Last Updated on April 13, 2021
We’ve all been there. You’re standing in the shower, rinsing off and relaxing. You start to feel something is amiss down by your feet. Or maybe it’s around your ankles? You look down to see that the water is pooling and starting to rise higher and higher. It’s a disappointing feeling—one you know won’t go away without some help. You could call a plumber, but that would probably be quite an expense. Is there an easier way to clear the shower drain without professional help? Well, yes, there is. In fact, there are quite a few methods you could try before you break down and call in the big guns. In this post, we’re going to explore several options you can attempt yourself before even thinking about picking up the phone to call a plumber.
Use Your Hands
One of the first methods to attempt is a bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease. One of the most common culprits of a clogged shower drain is loose hair that’s accumulated and formed a blockage. Depending on how far down the drainpipe the blockage is, you may be able to just pull it out with your hands. First, remove the drain cover with a screwdriver. Wearing rubber gloves, try to pull out anything that you can see. If there’s hair, dirt, and debris, it should form a big clump that could be pulled out if you can get a hold of it.
Use a Plunger
If the clog is a bit too far down to reach by hand, or if you can’t stand the thought of getting gross shower drain guts all over your hands (it does smell pretty bad), then you may consider trying a plunger. It works the same way as with a toilet, and you’ll get the best effect by removing the drain cover first. Then, position the plunger over the hole, making sure that it seals all the way around. Create suction with the plunger by pushing down and pulling back up, just like when unclogging a toilet. After a few good pulls the offending blockage may come free, allowing you to then remove it by hand, or with whatever is laying within arms-reach!
Use a Hook
If the blockage is just a little too far for your hands to reach but not so far as to need a snake, then you may consider trying a hook. This isn’t something you have to buy though. Instead, find a wire coat hanger from your closet and bend it into a straight wire with a hook at the end. Feed the hook into the drain and try to use it to grab onto the clump that’s clogging the works. If you manage to hook it, you should be able to drag it back out and easily remove it.
Use a Shop Vacuum
Be sure you don’t try this with a regular vacuum! You will very likely ruin it. Instead, you’ll need a wet/dry shop vacuum that’s meant to be able to suck up water. Remove the drain cover with a screwdriver. Then, take the vacuum hose and insert it into the drain while the vacuum is running. If you can get it deep enough in there to seal off where the pipe bends, then you should be able to create enough suction to dislodge anything that’s clogging the pipes, even if it’s a bit farther up. The best part is that you won’t even have to touch it since the vacuum will suck it right up!
Use a Plumber’s Snake
Sometimes, you just need the right tool for the job. A plumber’s snake may very well be that tool, especially if you’ve tried everything else and it’s just not working. There are several different types of plumber’s snakes, and they range in length and price. You can find snakes that are operated by twisting a handle around by hand. While this can get tiresome, these are also the cheaper option. Some are automatic and work with the push of a button, but they cost much more. Either way, you’ll need to feed the snake down into the pipes and keep pushing until it can find the blockage and knock it out of the way. Then retract the snake, and voila!
Pour Boiling Water into the Drain
Boiling water may seem like a simple solution, but it can be very effective at clearing clogged drains. All you have to do is boil some water on the stove, then pour it into the drain. Sound too easy? Well, sometimes in life, easy does it. This is one of those times.
Pour Baking Soda and Vinegar into the Drain
Before you start pouring harmful chemicals into your plumbing, you may consider a more natural approach. This method uses the cleaning power of baking soda, the acidity of vinegar, and the pressure of them combined to hopefully unclog your drain once and for all. It’s very simple too. First, pour a cup of baking soda into the drain and wait for a few minutes. Next, add a cup of vinegar. Then, you wait. After a few hours, whatever was clogging the drain is likely to be dissolved and will no longer be a problem.
To take this method a step further, you may consider using a cleaning vinegar instead of a standard white vinegar. These products are much more concentrated than regular vinegar, but they’re still completely safe, non-toxic, and they don’t contain chemicals. One of our favorites is the TradeKing 30% vinegar. It’s six times stronger than regular vinegar. But for the maximum cleaning power, we suggest the Calyptus 45% vinegar that’s nine times stronger than normal vinegar.
Pour Chemicals into the Drain
If you feel like you’ve exhausted all the options that are free from harsh chemicals, maybe it’s time to welcome the chemicals with open arms. Many products exist specifically to dissolve hair, grease, dirt, and anything else that’s clogging up your drains. They’re very easy to use and usually pretty inexpensive as well. You simply pour the product into the drain, wait, then it’s done. Easy!
There are plenty of these products to choose from, but one of our absolute favorites is the Instant Power 1969 Hair and Grease Drain Opener. It’s highly effective, works very quickly, and it’s also cheap, a great combination. We’ve always had good luck with this product, so we feel good about recommending it to you.
Another option we’ve had great success with is the DISSOLVE Liquid Hair and Grease Clog Remover from Green Gobbler. It takes just a few minutes to work and there are no toxic fumes. It’s a bit more expensive than the Instant Power, but it’s quite effective in our experience.
- DISSOLVES HAIR, SOAP, PAPER & GREASE: Forget the dirty work of plunging clogged toilets and end...
- MAINTAINS FREE-FLOWING PIPES & DRAINS: The ultra thick formula of green gobblers hair clog remover...
Call a Plumber
If you’ve tried everything on this list and your shower is still not draining properly, then you may have a bigger problem at hand. Some problems won’t be as simple to solve as a blockage of hair and debris. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances occur that are beyond our control. One such example is tree roots growing through your pipes. This is more common than you may think, and it’s a much more expensive issue to deal with. A plumber will be able to stick a camera down in your pipes and let you know exactly what the issue is.
If your shower is starting to drain slower and slower or it’s even beginning to back up, then you may have a clog on your hands. There are many different ways of dealing with a backed-up drain, and we’ve just covered nine of the best. Of course, a plumber is a professional at this, so if it’s still beyond your ability to repair, you may need to call in the pros. Some problems may be beyond the scope of a homeowner to repair with basic tools and chemicals. But for most clogged shower drains, these methods will be more than enough to get you draining at full speed again.
Featured image credit: Semevent, Pixabay
David Slone runs the TapIt Water blog. He first learned about water filtration and the impact it has on the world in college. Ever since that day he has worked towards making the world a better place. He writes to inform you about water filtration, the consequences of plastics, bottled water, and how we can do things better.
He loves to spend time with his beloved wife, 3 kids, and dog when he’s not writing.