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Solved: 6 Ways to Unclog a Shower Drain

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Clogs in the shower drain can be easily identified when standing water tends to accumulate or if the bathtub takes more time than usual to become empty. Nobody likes the feeling of that ankle-deep soapy water pool when taking a shower. Clogs in the shower drain are nothing alarming and can usually be resolved without advanced tools or a call to the plumber. The important aspect is to assess the severity of the issue and employ the best method to remove the obstruction that causes draining difficulties.

What causes a clog in the shower drain? The typical culprit is a combination of hair and soap scum. Clogs don’t happen overnight as these materials tend to accumulate over time and prevent the water from draining as expected. Unclogging a stand-up or other type of shower drain is a fairly straightforward DIY job so let’s explore some of the best methods to try. It’s time to restore full functionality to your shower to make your mornings more pleasant.

1. Hand Removal

Before you consider more complex unclogging options, it’s recommended to get a good look at the shower drain. You might be able to spot a visible clog that can be accessed by hand. Get yourself equipped with rubber gloves and try to extract it if that’s the case. This method usually works well only for certain types of clogs such as hair clumps.



2. Boiling Water

A pot of boiling water can be very reliable against that gunky buildup clogging the shower drain. This method is as straightforward as it seems. Just prepare a pot of boiling water on the stove and carefully pour it into the shower drain. This trick works well but only on some types of clogs such as those caused by soap scum.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Instead of running to the store for a chemical-based drain cleaner, consider a natural alternative first. The combination of baking soda and vinegar is proven effective to eliminate obstructions in the shower drain. This solution is recommended for light clogs. Simply mix equal parts baking soda with vinegar, usually one cup each. It’s best to add the mixture after trying out boiling water to maximize unclogging effectiveness.



4. Chemical Drain Cleaner

While many people think of bleach as a solution to unclog a shower drain, the truth is that it won’t work properly. It can sanitize the drain but won’t be able to dissolve gunky clumps of hair that form clogs. A better solution is to try a chemical drain cleaner. These conventional products are quite effective as long as you understand the risks involved.


It’s not always recommended to pour harsh chemicals down the drain because of pipe damage concerns. These cleaners can also potentially contaminate the environment. That being said, using a product such as Drano could be an inexpensive and reliable solution to get rid of shower drain clogs. Just follow the usage instructions correctly and it will work smoothly.

5. Plunger

When it comes to handling different kinds of shower drain clogs effectively, one of the best tricks involves the use of a plunger. This tool works wonders for unclogging the toilet or the kitchen sink so it’s not surprising to find it useful for other types of drains. To increase the efficiency of the plunging, it’s recommended to create a reliable seal with an application of petroleum jelly.




There are lots of versatile plungers on the market but some of them work better for the shower drain. Instead of the classic plunger style, you can get better results with a small plunger featuring an accordion design. This model from Luigi’s can be considered a solid example. Despite its small size, the mini plunger is able to clear slow and blocked shower drains in no time. Just a few powerful plungings should be all it takes for most clogs.

6. Plumber’s Snake

If it seems that normal methods still fail to remove the obstruction, perhaps it’s time to reach deeper inside the drain. This is the kind of job that can be accomplished by using a specialized tool that’s commonly referred to as a plumber’s snake. It resembles a portable auger and offers a practical design to control a cable that goes pretty far down the drain. Here’s a well-designed plumber’s snake from Ridgid. Compared to cheaper options, this is a more reliable drain cleaner that promises no-mess performance.

With the help of a hand crank, the plumber’s snake is used to find the hard-to-reach clog and dislodge it. You will feel the cable hitting something so that’s when you know that the blockage has been reached. A series of counterclockwise handle turns should be all that it takes to finally get rid of the stubborn clog. It’s recommended to bring a boiling pot of water afterward to fully clear the shower drain. If the plumber’s snake can’t reach the clog or the blockage refuses to dislodge no matter what you throw at it, then the only option left is to use the services of a professional plumber.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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