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

If you have noticed that your shower drain is not functioning as it should, then it’s time to address the issue before it becomes worse. A clogged shower drain can lead to standing water, foul odors, and other plumbing problems. Fortunately, with the right tools and techniques, unclogging a shower drain can be a simple DIY task.

Understanding the Causes of Clogged Shower Drains

Showering is an essential part of our daily routine, and a clogged shower drain can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. There are several reasons why a shower drain can become clogged, and it’s important to understand these causes to prevent future blockages.

Hair and Soap Scum Buildup

One of the most common reasons for a clogged shower drain is hair and soap scum buildup. When we shower, hair and soap scum can accumulate in the drain and create a blockage over time. This blockage makes it difficult for water to flow through the drain, which can lead to standing water and other issues. To prevent hair and soap scum buildup, consider using a drain cover or strainer to catch hair and other debris before it enters the drain. Regularly cleaning the drain with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also help prevent buildup.

Hard Water Mineral Deposits

Another reason for a clogged shower drain is hard water mineral deposits. If you live in an area with hard water, then over time, the minerals can accumulate in the drain and create a blockage. This blockage restricts water flow and can cause various plumbing problems. To prevent hard water mineral buildup, consider installing a water softener or using a showerhead filter. These devices can help remove minerals from the water before it enters the shower.

Foreign Objects and Debris

Occasionally, foreign objects and debris can find their way into a shower drain and cause a blockage. This can include items like hair ties, cotton swabs, and other small objects. If you suspect that foreign objects are causing the blockage, you will need to remove them manually or use a specialized tool to extract them. It’s important to avoid flushing any foreign objects down the drain, as this can cause further blockages and damage to your plumbing system.

In conclusion, understanding the causes of clogged shower drains can help you prevent future blockages and keep your plumbing system running smoothly. By taking preventative measures like using a drain cover, cleaning the drain regularly, and installing a water softener or showerhead filter, you can avoid the frustration and inconvenience of a clogged shower drain.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before you begin unclogging your shower drain, it’s important to gather all the necessary tools and materials. This will make the process more efficient and ensure that you have everything you need.


A plunger is a must-have tool when it comes to unclogging a shower drain. A plunger works by creating pressure that dislodges the blockage and allows water to flow through the drain. A good quality plunger is indispensable for this task.

Drain Snake or Auger

A drain snake or auger is a long, flexible tool that can reach deep into the drain to dislodge blockages. This tool is particularly useful for clearing out hair and debris that are not easy to remove with a plunger.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are a natural and effective alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners. When mixed together, they create a powerful fizzing reaction that can dissolve blockages and eliminate odors.

Rubber Gloves and Protective Eyewear

When working with chemicals or tools, it’s important to protect your hands and eyes from harm. Rubber gloves and protective eyewear will keep you safe and prevent any accidents from occurring while you work on the drain.

Bucket and Towels

Unclogging a shower drain can be messy work. It’s important to have a bucket and towels on hand to catch any standing water and clean up any spills.

Assessing the Severity of the Clog

Before you begin unclogging your shower drain, it’s important to assess the severity of the blockage. This will help you determine the best course of action.

Slow-Draining Water

If you notice that water is draining slowly from your shower, then you may have a minor clog that can be easily remedied with a plunger or baking soda and vinegar solution.

Standing Water

If you have standing water in your shower, then you likely have a more severe clog that will require a drain snake or auger to clear. Standing water can also be a sign of a more significant plumbing issue that may need the attention of a professional plumber.

Foul Odors and Gurgling Sounds

If you notice foul odors or gurgling sounds coming from your drain, then this could be a sign of a more severe blockage. In this case, it’s best to stop using your shower and call a plumber to avoid any further damage.

Step-by-Step Guide to Unclogging a Shower Drain

Now that you have assessed the severity of the clog and gathered all the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to get to work on unclogging your shower drain.

Step 1: Remove the Drain Cover

Start by removing the drain cover from your shower drain. Depending on the type of drain cover you have, you may need to unscrew it or use a screwdriver to remove the screws holding it in place.

Step 2: Clear Visible Debris

Use your fingers or a pair of tweezers to clear any visible debris from the drain. This may include hair, soap scum, or foreign objects like cotton swabs.

Step 3: Use a Plunger

If the blockage is minor, you can use a plunger to try and clear it. To do this, first, fill the shower with enough water to cover the plunger. Then, place the plunger over the drain and plunge vigorously up and down for several minutes. If the blockage is dislodged, water will start to flow freely down the drain.

Step 4: Utilize a Drain Snake or Auger

If the plunger is not effective in removing the blockage, then a drain snake or auger will be necessary. Feed the snake or auger down the drain until you reach the blockage. Once you feel resistance, rotate the snake or auger and pull it out of the drain. Repeat this process until the blockage is removed.

Step 5: Apply a Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

If the blockage is still not removed, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to dissolve it. Start by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.

Step 6: Flush the Drain with Hot Water

Once the blockage has been removed, flush the drain with hot water to ensure that any remaining debris or buildup is washed away.

Step 7: Reinstall the Drain Cover

Finally, reinstall the drain cover and test the shower to ensure that the water is flowing freely down the drain.


Unclogging a shower drain may seem like a hassle, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a simple DIY task. Remember to assess the severity of the clog, gather all the necessary tools and materials, and follow our step-by-step guide to removing the blockage. If the blockage is severe or you are not comfortable tackling the job yourself, call a professional plumber to ensure that your plumbing system is functioning properly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *