causing unneeded damage there.
- For a more natural approach, you could try the vinegar and baking soda trick. First, pour some boiling water down the drain. Shortly after, pour a vinegar and baking soda mix down – there are many suggested ratios for combining these two chemicals together, but generally around a third of the cup of baking soda to a cup of vinegar should do the job. Leave it for around 10-15 minutes before pouring boiling water down again.
Whichever method you use, remember to thoroughly rinse water through the drain system afterwards, once the cleaning solution has had an appropriate amount of time to work.
How can I tell if my drain is blocked by hair?
The first signs of a blocked drain of any sort is a back-up of water or sluggish drainage. If this is occurring in the bathroom, it could be the result of hair. To prevent the problem from escalating, first try one of the recommended methods above for tackling hair in drains.
If your drainage woes are more entrenched, appear to be getting worse or you simply don’t know what’s causing slow drainage, then it’s recommended to contact drainage professionals to take a look.