Can You Flush Hair Down The Toilet | What Can Go Wrong

Humans and animals alike shed hair daily. Long hair, short hair, and any length hair in between sheds, on average, as many as 100 hairs a day. That’s a lot of hair, and if we’re talking pets, it can be even more, especially during those times of the year when they shed their winter coats. 

What is one to do with all that hair? Can you flush hair down the toilet? What happens if you do? What’s the best way to dispose of hair? All these questions and more will be answered in the following paragraphs, so before you flush that hair, read on.

Can You Flush Hair Down The Toilet

Yes, you can flush hair down the toilet, but the real question is, should you? The answer to that question is a firm NO! 

You might be tempted to flush hair down the toilet, but don’t do it. While the hair may not clog the toilet itself, it can (and probably will) create a blockage in your sewer system somewhere further down the line in the future. This is especially true if yours is an older home, as its pipes can exhibit signs of wear and tear, or even repair, that hair can get snagged on as it passes through. Over time, the hair can continue to build up until a massive clog forms that slow the flow of water or stop it altogether. 

Can Hair Clog A Toilet

Unless you flush a large wad of matted, tangled hair down the toilet, it is unlikely that hair of any kind will clog the toilet itself. With that said, plumbing experts do not recommend flushing hair down the toilet because it can get snagged on imperfections in the pipelines and build up over time, causing an obstruction that can be difficult to reach and get rid of. 

Flushing small amounts of hair down a toilet once or twice won’t likely cause any issues with the toilet itself or the sewer lines, but if you make a habit out of flushing human or pet hair down the toilet, you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs later. 

Long Hair

Long hair is the worst type of hair to flush down a toilet. The individual strands tangle together to create a web that continues to collect anything and everything that tries to pass by. Although hair is organic and biodegradable, it takes a long, long time for it to degrade, which means any long hair that makes it down the toilet or shower drain will eventually become part of the web of hair that threatens to block your home’s sewer system. 

Short Hair Or Beard Trimmings

Short hair and beard trimmings might be less of a risk than flushing long hair, but if your home’s pipes are made of cast iron, the short hairs can still get caught in the oxidation and imperfections on the inside of the pipes. Again, over time, the hair will build up and create a clog. 

Dog Hair

Dog hair might seem innocent enough, especially if your pet’s breed is of the short-hair variety. Unfortunately, pet hair is usually very fine in nature, which means it can form a pretty solid clump in your home’s drainpipes if flushed regularly down the toilet. As with human hair, pet hair can get caught on any little imperfection inside the pipes and eventually create a blockage that’s hard to eliminate. 

Risks Of Blocking Your Toilet With Hair

If you regularly flush hair down the toilet and nothing has happened yet, you’re lucky. You should stop doing so immediately or risk the following potential problems. 

Toilet Backing Up Or Draining Slowly

As I stated earlier, flushing hair down the toilet doesn’t often cause the toilet itself to clog, but it can cause your toilet to back up or drain slowly, especially if the hair has built up somewhere down the line. Signs of a hair clog in the toilet may include incomplete flushes (waste fails to flush completely or comes back up after flushing) or water in the bowl drains slower than normal. 

Toilet Backing Up Into Shower Or Bath

Another problem that can occur if you flush hair down the toilet is the toilet backing up into your shower/bathtub every time it is flushed. If this happens, you may notice a foul smell in the shower/tub drain or hear a gurgling sound coming from the drain when the toilet is flushed. If the hair obstruction is especially bad, you may even see water/waste coming up into the shower when you flush the toilet. 

What To Do If Your Toilet is Blocked with Hair

Since hair doesn’t degrade quickly, you’ll need to coax the blockage along by using one or a combination of the following methods.

First, try the plunger. Many types of toilet clogs respond well to plunging, but keep in mind that just because you move the hair mass along and unclog the toilet doesn’t mean it won’t snag somewhere else down the line and cause problems later. 

If the plunger doesn’t work, try pouring a good amount of dish soap down the toilet followed by a pan of boiling hot water. You can use the plunger to coax the blockage onward. 

Tough hair obstructions may require removal rather than pushing onward. For this, you’ll need a sewer snake designed for toilet use. With a sewer snake, you can reach hairballs that have formed beyond the toilet itself. 

How To Dispose Of Hair Safely

So, if you shouldn’t flush hair down the toilet, what should you do with it to dispose of it safely? The good news is you have a few options. 

Compost It

You might be surprised to learn that hair (both human and animal) is compostable. It is a good source of nitrogen for your soil, so throw it in your compost bin with the other items and never worry about clogging your sewer system with hair again. 

Throw It Away

If you don’t compost, simply throw any hair you collect away in the garbage. While this isn’t the most environmentally friendly solution, it makes sense for most people and won’t clog your home’s toilet or sewer system. 

Give It To The Birds

Birds are resourceful creatures, using all types of things to build their nests. While human hair is dangerous for birds as it can get caught on their legs or wings causing injury, pet hair makes for great nesting material. 

If you regularly brush your dog’s hair, do it outside and let some of the clumps of hair flow in the wind. Birds will gladly make use of it for their nests. 

SOLVED: Can You Flush Hair Down The Toilet

If you’ve read this far, you now know that you should never flush hair down the toilet. Doing so may not clog the toilet itself, but over time, it can cause a buildup of hair that’s difficult to get rid of. Rather than flush hair down the toilet, you can compost it, toss it in the garbage, or give it to the birds to use as nesting material. 

James-De-Meo
Plumber and HVAC Technician | Website

As a retired Master Plumber Jamie has over 30 years of hands-on experience, making his plumbing knowledge second to none. He has also worked on both residential and commercial HVAC installation and repair projects.