Never Use Drano, and Other Need-to-Know Tips for Handling Hairy Home Situations

published May 25, 2017
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(Image credit: Sandra Rojo)

You may love your long hair, but there’s one problem with those lengthy tresses—they shed and get all over the place, turning clean-up into a challenge and making your shower drain a battle zone. You could just adopt the motto “long hair, don’t care” but that won’t stop your stray strands from haunting your home, so it might be better to take some precautions and avoid those hairy home situations altogether.

When you have long hair, there are three main places where that normal, everyday shedding can become a big, hairy mess—the shower, the floors, and your laundry. So, here’s how to deal with each.

The Shower

Before You Shower:

Comb out your hair. If you can, try brushing or combing out your hair before you hop in the shower. It’ll catch more of the stray hairs in advance, so you won’t shed as much in the shower while you wash your hair.

Use a drain catcher—a good one. This one should seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: Invest in a good drain catcher. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, expensive contraption, but it should work. If it doesn’t actually catch the hairs, it’s not doing it’s job—and if it doesn’t let the water drain properly, you’ll probably get annoyed with it and stop using it. Make sure it’s one that stays in place, too. This one from OXO gets high marks on Amazon.

If the Drain Becomes Clogged…

…don’t reach for the Drano or another chemical solution (seriously, landlords hate it because it can cause damage to the pipes, and you can read some horror stories about it on Yelp). Instead, try removing any visible hair first—you might have to snip a little with scissors if it’s tangled, but try to just pull out any hair you see with tweezers or pliers.

If, after you’ve gotten rid of visible hair, your shower is still not draining, let baking soda and vinegar come to the rescue. Pour the baking soda down the drain, then pour distilled white vinegar over the baking soda—this tutorial will show you the specifics. (Note: Many of the commenters also suggest flushing out the drain with boiling water—LifeHacker suggests the same, just be aware that boiling water doesn’t work for all pipes, so if you don’t know what you’re working with, stick with regular ol’ hot water). You can do the hot water flush as monthly maintenance to prevent it from getting clogged again.

You can also try plunging the drain, but know that this might cause some gross, gunky water to come back up into the tub, so be prepared. Avoid using drain snakes or things like wire hangers to pull out clogs, because you can potentially do more damage than good. And, if all else fails, call your landlord or building super—or a plumber, if you don’t have a landlord to answer to.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

The Floors

Use Your Vacuum… Everywhere.

Nothing will remind you that your hair gets everywhere, no matter how often you clean, more than when long hairs collect in a tumbleweed on the floor. It’s time to befriend your vacuum full-time, because sweeping can only do so much—it’s pushing around the hair without always picking it all up. You should still sweep first, since it’ll get rid of some of the hair (and keep it from clogging up your vacuum!) but really, vacuuming everywhere will change your life. On Deadspin, cleaning expert Jolie Kerr suggested investing in not one but two vacuums—an upright and a handheld model for really tackling all that hair. Use the upright vacuum at least once a week for a deep clean, and use the handheld vacuum every one to three days to keep particularly hairy spaces in check.

Using your vacuum everywhere—and frequently—means that you’ll have to take proper care of it, too. Kerr said using the hose attachment can help prevent it from getting clogged, but if it does get clogged, use nail scissors to carefully snip out the hairs.

Salvaging a Hairy Carpet:

If you’ve vacuumed your hairy rugs or carpet to no avail, you’ll have to put in a little extra elbow grease. SF Gate has a super helpful tutorial for de-hairing your rugs—you just need a spray bottle, water, fabric softener, and either a stiff-bristled brush or a flexible squeegee to get the job done. Simply fill the spray bottle with water and mix in a few drops of fabric softener, spritz the carpet to dampen it, and then brush it or or scrape it with the squeegee to lift and collect the hair. Once it’s out, vacuum as usual to catch any extra strays.

The Laundry

Before the Wash Cycle:

Anyone with long hair—or who lives with someone with long hair—knows that long locks and laundry don’t always play nice together. Strands of hair somehow get woven into fabric, tangled around sleeves and balled up and stuck to all your favorite clothes. It’s a bit of a challenge to prevent, but Reddit user KT_ATX shared some helpful tips in this thread: Use dryer balls, and make it a point to shake out items before you put them in the wash. Also, when you can, stick to smaller loads as opposed to totally filling the washing machine. And if you can stand it, wash your socks separately—since they tend to pick up hair and dust bunnies from the floor, you can prevent that from transferring over to the rest of your clothes. User billbixbyakahulk also commented that you should make sure your lint trap is cleaned out every time you use the dryer.

When Everything’s Already Hairy…

There isn’t really a quick fix for what to do when there’s already hair stubbornly tangled up in all your sweaters—if that happens, you’ll need a lint roller, some patience and maybe some tweezers, but you’ll get through it. It’s also a good idea to keep a lint roller by your door or your mirror for quick hair removal if you notice some shedding after you get dressed—it’ll prevent it from getting stuck in the fibers later on.