Everyday Bath Products That Can Harm Your Plumbing

bath products that harm plumbing

Your home's plumbing system is a marvel of modern engineering, efficiently delivering water and removing waste. However, it's also sensitive to certain everyday products that we might not think twice about using. Over time, these products can cause significant damage to your plumbing, leading to costly repairs. Here are some everyday bath products that can harm your plumbing.

Flushable Wipes

Despite their name, flushable wipes aren't truly flushable – that claim is just marketing. They don't disintegrate in the plumbing system like toilet paper does, or they take so long to do so that they can still cause solid obstructions.

The majority of these wipes are not biodegradable, making them bad for the environment and a menace to your plumbing. They can easily clog pipes and should be disposed of in the trash. If you’re looking for a more sustainable alternative, try picking wipes made from bamboo, or other plant-based materials that are compostable.

Shower Caddies

Many shower caddies are designed to hang off of your showerhead. However, a heavy shower caddy can strain the hardware here, potentially damaging the fixture and even cracking the surrounding tiles.

It's better to opt for a freestanding shower caddy, or choose a shelf that can be installed in the corner with tension rods that run from the floor to the ceiling.

Bar Soap

Traditional bar soap can lead to clogs. It requires water to dissolve into a liquid form, but when that water dries in your pipes, the remaining soap particles regain their solid state. That’s because bar soap is made from fats, which always leave residue wherever they’re used. The problem is further exacerbated by hard water conditions.

Soap buildup may not seem like too much trouble on its own, but it can combine with other debris to form blockages quickly. Liquid soap is a better alternative as it washes down easily. If you still prefer to use bar soap, you’ll need to perform more frequent maintenance to keep your pipes clear. Just be sure to read about drain cleaners, below, before you do!

Bath Bombs

Bath bombs have become a popular addition to bath routines worldwide. They infuse bathwater with fragrances, oils, and fizzy bubbles. However, while the core ingredients like baking soda, citric acid, and corn starch are harmless, some bath bombs contain oils, dyes, and even glitter. These additives, especially when combined with hair and soap scum, can lead to clogs. Glitter and other non-dissolving substances can worsen the clogging problem, and they also contaminate the environment with microplastics and other forms of micro-litter.

If you're a fan of bath bombs, it's advisable to use them sparingly and avoid those with glitter. You can also wrap them in nylon to contain any residue that doesn’t dissolve.

Self-Care Oils, Conditioners, Masks & Scrubs

Who doesn’t like pampering themselves? It’s common to have a grooming regimen that incorporates deeply moisturizing bath oils and hair oils, as well as deep conditioners and masks. But the hydration provided by these products is achieved with fat-based ingredients that can coat the interiors of your pipes with buildup. Scrubs that rely on physical exfoliants like apricot shells or microbeads increase the amount of solid matter that can contribute to clogs.

If you’re not willing to compromise on your beauty routine, just keep in mind that your plumbing’s maintenance needs will be higher than average. You’ll need to clear your drains more frequently to prevent blockages.

Overall, unless there’s a health or safety risk or your home is at risk of sustaining substantial damage, the problem can probably wait until morning. Use this quick-reference table as a guide:

Drain Cleaners

Many of us keep drain cleaner under the bathroom sink, handy for whenever the drains get clogged up by hair and soap scum. While they are certainly effective as a quick fix for a clogged drain, chemical drain cleaners can actually do more harm than good.

These powerful chemical concoctions can easily corrode pipes over time, creating more plumbing issues for you down the road. They are also harmful to the environment, introducing toxic chemicals to our water supply that can cause illnesses in both humans and wildlife.

It’s best to stick to greener methods of drain cleaning. Clogs can be physically removed with a drain snake. They can also be cleared using biological enzyme alternatives, or even plain hot water. A solution of baking soda and vinegar is commonly recommended, but unfortunately, this is actually ineffective: As a base and an acid, the pH levels of the two substances actually neutralize one another, undermining the cleaning power of either. And because plumbing doesn’t offer a closed system wherein the solution can build pressure, you won’t be able to bust clogs that way either. The boiling water rinse that follows this prescribed recipe is actually what’s doing most of the dissolving.

Get help Clearing Your Bathroom Pipes

If you’ve got blocked bathroom pipes that you can’t clear on your own, it’s time to call in the experts. Hamm and Sons has been helping residents throughout Indianapolis address plumbing issues of all kinds. You’re welcome to call our office to schedule a visit from one of our master plumbers. We’ll send someone out ASAP!

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