How to Unclog a Shower Drain: A Step-by-Step Guide

Clogged shower drains are a common household problem that can be frustrating and inconvenient. When you’re rushing to get ready for work in the morning, the last thing you want is to step into a puddle of standing water in your shower. Not only is it unpleasant, but it can also lead to more serious plumbing issues if left untreated.

The main cause of a clogged shower drain is usually a buildup of hair, soap scum, and other debris that accumulates over time. Hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium can also contribute to blockages. In fact, hard water is a prevalent issue in many areas around the world, affecting as much as 85% of homes in the United States alone.

Fortunately, there are several DIY methods that can effectively unclog a shower drain without resorting to costly plumbing services. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about tackling this pesky problem, from the tools you’ll need to preventative measures you can take to keep your drain running smoothly. So let’s dive in and learn how to unclog a shower drain like a pro!


Shower drains are an essential part of our daily routine, but they can quickly become a source of frustration when they become clogged. A clogged shower drain is a common plumbing problem that affects many households, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. If left unattended, a clogged shower drain can lead to water damage, foul smells and even health hazards.

When your shower drain becomes clogged, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage. While there are many DIY methods that you can try to unclog your shower drain, it’s also important to know when it’s time to call in a professional plumber.

In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to unclog a shower drain using simple tools that you likely have at home. We’ll also explain why shower drains get clogged in the first place and provide preventive measures to keep your shower drain free-flowing. Don’t let a clogged shower drain ruin your day – read on to learn more!

Why Do Shower Drains Get Clogged?



Hair is one of the most common culprits when it comes to clogging shower drains. Whether you have long hair, pet hair, or curly hair, strands can easily accumulate and create a blockage.

Long hair is especially problematic as it can wrap around other debris in the drain and create a tangled mess. This can be difficult to remove with just a plunger or drain snake, and may require special tools or professional assistance.

Pet hair is another issue that many homeowners face, especially if they bathe their furry friends in the shower. While it may seem harmless at first, pet hair can quickly build up and cause a serious clog.

Curly hair can also pose a challenge as its texture makes it more prone to tangling and knotting. This can make it difficult to remove from the drain, even with the help of a drain snake.

To prevent hair from clogging your shower drain, consider installing a hair catcher over the drain. This simple device can catch hair before it has a chance to go down the drain and cause a blockage. Additionally, regularly cleaning your drain can help remove any hair that has accumulated.

In summary, whether you have long hair, pet hair, or curly hair, it’s important to take steps to prevent it from clogging your shower drain. Installing a hair catcher and regularly cleaning your drain can help keep water flowing smoothly and prevent costly plumbing issues down the line.

Soap Scum

Soap Scum

Soap scum is a common culprit when it comes to shower drain clogs. It forms when soap residue mixes with body oils and other products that we use in the shower, creating a sticky surface that can cling to your pipes. Over time, this buildup can accumulate and cause water to drain more slowly or even stop altogether.

One of the most effective ways to prevent soap scum buildup is by regularly cleaning your shower and drains. This includes wiping down surfaces with a squeegee or towel after each use to remove excess water and prevent residue from forming. You should also be sure to deep clean your shower at least once a month to remove any stubborn buildup.

If you do notice soap scum starting to form, there are several DIY solutions you can try before calling in the professionals. One popular method is using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to dissolve the buildup. Simply pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar and let it sit for about 30 minutes before flushing with hot water.

Another option is to use an enzyme-based drain cleaner, which uses natural bacteria to break down organic matter like soap scum. These cleaners are often safer for your pipes than chemical-based alternatives and can provide longer-lasting results.

In addition to regular cleaning and DIY solutions, there are also preventative measures you can take to reduce soap scum buildup. For example, using a soap dish or tray to keep bars of soap off of surfaces can help prevent residue from accumulating. You can also switch to liquid soap or body wash, which tend to produce less soap scum than bar soap.

By taking proactive steps to prevent soap scum buildup and addressing it promptly when it does occur, you can keep your shower drains flowing smoothly and avoid costly plumbing repairs down the line.

Minerals and Hard Water

Minerals and Hard Water

Shower drains can become clogged due to an excess buildup of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and limescale. Hard water is the primary culprit behind this buildup. It contains high levels of these minerals that can cause a lot of problems for your plumbing.

Calcium is a mineral that is naturally found in water. When hard water evaporates, it leaves behind calcium deposits. These deposits can accumulate in your pipes over time and eventually cause blockages.

Magnesium is another mineral commonly found in hard water. It also contributes to the buildup of scale and can cause damage to your showerhead and other plumbing fixtures.

