How to Tackle a Slow-Draining Shower

You will probably start to notice it slowly. Every time you finish taking a shower and start to dry off, there’s a bit of water that continues to linger around your feet. In the beginning, it’s only a little water, but over time, it becomes a half-inch of water, then an inch and eventually it just won’t seem to drain. If this experience sounds familiar, you’re probably looking at a clogged drain. While calling a plumber might seem like the obvious thing to do when this happens, the good news is there are some things you can do to alleviate the problem on your own.

Boiling Water

There is no shortage of substances that can cause your drain to become clogged. They range from soap scum, to hair to grease. As these products sit in your drainpipes, they solidify and cause blockage. All you need to do is boil water on your stove and pour it down your drain through a funnel. While this method might not unclog a serious clog by itself, it’s a great place to start. Please be very careful with the boiling water, wear protective clothing and always wear goggles or a face shield. Also, do not pour the water onto the shower tile as it may cause it to crack.


Depending on how serious the clog is and where it is located, you might be able to use a plunger. Before you start wailing away, fill the drain with water so that the head of the plunger will be submerged. You also might want to apply a coat of petroleum jelly to the outer edges of the plunger to create a tighter seal.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

If you’re like most homeowners, the first thing you do when you have a clogged drain is reach for the nearest bottle of chemical drain cleaner. Even though this solution can fix the problem temporarily, you may actually be doing more harm than good. The chemicals in these products are so strong they can be corrosive to your plumbing system and even be dangerous to your health if they’re inhaled or come in contact with your skin.

If you’re going to use a chemical drain cleaner, make sure you read the small print on the label to make sure the chemicals inside won’t damage your pipes and are compatible with the particular plumbing system you’re dealing with. For example, you shouldn’t use a product meant for your septic system on your shower drain.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

This is a much safer alternative to using chemical cleaners and is easy to do. Start by pouring a cup of baking soda down your drain. After waiting a few minutes, add a cup of vinegar and wait at least an hour. Once the clog is freed, finish the process by cleaning the drain with boiling water.

Use a Hook

As simple as it sounds, using a hook is a proven method for unclogging drains. All you need is an old wire clothes hanger. Bend the hanger into the shape of a hook and put it down the drain. With a little poking and prodding, you’ll likely remove whatever it is that’s in the way. If you don’t have a wire hanger or are having trouble, try using a plumber’s snake instead.

Use Your Hands

Even though it might not be the most appetizing way to unclog a drain, using your hands is always an option if the clog is within reach. To begin, remove the drain cover. Some covers have a screw in the middle and others you might need a screwdriver to pry it off. Once you have the cover off, see if you can locate the clog with a flashlight. If it’s within reach, dig in. Because this method is not the most sanitary, you should wear rubber gloves to protect your skin.

Preventing Clogs

The truth is that most clogs can be prevented. The easiest way is to be mindful of what you put down your drain. The drain in your shower is going to have dirt and grime go down it at some point, but putting anything like food or bath tissue down your drain is never a good idea. Additionally, you might want to make a minimal investment in a soap dish and drain protector. The less hair, dirt and soap that goes down your drain, the better.

No one likes the hassle of dealing with a clogged shower drain. The job is messy and you might have to try a few different methods before you find one that actually works. The good news is that unclogging a drain is probably something you can do on your own. And the tools needed you probably already have or cost only a small amount of money. With a little elbow grease and some basic knowledge, conquering clogged drains shouldn’t be that difficult and preventing them in the future doesn’t take much effort either.

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