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7 Ways to unclog shower drains

Everything you need to know to keep your shower drain clear

You’re taking a nice relaxing shower when suddenly you notice you’re standing ankle-deep in dirty water, and it’s not draining. You have a clogged shower drain, an unwelcome inconvenience when all you want to do is relax. Luckily, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve for how to unclog a shower drain, 7 tricks, actually.

You’ll get the “ick” out of your tub and back to that shower in no time.

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Seven ways to unclog a shower drain

To begin clearing your drain, you first need to remove the standing water from your shower. Depending on the severity of your clog, the water may drain slowly. If it is draining too slow or not draining, you may need to scoop the water out with a bucket or other container.

1. Clearing the drain by hand 

Once you have the water out, you can visually inspect your drain. If you can see the clog’s source, you may be able to remove it by hand.

We recommend wearing gloves because this can be a little (or a lot) disgusting. 

Remove any visible clumps of hair or objects that you can see around the drain. Using a flashlight, look into the drain for hair, objects, or build-up in the pipe.

If it appears clear, briefly turn on your shower to see if the water drains properly. 

2. How to unclog bathtub drain using a sink snake

If you look down your drain and see something you can’t reach by hand, or water is still backing up, the next step is to try a sink snake. A sink snake is a 16-18 inch-long tool made for inserting into drains. 

BANA 9 Pack Drain Snake Kit 25inch Drain Clog Remover Tool and 24inch Cleaning Stick Combo for Toilet, Kitchen Sink, Bathroom Bathtub, Sewer Blockage Removal, (8 + 1), Orange, (garp-003)
  • Insert snake into drain as far as you can
  • Slowly twist it a few turns (this helps it grab onto clumps of hair or other yucky stuff)
  • As the sink snake gets harder to turn pull it out and remove any debris
  • Repeat as many times as you need to clear the drain of all debris
  • Turn on the water to test your work

3. Clearing a drain using a plunger

If your drain is still clogged, the next step is to use a plunger.

A plunger works by forcing the blockage out of the smaller shower drain pipe into a larger sewer pipe. 

  • Turn on the water and fill with 3-4 inches of water
  • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the cup of your plunger 
  • Place your plunger over the drain, and begin plunging 

Depending on how bad the drain is clogged, it could take a few minutes.

You’ll know when when the job is done when the water suddenly drains. 

4. Unclogging a drain using baking soda and vinegar 

Using baking soda and vinegar is another easy way to clear your shower drain.

When mixed together vinegar and baking soda releases carbon dioxide which creates pressure that can clear your bathtub drain.

We recommend these steps for this method:

  • Pour hot water down your shower drain
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Mix one cup of hot water with one cup of vinegar and pour in the drain
  • Cover the shower drain with a drain plug and wait ten minutes (use caution with this step, pressure may build up quite a bit)

After ten minutes test it out by turning on the water. You may need to repeat the above steps a few more times for best results. 

Roost Tip! We don’t recommend using boiling water as it can cause PVC pipes to become misshapen and loose which can create a whole slew of other annoying problems.

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5. How to unclog shower drain using a drain auger 

Drain auger for clearing shower drain

A hand-operated drain auger may be useful for certain types of tub drains. Before buying an auger make sure your drain cover is removable and the pipe is a minimum two inches in diamater.

The hand-operated drain auger is similar to the sink snake but is much longer and can reach deeper into the pipes.

If your apartment has the right kind of shower drain, this is an excellent option for clearing a clogged drain.

6. How to unclog bathtub drains using chemicals 

Drain chemicals are another option for clearing clogged drains. There are a variety of chemicals you can use for the really tough drains and plenty of eco-friendly brands available to choose from.

Make sure to read and follow the directions on the container. Don’t forget to wear gloves, eye protection, and keep the area well-ventilated to avoid breathing in harmful vapors.

Finally, if you’ve already tried the vinegar and baking soda method, make sure you flush the drain out as well as you can to avoid mixing which can be dangerous. It may even be wise to wait a few days in between treatments just to be extra safe.

7. Inform your landlord you have a clogged drain

If none of the above solutions unclog your drain, you may have a serious problem in your apartment’s plumbing. If this is the case, it’s important to review the maintenance policies in your rental lease agreement. 

Next, follow your landlord’s maintenance process as outlined in your lease agreement. If your contract requires you to contact a plumber, ensure they are licensed and certified appropriately for your area. 

What causes drain clogs?

Knowing what kind of clog you have can make it easier to fix. The most common causes are:

  • Hair
  • Soap build-up
  • Mineral build-up
  • Dirt
  • Small objects
  • Tree Roots
Roost Tip! If tree roots cause your clog, you may notice water backing up in all of your apartment drains. If you suspect this is the issue notify your landlord, they’ll need to hire a professional plumber.

A few parting tips on preventing future drain clogs

Clogged drains are super annoying. Avoid all the hassle by trying these preventative tips.

1. Shower drain hair traps

Shower drain hair trap

Shower drain hair traps are an effective way to prevent hair and small objects from clogging up your drain. They are inexpensive and easy to maintain. A variety of shapes and sizes are available, making finding the right match for your shower pretty easy.

2. Enzyme treatments for drains

A wide variety of eco-friendly enzyme treatments for drains are available commercially. The enzymes eat away at the build-up from soap, minerals, and dirt in your apartment’s pipes. 

Always read and follow the instructions for these products.

3. Using baking soda and vinegar to treat your drain

Treating your drain with baking soda and vinegar is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your pipes free of build-up.

Using baking soda and vinegar is the same as the method listed above used to clear clogs. Repeat this treatment every other month for the best results. 

Why is it important to keep your shower drain clean?

Taking good care of your shower drain and the plumbing in the rest of your apartment is essential. When you decide to rent a different apartment, your previous landlord may include plumbing in their final inspection. 

If your apartment has clogged pipes when you move out, this may affect your security deposit refund. We recommend reviewing your lease agreement ahead of time when planning to move to avoid unpleasant surprises. 

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A quick note! Our goal is to gather and share info that’s up-to-date and helps you make great decisions as a renter. That said, the information you get directly from a provider could be a little different. Make sure to review their terms and conditions directly; and, if you see anything here that needs to be updated, please let us know! Advertising disclosure
Last Updated: May 23rd, 2023