Whether you’ve given yourself a haircut in the bathroom, or you’ve been, uh, grooming your nether regions… we’ve all been there.
Sometimes, hair gets into the toilet bowl, and the only logical solution seems to be to flush away the evidence.
This may seem like a great idea at the time, but have you ever thought about the consequences of this action? What really happens when you flush strands of hair, long or short, down the toilet?
In this article, we will be looking into these consequences, finding out whether this really is a great idea or not.
Let’s see what unfolds when you take the simple route and flush that hair down the drain.
What Happens When You Flush Hair Down The Toilet?
This may seem like an obvious statement to make, but that doesn’t make it any less true: only two things should ever get flushed down the toilet, and that is:
- Human waste
- Toilet paper
Toilets were designed to flush away human waste, and toilet paper was specifically designed to be able to dissolve inside the tiny drains that lead from the toilet into the sewers.
The pipes that lead from the toilet are very thin and narrow, meaning that anything large, or products that do not dissolve within a short period of time, will get stuck inside. This leads to clogs and blockages.
The scary part is that some drain clogs and blockages do not become obvious right away, especially if the flushed products have already made their way far into the drainage system.
Therefore, you will need to use your common sense when it comes to flushing stuff down the toilet.
So, what happens when you flush hair down the toilet? Will that cause any problems?
The answer is yes.
Why Can’t You Flush Hair Down The Toilet?
Hair is, in fact, one of the most prevalent causes of clogged drains. Typically, the issue is not visible, as hair does not clog your toilet itself.
Instead, it will clog your pipes further downstream, causing issues that you may not immediately notice.
The concern with hair is that it likes to latch onto anything it comes across.
For example, a pipe with a minor flaw, or that has recently been repaired, may have some rough spots. Inbound hair will then collect in these specific spots, and the situation will only get worse over time!
Long hair, in particular, can pose major issues when flushed down the toilet. On the inside of the pipe, a webbing builds, capturing anything that passes through like a spiderweb.
A clog eventually forms, and you will not realize it until your toilet stops flowing properly.
Another problem with hair is that it degrades slowly. A bundle of hair might take years to disintegrate and detach from its initial position.
This means that a blockage created by hair does not dissolve over time; instead, it persists, worsening.
Even if you have a powerful flushing toilet, flushing hair down the toilet is a poor idea that should be avoided at all costs.
This is particularly true if you have a septic system (see also ‘What Is A Septic Inspection?‘), as the parts in septic systems are harder to reach for maintenance.
Only flush human waste and septic-safe toilet paper, since repairing a septic system is complex and expensive.
Can You Flush Shorter Hairs Down The Toilet?
Okay, so now that you know that long hairs can cause problems when flushed down a toilet, what about shorter hairs? Are facial hair or pubic hair an issue when flushed away?
Unfortunately, the answer is also yes.
While you may think that it’d be safer to flush shorter hairs as they are smaller, and take up less space, you would be wrong to assume this. In fact, flushing short hairs can cause just as much of a concern – if not, more of a concern – than flushing longer hairs.
Even the tiniest hairs will attach to the pipes and eventually cause a blockage, even if they do not form a web.
This type of obstruction can only be removed with specialized equipment, which comes at a cost and causes considerable inconvenience.
How Else Should You Dispose of Hair?
Now that we know not to flush any kind of hair down the toilet, what are our other options? How else can we dispose of hair?
Below, we have listed two simple options that you can take part in instead.
Throw The Hair into The Trash
The most straightforward option is to throw unwanted hair in a bin with other trash. This way, you can rest assured that the hair will not be clogging up any drains (see also ‘ Drain Clogged With Hair: 5 Simple Tips To Dissolve it ‘), leaving you with a hefty bill to pay.
Composting The Hair
Yes, you can compost your own hair! This is the more environmentally friendly option.
Hair is an organic material that contains a small amount of nitrogen that is beneficial to soil. Therefore, you can safely compost the hair by mixing it with other organic trash.
What Else Should You Avoid Flushing Down The Toilet?
As we previously mentioned, there are only two products that should ever get flushed down a toilet: human waste and toilet paper.
Nothing else should ever be thrown down your toilet bowl.
There are some products that many people believe can be safely flushed down a toilet (see also ‘How To Flush The Toilet When The Water Is Off‘), but they would be vastly mistaken. Below, we have listed some of the most commonly flushed items.
Dental floss, as you may have guessed, behaves similarly to long hair: it can get trapped on anything, including a pipe burr or a sharp curve, and create a web.
The dental floss might then catch everything else that goes by, causing a clog.
Did you know that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection spends over $19 million per year on repairs attributable to baby wipe damage?
Despite the fact that many baby wipe brands claim to have flushable products, any plumbing professional will tell you that a flushable baby wipe does not exist.
These do not decompose in water, and will eventually clog your pipes.
Similarly to baby wipes, paper towels are often used by many individuals who have run out of toilet paper, thinking it won’t cause any issues. Spoiler alert: this information is completely wrong.
Paper towels (see also ‘Can You Flush Paper Towels?‘) do not dissolve: instead, they continue to absorb water, creating large blockages inside drains.
Tissues (Not Including Toilet Paper)
Unless a package of toilet paper or tissue states that they are flushable, you should avoid using them in the bathroom.
Tissues can, and will, cause serious blockages if they are used too frequently.
Feminine Products (Tampons and Sanitary Pads)
Most period-having human beings will be aware that sanitary napkins should not be flushed down the toilet, due to the plastic components of the product. But, did you know that tampons are just as dangerous to flush?
Tampons are designed to absorb large quantities of liquid, which makes it an obvious item to cause clogs and blockages inside a tiny drain.
Many people would assume that food is safe to flush down the toilet. After all, we eat food, and then dispose of it through our bodies and flush it away on a daily basis, right?
Food does eventually dissolve, although at a much slower rate than fecal matter. Do not make dumping food down the toilet a habit, as it will ultimately cause issues in the future, if done frequently enough.
Gum is a non-biodegradable product, and will never degrade in your sewer system.
Due to the stickiness and tackiness of the gum, it becomes more difficult to break up and unclog the pipe when it is added to a blockage.
Medication might not only exacerbate existing clogs, but it can also result in extremely dangerous situations when it dissolves in drain water.
Medicines contaminate the environment, and expose human beings and animals alike to the toxins in the drugs. Hormones and antidepressants, for example, interfere with aquatic animals’ development and wellbeing.
It may seem convenient to flush a condom away, but since these products are usually manufactured from latex, they will remain in your drainage system for the rest of time.
Additionally, they may float back to the surface after being flushed, remaining visible to the rest of your household. If that sounds like an embarrassing outcome, throw them in the trash instead.
Overall, you should not attempt to flush anything that hasn’t naturally come out of your body – e.g., feces, urine, or vomit – or anything that doesn’t naturally dissolve over time, such as toilet paper.
If you are now panicking, realizing that you have been flushing hair, or any of the other products that we have mentioned, for as long as you can remember, the important thing is that you stop immediately.
If you are worried about drain clogs, contact a professional to check for any damage.
We hope you found this informational piece useful and interesting.