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How to Unblock a Drain

A blocked drain doesn't have to be nightmare cleaning task! Read on for some simple strategies on how to keep your drains clean and odour free.


personal hygiene for your kids health

Ever find that once in a while, your shower takes a very long time to drain? This is most likely caused by a blocked shower drain. Hair, soap scum, and other debris from months of washing can cause not only a blockage but also an unpleasant shower drain odour. But before you ring a plumber for a costly visit, there are a few ways you can do the job yourself. This article tells you how to clean shower drain blockages, with a few different (and effective) methods bathroom cleaning tips to choose from.

If your shower drain is blocked, you have a few strategies to choose from. The easiest way to clear a small blockage is by using a commercial drain cleaner, but you can also manually clear the blockage by using other methods or products.

Clearing a Blocked Shower Drain: Commercial Drain Cleaners

There are a range of commercial products specially designed to clear your shower drain blockage. These products can remove small blockages with minimal effort required from you. If you choose one, remember to follow all the directions on the label and take adequate safety precautions beforehand. These measures include making sure the room is well-ventilated and to wear rubber gloves.

Mechanically Clearing a Blocked Shower Drain

You may want to try physically pulling out any blockage in the drain. As a tool, you can use a thin wire coat hanger or a crochet hook. There is also a drain snake and other specially designed tools for removing hair, which you may be able to buy in a homeware or DIY store.

  1. Bend the hanger so there is a small hook at the end, which can be inserted down the drain.

  2. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, if you’d like, and have a plastic bag ready for whatever debris you may pull out.

  3. Unscrew the shower drain cover (if there is) and set it and any screws safely aside.

  4. Slowly insert the hooked end of the wire hanger down the drain using a slight twisting motion.

  5. Start tugging upwards slowly, and you will start pulling hairs out. These should go straight into the plastic bag.

  6. Keep on repeating until you pull out no more hair.

To finish off, follow our steps below for flushing the drain with baking soda and vinegar.

Clearing a Blocked Shower Drain: Baking Soda and White Vinegar

This homemade remedy to unblock a shower drain requires baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate), distilled white vinegar, a rag, and boiling water. For maximum effectiveness, do this when the shower isn't needed for a few hours.

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain.

  2. Follow this immediately with half a cup of distilled white vinegar, poured down very quickly.

  3. Plug the drain with a rag. The combination of baking soda and vinegar will create a fizzing action, which should work away at the blockage.

  4. Leave it for at least 20 minutes, even a few hours.

  5. Boil a kettle full of water, and pour this down the drain quickly, to flush away the blockage.

  6. Repeat if needed.

Be very careful not to splash yourself with either boiling water or the baking soda and vinegar mixture. You may want to wear rubber gloves, goggles, and of course, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

With the above suggestions, you should hopefully have everything you need to know to make sure your shower drain stays clear and odour-free.

Originally published