How to Clean a Shower Drain (and Clear Any Clogs) 

Published June 9, 2022
Tiled wet floor of a bathroom / shower. Metal drain.

You stepped into the shower only to notice the water is collecting fast at your feet. Rather than panic, dry off and grab a few tools. Learn how to quickly and easily clean your shower drain. Get a few tips for how to keep your drain running like a champ.

Tools for Clearing a Shower Drain

Shower drains aren't typically going to clear themselves if they are clogged. So, you need to grab a few tools from your cleaning arsenal.

  • Hair hook
  • Drain snake
  • Plunger
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Natural drain cleaners
  • Commercial drain cleaners
  • Safety equipment (rubber gloves, etc.)
  • Tools (screwdriver might be necessary to remove the grate.)

Simple Method to Clean Shower Drain Clogged With Hair

One of the easiest ways to get your drain flowing again is to clean it manually. You can do this with a gloved hand or with a drain hair hook. If you have a tip lever stopper, you need to remove the grate to get to the drain.

  1. With a gloved hand, pull all the hair out of the drain you can grab.
  2. Pull off the grate.
  3. Insert the hair hook.
  4. Pull out all the hair.
  5. Flush with hot water to make sure all the hair is gone.

You might be tempted to use a coat hanger rather than a drain hook. You don't want to do this. A coat hanger can damage your drain.

Use a Plunger to Unclog a Shower Drain

If you don't have a hair hook, you can try the plunger method. Most households have a plunger readily available. Make sure to try the plunger before using any chemicals in the clog.

  1. Seal off the overflow with a sponge or cloth if your shower has one.
  2. Pull out the filter or grate.
  3. Stick the plunger over the drain and get a good seal.
  4. Push down and up until the clog has been removed.
  5. Remove seal from the overflow.
  6. Pour hot water down the drain to clear out anything remaining.

How to Snake a Shower Drain

If the hair removal and plunger were unsuccessful, you might have a deep clog that needs a snake. A snake is a long tube that works to force the clog down the drain or pull the gunk out.

  1. Take the grate so the snake can go in the drain.
  2. Advance it a little at a time.
  3. Lock and twist it down the drain.
  4. Once the drain is cleared, pull out the snake.

Simple Method to Clean Shower Drain With Water

Once you've removed all the hair or debris within your drain using the hook, snake, or plunger method, you can try removing any built-up gunk with a bit of boiling water.

  1. Boil several cups of water.
  2. Pour the water down the drain to remove any buildup and soap scum.
  3. Repeat several times.

How to Clean Shower Drain Naturally

If you don't have any fancy tools like a hook or snake, you can use natural chemicals to dissolve clogs in the trap. When it comes to cleaning your drains naturally, baking soda and white vinegar are the best natural drain cleaner out there. When used together, they create a nice reaction that works to eat the clog out of the drain. So, you'll have your water draining in no time flat. You can also try creating a homemade drain cleaner with ingredients in your pantry.

  1. Put your homemade drain cleaner in the drain.
  2. Allow it to sit for the recommended time.
  3. Follow with boiling water to flush out any remaining clog.

Unclog a Shower Drain With Commercial Cleaners

When natural methods leave you with a shower full of water, it's time to reach for the big guns. You can find several commercial drain cleaners on the market. These cleaners use chemicals and acids to eat away and dissolve clogs. However, they can be highly toxic so use safety equipment.

  1. Read the instructions on the commercial cleaner.
  2. Use the recommended amount in the drain.
  3. Wait the recommended time.
  4. Flush with water.

Remember not to mix chemicals within your drain. If you tried a natural method and it didn't work, you don't want to pour a commercial drain cleaner down the drain. Instead, you will want to call a plumber, so you don't unintentionally create a toxic chemical concoction.

Dirty bathtub

How to Clean a Smelly Shower Drain

You might not have a clog in your drain, but you definitely have a smell. You can try the baking soda and white vinegar method to remove that smelly gunk. But you can also use a lemony fresh concoction.

  1. Pour 3/4 cup of baking soda down the drain.
  2. Follow with 3/4 cup of lemon juice.
  3. Plug the drain and allow the cleaner to sit for an hour or so.
  4. Follow with 3-4 cups of boiling water.
  5. Enjoy that lemony fresh drain.

Simple Tips to Avoiding a Clogged Shower Drain

A clogged shower drain can be a pain. This is especially true when you have to call a plumber to get the problem fixed. To avoid this issue, you can try out a few different tips to keep your drains clear and running smoothly.

  • Use a plastic cover on your drain to collect hair. Hair is a major contributor to clogs.
  • Rinse your drain weekly with boiling water to avoid gunk buildup.
  • Avoid using body cleaners with oils that can build up in the drain.
  • Rinse the drain with baking soda and white vinegar every few showers to keep the drain clear.

Knowing When to Call a Plumber

Sometimes the clog isn't because of hair or debris. It's part of a bigger issue. In this case, you need to call a plumber to get your drain professionally cleaned and checked. While knowing when to call a plumber isn't easy, if your drain is clogging even with proper maintenance, then it might be time. Additionally, if you've tried all the methods listed above and have no luck, call a plumber.

How to Clean Your Shower Drain and Keep It Clean

Shower drains get clogged. From soap scum to hair, there are a lot of different culprits. However, using a few simple methods, you can get your water flowing again. Just remember that proper drain maintenance can avoid a clog most of the time.

How to Clean a Shower Drain (and Clear Any Clogs)