Clogged Shower Drain? Easy DIY Fixes Before Calling a Plumber

There’s nothing worse than stepping into the shower only to find yourself standing in a growing puddle of water. A clogged shower drain can be frustrating and disruptive. But before you reach for the phone to call a plumber, there are several effective DIY solutions you can try.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through common causes of shower drain clogs, easy DIY fixes, and when it might be time to bring in a professional.

What Causes Clogged Shower Drains?

Understanding the culprit behind your clog is the first step to fixing it:

  • Hair: The number one cause of shower drain blockages. Long hair tangles easily, forming a stubborn mass.
  • Soap Scum & Gunk: A buildup of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and other grime combines with hair, making the clog even worse.
  • Mineral Deposits: In areas with hard water, minerals can build up and narrow the drain pipe.
  • Small Objects: Accidentally dropped bottle caps, jewelry, or children’s toys can wedge themselves in the drain.

Easy DIY Fixes for Clogged Shower Drains

Before spending money on a plumber, there’s a lot you can try yourself! Start with the simplest methods and gradually move towards more involved ones:

Remove Visible Clogs

You’d be amazed at what can accumulate directly around the drain opening! Remove the drain cover (some unscrew, others simply pop off). Use pliers, a bent wire hanger, or even a gloved hand to pull out any obvious clumps of hair, soap scum, or debris. Often, this makes a significant difference.

Natural Drain Cleaner: Baking Soda and Vinegar

This classic cleaning combo is safe for your pipes and surprisingly effective for mild to moderate clogs. Pour one cup of baking soda directly down the drain, followed immediately by one cup of plain white vinegar. Plug the drain to keep the fizzing action contained. Let it work for 15-30 minutes, then flush thoroughly with very hot water. The baking soda helps break up grime, and the vinegar reacts to dislodge it further.

The Plunger Method

That trusty plunger in your bathroom isn’t just for toilets! Make sure a little water pools in the shower floor to create a seal. Then, give the plunger several powerful pumps directly over the drain. This can dislodge compacted clogs and create enough force to push them further down the pipe where they can wash away.

Drain Snake

If the clog seems deeper, it’s time for a drain snake (also called an auger). These inexpensive tools can be found at any hardware store. Gently feed the flexible metal wire into the drain, twisting it as you go. The goal is to snag the hair and debris causing the clog and either break it up or pull it out.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Resort to chemical drain cleaners only if other methods haven’t worked. Choose a product specifically designed for shower drains, and read the instructions very carefully. Be mindful of potential fumes, wear gloves, and be aware that harsh chemicals can damage older plumbing systems.

Tips for Preventing Shower Drain Clogs

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to plumbing problems! A few simple habits can dramatically reduce the chances of dealing with a stubborn clog:

Hair Catcher: Your First Line of Defense

These simple mesh or silicone devices fit snugly over your shower drain. They’re incredibly effective at catching hair before it has a chance to slip down and cause trouble. The key is to empty them regularly! Once a week is ideal, even more often if you have long hair or multiple people showering.

Rinse Thoroughly: A Little Effort Goes a Long Way

After you shower, don’t just turn the water off and walk away. Spend an extra minute running hot water down the drain. This helps flush away any lingering soap residue, stray hairs, and other debris that could start the formation of a clog.

Occasional Baking Soda + Vinegar: Proactive Cleaning

Even with the best of habits, some buildup in your pipes is inevitable. Prevent it from becoming a problem with a proactive baking soda and vinegar treatment every few weeks. This gentle fizzy solution helps loosen grime and break down small clogs before they become big ones.

Bonus Tip: If you suspect hard water might be contributing to buildup within your pipes, consider having a plumber assess whether a water softening system would be beneficial for your home.

When Should You Call a Plumber?

  • Frequent Clogging: If DIY fixes only provide temporary relief, there may be a deeper issue within your pipes.
  • Slow Draining: If water always drains slowly, even with no obvious clog, it could indicate a problem further down the line.
  • Multiple Clogged Drains: If other drains are also slow, you may have a mainline blockage, which requires a professional.
  • Tree Root Intrusion: In older homes, tree roots can infiltrate pipes. A plumber has specialized equipment to diagnose and clear this.

Remember: Safety First!

  • Chemical Drain Cleaners: Commercial drain cleaners can be effective in tackling stubborn clogs, but they should be used with caution and only as a last resort. Here’s why:

  • Harsh Chemicals: These cleaners often contain powerful caustic ingredients that can damage pipes if not used properly. Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection when handling them.
  • Fumes: The fumes from chemical drain cleaners can be strong and irritating. Ensure adequate ventilation by opening windows and doors before using them.
  • Ineffective for Some Clogs: Chemical drain cleaners may not be effective for all types of clogs, such as those caused by mineral buildup or foreign objects.
  • Potential for Skin and Eye Irritation: In case of accidental contact with skin or eyes, flush the affected area immediately with clean water and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Environment: Many chemical drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. Check the product label for specific disposal instructions.

Clogged Shower Drain No More!

With these easy DIY tips, you can often solve shower drain clogs yourself, saving time and money. And remember, a few simple preventative steps can go a long way in keeping your shower flowing freely!


Nyla from Nyla Home is a blogger who loves to write about home improvement. She started her blog in 2013, and she’s been writing about home improvement ever since.

Nyla has a passion for helping people improve their homes, and she loves sharing her knowledge with her readers. She believes that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home, and she strives to help her readers achieve that goal.

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