When water doesn't run through the shower as fast as before, you have a clogged drain. This is when it’s important to know how to unclog a shower drain.
It's not enough to learn the methods. You need to know how clogs form and how to stop the clog from recurring.
This article will explain how a clog forms, common remedies to unclog shower drains, and how to prevent clogs from coming back.
6 Causes of Clogged Shower Drains
Between soap use, organic material falling from your body, and other items falling down the drain, the shower drain can clog often. Before you learn how to unclog a shower drain, let’s look at common culprits of shower drain clogs.
1. Skin Dirt
While showering, you naturally remove dandruff, dead skin cells, dust, and grime from your body. It goes down the drain, sticks to the interior pipe walls, and slows down water drainage.
2. Water Minerals
Water comes in two forms: soft water and hard water. Soft water contains less magnesium and calcium and more sodium. Hard water contains loads of calcium and magnesium. The minerals in hard water cause a shower drain to clog faster than soft water. It can also corrode water pipes. The following signs can tell you whether your home contains hard water:
- Spots on drinkware, silverware, and dishes.
- Dry skin and dull hair after washing
- Film and scum on hands after washing
- Stains on clothes after a washing machine cycle
- Scale buildup around water-dependent appliances and faucets
3. Small Objects
Small items can fall as you bathe and contribute to clogging. Toys, rings, paper, hair bands, shampoo caps, and toothpaste caps are a few examples.
4. Soapy Cleansers
Body washes, shower gels, bar soaps, and shampoo contain fat, wax, and talc. Combined with water, the creamy gel or glaze will stick to the inside walls of the pipe. While soapy clogs form faster when combined with another culprit, soapy cleaners alone can cause a clog. The residue will thicken and harden over time, restricting water flow.
5. Bath Bombs
A separate category from soap, a bath bomb contains salt, oil, and glitter. These materials can prevent a bath bomb from fully dissolving. Pieces of undissolved bath bombs can clog the drain, causing buildup.
Fallen hair comes from the scalp, face, and body. Using a comb, washing hair, and shaving arms and legs in the shower are major causes of this. Thanks to the flexibility of hair strands, they wraps around soap, dirt, minerals, and random items to intensify clog development. It can lead to a clump or ball-like clog that decreases water speed.
How to Unclog a Shower Drain: Common Remedies
If you smell an unusual odor, hear a gurgling sound, or the water is draining more slowly than normal, it's time to unclog the shower drain. Look for a remedy that fits your budget.
Home remedies are often the most convenient solutions for clearing a clog. Here are some affordable, DIY options — you might already have the tools in your pantry.
Pull Out the Clog
If the blockage is visible, pull it out yourself. Wear gloves and start pulling out clog pieces until you can't get any more. Throw the pieces in the wastebasket.
A simple remedy — only for metal pipes — is boiling water. After letting the water boil on the stove, pour the hot water down the shower drain slowly. If you pour hot water too fast, it will cool too quickly.
Wire Coat Hanger
A third option is using a wire coat hanger. Straighten the coat hanger, and add a small hook on the end by bending the wire. Use the device to reach in and grab clog pieces out of the shower drain pipe, and place these into the trash bin. Repeat the process until the pipe is clear. Note: This only works if the clog is near the drain.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
A remedy that unclogs blocked drains is baking soda and vinegar. Most households have baking soda and vinegar in their cabinet or pantry. Baking soda's salty and acidic substance combined with vinegar's acidity creates a fizzing reaction that loosens and pushes stuck clogs down the drain. Three hours after pouring both substances down the drain, rinse the drain with hot water. Alternatives to baking soda and vinegar are baking soda and salt, baking soda and water, and vinegar and water.
The final option is dish detergent. The thick, soapy substance of dishwashing liquid or dish detergent will loosen clog pieces stuck on the pipe's interior walls. Let it set for 15 minutes. Then, cleanse the drain with water.
