clogged shower drain

8 Best Methods to Clear a Clogged Shower Drain

October 13 2020

Few things are worse than enjoying your shower and then realizing that your drain is clogged and you’re standing in ankle-deep water. If you’ve experienced a clogged shower drain, you know what we’re talking about. A clogged shower drain can be annoying. Besides giving you an icky feeling while showering, over time it can send out an unpleasant odor and bring drain flies

A clogged shower drain is usually the result of hair, soap scum, and other things from washing, and is one of the most common plumbing problems. If it’s just a small block, first try using a bleach type product. If that doesn’t work, then here are 8 DIY methods for clearing a clogged shower drain:

1) Boil Water

Boiling water might not work by itself, but it may break up the clog and combined with one of the other methods, could be effective. After boiling water on the stove, pour it down your drain to break up hair, grease or soap scum that is clogging the drain. Use a funnel so you don’t burn yourself with the boiling water. 

2) Use a Drain Snake in a Clogged Shower Drain

A drain snake (among other tools) is easily available in homeware stores. They are specifically designed to deal with a clogged shower drain.

Make sure the drain snake you choose is large enough for your drain. Measure the width of your shower drain. A drain snake that’s too small can kink or get knotted up inside your shower drain, making it more difficult to remove the snake later.

Also, a power snake with a 1/4″ cable is easier to use than a crank snake.

Regardless of which drain snake you use, here’s how to use it to clear a clogged shower drain:

  1. Remove the shower drain grate. Remove loose hairs from it.
  2. Insert the snake into the drain and push it down. Start slow until you make it past the trap. First go about 10 feet then pull the snake back.
  3. Turn on the water and test the drain. If it’s still clogged up, run the snake further down. Keep the drain stopped up so you’ll know when the drain clears and is fixed.
  4. After the clogged shower drain is unclogged, flush the drain with vinegar and baking soda.

3) Use a Plunger

Plungers aren’t just for toilets! To use a plunger to remove a clog, take the drain cover off and cover the drain with the plunger. If you can’t get a good seal, use some petroleum jelly around the edge of the plunger. Then, fill the shower with enough water to just cover the top of the plunger and then plunge just as you would a toilet. 

After you have plunged several times, run the water to see if the clog is gone. Repeat as many times as necessary to get rid of the clog. 

4) Homemade Cleaning Solution Method

person standing in shower

This method requires baking soda + distilled white vinegar + boiling water + an old rag.

For maximum efficiency, follow this method when the shower won’t be needed for at least a few hours.

  1. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain.
  2. Right after that pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar down the drain.
  3. Plug up the drain with the rag. The baking soda and vinegar will create a fizzling reaction that will push away the blockage.
  4. Leave it for a minimum of 20 minutes; a few hours is better.
  5. Boil a pan of water and pour it down the drain all at once.
  6. Repeat the steps if necessary

5) Use Your Hand

As gross as it may sound, sometimes you can just use your hand to pull the clog out if it is near the surface. Take off the drain cover. Make sure you put on rubber gloves and then stick

6) Use a Shop VAC

A wet/dry shop vac (NOT a regular vacuum!) can be used to suck out the clog. Make sure it is set to wet and then put the hose over the drain before you turn it on. Once the hose is in place, turn on the vacuum and try to suck it out. The suction power may be able to pull it close to the surface so you can remove it by hand. 

Use a flashlight and if you can see the clog, and it’s reachable, grab it and pull. If it is just out of reach, a wire coat hanger that is straightened out with a small hook left at the end might be able to make up the distance so you can grab it. 

7) Commercial Cleaner Method

You can use a commercial product to more easily clear the drain blockage, but be sure to wear gloves, ventilate the room, and follow all the directions on the label.

Caution: be sure not to splash yourself with any of the liquids; this warning also applies to method 2.

8) Call a Plumber

Sometimes you have to recognize your limitations and call in the pros. If the clog is really bad, if there is sewage backing up, or if it’s the case of tree roots growing into your pipes, you’ll need to call a plumber. Before you go this route, give the DIY options a try, but know when you should throw in the towel and get a professional out. 

Clogged Shower Drain Maintenance

A clogged shower drain is a drag, but if you have the right tools, you might be able to unclog it yourself. Use our tips to give it a try. For all of the plumbing tools you need to do the job, check out our warehouse for anything you need to enjoy your shower again. We have locations in East Hanover, Chatham, and Randolph. As always, contact us for more information on commercial plumbing supplies or home fixtures.