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How to Unclog a Hairy Shower Drain

It’s a hairy situation, alright — by the time you finish your shampoo, condition, rinse and repeat, you’re standing in an inch of water. Hair above and below your drain screen is one of the fastest ways to back up your pipes.

There are ways to unclog your shower drain without the use of harsh chemicals that can be damaging to your family and your pipes, and there are several techniques you can try on your own to unclog the shower drain naturally.

But first – what’s the harm in using a chemical drain cleaner?  Not only can these chemicals burn your eyes and skin and cause permanent damage, the harsh chemicals in drain cleaners can also wear away at your pipes.  For these reasons, it is much better to remove the clog naturally. 

Unclogging a Shower Drain Naturally

  1. Unscrew the drain screen.  Use caution with the screws – you don’t want to lose them down the drain. Once the screws are loosened, use a piece of tape to pull them up and keep them secured while you work on the clog.
  2. Use a Zip-It tool to unclog the drain. This tool was designed for this very problem, and it’s your simplest chance at a DIY fix. For less than ten dollars, we recommend that everyone keep this reusable tool around the house. The Zip-it comes with instructions, and there are plenty of helpful videos online, as well.
  3. Use a wire hanger or drain snake.  If you need to clear your drain NOW, and running to the hardware store isn’t an option, your grandpa’s old wire hanger trick is still worth a try. Take a wire hanger (or any piece of wire) and bend it with pliers so that it has hook on the end, about a 3/4 inch.   Use the hook to pull out any debris. This option won’t catch us much debris as a Zip-it, but it might clear things up enough that standing water can slowly drain.
  4. Get out the plunger.  Still not draining? You may have a clog further down the pipe than your wire/Zip-it can reach. It’s time to, literally, turn up the pressure. First, stop up the tub’s overflow opening with a wet rag to make sure that the plunger is effective (you’re creating an air lock). Next, fill the shower with just enough warm water to cover the bottom of the plunger. Begin plunging in a vertical fashion. After about 5-10 strong plunges, lift up the plunger to see if the water is draining away quickly.  Continue plunging until the water starts to drain quickly.
  5. Use baking soda and vinegar. If the extracting and plunging methods are unsuccessful, begin by remove any existing water from the shower. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain and use a spatula to force it down the drain if needed.  Next, pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain and quickly cover the drain with a drain cover or damp towel to force the vinegar and baking soda to the clog.  Hold the cover over the drain until the fizzing stops.  Lastly, uncover the drain and flush it with boiling water.
  6. If the shower drain is still clogged, it’s time to call a plumber.  Call Plumb Pro Plus before you try to use more forceful methods or harsh chemical drain cleaners. These methods can damage pipes and cause larger plumbing problems. 

How to Avoid Clogged Shower Drains

Avoid clogged showers from the start with these three tips:

  1. Get a hair trap and use it.  Stop clogs before they start with this handy tool. We recommend removing your drain screen and inserting a basket-style hair trap. Clean the trap out every few uses to prevent errant hairs from finding their way through the basket.
  2. Clean shower drains regularly with baking soda and vinegar. Whenever you clean the shower, use the baking soda method when you are done cleaning to prevent clogs.
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