Clipping my hair tidily?
August 31, 2020 7:28 AM   Subscribe

What tricks do you all have for clipping your own hair without making a huge mess?

I am a middle-age guy with not much hair, so I use a Wahl clipper to buzz my head every few weeks. (#1 on the sides, and #2 on the top to keep what I have to minimize sunburn!)

I stand in the bathroom so I can use the big mirror, and I try to dump the clipper into the wastebasket between sweeps, but there are still tiny bits of hair all over the counter and floor when I am done.

Is there any way to make less of a mess? Like, I could move to the other bathroom and stand in the shower (which I use immediately after the haircut anyway). Or should I just (literally) suck it up, and commit to vacuuming as soon as I am finished?

Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by wenestvedt to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, vacuum. Hair in drains is always to be avoided. At the barber's they sweep it up between clients. There also might be something in their practice of letting everything fall to the floor - I think that sweeping and vacuuming up lots of hair is possibly more effective than only small awkward bits and bobs. It's also easier not to miss bits this way.
posted by lokta at 7:39 AM on August 31, 2020

Can you throw shame and hair to the wind and do your trims outside?
posted by phunniemee at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've done it outside where I can just sweep all the hair off the porch and onto the lawn, on occasions where I lived somewhere with reliable outside power outlets, but other than that, it's just a mess. Vacuum away! (I wouldn't do it in the shower; you're just gonna end up with a bigger drain clog faster.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2020

If my cord were long enough, or if there were a closer outlet, I would do it in the shower. Like you said, it’s the first stop afterwards anyway.

You shouldn’t have to stand over the sink. Even in my bathroom, where the outlet is over the sink, there’s enough cord to step a few steps back. I don’t get anything from the clippers in the sink, just trimmings, which are easier to clean. You could also buy a smaller handheld mirror to do your trimming.

I also take everything off the floor, including bath mats. I just use a broom, not a vacuum, but it makes it quick to clean.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:45 AM on August 31, 2020

You may be a candidate for a flowbee! Then all the hair is automatically vacuumed up as you cut.

I use scissors and hold each lock as I cut it, then I toss each in the trash as I go. This creates only minimal mess but it does require a bit longer hair.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2020

The technique I learned from a colleague in a very remote and largely carpeted research station was to cut a large garbage bag along the seam, kneel on it, and buzz my head in every direction for 10 minutes. Then vigorously dust myself off with my hands while on the plastic, followed by a shower for the tiny bits. (Today, with wood floors, I just stand in the hallway and sweep it all up afterwards.)
posted by eotvos at 7:51 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I put a towel in the sink and clip right onto that, then shake out the towel in the trash when I'm done. There usually isn't much else remaining, which I can usually pick up with a damp shred of tp or paper towel.
posted by General Malaise at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2020

I do mine in front of a cheap door-back mirror in a non-bath-room where I can stand on a full-size sheet, wearing a cheap salon cape I bought online so as little as possible sticks to me. When I'm done I carefully shake and remove the cape and hang it up, step off the sheet and brush my feet off onto it, and then pull the sheet together enough to take it outside to shake into the yard or outdoor trash. If you're in a place where taking it out won't work well, empty your main trash can just before your haircut so you have a clean bag in it, and then you can load your sheet all the way to the bottom and shake carefully into it.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2020

I have clipped my own hair for a couple decades. For these kinds of reasons (and the addition of some scalp psoriasis that means I do it fast and on a “good day” not a convenient one) I have settled on a few things. One of which doesn’t quite make your constraints:
  • I clip it all one length so there’s no transitions
  • I shower before and after. Clean wet hair cuts faster, doesn’t spray all over the place and shampooing gives me one last chance to decide if the my scalp is in good enough shape to do this thing today
  • because I do it all one length (short, usually a 1 all over) I can do the bulk without looking. So in the shower with a cover over the drain. Easy to pickup he bulk so there’s no drain blockage.

posted by mce at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2020

I have no choice but to stand over the mirror in my extremely tiny bathroom, so I place a big tray (probably a serving tray its past life) over the sink to catch everything when I lean over. Then when I'm done I empty the tray into the wastebasket and go over it, plus the floor, with a small hand vacuum.
posted by btfreek at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2020

Best answer: There are at least a couple companies that make disposable sink liners, so you can cover up the sink while you shave/trim, let the hair fall on the liner, then roll it up and throw it away. In my experience as a spectator, there's always some hairs that fall beyond the perimeter of the sink -- and I think vacuuming is probably the best way to handle those.

I think what I'm hearing is that you need a good, small vacuum you can keep handy for cleanup. Wirecutter recommends several. (Although -- as several people have pointed out -- if you can stand farther back from the mirror and let the hair fall on the floor rather than the sink, sweeping the floor is easier than finding every hair that fell behind the faucet or between items on your countertop and vacuuming it up.)
posted by katieinshoes at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been doing it outside (I have an outlet right next to my sliding door and clippers with a fairly long cord), but I'm wary of maintaining that process in the winter.
posted by LionIndex at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have an older version of this vacuuming trimmer and it really reduces how much hair is everywhere. You still have to tidy up afterwards, but it's a huge improvement.
posted by advicepig at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2020

Well, this contraption is a start, but probably only helps with half of your head, as it's made for beard trimming.

Something like this would be perfect, but I don't think it's made to be used by the person wearing it.

I think your better option is to find a larger area that has a smooth floor. Set up a (free-standing?) mirror as needed, and do your trimming in that larger space. Smooth floor makes for an easier clean-up. Maybe the kitchen or a spot in the basement?
posted by hydra77 at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2020

I do this in my shower-room. At the end I scoop up all the hair and throw it in the garbage. The hair mostly clumps together if your hand is wet when you're collecting it. There'll be small bits leftover in random places, like if you were shaving, but they end up going down the drain during my shower and they have never been a contributor to clogs as far as I can tell.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:00 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

My barbershop sweeps all the floor leavings into one of these stationary vacuums. I bought one myself (I hate all the bending and stooping involved with getting things into a dustpan), and really like it.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2020

Response by poster: The grout in there is rough and terrible, so sweeping the floor is an exercise in frustration.

The room is small, but I guess I will have to back up as far as I can, and then vacuum.

I am off to find space for storing our small shop vac in the bathroom (unlikely!), or to find a little Dust-Buster type device.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2020

I used to have a terrible problem with random bits of hair all over the bathroom when I clipped my hair. What finally worked for me is to put a bath towel over the sink and to lay 2-3 towels on the floor under me. I take a shower right after, using a hair strainer over the tub drain, and then roll up the towels, shake them out outside of the house and throw them in the wash.
posted by zombiedance at 4:13 PM on August 31, 2020

I lean over my bathroom sink far enough that my hair falls into it rather than on the floor. Then I take a damp tissue and wipe up the hair from the sink. Minimal hair goes down the drain, no vacuuming required.
posted by beandip at 4:41 PM on August 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've cut my hair in the shower for decades. When the job is done, I scoop up the mess and put it in the garbage, but there's quite a lot of fine hair that is too hard to get. I then take a shower, thus cleaning myself along with the floor & walls of the shower. There is a fine mesh screen that sits in the drain, so that gets emptied into the garbage at the end of the shower. All done!

If a screen like that won't fit into your drain, then the clippings may be more of a problem. Like I'm imagining one of those drain stoppers that pops up out of the drain in a hotel room. I believe there are little screens that can sit on top of the stopper, but maybe some other solution can be improvised?
posted by polecat at 4:49 PM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I cover the floor with newspaper (all the weekly grocery sales and stuff), then wad it up and toss it.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

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