People can lose up to 100 hairs a day, so it’s easy to get frustrated by the shed strands of hair around the house. You’ve probably thought of flushing that clump on the shower drain out of sight. So, can you flush hair down the toilet?
You should never flush hair down the toilet. It may seem convenient, but hair does not dissolve in water and is also prone to getting stuck in pipes. One strand will entangle with more hair that passes by, eventually causing a stubborn clog of hair, toilet paper, and human waste.
Read on to learn more about how toilets work, what happens to hair and other items when they are flushed, and how you can prevent damage to your pipes.
Is It Okay to Flush Hair Down the Toilet?
Perhaps you’re thinking that toilets handle a lot worse than hair, so it’s probably fine to send them down the pipes. However, the toilet isn’t designed to handle everything that fits through the opening.
You should never flush non-human waste, such as hair, gold fish, food, baby wipes, napkins, paper towels, or trash down the toilet. Toilets have been engineered over time to efficiently deal with human waste, but not foreign matter.
The toilet went through many redesigns and transformations to become the modern flush version. The flush toilet uses a water tank and a cleverly designed pipe to remove human waste.
The tank releases water when you press the flush, and the pipe ensures the bowl empties into the sewer. The U-shaped pipe fills with water and siphons the contents of the bowl into the plumbing system (Bethea, 2021).
The pipe also holds some water afterwards, which stops sewer smells and gases from rising into the bathroom!
This video goes into detail about toilet design and function:
Why Hair Is Bad for Toilets
If toilets have had centuries of improvement and design, why can’t they handle a few hairs?
One reason is that hair loves to get stuck.
While a few strands won’t cause an immediate problem, hair contributes to large, difficult clogs over time. Even medium-length strands of hair get caught on their journey through the plumbing.
Imperfections or build-up on the walls of the pipe or other unflushable items collect passing hair. These hairs entangle anything else that comes along, from more hair to toilet tissue to human waste.
Another reason hair is bad for toilets: it’s durable. This is why hair is so good at clogging pipes and drains. Unlike toilet paper that’s made from wood or cotton fibers, hair does not dissolve or break apart in water.
Some chemical drain cleaners can remove soft clogs, but there are many potential drawbacks. For one thing, these chemicals are highly toxic and dangerous. Chemical burns from these cleaners can cause lifelong injury and even death.
Also, if the clog is deep in the plumbing system, water weakens the concentration and effectiveness of the cleaner before it reaches the blockage.
The corrosiveness can damage old pipes, as well. Sometimes, chemical reactions cause pipes to burst as gas builds up. PVC and aluminum-lined pipes are at risk of warping or wearing through.
Using these chemical cleaners can seriously damage your plumbing system and create a problem bigger than blockage.
However, there are safer cleaning products. I recommend using Green Gobbler Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover. It is a non-caustic cleaner designed to break down grease, hair, and organic matter that may be clogging your pipes.
If you have a blocked toilet and you’re not sure about the best way to use a plunger, watch this video:
Serious clogs will need more than a plunger. I recommend using Ordenado Plumbing Snake. This kit comes with a 25 foot (8.33 yard) long auger and protective gloves.
The auger can easily reach deep into the plumbing pipes to remove clogs.
What Can You Flush Down the Toilet?
Your toilet can flush away some of your problems, just not all of them.
The New York Department of Environmental Protection reminds residents to flush the 4 P’s: pee, poop, puke, and (toilet) paper. Everything else, including Q-tips, “flushable” wet wipes, napkins, and hair, should go into the trash.
Convenience or superstition may tempt you to flush the hair from your brush or shower drain, but you should refrain from doing it. Certain chemical cleaners can damage your pipes and risk your safety, so avoid corrosive chemicals to break up any clogs. Only the 4 P’s (pee, poop, puke, and paper) should go down your pipes.