How To Unblock a Shower Drain

A blocked shower drain is a common problem to come across in the bathroom and shouldn’t be a major cause for concern. In fact, you will be relieved to know that you can unblock a shower drain with little effort and cost.

Before we get into the nitty gritty it might be worthwhile noting why shower drains get blocked up in the first place, to try and prevent this from happening again. After all, it isn’t the most glamorous of jobs!

Why do shower drains get clogged?

Bath or shower drains usually get clogged up due to a build-up of dirt, soap and hair debris. Overtime these small debris particles can build up and eventually cause of blockage.

Hair is normally the main culprit when it comes to shower blockages. Once this build up has grown over time, the water from the shower will begin to drain extremely slowly, or not at all and you’ll have a clogged shower drain and your hands.

Try by hand first

drain cover

Before we start to advise you to gather tools, it’s always worth trying to clear the blockage by hand. This is of course, the simplest and most efficient way to deal with this problem.

clear blockage by hand

First, remove the drain cover. Depending on how your drain has been put in, you should be able to either unscrew or lift the cover and remove the drain lid.

Now, you should have clear access to your drain and hopefully, be able to spot the blockage. Hair, soap scum or maybe a bit of both? Reach into the drain and try to pull out the debris. Obviously, this is not the nicest of jobs so maybe get your teenager to do it as a punishment for not coming home on time?

a blocked drain filled with human hair

Baking soda & white vinegar

Now’s the time to get down and dirty and actually unblock your shower drain. If you’ve read our How To Unblock a Toilet blog, you’ll know that the quickest way to unblock a shower drain would be with baking soda and white vinegar.

This is a great natural remedy and costs under £2 to get the job done. We would suggest trying out this chemical free method before buying any drain cleaners first.

What you need to do

Grab a cup of baking soda. Pop the soda down the drain and do the same immediately after, with the white vinegar (remember to use white vinegar and not vinegar you lather on your fish & chips). The white vinegars acidity makes it an incredible cleaning product that can break almost any dirt build-up down.

a jar of baking soda next to a bottle of white vinegar

Mixed together, the vinegar and the baking soda will cause a chemical reaction and begin to fizz when it reaches the clog. The fizz sound means the two components are working together and creating a carbon dioxide gas. Sounds scary, but it’s completely harmless.

We would recommend leaving the vinegar and soda for as long as you possibly can (1 hour will be fine), to maximise the chances of them breaking down any debris blockage.

Finally, pour a few cup fulls of hot water down the drain to get rid of any dirt left over. To ensure this has worked, pop your shower on and watch as the water drains as it should!

An analogue clock showing exaclt 10 minutes past 10

Try a chemical cleaner

Sometimes, you do need something a little stronger than baking soda & white vinegar but we always suggest sticking to the natural way first, as chemical cleaners are extremely bad for the environment. Chemical cleaners are a good alternative, if the blockage won’t budge from a natural remedy.

You should be able to find a variety of chemical cleaners at your local supermarket or DIY store. Each cleaner will have a similar set of instructions you should follow. You will find these on the back of the product.

Generally speaking, the method for a chemical drain cleaner is always wear rubber gloves, to protect your hands from the harshness of the chemicals, pour the instructed amount down the drain and leave it to work it’s magic!

a man pouring drain unblocker down a sink

If you don’t think either of these approaches will work for you, we do have some other suggestions that might help out unclogging your shower drain…

Use a plunger to unblock the mess

Plungers are one of more old-fashioned ways to unclog a blockage but equally as effective as any new tactics.

If you notice the plunger hasn’t got much suction going on you could try to submerge the end of the plunger in water and even add petroleum jelly to the lip of the plunger. This will help the plunger form a stronger seal and therefore a stronger suction.


Plunge in with an up and down motion and ensure the plunger remains vertical. If you plunge at an angle, is this weaken the strength of the suction. We recommend plunging in 20 second intervals.

This may take several attempts before the blockage is removed.

The coat hanger technique

We know this might sound a little silly, but the coat hanger technique is a proven theory. Stay with us.

wire coat hanger on orange background

If you have a spare coat hanger, bend the hanger util it fits down the drain. Once you have mastered the shape, lower the hanger down, hook first.

Once you have found your way to the blockage, twist the hanger clockwise and then anti-clockwise to see if you can hook out the debris.

Snake drain cleaner

The snake drain cleaner is a lovely little tool designed to slide down blocked drains (like a snake, hence the name). This nifty product has been specially designed for these types of situations and often used by professional plumbers.

So, if you don’t mind investing in one, they’re probably your best option.

snake drain cleaner

If all else fails, call the pros

If you’ve tried everything in this article and all has failed, worry not but prepare to get your wallet/purse out, because it’s time to call a plumber. This isn’t the most ideal option, but it’s always better to have a professional have a look and resolve the matter!

lady on phone in kitchen wearing blue rubber gloves and holding blue bucket

How to keep a shower drain from clogging

One of the best ways to prevent your shower drain from clogging is to reduce the amount of dirt, grease and soap that goes down your shower.

Hair is also one of the main blocking culprits, so perhaps invest in a drain cover or buy a shower drain hair trap. You can find them on Amazon.

hair in a basin drain

The hair trap will collect all the strands of hair you lose whilst showering. When you have finished showering you can then empty the collected hair into the bin.

This will help keep your shower drain pipes clear and prevent drain clog.

Alternatively, you can always use the baking soda + white vinegar method once every few months to keep your drains, clean and fresh!

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