Dealing with a pesky clogged drain? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! While we’re always going to suggest seeking the help of a professional plumber, there are several methods you can safely try at home for a temporary fix, which we’re outlining below.

Symptoms of a Clogged Shower Drain

It’s important to heed the early warning signs of a clog to avoid more significant plumbing problems down the line.

The most common signs that your shower drain may be clogged include:

1. Slow Drainage

If water is taking longer than usual to disappear down the drain, you most likely have a blockage that is preventing the flow.

2. Gurgling Noises

When air gets trapped in the drain due to an obstruction, you may hear gurgling noises when running the water – an early warning sign of a developing clog.

3. Standing Water

Finished showering, but still seeing water at the base? This is a clear sign of a clog. And what’s worse is that you now have a breeding ground for bacteria if it sits for too long.

4. Foul Odors

Experiencing unpleasant odors from your drain? A drain clog can trap hair, soap scum, and dirt, causing bacterial growth over time.

What You Need to Unclog Your Shower Drain

Depending on the method you choose, below are the most common tools needed for unclogging a shower drain:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Plunger
  • Towel
  • Bucket for removing standing water

Steps to Unclogging the Shower Drain

First and foremost, we do have to caution you against using a commercial liquid drain cleaner. These products contain chemicals that can not only cause harm if they splash on you, but can also severely harm your pipes – which can be a very costly problem down the road.

While your best bet will always be to hire a professional plumber, there are a few DIY methods you can safely try at home for a temporary fix, including:


Yes, it sounds a bit messy — you’ll want to wear gloves — but you may be able to remove any debris with your hands. Simply remove the drain cover and use pliers to pull out visible hair, soap scum or other debris.

Boiling Water

Important note: Do NOT pour boiling water into the drain if you have PVC pipes!

If your clog is caused primarily by soap scum, boiling water may do the trick, as it will liquify the soap and flush it down the drain. After allowing any standing water to drain. It should be noted that if water still remains after 45-60 minutes, the clog is probably too large to be cleared with boiling water.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

If boiling water doesn’t do the trick, you can try a combination of baking soda and vinegar, which could break up the debris. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar, then close the drain. If this solves the problem, it should happen within 30-45 minutes. Follow up with boiling water to flush out the loosened clog. But again, do NOT pour boiling water into the drain if you have PVC pipes!

A Plunger

If the above solutions don’t work, you can try a plunger. Once all standing water has drained or been removed, fill the shower with just enough water to cover the bottom of the plunger. Plunge 5-10 times to remove the clog. If this doesn’t work, you can try 2-3 more times.

A Professional Plumber

You knew this would be our final suggestion! Look, you don’t know what’s going on in your drain pipes — and it could be a much bigger problem than you think. While DIY methods can work for minor clogs, persistent or recurring issues will require a professional plumber who can diagnose and resolve the problem.

If you’ve tried the above drain unclogging methods and are still experiencing issues, your best bet is to contact a professional. In addition to drain cleaning and clog removal, we can also conduct a drain camera inspection to help identify the source of the clog.

Drain Cleaning in Northern Virginia

If you’ve been experiencing issues with your shower or tub drain, our plumbing experts are ready to help! It’s important to note that DIY methods for clearing drain clogs will only target issues closest to the drain, and may not be sufficient for more complex issues within your plumbing system. Be sure to schedule regular drain cleanings – we recommend every two years – to keep your pipes healthy and clear!

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