How to Unclog a Shower Drain

Shower Drain Clogs are one of the most common and recurring drain clogs in any household. Shower Drain Clogs occur due to the accumulation of things like body hair, soap scum, and sometimes other objects like pieces of plastic that end up in the drain while we take showers and clean ourselves. Clogs in Shower Drains are fairly common across residential buildings with years of use. While shower drain clogs are fairly common, it is also usually straightforward to remove them and most homeowners can fix this issue with some simple home methods, DIY tools, or drain cleaners. 

The first step to unclogging a drain is identifying the nature of the clog. In the case of Shower Drain Clogs, it’s important to find the cause of the clog by removing the drain cover and checking whether there is any visible debris that’s obstructing the flow of water. If there is an accumulation of hair or other gunk underneath the shower drain cover, simply pulling out that debris can unclog the drain. Sometimes, a wire coat hanger, a pair of tweezers, or a stick can be used to fish out the debris that causes clogs in shower drains. Sometimes using a single technique to unclog shower drains might not work and you’ll need to come up with other creative solutions that will do the job for you. 

Ways to Unclog Shower Drains

Unclogging a shower drain can be a relatively simple task as there are many ways you can do this by yourself at home. Many people face problems with clogged shower drains, especially if the drains are not checked and cleaned from time to time. However, if you do face a clog in the drain while taking a shower, you should be ready to get your hands dirty and fix the issue yourself. Here we have some easy methods that will guide you step-by-step in fixing your shower drain clogs and get instant results: 

  1. Manual Removal of Clog 
  2. Use of Boiling Water 
  3. Use of Plunger
  4. Use of Vinegar and Baking Soda
  5. Use of Plumbing Snake
  6. Use of Chemical Drain Cleaner

Manual Removal of Clog

How to Unclog a Shower Drain

Manual removal of clogs is a very simple and first step to unclogging your shower drain. Removing visual debris from the drain is simple but can be messy so you should be ready to get your hands dirty. Here’s how you can manually remove shower drain clogs: 

  1. Open the drain cover carefully without damaging the seal around it (you will need to replace this later)
  2. Insert your hand, or the tool of your choice into the drain hole (while wearing gloves) and fish for any debris or foreign objects that might be clogging the drain. 
  3. Use tweezers, pliers, or your hands to pull out a bundle of hair, soap scum, and everything else that you can catch to restore the flow of water. 
  4. Flush with cold water to ensure the drain is unclogged.
  5. Put the drain cover back to avoid further debris from getting in.

Manual removal of clogs is not always effective as it can only help you remove obstructions and debris that are visible right on the top of the drain. If the root of the problem is somewhere down the drain pipe, you’ll need to look at other options listed below.

Use of Boiling Water

Boiling water is one easy-to-use and effective method of dealing with shower drain clogs. Hot water is effective in breaking down fats and soap scum that might be blocking the flow of water in your shower drains. Use of Boiling Water should be done with some precaution as it can cause some damage to your plumbing if it’s made of PVC piping. On top of that, Boiling Water can also cause burns and injuries to your skin if you aren’t careful while handling it. Here’s how you use boiling water to unclog shower drains: 

  1. Boil a pot of water to 212 °F on the stove and bring it to the drain causing the problem. 
  2. Open the drain cover and remove any visible debris (if possible) that you can see to clear out the way for water to pass. 
  3. Pour the water slowly into the drain making sure it’s passing along. You should give this some time (preferably 1 cup every 5 minutes) because sometimes with severe clogs, water might pool or even flow back
  4. Repeat the process if you see any progress to ensure the entire clog is broken down and cleared from the drain.

Boiling water is effective in dealing with minor soft clogs and blockages and can be used to fight clogs that are only beginning to develop. For more severe issues, you need to look at other tools and methods that are more promising.

Use of Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and Baking Soda are some of the most commonly available kitchen ingredients that are useful in getting rid of clogs in kitchen sink drains and shower drains. These natural ingredients react together when they’re mixed with water and form gas that clears away debris causing clogs in household drains. While they are easy to use, Baking Soda and Vinegar are also safe for the environment and safe to handle as well, unlike other harsh chemicals and unclog drain naturally. Here’s how you use these magic ingredients to get rid of the clog in your shower drain:

  1. Open the drain cover and fish out any visible debris and water to create a dry space. 
  2. Mix baking soda and vinegar at a ratio of 1:1 (preferably ½ cup each). 
  3. Slowly pour the mix into the clogged drain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes so they can react. 
  4. Pour 1 cup cold or hot water to allow the soda and vinegar to generate heat and break down the scum and other debris in the drain.
  5. Flush with cold water and check if the clog is cleared. 

While Baking Soda and Vinegar work to remove minor to moderate clogs, the reaction produced by these kitchen ingredients is not very strong and might not give results against severe clogs.

Use of Plumbing Plunger

Plungers are one of the key components of troubleshooting drains and plumbing issues. Using a plunger is fairly simple and effective as it provides instant results in fixing toilet and shower drain clogs. Plumbing Plungers work on a very simple principle of Physics as they create a seal around the drain and increase and decrease water pressure with each plunge which helps to dislodge the clog from its source. Plungers are fairly easy to use and last a long time if taken care of properly. We have broken down the steps to use a sink plunger to unclog shower drains here: 

  1. Select the appropriate type of plunger for your shower drain. 
  2. Remove the drain cover and fish out any visible debris clearing the way for the plunger to work. 
  3. Slowly insert the plunger into the pool of water in the drain. (the cup of the plunger must be submerged in the water for it to work)
  4. Give the plunger a push and then a pull, slowly and steadily. Repeat the process 10-15 times in a minute. (you should start hearing a gurgling sound, which means it is working) 
  5. Plunge vigorously for 1-2 minutes before removing the plunger.
  6. Flush with cold water to ensure the materials causing the clog are taken away from the drain. 

Selecting the proper size and type of plunger is important to make sure you get rid of clogs in your shower drain. A plunger must fit properly in the drain hole, creating a water seal for it to work.

Use of Drain Snake or Auger

Drain Snakes and Auger are one of the most effective tools in clearing clogged drains. Drain Snakes, also known as Plumber’s Snakes are efficient plumbing tools that are inserted into the clogged drain to pull out the gunk that’s causing the clog. Auger is another important and highly efficient plumbing tool that can break down and dislodge clogs to restore the flow of water in your shower drain and other drain pipes. Using a drain snake/auger can be rather be challenging and requires an understanding of how the drain works, here’s how you use these common drain-clearing tools for a quick and easy fix: 

  1. Open the drain cover and remove visible debris so your snake/auger can go in without difficulty. 
  2. Slowly insert the drain snake/auger into the drain and extend it steadily until you feel a blockage in the pipes. 
  3. Once you make contact with the blockage, twist the snake’s tail to pull out any debris, hair, and scum that’s causing the obstruction
  4. Flush with cold water to check if the clog has cleared. 

It can sometimes be tricky to operate these tools if you don’t have a proper understanding of the drainage system so some background study is required. Also, using the wrong-sized auger/snake can damage your pipes so make sure you select the proper tool for your building’s plumbing fittings. 

Use of Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical Drain Cleaners are easy-to-use solutions to unclog most drains. Chemical cleaners come in various compositions and are widely available in the market for residential and commercial use. Common types of Chemical Drain Cleaners include Acidic Drain Cleaners, Alkaline Drain Cleaners, and Oxidizing Drain Cleaners, which all work in different ways based on the type of drain and the severity of the clog. Make sure to figure out the cause of the clog (the material that’s accumulated in the drain pipes) to pick the most suitable drain-cleaning solution to dislodge it. Here are some easy steps to use commercially available chemical drain cleaners: 

  1. Start off by removing the drain cover and clearing any standing water and visible debris. 
  2. Slowly pour the chemical drain cleaner into the shower drain at about 2-3 tablespoons at a time (or according to the instructions on the back). 
  3. Let the chemical cleaner sit in the drain for about 30 minutes to allow it to react with the soap scum, grease, and hair that’s causing an obstruction.
  4. Pour cold water on top to force the broken-down gunk through the drain to restore the flow of water in the shower drain. 

Chemical drain cleaners can be corrosive to both your plumbing and your body if not handled properly. Make sure to follow proper safety instructions mentioned on the label of the product to ensure proper results. 

Preventive Measures

Various preventive measures can be adopted by homeowners to prevent their shower drains from clogging in the future. If implemented periodically, these preventive measures will ensure the longevity of your drains and pipes and will save you the trouble of having to unclog them every once in a while. We have listed some common practices that you can carry out regularly that will help your pipes and drains remain unclogged. Here’s what you can do to avoid future clogs in your shower drains: 

  1. Avoid flushing inappropriate objects down the drain: A shower drain is supposed to handle only soap and water, and only human waste and tissue paper should be flushed down the toilets. 
  2. Use a strainer to prevent foreign objects from entering the drain: Strainers are mostly used in kitchens but can also be used to increase the lifespan of shower drains and bathtub drains. 
  3. Occasional hot water flush: Flushing hot water is a good way to prevent accumulation of scum, hair, and food debris in drains. This helps in washing away unwanted things before they accumulate and cause problems. 
  4. Periodic Maintenance and Inspection: Sink drains, bathroom drains, and shower drains must be timely maintained and should be inspected. A small plumber fee to get your pipes inspected can go a long way in saving you a lot of money in the future if there’s a problem with drain clogging. 

Calling For a Professional Plumber

Home remedies and simple tools might not always be enough to unclog and clean your shower drain perfectly. If the problem seems to persist, or the shower drain keeps clogging now and then despite unclogging them every time, it could indicate an underlying problem. If you think the shower drains in your home are clogging frequently you should have them checked by a plumber as soon as possible to get to the root of the problem and avoid further damage to your drains and pipes. 

Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup is one of the best plumbing services in all of California that has been providing stellar plumbing services including shower drain cleaning and repair services to residential and commercial buildings for the past 35 years. With our experienced and certified team of plumbers, we can inspect and figure out the exact problem with your kitchen sink drains, shower drains, toilets, sewer lines, and the entire plumbing system. If your house has plumbing issues that you have been avoiding, call us today to get a quick inspection and prevent yourself from spending fortunes on plumbing and repair costs in the future by nipping the problem right in the bud.