How To Unclog A Shower Drain

How many times have you gotten in the shower only to realize that the water isn’t going down the drain as it should be?

If you or someone in your family has long, luxurious tresses, there’s a good chance that a hair clog is the culprit. Here are a few ideas on how to unclog a shower drain and when to call in the professionals.

How To Unclog A Bathtub Drain With Standing Water

There’s nothing worse than realizing that your drain is clogged after you’ve already filled the tub up or run the shower.

First, try using a toilet plunger through the standing water to unclog the drain.

If unsuccessful, the next step in getting rid of the clog is to drain the water. This might require using buckets or cups and dumping the water out in a different drain in the home or taking it outside. 

boiling water

Once you’ve gotten the tub cleared out, you’ll want to try pouring boiling water down the drain. 

Be very careful not to burn yourself. 

Wait a few minutes to let the hot water dissolve anything that is stuck in the drain.

Rinse with warm water and see if there is any improvement. If no improvement, you’ll need to move onto some of the more vigorous steps discussed below.

hair in drain

How To Unclog A Bathtub Drain Full Of Hair

Again, if someone in your household has long hair, there’s a good chance that you have a pretty severe clog that will require more than just water.

That’s where you have a couple of options if your drain is clogged, but there’s no standing water.

How Do You Dissolve Hair In A Drain?

There are a few different ways you can dissolve hair buildup within a shower or tub drain.

The easiest and most readily available method is baking soda and vinegar

baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain

Start by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain.

Follow it up a few minutes later with a cup of white vinegar.

Wait for a couple of hours before thoroughly rinsing the drain with water.

If your problem is a minor hair clog, this should dissolve it and do the trick.

use cola to clear a drain

Another option is to pour a two-liter bottle of Cola down the drain.

While this might sound a little odd, the truth is that it all comes down to a science. The soda contains phosphoric acid, which works to dissolve soap scum and grime that’s causing the hair to stick together.

After about an hour, you can rinse the drain with hot water to double-check whether the problem is solved.

plumbers plunger

However, a significant hair clog might need a bit more effort and elbow grease.

Use a bit of petroleum jelly to line the rim of a rubber plunger. Attempt to pull up the clog by using the plunger over the drain.

In most cases, the suction should pull up any remaining hair in the drain.

Attempt to run water through the drain to see if there is still a clog. If so, attempt the process again a couple more times. 

Should you still have issues, it might be time to move onto calling a professional plumber.

do not use no chemicals to clear a drain

Avoid Drain Chemicals

Somebody might tempt you to try liquid chemicals or other options from your local hardware store, and we strongly caution against this. Not only are these solvents terrible for your pipes, but they’re dangerous for plumbers too. When we rooter the drain, those chemicals contaminate our equipment and may discharge on us. Please don’t use them.

Is It Just One Drain? 

Before you call a plumber, check to see if the issue is isolated to the one shower or tub. Turn water on at a nearby sink to see if it is draining well.

Test all sink, bath, shower, and toilet drains in the house. Run the water, or flush, to see if they’re draining correctly.

If you’re having problems with more than one drain in the house, all of your drains, or just one side of the house, this is an indicator that the issue is more than just a bit of hair or debris. 

When to Call the Professionals for a Shower Drain Clog

At some point, your shower drain might be too clogged for you to attempt to handle it on your own.

In this case, it is time to call in professional drain & sewer plumbers to take care of the problem. So, how do you know when you’ve reached this point?

After you’ve attempted the methods mentioned above, you should see some improvement. If you do not, it is probably time to contact our team about scheduling an appointment.

There’s a good chance that the issue you’re experiencing is caused by clogs or obstructions deeper in the drain line.

We use cameras and special equipment to find deep-seated drain clogs and clear them.

Preventing Drain Clogs

Of course, the easiest way to deal with a shower drain clog is to ensure one doesn’t happen at all.

It would help if you routinely flushed all drains with near-boiling hot water, as detailed above. Hair, soap scum, dirt, grease, and grime can buildup and cause clogging issues. Hot water can help dissolve these before becoming a problem.

Take extra care always to use a drain cover, which will help catch the hair before it makes it down into the plumbing. Wipe it out once every couple of days to help eliminate problems.

Here are two drain covers that we see often:


This unique accessory fits down inside the drain to help collect hair along the way. When it gets full, all you have to do is wipe it off and reinsert it into the drain.

Choose from multiple fun color options, including bright orange, green, and blue. They’re also available in two additional stylish varieties, black chrome and stainless steel.

Danco Tub Drain Protector

The Danco Tub Drain Protector has a universal style that fits over any drain and easily catches hair and debris to keep it from clogging up the plumbing, saving you both time and money.

Need The Pros? Let RT Olson Plumbing Help With Your Shower Clogs

Are you still having an issue? Then it’s probably time for a professional plumber.

Give our team at RT Olson Plumbing Company a phone call. We will dispatch a technician as soon as possible to help diagnose and treat your drain clog or overall home plumbing problem.

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Owner - Operator at RT Olson Plumbing
Bob Olson has over 18 years experience in all aspects of residential and commercial plumbing. He's a 4th generation plumber. With over 500 five-star customer reviews, he runs one of the best-rated plumbing companies in Corona, CA.
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