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8 Easy Ways to Unclog a Shower Drain

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Last Updated: 21 May 2021

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ARCHIE ADAMS

ARCHIE ADAMS

Editor-in-Chief of the Home Maker Guide

We’re sure that at some point, you’re going to ask yourself how to unclog a shower drain. It’s an issue that has plagued homeowners since the invention of indoor plumbing. Dirt, mineral build-up, hair, and soap scum will accumulate in shower drains. You have to deal with that icky mess before your bathroom gets flooded.

All it takes is some panache, a little elbow grease, and a couple of household items to do the job. In this article, we’re going to cover 8 methods on how to deal with a clogged shower drain. If you find yourself standing in a deep puddle of water whenever you’re showering, there’s guck in your drain that you have to get rid of.

If you don’t take action immediately, it’s going to get worse over time. But you don’t have to call the pros right this second. Consider the suggestions below because one of them is bound to work for you. If you’re interested in what to use to unclog shower drain, check out our pick for the best shower cleaner. Now, let’s face this problem and get unclogging!

8 Best Ways of Unclogging Shower Drain

Most of these methods are gross, but you’re going to have to buck up. It beats paying for a professional to do it. Besides, it shouldn’t take you very long.

1. Unclog Shower Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Before your little drainage problem turns into a full-fledged clog, try out this simple technique. All you need is half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar. It’s like the classic middle school science fair project. Here’s what you do:

Unclog Shower Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar
  • Pour half a cup of baking soda down your shower drain.
  • Follow that with half a cup of vinegar.
  • Let that combo bubble and foam up down there for half an hour.
  • Flush the drain with hot water. If you’re sure you have metal pipes in your plumbing, you can pour boiling water down drain. That, however, is not a good idea if you’ve got PVC pipes.
  • If water from your shower is still draining slowly, repeat the process.

2. Use Your Plunger

Plungers are not only good for unclogging toilets and sinks, but they’re also a pretty effective shower drain unclogger too. There isn’t a specific plunger shower drain, so your regular one will do. To start plunging shower drain, just put the suction cup over the drain. If your last shower created a puddle, the bell should be submerged.

Press down, give it a second, and pull up. Mucky water will start to surface so be prepared to scrape it away with a dustpan or rag. You’re going to have to do this a couple of times. It’ll take some muscle, but it’s reasonably easy to do. Plus, it’s likely that you’ve already got a plunger in your bathroom anyway.

If you’re dealing with a really clogged drain, you might want to increase the suction power of your plunger. To do so, grab a tub of petroleum jelly and line the rim of the cup to create a tighter seal. This creates more pressure inside the bell, so it should be able to suck out the gunk more effectively.

3. Use a Plumber’s Snake

If plunging didn’t get you anywhere, you’re going to have to head on over to the hardware store to get a plumbers’ snake. It’s also called a cable auger if you’re having trouble finding it. It costs around 20 bucks, maybe a bit more if you need a long one. Have one handy? Good, now grab a screwdriver. Here’s what you do:

  • Take off the metal plate (shower grate) that’s covering the drain. It’s usually held in place by a couple of screws. They should be easy to loosen with a screwdriver.
  • Once you’ve lifted up the grate, clean it off. Chances are, there’s going to be hair or soap under there.
  • Use a Plumber’s Snake
  • Push the plumber’s snake down the drain until you feel resistance.
  • Tighten the cable clamp to keep the snake in place.
  • Spin the snake by rotating the handle. You should feel that it’s pushing even deeper. Do your best not to force it down because it might retract.
  • Start loosening the handle to extend the snake farther. People rarely have to push in more than a few feet. Blockages don’t usually form too deep into the drain line.
  • When you’re sure that you’ve hit the blockage, rotate the cable to break it up.
  • Test out your drain by running a slow flow of water for a couple of seconds.
  • When everything seems to be in order again, extract the snake by spinning the handle in the opposite direction. When you’ve taken the snake out, you’ll see most of the debris at the end of the cable.
  • Pour hot water down the drain to clear it out even more. Again, use boiling water if you know you have metal pipes.
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4. Use a Wire Hanger

One of the simplest ways to unclog shower drain naturally is to use a regular wire hanger. Not all of us have the time to get specialized equipment. You can finally make use of those random wire hangers you have lying around.

Use a Wire Hanger

Take a deep breath, put some rubber gloves on, and pull your sleeves up. Have a screwdriver and one wire hanger ready. Here’s what you do:

  • Straighten out the curve of the wire hanger, leaving a tiny hook at the end of it.
  • Take off the metal plate (shower grate) that’s covering the drain. It’s usually held in place by a couple of screws. They should be easy to loosen with a screwdriver.
  • Fish out the debris inside the drain with the tiny hooks that you created.
  • When you can’t pull out anything anymore, pour hot water down the drain to flush it out.
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5. Use Zip Ties

If you can’t run to the hardware store to get a plumbers’ snake, you might have zip ties lying around. You can use those to fix the clogged shower drain. You need to make notches in the zip tie cable to make “teeth.” This is the part that you’ll be using to fish out the debris from your drain.

