Easy Repairs: Learn How to Unblock The Shower Drain

Blocked shower drains are probably one of the most common problems every household deals with at some point. In most cases, it isn’t someone’s fault as a blockage can be caused by many reasons, like hair, soap scum, etc. Even if you clean your shower tiles regularly or remove mould from the walls, it can’t prevent drainage issues. You need to do something else more than just cleaning.

A beautiful bathroom with clean shower glass

I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is to call a plumber. However, we have some good news for you. Unblocking the shower is a DIY project. Do you believe it? There are some simple methods you can apply and unclog your drain. Ready to find out how to do it the right way?

How to find out if you have a problem?

Fortunately, some signs warn you that there is a problem with the shower’s drain. For example, if the shower drains slowly or if you’re standing in a pool of water when you have finished your shower, then you can’t go on ignoring these too!

Also, if you notice a foul odour coming out from your drain is a sign that there’s a problem with the pipes in the bathroom and the shower, and you should try to find out why your bathroom smells like that. You might even need to check and try to unclog your bathroom sink as well.

You’ll always have to remember that you’ll have to do it ASAP whenever you notice that something is blocking the drain. Otherwise, you might face more serious problems like flooding. Thus, regular checks and action are necessary.

What causes drain blockages?

Small drain clogs can be caused by various reasons and lead to serious pipework problems. Some of the commonest reasons are:

  1. Hair: Hair can stick with grease, soap scum and other dirt and debris, and finally form clogs in the pipes.
  2. Dirt and debris: Gunk, dirt and debris building up leads to draining problems
  3. Mineral and limescale: Mineral and limescale build-up is a regular reason for drain problems. They dissolve in water, and they cause insoluble masses that block the drains.
  4. Soap: Soap bars are made of grease or fat. When fat comes in contact with water minerals, it leaves leftovers that stain the shower basin and blocks the pipes.

A woman removing hair clumps of the shower drain

How to unblock your shower drain step-by-step

Once you know that you have issues with the drain, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty! There are many ways you can try yourself to unblock the drain before calling the professionals. And in most cases, you might never need their help.

Boiling water

Just pouring some hot or warm water into the drains can break up the gunk and the soap scum that has formed the blockage. Hot or warm water is the ideal solution for the regular cleaning of the pipes. Depending on the blockage, hot water may not work at all times. But, combining it with some of the below-listed methods, you’ll have the desired results.

You just need to be very careful when dealing with such water not to burn yourself. Thus, you better avoid splashing water around the shower tray. Instead, you can pour it slowly down the drain.

Baking soda and white vinegar

Instead of using commercial products that contain harsh chemicals, you can use baking soda and white vinegar. When vinegar contacts soda will cause a chemical reaction and begin to fizz. This combo is the perfect natural solution to fix clogged drains.

What you need:

  • A cup of baking soda (or bicarbonate soda)
  • A cup of white vinegar
  • Boiling water

A bottle of white vinegar next to a jar of baking soda

And these are the steps to unclog your blocked drain successfully:

  1. Pour a cup of soda and wait a few minutes.
  2. Then, pour a cup of vinegar into the drain.
  3. Now, you’ll have to wait for a few hours to let the soda-vinegar combination dissolve the hair-dirt clog.
  4. Finally, pour boiling water to rinse the pipes from any soda-vinegar residue.

Your hands

It’s probably the messiest method. That’s why you’ll have to put on a pair of rubber gloves.

What you’re going to need:

  • A screwdriver
  • A flashlight


  1. Use the screwdriver to unscrew and take off the drain cover.
  2. Then, use the flashlight to see down the pipe. If you can reach the obstacle, remove it.

This method is perfect for removing small objects and knots of hair that block the drain. If minerals and grease buildup block the drain, then unclogging by hands will be ineffective.

Using a hook

Another effective and inexpensive way to unblock drains is by using a hook made of a bent coat hanger. How are you going to unclog the shower drain with a hanger? Let’s see:

  1. Get a wire coat hanger and bend the wire so that it can fit in the plughole.
  2. Push the hook into the drain until you grab the clog.
  3. Pull the dirt out and repeat the process.
  4. When you’re done, run hot water to rinse the drain and check if you have unblocked it.

Using a plunger

The most traditional way to unclogged blocked drains is by using a plunger. However, its effectiveness depends on the type of blockage, the design of the drain and the place the clog is in the drain. If the hair has clogged the drain deeply, you’ll probably find it hard to use it, as you’ll have to get enough suction for plunging to unclog it.

You’ll need:

  • A plunger
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Water

A plunger in a black and white shower and a pair of green gloves

Now, do as follows:

  1. Before starting plunging, add petroleum jelly to the edge of the suction pad to get a better seal.
  2. Place the plunger to cover the drain opening.
  3. Then, turn on the shower faucet until the shower tray is filled with enough water to cover the plunger’s edge.
  4. Now, start pushing the plunger up and down for a couple of minutes. This way, you’re going to create suction to push the obstacle from the drain.

A plumber’s snake

A plumber’s snake, also known as “toilet jack” or “electric eel”, is a special, cheap and effective drain blocker that can deal with tough clogs. A snake is a flexible auger attached to a handle crank and able to reach deep into pipes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Push the snake down the drain. At some point, you’ll realise that you have reached the clog.
  2. Once you reach the blockage,  turn the handle and start pulling it up.
  3. Turn on the faucet and run water to check if you have achieved to unclog the drain.

Chemical cleaning products

If none of the above-listed options has worked, then it’s probably time to use commercial cleaning products containing chemicals. There are some cautions, though, you need to keep in mind.

  1. Repetitive usage of this kind of products can damage your pipeworks.
  2. While using drain products, always wear rubber gloves not to harm your skin.
  3.  Before using commercial drain cleaners, read the instructions carefully.

A shower with white tiled walls and black tiles on the floor and the shower drain in the middle

How can you prevent it from happening again?

Prevention is the key to a well-function shower drain in the first place. Thus, what you have to do is take preventative measures to avoid future clogging.

  1. The first thing you can do is to get a drain screen or else a shower drain catcher. It costs almost nothing and is available at any hardware store.  The drain catcher will catch hair, debris and soap scup and keep them out of the pipes. But, remember to clean it pretty often to be effective.
  2. secure soap dish can also help. Soap sticks knots of hair together, creating larger clumps which can lead to clogging the shower drains. Let alone the great risk you run if the soap slides on the shower’s floor.
  3. Finally, often cleaning the shower drain would prevent it from clogging. What can you do? Once a week, pour some boiling water down the shower drain. It will break up the soap buil-up and clean the dirty pipes. For even better and more effective results, combine baking soda and vinegar.

A modern bathroom with a wooden shower

Try all the above-listed methods and unblock the shower drain. They’re all inexpensive and you can try them all by yourself. However, if the drain issue is more serious and none of the above methods works, it’s probably time to call out professionals to deal with the problem.

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