Cleaning a Shower Drain

A Bathroom Shower Drain and How to Unclog the Drain.

How to Clean the Shower Drain

If you have ever had the unfortunate experience of standing in several inches of cloudy, soapy, water while taking a shower (and who hasn’t?) you know that it’s time to clean the shower drain.

Clogged shower drains are unavoidable and typically caused by a small blockage – hair being the number one blockage but add soap scum and dirt into the mix and the drain is bound to get clogged over time.

Most often, clogged drains can be fixed and cleaned without having to call a professional but there is always the possibility of a major obstruction in the main sewer line.

If you’ve cleaned the drains yourself and notice there is still standing water, clogs, odors then you may want the professionals to come in and take a look.

Causes of Plugged Pipes

If you’ve got anyone with long hair in your home, you know exactly how much hair can sit atop the drain on a daily basis and I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, the clump of hair that looks like a small animal got in the tub.

Even if you have a strainer, hair is bound to get through as well as body oil, soap residue, dirt, etc. Over time the buildup of hair, dirt and residue from shampoo, and cleaners can get stuck and can cause small blockages and sometimes big problems.

Once these get built up to a certain point, it impedes the flow of water and you find yourself in a few inches of water that won’t drain. Maintaining and keeping the shower drain clear can save you the trouble of having to call a plumber to come in and clean out the pipes.

What can you do to Unclog Drains?

There are a number of things that can be done to clear the shower drain. These suggestions can also be done on a maintenance schedule to help prevent shower drains from getting clogged.

Remember, after each shower clean the drain cover!

Snake It

In the rare case that the drain remains clogged due to additional items that somehow got down the drain, you can use a snake or drain auger that will reach into the drain and dislodge whatever is blocking the pipe.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

This is a good science lesson for the kids and its fun to watch what happens when these two ingredients come together.

  • Use baking soda first by dumping about 1 cup down the drain.
  • Follow this with about 1 cup of vinegar.
  • After letting the kids watch the reaction; the fizzing, cover the drain with a rag to keep the mixture from completely fizzing out.
  • Let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes then go boil a tea kettle full of water (or about 4 cups) and dump the hot water down the drain to dislodge and complete the process.

Using a Plunger

This one is simple and works exactly the way it does when you plunge a toilet. It’s especially effective if there is standing water in the tub when you do it. Just a few pushes on the plunger and any standing water should drain and begin flowing freely in the pipe.

Try Using a Coat Hanger

In a pinch and if you don’t have a snake, you can try an old wire coat hanger. Unravel the hanger and make a hook on one end. Use this to pull out the clogged stuff from the drain, just be careful not to push the clog further down the drain or lose the coat hanger.

Use an Enzyme Detergent

Dish soap, like Dawn, contains enzymes that break up proteins, grease and other deposits. Simply pour about a cup of Dawn dish soap down the drain and leave it to sit for at least an hour. Flush the drain with hot, hot water and the clog should be dislodged.

Keeping the Drain Clean

This is as simple as having any hair picked up after showering. Use a screen or drain basket to catch most of the hair before it goes down the drain. If the water starts draining slower, this could mean a clog is starting to build up again, be proactive and clean it using one of the methods above.

In the unlikely event that none of these work to clean out your shower drain, you may need to call a professional. Sometimes there is an actual problem with your plumbing that only a professional plumber can handle.