Whenever you shower you wonder where all the hair came from, right? Well, it’s no secret where it’s going to—it’s going down your bathroom drain. And that can only lead to a clogged, smelly exit pipe and the need to spend money on drain cleaning unless you find a way to prevent it from getting to that point. Yes, we know this is obvious (or it should be) but the fact is we get called out more for blocked drainpipes than any other emergency plumbing repair.

Here are 4 critical ways to help you prevent those damaging clogs from developing in the first place:

#1: Get a Hair Strainer or Catcher

This should be almost a basic standard in Toronto homes, and newer properties come with fitted catchers that work exceptionally well. Older homes are a little more difficult to fit, however, but with a bit of effort, you can find the right part for your purposes at any Home Depot or other home hardware store.

Measure the diameter of your bath or shower outlet and take care to note the size of both the inner and outer rims. This is especially important if you shower standing in the bath, because your catcher needs to both prevent hair going down the outlet as well as prevent hair from getting in under it, only to swirl down after you remove the device.

#2: Clean it Daily

Allowing hair to build up in the catcher is a recipe for disaster, so clean it every day if possible after your bath or shower. Wait until all the water has left the bath before removing it, and then tap it to dislodge all hair and other debris in the catcher. Rinse or wipe it frequently, too; removing the debris can leave behind a residue from your soap or shampoo, which builds up quickly and reduces the effectiveness of the catcher.

Hint: if the water is taking too long to drain away and you have been using a catcher, check to see that the drainage holes aren’t clogged with traces of soapy matter. These quick and easy methods will help you avoid incurring the costs of professional drain cleaning.

#3: Flush Drains Regularly

It happens in the best of families. Some hair gets down the drain now and then, and over time it builds up until there’s a blockage. Don’t wait for that to happen. Even if you’ve been diligent about preventing hair from going down your drain, flushing it once or twice a month will help keep it clear, remove bacteria and prevent odours from developing.

Pour a cupful of bleach into a bucket and fill it with boiling water. Pour the entire bucket down the shower or bath outlet, taking care not to let any splash onto your skin. If there’s a persistent foul odour or the water bubbles up, pour undiluted bleach into the drain followed by the bucket of boiling water. The heat dislodges most blockages and the bleach kills any bacteria.

#4: Condition the Hair

Going to the root of the problem (pun intended!) it’s probably good to condition your hair, too. Not only will this hopefully reduce the amount of shedding you do, but it will coat the individual hairs with a protective substance that makes them slide through the drainage system more easily. Then, unless you’re having Fido in the shower every week, you shouldn’t need to pay for drain cleaning too often.

Keeping tabs on your drains will cost you less money and inconvenience in the long term than it will have them cleaned, and you’ll be able to avoid using harsh drain chemicals that are bad for your health. So put in the effort, and you’ll find you reap the rewards.