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How to unblock a shower drain

Imagine stepping into your shower, ready for a refreshing start or soothing end to your day, only to find the water pooling around your feet. The frustration of dealing with a clogged drain in your shower is all too familiar for many homeowners. Not only is it inconvenient, but standing water can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

In this blog post, we will guide you through everything you need to know about what causes a shower drain clog, how to know for certain if you have one, how to unblock your shower drain and how to prevent it from happening again.

What causes a blocked shower drain?

Soap and hair

The most common culprits behind a blocked drain are soap scum and hair. When mixed together, they form a sticky substance that adheres to the sides of the drain pipes, gradually accumulating until the water can no longer pass through.

Hard water deposits

In areas with hard water, mineral buildup within pipes can narrow their diameter, exacerbating any blockages caused by organic matter.

Small objects

Occasionally, small objects can accidentally find their way down the drain, leading to immediate blockages that are not easily resolved without removing the obstruction.

How to know for sure if your shower drain is clogged

The most obvious sign of a clogged shower drain is standing water or a slow shower drain: if you find your shower drain slow to empty, you likely have a blockage. Another telltale sign is an unpleasant odour emanating from the drain, caused by trapped hair and soap decomposing over time. You may also notice that the water pressure in your shower has decreased.

Should your drain keep clogging even after several repair attempts, it might signal a deeper blockage in your main sewer line. However, this is usually not the scenario, and you can take measures to prevent or clear any blockages in your shower drain yourself.

How to unblock a clogged shower drain

1. Use a plunger

use plunger to unblock shower drain

Though plungers are traditionally associated with toilets, they can also be effective in dislodging clogs in shower drains. Improve the suction by applying petroleum jelly around the edge of the plunger. Add enough water to cover the plunger base and start plunging; the increased pressure can help remove the blockage.

2. Pour boiling water down the drain

use boiling water to unblock shower drain

A simple yet occasionally effective method of fixing a slow drain involves pouring boiling water directly down it. This can dissolve the soap scum and grease that contribute to the blockage and restore the water flow. Exercise caution to avoid burns or damaging any nearby bathroom fixtures.

3. Try baking soda and vinegar

use baking soda and vinegar to unblock shower drain

For more stubborn clogs, a combination of baking soda and vinegar can work wonders. Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain. The chemical reaction from the baking soda solution can break down the blockage, allowing you to flush it away with hot water after a few hours.

4. Manual removal

 unblock shower drain

If the clog is caused by visible obstacles like hair and debris, manually removing it might be the best option. Unscrew the drain cover and, wearing rubber gloves, reach into the drain to remove the blockage. You may have increased success by using a straightened-out wire coat hanger to manually unclog a shower drain, just be careful that any sharp edges don’t damage your fittings.

5. Use a plumber’s snake

use plumber snake to unblock shower drain

A plumber’s snake, drain auger or drain snake, can reach deep into the pipe to dislodge blockages that are out of arm’s reach. Carefully feed the snake into the drain until you encounter resistance, then turn the handle to break apart the clog.

6. Chemical drain cleaners

use drain cleaners to unblock shower drain

When other methods fail, a chemical drain cleaner can offer a powerful solution. Be aware that these products should be used sparingly, as they can damage pipes over time. Always wear gloves and follow the instructions carefully.

How to prevent future blockages

Once a blockage has been cleared, you will be keen to ensure it doesn’t return. By following some simple preventative measures, you can minimise the chances of dealing with a blocked shower drain in the future.

Use a drain cover/drain trap

To prevent hair and large objects from entering your drain, consider using a drain cover. These inexpensive accessories can be easily removed for cleaning and greatly reduce the risk of clogs.

Regularly clean your drain

Cleaning your shower drain regularly (around once per month) with hot water and vinegar can help prevent buildup and maintain smooth drainage.

Be mindful of what goes down your drain

Avoid emptying large amounts of hair or foreign objects down your drain. A simple rule to follow is that anything that isn’t water should go in the bin.


While a clogged shower drain is a common issue, it can often be resolved with a bit of DIY effort. From boiling water to a plumber’s snake, there are numerous ways to tackle the problem.

However, if you find that your shower drain frequently becomes clogged, or if these solutions fail to unblock it, it may be time to call in the professionals.

Couldn’t clear it yourself? Get the professionals on the job!

If your shower drain blockage persists despite your best efforts at home remedies, Any Drains Direct is here to help.

Our team of experienced professionals is equipped with powerful tools and expertise to swiftly diagnose and clear any blockages, ensuring your showers are back to their optimal flow.

Don’t let a stubborn drain disrupt your daily routine – contact us today for a free quote and we’ll make sure your plumbing worries are washed away.

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