When I was in college, my suitemates and I had a joke that there was a furry monster living in the shower drain of our dorm shower stall. (Having 8 long-haired girls sharing a shower made for a nasty situation.) And being a bunch of 19 year olds, we didn’t ever think about home improvement and not once considered buying some Drano® to fix it.
Fast forward to now, I’m a mom and a homeowner. Shower drain blockages are still a problem (I have 3 long-haired teen daughters) and unfortunately, it’s a chore I HAVE to tackle on my own.
So I've had to learn a few tricks. Here are some options for unclogging a shower-drain DIY-style:
The basic water-boil method
As noted by BobVila.com, one of the easiest ways to unclog a shower drain is to use boiling water - provided you have metal pipes for your plumbing:
- Boil some water on your stove using either a medium-large saucepan or a teakettle.
- Bring the hot H2O to the bathroom and pour it down the drain slowly - a splash at a time. (Pouring it all at once risks having the water loosen some but not all of the hair or other gunk in the drain and pass through the pipes without fixing the whole problem.)
I think of this one as "the volcano," because it brings me back to my elementary school days when we did the baking soda/vinegar combo volcano model for our science projects. But it really works as a natural drain-cleaning solution for a hair clog or other simple obstruction, according to Den Garden:
- Start by pouring some baking soda down the drain (about 1 cup), then wait several minutes.
- Pour an equal amount of vinegar in after that brief waiting period.
- Check back in several hours to see if the drain is still blocked.
- Either way, pour some boiling water in for some extra unclogging oomph.
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Bob Vila.com suggests a slightly different version, in which you mix 1/3 cup of each substance in a heat-resistant measuring cup and then immediately pour it down the clogged drain.
The local hardware store will have chemicals intended for this purpose (ie Drano®). Be sure to also buy (and use) some rubber gloves and goggles if you choose this method. Directions vary by substance, so follow the label closely for safety reasons.
The way of the snake
You can opt for manual unclogging alongside or instead of the solutions above. As explained by The Home Depot, you can use either a plunger, an auger or a snake - or start with one and switch to others as needed:
- Unscrew the drain cover in the tub or shower stall, then shine a light on the clog.
- If using a plunger, place the cup over the drain, run enough water to cover its lip and plunge as you would a toilet.
- Try a store-bought or DIY snake if the plunger isn't enough, hooking it onto the clog and pulling it out manually.
- Combine the snake with an auger to go deep into the drain and break apart clogs.
If DIY is just too time-consuming and disgusting for you (I feel your pain), having a home warranty or home repair plan in place can help with covered plumbing issues.
Find out how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.