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How to Clear a Clogged Shower Drain

Is there a blockage inside your shower drain? Find out how to unclog it quickly and easily with our useful tips & advice.


A shower screen with shampoo and shower gel nearby

Ever find that the water in your shower takes a very long time to empty? This is most likely caused by a clogged shower drain. Hair, soap scum, and other debris from months of washing can not only cause a blockage, but also an unpleasant odor. But before you ring a plumber for a costly visit, there are a number of ways you can do the job yourself. This article tells you how to unclog shower drains, with a few different (and effective) methods to choose from.

If your shower drain is clogged, the easiest way to clear a small blockage is by using a bleach product like . When using cleaning products, remember to read the instructions on the label and to take the appropriate safety measures.

Mechanically Unclogging a Shower Drain

You may want to try physically pulling out any blockage in the drain. As a tool, you can use a thin wire coat hanger or a crochet hook. There is also a drain snake and other specially designed tools for removing hair, which you may be able to buy in a homeware or DIY store.

  1. Bend the hanger so there is a small hook at the end, which can be inserted down the drain.

  2. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, if you’d like, and have a plastic bag ready for whatever debris you may pull out.

  3. Unscrew the shower drain cover (if there is one) and set it and any screws safely aside.

  4. Slowly insert the hooked end of the wire hanger down the drain using a slight twisting motion.

  5. Start tugging upwards slowly, and you will start pulling hairs out. Place them straight into the plastic bag.

  6. Keep on repeating until you pull out no more hair.

To finish off, follow our steps below for flushing the drain with baking soda and vinegar.

How to Unclog the Shower Drain with Commercial Drain Cleaners

There are many commercial products specially designed to clear your shower drain blockage, with regular bleach like Domex also able to do the job. These products can remove small blockages with very little effort required from you. If you choose to use one, remember to follow all the directions on the label and to take adequate safety precautions beforehand – make sure the room is well ventilated and wear rubber gloves.

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Unclogging a Shower Drain: Baking Soda and White Vinegar

This homemade remedy requires baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate), distilled white vinegar, a rag, and boiling water. For maximum effectiveness, do this when the shower won’t be needed for a few hours.

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain.

  2. Follow this immediately with half a cup of distilled white vinegar, poured down very quickly.

  3. Plug the drain with the rag. The combination of baking soda and vinegar will create a fizzing action, which should work away at the blockage.

  4. Leave it for at least 20 minutes, or even a few hours.

  5. Boil a kettle full of water, and pour this down the drain quickly to flush away the blockage.

  6. Repeat if needed.

Be very careful not to splash yourself with either boiling water or the baking soda and vinegar mixture. You may want to wear rubber gloves, goggles, and of course, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

With the above suggestions on how to unclog the shower drain, you should hopefully have everything you need to make sure your shower drain stays clear and odor-free.

  • A coat hanger or crochet hook – to remove hair and other small blockages.

  • A commercial drain cleaner or bleach – to clear a drain with minimal effort, just remember to follow the directions on the label.

  • Baking soda, distilled white vinegar, boiling water, and an old rag – to flush the drain clear.

  • Rubber gloves and goggles for safety

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on clearing clogged shower drains

Can you snake a shower drain? And if so, how?

Showers can often become clogged, especially with hair, but can you snake a shower drain? Yes you can. A drain snake is a long metal spiral coil with a claw at one end and a handle on the other end. To use it for a shower drain you do not need a ridiculously long one as shower drains can sometimes be just 2 inches in diameter. Wear some washing up gloves because this can be nasty business and take off the drain cover. Then start feeding the snake into the drain. This may take a couple of attempts but once the snake is deep enough you will feel it resisting against you pushing it further in. Rotate the handle clockwise to begin rotating the snake in the drain, this will start to twist the snake letting it collect all the hair and anything else stuck down the drain. Keep rotating the handle before it starts to fight back less, this means you have cleared your drain blockage. Rotate the handle anti-clockwise and begin drawing the snake out of the drain. The drain snake should then come out of the drain with your nasty blockage in tow.

How do you plunge a shower drain?

Most people will have a plunger around their home to help deal with any blockages but how do you plunge a shower drain? Start by filling the shower up with a bit of water, enough to submerge the plunger head. Stick the plunger around the drain, you can try adding some petroleum jelly around the plunger head to help provide a better seal on the drain. Then plunge vigorously for a couple of minutes until the blockage starts to come free and water flows properly. Make sure you use the right type of plunger too.

How do you remove a plastic shower drain cover?

To get a real good clean of the shower drain you will need to remove the cover. If your drain has 2 indents on opposite sides of each other, then these are meant to allow a screwdriver in to work the cover out. Just take a flat-head screwdriver on one of the sides and work it until that side becomes free. You should then be able to life the cover free or may need to work the other side a little before pulling the entire cover out.

Originally published