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DIY Guide to Cleaning Your Shower and Bathtub Drain

Baths and showers are a great way to relax and de-stress after a long day; that is until one fine day the soap scum and dirty water that’s washed off your body isn’t going down the drain! Of course, there’s no need to panic when you encounter a clogged shower or bathtub drain; in fact, there’s no need to call a plumber either. 

At some point, every household experiences a clogged shower drain caused by hair, gunk, and other dirt which has accumulated in the pipeline over time. It’s definitely an icky thought to clean up the nasty stuff hiding in your drain, however, you will be pleasantly surprised by how easily you can do it with these simple DIY guides to unclog a shower and bathtub drain. Best of all, they are a whole lot cheaper than hiring a professional for the job!

Read on to learn Maid For You’s DIY approach to cleaning and unclogging your shower and bathtub drain. 

How to Clean Your Shower Drain

dirty chrome shower drain

Whether your shower drain is completely clogged, draining slowly, or just in need of cleaning to get rid of grime, this all-natural approach is extremely effective.

Follow the steps below to clean your shower drain with vinegar and baking soda:

  1. Measure a gallon of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Take the pot off the stove and immediately pour it down the drain.
  2. Follow this up with half a cup of baking soda. Pour it down the drain and set a timer for 15 minutes.
  3. After about 10-12 minutes, prepare for the next step by boiling 1 cup of water (no need to over boil it), and add in half a cup of white vinegar. 
  4. Pour the water-vinegar mixture down the drain when the timer goes off. At this point, the baking soda will begin to react with the vinegar, typically foaming and rising above the drain. For better results, you want to keep this reaction within the pipeline by covering the drain with a drain plug, or a thick (dirty) folded towel/cloth.
  5. Wait for 15 minutes and then flush the ingredients further down the drain with another gallon of boiling hot water. 
  6. Test the drain out by running the shower while you rinse the floor; the water should be flowing down the drain normally while smelling fresh, too!

If you’re wondering how this simple solution can unclog and deodorise a shower drain, it’s the (non-toxic) chemical reaction that occurs between the vinegar and baking soda which eats away at grime and sludge located at the base of the drain. With all the grime out of the way, the pipeline is clear to efficiently drain out water from your shower!

How to Clean Your Bathtub Drain

large porcelain white bathtub

While most methods to clean a shower drain can also be used to unclog a bathtub drain, the latter poses more of a challenge because of water collected in the tub. Moreover, if hair and grime is trapped in the drain, a more hands-on approach is required to clean the pipeline.

Check out these methods and tips to clean your bathtub shower drain:

Use a Plunger

red plunger being used to unplug a drain

Although a plunger will not solve the problem of a clogged bathtub drain if the nature of the clog involves hair, the least it can do is dislodge the clog and allow the water to go down. Thereafter, an alternative method can be used.

Nevertheless, sometimes a plunger is all you need to fix a clogged bathtub drain. Here’s how:

  1. Apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger (this will help give it a tighter seal).
  2. If there isn’t enough water in the tub to submerge the suction pad, pour some more (water) in.
  3. Place the plunger directly over the drain, and plunge repeatedly for a minute or two. 
  4. When the water goes down, plug the drain, fill some water in the tub, and then pull the plug; observe how quickly the water is going down. 

If the water is draining slowly, try the next method to clean and unclog your bathtub drain.

Use a Plumber’s Snake

plumber wearing blug gloves fixing a drain with a plumbers snake

This is a great way to remove hair and debris clogging your bathtub drain without the help of a professional. A good quality plumber’s snake will cost around $25 in Australia and can be bought at your local hardware store. 

Here’s how to use a plumber’s snake to unclog your bathtub drain:

  1. Remove the drain stopper and push the tool down until you feel resistance (which means you have reached the clog). If you haven’t reached this point, uncoil the snake by turning the handle until you hit the obstruction in the drain. You can also access the clog in the pipeline from the overflow drain located on the wall of the tub.
  2. Without using too much force, push the snake up and down to break down the clog and move past it.
  3. At a steady pace, continue turning the handle so that the snake has reached its full length. 
  4. Pull the tool out, clean it off, and repeat 2-3 times for a thorough clean.
  5. Run water down the drain to make sure that the clog has been removed.
  6. To finish off, deodorise the drain with baking soda and vinegar (refer to steps in “How to Clean Your Shower Drain” above). 

In conclusion, not every clogged drain requires the workings of a trained professional. In fact, most shower and bathtub drains can be cleaned and unclogged in no time using any one of the DIY methods above. Give them a try and let us know how it goes! For more DIY bathtub cleaning, check out our bathtub deep cleaning guide.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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