Limescale is a white, chalky substance that forms when hard water evaporates. It can accumulate on your showerhead, inside your pipes, and around your fixtures. Limescale can be difficult to remove and can cause severe damage to your plumbing if left untreated.

The best way to prevent the buildup of minerals in your shower drain is to install a water softener. A water softener works by removing the excess minerals from your water supply before it reaches your plumbing. This will not only help to keep your shower drain clear but will also benefit your entire plumbing system in the long run.

In addition to installing a water softener, you can also use natural cleaning solutions to remove mineral buildup from your shower drain. One effective solution is baking soda and vinegar. Simply mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar and pour the mixture down the drain. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

In conclusion, the buildup of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and limescale can cause serious problems for your plumbing system. Installing a water softener and using natural cleaning solutions can help to prevent the buildup of minerals in your shower drain and keep your plumbing running smoothly.

Tools You Will Need

When it comes to unclogging a shower drain, having the right tools on hand can make all the difference. Here are the top five tools you will need:

  1. Plunger – A plunger is a tried and true method for unclogging a shower drain. It creates suction that can dislodge hair and other debris that may be blocking the pipes. To use a plunger, fill the shower with enough water to cover the bell of the plunger, place the plunger over the drain and pump up and down vigorously.

  2. Drain Snake – If the plunger doesn’t work, a drain snake is the next step. This flexible tool can reach deep into the pipes to grab onto and pull out any clogs. Feed the snake into the drain and twist and push until you feel resistance. Then, slowly pull the snake out while continuing to turn it.

  3. Baking Soda – Baking soda is an excellent natural cleaner that can help break down soap scum and other buildup in your pipes. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes, then flush it down with hot water.

  4. Vinegar – Vinegar is another versatile cleaning agent that can be used to break down clogs. Simply pour a cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes before flushing with hot water.

  5. Gloves – Protect your hands from any chemicals or debris that may be in the drain by wearing gloves. Rubber gloves will give you a better grip when using a plunger or drain snake, and disposable gloves will keep you from coming into contact with any bacteria or germs that may be present.

By having these tools on hand, you’ll be well prepared to tackle any stubborn clog in your shower drain.

Step-by-Step Guide to Unclogging a Shower Drain

Remove the Drain Cover

To remove the drain cover, you will need either a screwdriver or pliers, depending on the type of cover you have. Before attempting to remove the cover, make sure the area around the drain is clean and free of any debris.

For covers that are held in place by screws, you will need a screwdriver. Locate the screws on the cover and use the screwdriver to loosen them by turning counterclockwise. Once the screws are loose, carefully lift the cover off the drain. Be sure to set the screws aside in a safe place so they don’t get lost.

For covers that do not have screws, you will need pliers. Look for a small notch or indentation on the edge of the cover. Insert the tips of the pliers into the notch and gently pry up the cover. If there is no notch, look for a small lip or edge that you can grip with the pliers. Again, be careful when removing the cover to avoid damaging the drain or yourself.

It’s important to note that some drain covers may be difficult to remove, especially if they haven’t been removed in a long time. In these cases, it may be necessary to use a little bit of elbow grease to get the cover off. If you’re struggling to remove the cover, try using a lubricant like WD-40 to help loosen it up.

Overall, removing the drain cover is a relatively simple process as long as you have the right tools and take your time. By following these steps, you should be able to remove the cover without any issues and move on to unclogging your shower drain.

Use a Plunger

Using a plunger is one of the most common methods for unclogging a shower drain. It’s also one of the easiest and most cost-effective solutions to try before calling a plumber. In this section, we’ll walk you through how to use a plunger effectively to create suction and remove the clog.

  1. First, make sure the plunger is the right size for your drain. You want it to be big enough to cover the entire drain opening, but not so big that it won’t create suction.

  2. Fill the shower with enough water to cover the bottom of the plunger. This creates a seal around the plunger and helps to create suction.

  3. Place the plunger over the drain, making sure it covers the entire opening. Hold it firmly in place to create an airtight seal.

  4. Begin plunging up and down vigorously, using the weight of your body to push down on the plunger. The goal is to create suction and push air and water back and forth, loosening the clog.

  5. Continue plunging for several minutes, until you feel the suction break and the water begins to drain. This may take some time, so be patient and keep at it.

  6. Once the water starts to drain, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to flush out any remaining debris.

Remember, if you have a persistent or stubborn clog, you may need to try other methods in addition to using a plunger. But for many simple clogs, using a plunger can be an effective and easy solution.

Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are a powerful combination that can help unclog your shower drain without using harsh chemicals. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Make sure it goes as far down the pipe as possible.
  2. Follow up with half a cup of vinegar. You’ll hear fizzing and bubbling, which means the reaction is working to break down any blockages in the drain.
  3. Wait for at least 30 minutes. This allows the solution to work its magic and loosen up any hair, soap scum, or other debris that may be clogging the drain.
  4. Finally, flush with hot water. Boil some water on the stove or use very hot tap water (if safe to do so) and pour it down the drain to wash away the loosened clog.

It’s important to note that this method may not work for severe clogs or blockages caused by tree roots or other outside factors. However, for regular maintenance and minor clogs, baking soda and vinegar can be an effective and eco-friendly solution.

One of the benefits of using baking soda and vinegar is that they are natural and safe for both your pipes and the environment. In addition, they are affordable and easy to find in most grocery stores.

Overall, if you’re looking for a DIY solution for a clogged shower drain, give baking soda and vinegar a try. It’s a simple and effective way to keep your drains flowing smoothly without relying on harsh chemicals.

Use a Drain Snake

Using a drain snake is one of the most effective methods for unclogging a shower drain. This tool is designed to reach deep into the pipes and break up any stubborn clogs that are causing your water to drain slowly or not at all. Here’s how to use a drain snake to unclog your shower drain:

  1. Feed the snake into the drain: First, insert the end of the snake into the drain and slowly feed it down the pipe. Keep going until you feel resistance.

  2. Twist and push: Once you’ve reached the clog, begin twisting and pushing the snake through it. This will help loosen and break up the clog.

  3. Pull out the clog: Finally, pull the snake back out of the drain, bringing the broken-up clog with it. Be sure to dispose of it properly.

It’s important to note that while using a drain snake can be effective, it can also cause damage to your pipes if used incorrectly. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and don’t force the snake too hard. If you’re unsure about how to use a drain snake, consult a professional plumber.

In some cases, using a drain snake may not be enough to completely clear the clog. If this is the case, it’s possible that there’s a more serious issue with your plumbing that requires professional attention.

Overall, using a drain snake is a great option for unclogging your shower drain. With a little patience and some careful maneuvering, you can quickly and effectively get your drain flowing smoothly again.

Preventative Measures to Keep Your Shower Drain Unclogged

Preventative Measures to Keep Your Shower Drain Unclogged

If you’ve just spent time unclogging your shower drain, you know how frustrating it can be. Luckily, there are a few preventative measures you can take to avoid future clogs.

  1. Regular Cleaning: One of the easiest ways to prevent a clogged shower drain is by cleaning it regularly. Remove the drain cover and use a small brush or even an old toothbrush to clean out any hair or soap scum that has accumulated. Consider doing this once a week to keep your drain running smoothly.

  2. Hair Catcher: Another way to prevent hair from going down the drain is by using a hair catcher. These inexpensive devices, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, sit over the drain and trap loose hairs as water flows through. Make sure to clean the hair catcher regularly to ensure it’s functioning properly.

  3. Avoid Pouring Grease: Pouring grease down the drain may seem like an easy way to get rid of it, but it can actually cause serious clogs. Grease solidifies as it cools, which can then trap other debris in your pipes. Instead, pour grease into a container and dispose of it in the garbage.

By taking these preventative measures, you can help keep your shower drain unclogged and avoid the frustration of having to deal with a clogged drain. Incorporate these habits into your routine and enjoy the benefits of a smoothly running shower.



By following the steps outlined in this guide, you should now be able to unclog your shower drain on your own without having to call a plumber. However, keep in mind that preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid clogs in the first place.

Regular cleaning and using a hair catcher can prevent hair and soap scum buildup, while avoiding pouring grease down the drain can prevent mineral buildup. These simple measures can go a long way in keeping your plumbing running smoothly and preventing costly repairs.

In addition to saving you money on plumbing bills, taking care of your plumbing yourself can also give you a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency. Plus, it’s always satisfying to tackle a DIY project successfully.

So next time you encounter a clogged shower drain, don’t panic – just grab your plunger, baking soda, vinegar, or drain snake, and follow the steps outlined in this guide. With a little bit of elbow grease and some basic tools, you can have your shower drain flowing freely again in no time.
After following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you should have a clear understanding of how to unclog a shower drain. Remember that prevention is key, and implementing preventative measures such as using a hair catcher and avoiding pouring grease down your drain can help prevent future clogs. By taking care of your plumbing, you can save money and avoid unnecessary headaches caused by clogged drains. With these DIY methods, there’s no need to call a plumber – you can take on this task yourself! We hope this guide has been helpful and informative, and we encourage you to put these tips into practice to keep your shower drain flowing smoothly.

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