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Blocked shower drains are one of the more common problems you’ll come across in your home. Blocked shower drains lead to a build up of dirt and grime on your bathroom floor and sometimes give off an unpleasant smell. Few sights are more unsightly than taking a shower and seeing the water rise up to your ankles because the shower drain isn’t working. It’s always better to avoid the expense of a plumber if you can. Unclogging a shower drain yourself usually isn’t as difficult as it seems.

Once you have unblocked your shower drain, it is advisable to work on reducing the chances of it happening again.

Below are some useful techniques to ensure that you can use to unblock your shower drain in simple and effective steps.

The Wire Hanger technique.

This is a very simple but surprisingly effective technique. Take a wire coat hanger and make it as straight as you can. Take one end and bend to create a small hook. Run the bent part of the hanger and proceed to pry the things responsible for your blocked drainage, making slight twisting motions with the hook. You should be able to get all sorts of hair and debris out of your drain. It is important to make sure that you're actually pulling gunk out, rather than making it cosier. When you've gotten out as much as you can, you can then pour hot water down your drain. It should go down easily.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Mix a third of baking soda with a third of vinegar in a measuring cup. Pour immediately.The combination of baking soda and vinegar should cause at fizzing action which helps to clear the hair and other debris in your shower drain. Alternatively, you could pour the baking soda down the drain and pour the vinegar immediately after. For maximum effectiveness, it is preferable to use this method when the shower isn’t likely to be used for a few hours or even better, overnight.

Wet and Dry Vacuum

Wet and dry shop vacuums can be really helpful in clearing blocked drains.Set the vacuum to liquids and cover up the vents to avoid making a mess. Then seal the drain as tightly as you can. An old plunger head can be very useful for this purpose. With the vacuum turned to its highest setting, it can be powerful to draw up the hair and muck up the vacuum pipe and into the vacuum bag.


Plungers are helpful when the debris is too far down for a wire coat hanger to be of any help, and if there is nothing else of help that you can use. For unblocking shower drains, you’ll need a cup type plunger.

  • Make sure you don’t pour any chemicals down your drain yet, as using a plumber with chemicals in your drain is most like going to result in the chemicals splattering all over your clothes and skin.
  • Pour water down your drain to completely submerge the cup of the plunger. You might need to be careful though, as too much water will lead to a splashy mess.
  • Block any other outlets. This will strengthen the suction of the plunger and will give you better results.
  • Gripping the plunger, plunge with a vertical up-and-down action, keeping the handle straight and vertical. Plunging with the handle tilted at an angle will reduce the force and potentially break the seal you’re making with the cap. Plunge for about 30 seconds and check to see if the drain is still blocked.
  • If the drain is still blocked after your first attempt, plunge again a few more times as the debris might just have moved further down.

Caustic Soda

When using caustic soda, it is advisable to get yourself rubber gloves and eye protection. Caustic soda (Sodium Hydroxide) can cause serious chemical burns so you might need to follow the instructions carefully. Caustic soda has fantastic degreasing qualities. It breaks down grease and fat, and heats up to break down the hair and gunk in your blocked drain. Pour 3/4 gallon of cold water into a mop bucket, and then add 3 cups of caustic soda. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour into the blocked drain and leave for 30 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.

The Drain Snake

A ‘snake’ or auger, is a long, flexible steel cable wound on a handle that works quite effectively in breaking up clogs in your drainage. Feed the steel cable down the drain until you hit the gunk clogging up your drain. Keep feeding the cable until you go past the resistance. Turn the steel cable to either break up the resistance or hook and pull it out.

Boiling Water

This is one of the simplest tips to use in unblocking your shower drainage. Pour water in a kettle as much as it can hold and boil. Pour the hot water slowly down your drain in stages, making sure the first one stays for a bit before pouring again. Using only boiling water to clear a blocked drain might not be very effective, especially when it’s a serious blockage that has built up over time, and contains a lot of matted hair and other gunk. However, using the boiling water technique might work for blockages that aren’t too tough, and can work fully when used with other methods.

Salt, Baking Soda, and boiling water.

Mix 1/2 cup of table salt with 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour the contents down your blocked drain. Leave for 20 minutes then pour boiling water down the drain. The salt, baking soda, and boiling water will produce a chemical reaction that dissolves some of the toughest blockages.

If after using these techniques and your shower drain remains blocked, you might need to call a plumber.

Prevention is almost always better than cure, so you should take action to minimize the chances of your shower drain getting blocked again. You should consider buying a drain protector to catch hair, soap and debris and thus reduce the chances of having a blocked drain in the future.