You know the unpleasant feeling. You’re trying to enjoy your shower, but water starts pooling above your ankles. You ignore it this time in hopes that it magically disappears, but every subsequent time you take a shower, the water starts pooling faster and higher.
You’ve got a shower drain clog, and it’s time to do something about it. Thankfully, it’s usually pretty easy to learn how to unclog a shower drain by yourself. Today we’ll walk you through:
- Four safe and easy unclogging methods
- Tips to prevent future clogs
- Unclogging methods you should avoid
The Case Against Chemical Drain Cleaners
Many people immediately resort to purchasing and using a chemical drain cleaner like Drano. While it’s okay to use these chemical cleaners every once in a great while, it’s important to keep in mind that overusing them can weaken PVC pipes and corrode older metal plumbing.
Plus, chemical cleaners can only clear clogs caused by hair or soap scum. They can’t help if an object is causing the blockage or if there’s significant mineral buildup. That’s why we recommend trying one of the four DIY methods we’ve laid out below before trying a chemical cleaner.
4 At-Home Methods to Clear a Clogged Shower Drain
With the exception of a drain snake, you should be able to try the following unclogging methods with items you have at home. Or, you can make a quick run to the grocery store. We recommend trying these four methods in the order they’re written out below.
Method 1: Remove Surface Clogs by Hand 🖐️
There’s a chance your shower drain is clogged with hair that’s gathered toward the surface. While perhaps unpleasant, you can try to remove a physical clog with your hands first.
Wait an hour after using the shower— it’s easier to remove a clog in a dry pipe. If there’s a drain cover over your shower drain, unscrew it using a screwdriver. Be extra careful with the screws to make sure they don’t fall down the drain! Other drain stoppers can simply lift out by hand.
Put on rubber gloves and pull out any clumps of hair sitting near the surface. Throw away the hair, wash your hands, and try to remove that image from your mind. This method should help significantly, even if it doesn’t fully remove the clog. In that case, you can combine this method with another one below.
Method 2: Boiling Water 🫖
Hot water can help break up the minerals and products blocking your drain. Only use the boiling water method if you have metal pipes in your home— don’t do this if you have PVC pipes, as it could cause the joints to loosen.
- Fill a tea kettle or pot with water and bring it to a boil on your stove. You may need multiple kettles or pots for major clogs.
- Slowly pour the water into the drain little by little. Let each pour work its way down the drain before pouring more water.
- Wait 10-15 minutes to see if the drain has cleared. If not, move on to using baking soda and vinegar.
Method 3: Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar solutions actually work best when paired with the boiling water trick, so be sure to try that method first (if you have metal pipes). You can make a bubbling solution out of baking soda and vinegar to help break up clogs caused by hair and grime.
- Mix equal parts baking soda with vinegar. (1/3 cup of each is a good starting point.)
- It’ll start to fizz immediately. Pour the solution down the drain right when it starts to fizz.
- Let the mixture sit in the drain for an hour before running the faucet to help push the solution through the pipes.
Hopefully, this has cleared your clog. If not, move on to method #4.
Method 4: Drain Snake 🐍
You may need to get a little more invasive in your drain to clear the clog. You can purchase a hand snake at your local home improvement or hardware store. This can also be called a plumber’s snake, cable auger, or hand auger.
Hand snakes have a long cable attached to a hand crank. You can find them in different lengths— longer lengths are better for shower drains.
- With the drain cover removed, feed the snake into the drain. Push the wire forward by turning the hand crank counterclockwise.
- When you feel resistance, you’ve reached the clog. Push a little harder until the cable can’t go forward anymore.
- Crank the handle clockwise to pull the snake out. The cable should bring out the clog with it. Remove the clog from the end of the wire with your hands once the cable is out of the drain.
How to Prevent Shower Clogs
If you keep finding yourself attempting to remove shower clogs every few weeks or months, follow these tips to limit them from occurring:
- Purchase a hair catcher to fit over the drain.
- Install a filter on your shower head to minimize mineral buildup in water.
- Be careful not to send clumps of hair product, soap, or body wash down the drain.
- Hire a plumber to snake the drain for good, then limit the amount of hair that goes down the drain.
Can’t Beat the Clog? Call Paladin!
Usually, these at-home methods should clear a clogged drain. But if there’s a substantial clog, you’ll likely need to call in a professional plumber like Paladin Plumbing to fix the issue.
Our team is happy to help with plumbing problems large and small. Simply reach out to our friendly team, and we’ll provide a free estimate!