The dark-looking, smelly water that doesn't leave the bathtub or shower has a name: standing water. Also called stagnant water, standing water is a visible indication that something is wrong with your drain. Closing your eyes and hoping the problem will go away never works. You need to learn how to unclog a drain with standing water

Here, discover why standing water is a concerning problem, the tools needed to remove standing water, how to unclog the drain, and how to prevent standing water.

Why Standing Water Is Problematic

how to unclog a drain with standing water: bathtub with dirty water

Besides slow draining water, standing water is a primary telltale sign of a drain clog. The clog creates a tight blockage inside the pipe where no water passes. Unlike slow-to-drain water, standing water stays inside the bathtub or shower and doesn't move.

Standing water is often unclean. The dirty water sits, infected with bacteria, can turn into ground zero for mildew and mold. It also carries a foul odor that begins where the clog occurs and ends inside the bathtub or shower. The smell pollutes the air, causing allergic reactions, asthma flare-ups, and respiratory problems once inhaled.

This chain reaction can occur as quickly as a few hours and as late as two days, and it will worsen if it sits longer than that.

Flies, dragonflies, and mosquitoes love standing water and will fly into your home through the window or door if it's open for ventilation. Mosquitoes and flies can bring bacteria and disease to the water, making standing water even more hazardous.

Tools Needed to Unclog a Drain

how to unclog a drain with standing water: woman wearing rubber gloves

Touching contaminated water without protecting the skin may cause a reaction, so you need protective tools. The other equipment revolves around unclogging the drain. The tools are as follows:

  • A bucket or cup
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dry towel
  • Plunger
  • Petroleum jelly
  • A drain snake or DrainShroom
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Drain plug or StopShroom
  • ¾ cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup of vinegar or 1/3 cup of salt
  • Boiling water
  • Hot water from the faucet
  • Cold tap water

A word of caution: Using chemical drain cleaners and bleach will erode and weaken pipe structure, shortening the pipe's lifespan and increasing the chance you will need to contact a plumber to install a new one.

How to Unclog a Drain With Standing Water

how to unclog a drain with standing water: woman complaining to the repairman about the bathtub

 

Before unclogging the drain, put on your gloves and grab a bucket. Scoop up water in a cup and empty it in a bucket you later empty outside. Continue until there is no more water. 

Then, remove any tub drain stoppers and drain covers

Next, use a dry towel to absorb standing water around the drain. 

Last, manually remove visible gunk off the drain and transfer it into the trash can. 

Now, it's time to try the clog clearing methods below. Keep your gloves on for the duration. All methods work in standalone showers, standalone bathtubs, and shower/tub combos.

Home Remedies

Two home remedies remove standing water clogs: baking soda and vinegar and baking soda and salt. These safer drain cleaners won’t damage pipes. Substitute salt for vinegar if vinegar is not in the house. Baking soda and vinegar's fizzy combination and baking soda and salt break down clogs' tough defenses:

  1. First, pour 3/4 cup of baking soda in the drain. 
  2. Then, pour 1 cup of vinegar or 1/3 cup of salt in the drain. A drain stopper like StopShroom will keep the vinegar's fizz inside the drain. 
  3. Let it sit for an hour. 
  4. Flush by pouring boiling water in the drain slowly to melt the clog.

Plunger

A plunger pushes clogs out using air pressure. Apply petroleum jelly around the suction rim. Cover the drain with the plunger to make a tight seal. Apply fast, repeated pressure down the drain for three minutes. Remove the plunger

Turn on the faucet's hot water for three minutes and the cold water for two minutes to see if the drain is moving. Repeat the process two more times. Try another solution if the clog is immovable.

Coat Hanger

A wire coat hanger can reach nearby clogs. Take the wire and unravel it until it becomes a straight line. Bend the wire at one end to make a J-shaped curve, and hold the opposite end. Send the coat hanger down the drain. If you feel resistance, that’s the clog

Use the hook to grab pieces of the clog and pull it back up. Place any gunk from the hook into the trash can. Repeat until all the gunk is out of the drain. Flush with the faucet's hot water.

Drain Snake

Also called pipe snake, plumber’s snake, or drain auger, the drain snake reaches clogs deep inside the pipe where no coat hanger can reach it. 

Only experts should use the drain snake as it can destroy pipes. An easier drain snake to use is DrainShroom

Reaching clogs up to 3 feet away, DrainShroom is a power drill attachment that latches onto clogs and pulls them out without pipe damage. If you can use a power drill, you can use DrainShroom.

Professional Plumber

A plumbing expert is the last resort when all DIY options are not working. A plumber will fix the standing water drain problem using the latest equipment. If necessary, the expert will turn off the water, remove the clogged drain pipe, and clean it before reinserting it. The plumber will also replace the pipe with a new one if all else fails.

Stop Standing Water from Resurging

person holding shred of hair

After all that hard work, you will never want to unclog a drain with standing water again. So, fight for clear bathtub and shower drain pathways. Focus on keeping drain clogs away, and the standing water will never return. For best results, follow these tips regularly. These tips are the one-two punch combo to help you fight the battle. 

Wear a shower cap. Your hair disrupts water flow once it gets stuck in the drain. Avoid this by wearing a shower cap. If you prefer hair wet in the shower, comb and brush your hair before entering the shower. This will collect most of the hair now to prevent hair from clogging the drain later.

Take non-flushable objects out of the tub and shower. Take toys, toothpaste tops, toothbrushes, hair bows, hair clips, and electronics out of the tub when not in use. Manually remove solid waste such as hair, toilet tissue, wipes, napkins, paper towels, and paper and transfer them to the wastebasket.

Stop pouring dirty water down the drain. Dirty water such as mop water, wastewater, and foot soak water contains dirt and debris that will clog drains. Pour water outside instead.

Let the hot water run for two minutes. It cleans the drain of oil-based products like shower gels, body washes, shampoos, and conditioners stuck to the pipe's interior structure. It also removes soap scum build-up. Turn off the hot water for five minutes, and turn the hot water back on to run for two minutes again.

Add TubShroom and ShowerShroom to your drain. Drain catchers like TubShroom and ShowerShroom collect hair and objects around its cylinder base, stopping it from falling down the drain and forming a clog. The drain strainers are easy to remove, clean, and insert for reuse.

Use baking soda and vinegar. The same homemade combo that clears clogs can also prevent clogs. Use these home products as directed once every two weeks to maintain clear drains.

Prevent the Standoff Against Standing Water With Shroom

TubShroom in the bathtub

Standing water is a sign that a clog is so severe that no water can seep through it. In these cases, do-it-yourself drain cleaning and prevention solutions are welcome sights.

However, standing water is avoidable. TubShroom and ShowerShroom could have been guarding your drain against non-water items by catching them before it becomes a problem. It still can be your ally in the tub and shower. The bathtub and shower drain catchers (along with ShowerShroom Ultra) are the best line of defense against standing water clogs, it wouldn't hurt to give both a try.