A plunger will be just as effective in unclogging shower drains as it is for toilets and sinks. Start by adding water to the shower. Next, seal the plunger around the drain and start pushing rapidly for a few minutes. Then, try to remove the clog using your hands or a wire hanger. If not, run the water to see if it drains faster. Repeat this at least seven more times. If nothing changes, try a drain snake or drain cleaner.
Drain cleaners are effective at unclogging shower drains. They’re especially great for stubborn clogs. When you use drain cleaners, it's important to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles, as the chemical ingredients can damage your skin and eyes. It's also important to follow instructions step-by-step on the product label. Regardless, continued use of drain cleaners will result in pipe damage.
A drain snake or plumbing snake, or snake auger is an expensive, yet effective tool in unclogging drains. It’s flexible and slides inside pipes to locate and remove clogs other methods can’t necessarily reach. However, be sure you know how to unclog a shower drain with it. Incorrectly operating a drain snake will result in the snake getting stuck in the drain, causing more harm than good.
The most expensive and most effective option is hiring a plumbing service. It’s expensive because the plumbing expert has the equipment and the experience to remove clogs fast, especially in hard-to-reach areas. The average price to remove a shower drain clog is $130 to $500 with parts and service fees included. The price you will receive depends heavily on the clog’s removal difficulty. Furthermore, some offer flat rates for clog removal while others charge by the hour.
A downside to hiring a plumber, however, is scheduling. Because so many people call plumbers to repair pipes, faucets, and water issues, it may take a while before the plumber can visit your home.
How to Prevent Shower Drain Clogs
If you don't know how to unclog a shower drain, then avoid doing it by enacting proactive measures. The best ways to stop shower drain clogs from forming are buying a water softener, keeping debris and small items out of the shower, and using a drain catcher.
A water softener loosens the hardness of magnesium and calcium in hard water by adding sodium, a similar item that typical soft water contains. This makes it less likely to clog drains.
Remove Unnecessary Items
Your shower is not a storage space or trash can. The only things that belong in a shower are shower poufs, back scrubbers, towels, and soap. Take items that don’t belong in the shower out of the shower.
Also called drain covers or mesh catchers, these cup-like tools sit on top of the drain. They allow water to pass through and catch items before they fall down the drain. When full, remove the cup and empty the clog in the trash. Place the now-clean catcher back on top of the drain and repeat.
The best drain catcher for the shower is ShowerShroom. After you insert the product underneath the stall grate in your stand-up shower, the ShowerShroom does the rest. Available in three colors, its unique design of 360-degree hole vents allows water to pass through easily while loose hair wraps around the cylinder instead of entering the pipe. Use the handle to remove the ShowerShroom and to re-insert it after cleanup. Shower/tub combos will appreciate a similar product from TubShroom.
More Ways to Prevent Clogs
Additional ways to prevent clog formation are cleaning the shower after showering and taking care of hair before entering the shower. Clean the shower by washing the walls, windows, flooring, and showerhead with safe household cleaning products to remove soap scum buildup and residue.
Also, comb your hair and shave your face and body before entering the shower to remove loose hair. Transfer it to the wastebasket before it falls in the drain. Unless you are washing your hair, wear a shower cap in the shower.
Keep Your Shower Drains Clear and Clean
Now that you know how to unclog a shower drain, there is no excuse for living with clogs. Shower clogs are preventable, and ignoring drain clogs won’t help. If you have a clog, be proactive and clear it with one of these above methods.
Use ShowerShroom or TubShroom to prevent clogs before they happen. Both can stop clogs before they wreak havoc on plumbing pipes.
Clogs don't have to come from the shower to be problematic, and TubShroom has many products that can help you prevent all sorts of clog buildup. ShowerShroom Ultra, SinkShroom, StopShroom Plug, and ToiletShroom are perfect for bathroom sinks, showers, shower/tub combos, and toilets. Protect your home's plumbing system from clogs today.