The Bathroom Routine: How Health & Beauty Products Affect the Home
A large percentage of Americans have some form of morning or nighttime regimen to prepare them for the day ahead. Some may even have both. In these daily routines, a whole host of products are often used by both men and women. From cleansers and toothpaste to cosmetics and gels, most would not consider these hazardous to the home.
Yet many everyday health and beauty aids can actually cause problems in the drains and pipes of a home. Even everyday maintenance that doesn't include any these items can clog up the plumbing in a home. While it is important to make sure avoid damage when possible, it doesn't require dumping the routine. Knowing how certain products affect the pipes and drains can offer step to minimize their damage. Here are just a few examples to look out for.
Coffee scrubs are a popular topic for beauty magazines and websites. They are even sold for upwards of $50 a jar, though there are several recipes found around the internet for someone to make it on their own. The caffeine is said to stimulate and tighten the skin and reduce cellulite while the exfoliating properties of the scrub clear away dead skin. However, according to Jim Steine, the president of Atomic Plumbing in Virginia, "Coffee scrubs are one of the worst things you can put down your drain. Even if you use a finely-ground coffee scrub just once a week, it will eventually mix with the oils in your pipes and coagulate."
And these clogs cannot be solved with even the strongest chemicals, as they can't break down the grounds. If a blockage does occur, a plumber will need to be called. However, those dedicated to the process can seal off the drain and scoop out the grounds once their finished. Even a bucket outside of the shower has been suggested as a potential solution.
Similarly, the trend of moisturizing in the shower has been on the rise, promoted by beauty groups and companies, and with it accelerated drain clogs have followed. Moisturizers and emollients are oily and aren't designed to break down like other products. Instead, they build up on existing soap scum and grow over time into a greasy blockage that is nearly impenetrable.
Much like the body scrub, it's best to wait until after the shower when using lotion. Any excess that might occur should avoid the drains as well.
Beard & Leg Trimmings
Hair has always been a problem with sinks and drains. In general, brushing over the sink is not recommended. Hair catchers for the sink and shower are always a good preventative measure as well and the hair caught there or cleaned out brush should always be throw away, not tossed in the toilet. One of the most underestimated problems with hair and plumbing, however, is the byproduct of shaving.
Both beard and leg trimmings have the potential to cause clogs. Shorter, less-coarse hair is not likely to cause a blockage. On the other hand, thick hair or hair only shaved or maintained on occasion, resulting in longer trimmings, are at significant risk for a clogged drain.
The easiest solution to avoid damage is to collect the trimmings. There are a wide variety of tricks used for this, especially when working over the sink, including paper towels, grocery bags or a dedicated cloth towel. Products specifically designed to catch hair are even available for purchase. It has also been suggested that if the sink is kept dry, the remnants can be cleaned up with a small hand vacuum.
Disposable Beauty Tools
There are a lot of tools that are used in applying make up, including disposable items like cotton balls, q-tips and sponge wedges. Most people know to use a trash can, but often don't worry about an occasional piece lost down the drain or toilet. Yet they can have very negative results, sometimes almost instantly.
When something like a q-tip falls down a drain, it can get caught on its own or on build up in the pipes. From there, other items that more commonly slip down the drain can snag and collect on it as well, especially things like hair which can tangle around it. Depending on how it becomes lodged, it may be impossible to completely clear without assistance from a plumber.
It is also worth noting that any kind of wipes - advertised as flushable or not - cannot go down any drains or pipes. Toilet paper is specifically designed to break down in water where things like cleaning cloths or alcohol pads are made of more sturdy material. It is important to ensure that these make it into the trash.