By Kerry Hale

How To Unblock a Shower Drain

  • Tuesday 17 May 2022
  • 5 Minute Read

Hair and soap will inevitably build up in your shower drain if left untreated, and it can be tempting to try a quick fix. Instead, have a go at these easy hacks for unblocking a shower drain – without having to put harsh chemicals down your shower drain or call a plumber out to fix the issue.

Why is my shower not draining?

As unpleasant as it sounds, the most common cause of a blocked shower drain is a build-up of hair, dead skin, soap scum and other debris. Removing hair from the plughole after your shower and regularly cleaning the shower drain are the best ways to prevent a build-up. Shower drains can also become blocked by limescale build-up, especially if you live in an area with hard water. If you suspect this could be causing the blockage, there are plenty of ways to de-scale your pipes using household products, from vinegar to lemon juice. Discover more tips on removing limescale from your bathroom in our dedicated guide.

Six ways to unblock your shower drain

If you've got a slow-draining shower, work through these six easy steps to unblock the drain yourself before calling the professionals.

Hot water

Hot water is unlikely to unblock a shower drain completely, but it's generally a good place to start. If a build-up of soap scum is causing the blockage, then pouring some piping hot water down will loosen it up. Boil the kettle, let it cool for a few minutes, and pour it down the drain. Don't use water while it's at boiling point, as this can cause your pipes to warp.

Take the plunge

This tried-and-tested drain unblocking technique might help if the blockage is near the plughole. Using a plunger can help draw out whatever is causing the issue. If you're struggling to get enough suction from the plunger, apply some Vaseline around the edges.

Try baking soda and vinegar

White vinegar is a known saviour for various cleaning tasks, and drain unblocking is no exception. Follow this method to unblock your drain using baking soda and vinegar:

  • First, fill a cup with baking soda and pour it down your drain. Wait two to three minutes, then follow with a cup of white vinegar. The mixture will start to bubble.
  • Put the plug in and leave it to work for around an hour.
  • After an hour, pour hot water (not boiling) down the drain.
  • The vinegar and baking soda solution should loosen any hair or soap scum, so the hot water can flush out the pipework and clear the blockage.

If it doesn't fix the problem, repeat the process once more. Bear in mind that while this is a more ecologically-friendly method of clearing your shower drains, it is still reasonably caustic, so don't overdo it.

Looking for more DIY cleaning hacks? Discover how to remove and prevent mould in the bathroom.

Go down the drain

If nothing else has worked, it's time to delve into the drain and manually remove the blockage. Here's how to delve deeper into your shower drain and get to the root of the problem:

  • Take the cover off your plughole. It may have a screw holding it in place, or you could need a flat-head screwdriver to pry it off.
  • Use a torch to look down the drain. If the blockage is visible and within reach, go ahead and remove it.
  • If the blockage is not within reach, use a hook to pull out any debris. Try straightening a wire coat hanger and using the hooked part to get hold of the blockage.
  • If you still can't retrieve anything, you might need to use a plumber's snake. Push it into the drain until it reaches the clog, turn the handle and pull it back out.

Use drain unblocking chemicals

If you haven't had any luck with the previous methods, it's time to try the last resort: chemical drain unblockers. Your local supermarket or DIY store should stock a range of drain unblocker solutions. Always follow the directions on the bottle, then flush the drain with hot water, and your blockage should be gone.

Remember, this method shouldn't be used regularly to clean your shower drain, as these harsh chemicals can corrode your pipes over time.

Call the professionals

There's nothing left to do but call a plumber when you've tried all of the above steps and still can't sort the problem. If you live in an older property and are experiencing repeat blockages, it might be time to upgrade your pipework. Want to give your bathroom a total makeover? Explore our range of shower enclosures and trays here. If you have low water pressure in your shower, consider installing a pump to improve water flow and enhance your showering experience.

How to unblock bath drains

You can unblock your bath drains using the same methods outlined above for showers. Drains successfully unclogged? Discover more cleaning tips for your bathroom.

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