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10 Ways to Unclog a Stubborn Shower Drain

One of the problems that I have in my home every other month or so is my shower drain backing up.  While I don’t particularly mind taking a shower standing in water, I would very much mind if the water overflowed into the rest of the bathroom (my shower and tub are separate so this could actually happen pretty easily).  My usual solution to the problem is to just use a chemical drain cleaner and go about my business until it clogs again.  This time I decided to research the most common solutions to the problem to see what other do to fix their shower drain problems.  These are the 10 best solutions that I could find:

  1. Drano – It seems that this is really the simplest and first recommended step by most of the articles that I read.  You pour a little into the drain, let it sit for 10 minutes, and run the water for a bit.  Pretty easy stuff, but that’s what I have been doing so I needed to dig deeper.

  2. Remove drain cover and use your hands – This is also an easy solution.  You just pop the shower cover off using a screwdriver as necessary and then grab as much of the hair as you can that is sitting in the drain.  The problem with this approach is you are only scratching the surface of the real problem and I doubt the cure lasts very long at all.

  3. Boiling water – I saw this repeatedly in articles on other blogs.  I’ll try it because I am game for just about anything but… I take a shower in pretty hot water and it seems that pouring water down the drain to fix the clog is well… not the smartest idea in the world.

  4. Vinegar and baking soda – I’m a sucker for homemade solutions so this one is something I might try before Drano next time.  You combine 1/3 cup vinegar with 1/3 cup baking soda in a pitcher.  As soon as the vinegar hits the baking soda it will start to fizz and you need to pour it down the drain pretty much right away.  You let that stand for 10 minutes and then run water down the drain.  You can repeat this as often as necessary to clear the clog.

  5. Plunger – This is one I have tried on sink drains successfully so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of using the same approach in the shower.  So you remove the drain cover for this one as well and then plug up the tub overflow hole with a rag or anything you can easily remove.  You then plunge the drain like you would your toilet, pulling up what you can and discarding it.

  6. Straightened metal hanger – You would be surprised how versatile this little tool can be.  If you don’t have a plunger and you don’t have a snake (see below) then you can remove the drain cover and fish out quite a bit with a straightened metal hanger.  This one is pretty safe but it was a little hard for me to actually pull out any of the debris deeper in the drain.  Again, this is more of a temporary fix but effective for a “quickie.”

  7. Manual Snake – You can easily go to the hardware store and pickup a snake.  These are really long cables that you push down into the drain after removing the drain cover and then you simply pull them back up removing the debris.  These will go much deeper into the drain and generally this is what a plumber would use if you called them out to your house.

  8. Automatic Snake – This is the same as the manual snake but with power tools.  You can either buy a self contained one or just attach a snake to any standard drill.  This beats cranking and pulling manually for sure!  Okay a plumber would most likely actually use one of these over a manual snake as noted above.

  9. Wet/Dry Vac – Take your wet/dry vacuum and set it to liquids. Remove the filter and any inside bag and cover the vacuum vent. Put the hose over the tub drain and switch on the vacuum. This will suck up the debris and you can safely dispose of it from your wet/dry receptacle.

  10. Zip-IT Drain Cleaning Tool – Okay somehow I missed the commercials for this product.  It looks like an extremely simple solution to my drain problem and without a doubt I am going to try this one.  You can see information from the manufacturer here:  There are a ridiculous number of reviews online, most seem very positive.

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One Response to “10 Ways to Unclog a Stubborn Shower Drain”

  • boiling water!:

    The boiling water works because:
    1. it’s so hot it expands the pipes rapidly, allowing clogs to dislodge

    2. it dissolves soluble slimes in the drain.

    It works the best for me when my drains get clogged

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