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How Do I Unclog a Shower Drain?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Learn How to Unclog Your Shower Drain at Home

It’s annoying to step into the shower and then find out the shower drain is clogged. It’s even more vexing if you have to deal with pooling water and a bad smell coming all over the bathroom. If you’re dealing with this, the quickest solution would be to call for professional help. But many people are probably also wondering, “how do you unclog a shower drain on your own?”

If you can’t call a plumber right now, don’t worry. There are DIY hacks for unclogging shower drains that you can try in the meantime. With that said, read on to learn about the tips to unclog shower drains and even prevent drains from clogging in the first place.

Clogged Shower Drain How To Fix

How to Unclog a Bathroom Shower Drain Tips

Use Your Hands

You can always use your hands to remove whatever is blocking the drain. First, let the water drain slowly, as much as it can. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from wet dirt, hair, and the ugly smell coming from the drain. Follow it by removing the drain grille using a screwdriver. Once it’s removed, reach out and pull out the clog.

Boiling Water

How to unclog shower drains full of grease and soap scum?  One of the efficient DIY methods is boiling water. However, we don’t recommend this if your pipes are made of PVC and if they are completely clogged. If the pipes are metal and only partially clogged, then you can try pouring boiling water down the drain to clear it up.

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

You might recognize baking soda and white vinegar, which are two of the most popular ingredients in the kitchen that can help with cleaning. These same ingredients can also help unclog shower drains.

You can use both or either of the two, pouring a cup of either one or mixing them before pouring them down the drain. Wait for 30 to 60 minutes then pour hot water. Repeat the process as much as you need to.

Bathroom Shower drainage clog issues can be annoying but there are lots of DIY solutions to try. Various tools and liquids can help break up and loosen the source of the clog and help you push or pull it out to open the drain flow.


Besides the natural and environmentally-safe methods above, you can also unclog a shower drain using chemicals. If you go to a supermarket, you can find a range of chemicals specially designed for removing clogs from drains.

If you use this method, make sure that you are extra careful. You should definitely follow the instructions down to a tee to protect yourself. Be careful about accidentally mixing different chemicals that shouldn’t be mixed, which might turn into poisonous gasses.

Also, always wear your gloves. Before doing anything, first find out the right amount of chemicals to use. Ensure that you use just enough to avoid repeating the procedure and exposing yourself more to dangerous liquids or fumes.

Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme cleaners or biological cleaners are among the most effective methods to unclog a shower drain. The problem, however, is it needs time to work. You will have to wait for some time before you see the results.

The good thing about it, though, is it is eco-friendly. There’s also no need to do dirty work – you only have to wait. The idea for this method is for the enzymes and harmless bacteria to break down the clog and clear the pipes.

One thing to keep in mind is not using enzymes and bleach at the same time. Bleach destroys biological cleaners like enzymes, which makes them less effective. If you decide to go with this method, you will have to avoid using the shower for a few hours.

Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is a hazardous compound that can burn the skin so this is a more dangerous method that you’d have to be extra careful with, or avoid entirely if you’re not sure you can do it safely. As such, you can only handle this substance while using rubber gloves and glasses to protect your hands and eyes. Never ever touch it with your bare hands.

Although quite dangerous, sodium hydroxide or caustic soda works well on unclogging drains. To use it, add three cups of the compound to a 2.8 liter or 0.75 gallons of cold water. Stir the mixture with a spoon and wait until it heats up.

When the mixture finally heats up, pour it down the drain. Let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes then follow up with hot water. It might not work out right the first time you do it. In that case, you will have to repeat the procedure a few times.

Drain Snake

Drain snakes are some of the simplest and cheapest mechanical tools you can use to fix a clogged shower drain. There are a wide variety of them available, from fully manual to semi-automatic and even ones that attach to your home power tools.

Shower Drain Clog Fix Snake Auger Tool
Consider unique tools like the Drain Shroom snake that connects to a household power drill.

Drain snakes come in different lengths, so pick one suitable to your needs. Typically, a cable about the length of 25 to 100 feet is enough for home use. Before using it, remember to remove the drain grille first.

If you’re done removing the grille, push the snake down the shower drain. Work it by turning the hand crank in a counterclockwise direction and then pushing it forward. After a while, you will feel some resistance, which means you have reached the clog.

The cable should latch onto the dirt and hair blocking the drain. Once it does, go ahead and turn the crank in the opposite direction – clockwise. Next is to bring the cable back by pulling it, which should pull the clogs as well. Finish it off by pouring down hot water.

Wire Hanger

This doesn’t seem like it would work, but a wire hanger does the trick quite well. You will have to unwind your hanger first, straightening it while making the other end into a small hook shape.

The principle of using a wire hanger is similar to when you use a drain snake. You push the wire inside the drain to hook the hair and dirt and then pull them out. Often, it doesn’t get the entire clog at once, so you might need to do it several times.

When the mixture finally heats up, pour it down the drain. Let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes then follow up with hot water. It might not work out right the first time you do it. In that case, you will have to repeat the procedure a few times.

Get Professional Drain Clearing Help

The methods above are highly effective and tested DIY tricks to unclog a shower drain. They usually work for simple clog issues, like hair and dirt as we mentioned. But if they didn’t work for you, or you have more stubborn or complicated drain clog issues, then don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber using the phone number or form on this page.

Shower Drain Clog FAQs

What Are the Reasons Shower Drains Clog?

There are several reasons why a shower drain clogs, such are grease or oils, hair, dirt, and soap. It can also be due to cat litter, plants or leaves, and accidentally flushed diapers and feminine hygiene products. If the reason behind the clog isn’t any of the mentioned items, the likely cause is mineral buildup.

Should You Schedule a Drain Cleaning?

Yes. It’s essential to have your shower drain cleaned regularly. But the frequency depends on where you are, the type of water you use, and how much the drains are used. Either way, it is best to get your shower drain cleaned even before the clog happens to avoid it in the first place.

How Can You Tell You have a Clogged Shower Drain?

Common signs of a clogged shower drain include the toilet not flushing, a nasty smell, plumbing gurgles, slow draining, and unexplained water puddles. If you notice any of these signs in your bathroom, it’s best to call for a professional plumber to check and fix the shower drain if it’s really clogged.

How Can You Keep Shower Drains from Clogging Frequently?

Using a mesh screen is one way to prevent soap residue and hair from going down the shower drain. Just be sure to clean the cover at least once a week to prevent buildup, which defeats the purpose of putting the mesh screen. It also helps to use products that aren’t too oily, or at least wipe them away before taking a shower.

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