If you’ve got a clog that’s deeper down in the line, you can connect several zip ties together until you reach it. Remember to have a waste bin nearby so you can chuck out the goop that you pull out of the drain. If you’re squeamish, take extra care not to get any of that stuff on you.

6. Use an Electric Power Auger

We think the best way to unclog shower drain is with an electric power auger. Not everyone needs this power tool in their garage. But if a clogged drain is something that you have to deal with regularly, it should have one.

If you don’t have to deal with this often, but you have a particularly nasty clog you can rent one for less than $30 a day. That sounds like a lot, but it costs way less than hiring a plumber.

This machine is essentially a motor-powered drain snake. It can unclog an obstruction in your drain. It’s even powerful enough to break apart tangled roots. If this still doesn’t work, then you might have a different problem on your hands altogether.

7. Use Drain Cleaning Chemicals

Use Drain Cleaning Chemicals

If you don’t feel like exerting a lot of effort, you can always resort to using a chemical cleaner with reusable enzymes. They take a tad longer to take effect, but you won’t have to use any muscles. We advise that you use enzyme cleaners instead of those industrial-strength chemical concoctions. Why?

Strong chemicals can damage your pipes, especially if you use them often. Enzyme cleaners, on the other hand, soften and break down pipe debris with enzymes and bacteria. When you use a drain clog remover like this, you typically have to wait a couple of hours before using the shower again.

We only recommend this method for minor clogs. Enzyme cleaners don’t get the best rep, but they work if you let them. If you choose this method, follow the precautions below:

  • Read the directions on the packaging and make sure you don’t use more than what’s necessary.
  • Wear pollution or medical mask to protect yourself from possible fumes.
  • Don’t mix products. They might cause an unwanted chemical reaction.
  • Limit your usage of chemical cleaners because they can damage the lining of your pipes.
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8. Leave It to the Pros

So you’ve tried to remove hair from shower drain manually, used the best drain cleaner, and still no results. It probably time to throw in the towel and call a professional to handle it. Tinkering with your plumbing too much is a bad idea.

You need a license and the required skills for more serious issues. It’s good to know when to quit because it could save you more money in the long run. Don’t think of it as a failure. At least you’ll get your peace of mind, knowing that a person with years of experience under his belt is dealing with your problem.

Causes of clogged drains

When we clean ourselves off in the shower, we remove a lot of things from our bodies. This debris, which usually consists of knotted hair, dead skin, grease, soap residue, and hardened minerals, may clog the drain. Sometimes, they get big enough to obstruct the drainage, causing your shower floor to clog.

If you experience a lot of hair fall, this can happen a lot. Long stray hairs get tangled up and these are very likely to get your shower drain clogged. They can be particularly difficult to remove, especially if you’ve got a u-shaped pipe. To deal with this problem, you can try the methods above or get a drain hair remover.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs

How to Prevent Drain Clogs

Unclogging a shower drain is never pleasant. Although however stomach-churning it could be, it has to be done. Otherwise, you run the risk of making an even bigger blockage in your pipes.

To try to keep this from happening in the first place, consider getting a drain protector. Aside from the grate that typically comes preinstalled, get another layer of protection. You need all the help you can get when it comes to catching hair and other things as you shower.

If you have a shower-tub combo, consider getting the best bathtub cleaner to break down dirt before they accumulate. If you don’t have a designated soap dish, get one. Soap sliding around on the shower floor could leave slippery streaks that could get mixed up with loose hair.

Every once in a while, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. This won’t damage your pipes, so you can do this weekly. It doubles as a deodorizer too. After you let the baking soda sit there for about 10 minutes, follow it with hot water.

All these are great ways to prevent mainline blockages, which may be a much bigger and more expensive project. Prevention is always better than cure. Make sure you practice proper habits in the shower to minimize the cleanup.

What to Do When Black Stuff is Coming out of the Drain

Call a plumber ASAP. That’s your drainage system backing up and that black stuff is raw sewerage. You can probably tell from the foul smell. This is a major health hazard that you’re not qualified to handle yourself. Get professionals to handle it immediately.

Conclusion

Now you know that there are many choices on how to clean a shower drain. No one’s happy to do it, but it’s necessary to address clogs right away. We hope this article helped you to unclog a shower drain.

Do you have any methods that we might have missed? Share them below, so others can try them out. To find out about the latest gadgets intended for home use, check out homemakerguide.

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