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How to Unclog a Shower Drain WITHOUT a Plunger or Drain Cleaner

Updated on October 26, 2015

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The most convenient way to unclog a shower drain is to call your plumber. Once he appears at your door with his snake auger, you can go back to your business and just let him wrestle with the clog. Mr. plumber has to do all the dirty work, but you're the one responsible for the pricey bill afterwards. It usually costs around $70 - $150 to hire a plumber to do this type of task. That's why many people choose to forgo a plumber and try to unclog their shower drains themselves. The plunger is a common "weapon" many homeowners use to battle clogged drains. Some clogs, however, might be too enormous and stubborn for this basic tool to handle. What about drain cleaners? They're usually quite effective, but some drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to you and the environment. Also, they tend to take a period of time to get the job done, and such delay can be very inconvenient for some people.

If your local plumber's service is too expensive, your plunger has failed you, and the drain cleaner can't fix your problem fast enough, there is another easy method to try. Something as simple as a garden hose can be a nifty plumbing tool if you know how to utilize it for this particular purpose. With some little tricks and a few blasts of water, your shower drain can once again be clean and unclogged.


How Does a Shower Drain Get Clogged?

The wicked attraction between fallen hair and soap residue can end up causing you exasperation and grief. When you rinse the soap off your body, you may think it will go straight through the shower drain and disappear, but it's not always so. The soap residue can coagulate inside your shower drain and bind the hair together in a mass. This soapy and hairy mass will grow larger after every shower you take. It is a steady and subtle onslaught to your drain, the same way cholesterol slowly clogs your artery every time you eat junk food. Luckily, a clogged shower drain is not as big a tragedy as a clogged artery, and you can actually fix it yourself without professional help.

Needle-Nose Pliers
Needle-Nose Pliers

Tools for Unclogging a Shower Drain

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Garden hose
  • Small towel

How to Unclog a Shower Drain Without a Plunger or Drain Cleaner

  • Open the prongs of your needle-nose pliers.
  • Insert them into the holes of the shower drain's strainer.
  • There're usually two ways to remove the strainer, depending on what type of strainer you have. Most of the time, you should be able to simply flip the strainer out with the pliers. For some models, however, you need to grip the strainer tightly with the pliers and twist it counterclockwise to unscrew it.

  • Insert the garden hose into the shower drain as far as it can go.
  • Stuff the drain around the garden hose with a small towel.
  • Connect the other end of the hose to the sink's faucet and turn on the water to the highest pressure.
  • As the water is running into the shower drain, crimp and uncrimp the hose to dislodge the blockage with blasts of water.
  • Once you successfully unclog your shower drain, close the drain with the strainer. Follow the tips below to prevent your shower drain from getting clogged again.

***This unclogging technique only works for shower drains. As for a bathtub and shower combination, the drain system would normally be more complicated than this.***

How to Prevent a Shower Drain from Getting Clogged

  • When you just want to take a quick shower, a shower cap is your best friend. It can keep your hair from getting wet and prevent the drain from getting clogged.
  • Before jumping into the shower and washing your hair, brush or comb it first to get rid of all the loose hair. This will minimize the amount of hair you shed in the shower.
  • As much as you adore your dogs, don't wash them in your shower stall. You might want to go so far as to treat them as your equals, but unfortunately, shower stalls should always be reserved for humans only.
  • NEVER allow the bonding between the soap and hair in the drain to grow too large and too strong. You can nip it in the bud simply by pouring boiling water or some vinegar down your shower drain once a week.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Jack2016 12 months ago

    I recently purchased Drain-FX and it cleared my drain easily & effectively. I bought it online after hearing about it on the Gary Sullivan show. It's eco friendly & reusuable. Cleared my sink & shower drains!

  • The Drain Guys profile image

    The Drain Guys 20 months ago from West Orange

    Way to get creative, Om! Leveraging water like this helps clean clogs near your drain. Plumbers will often use a practice called hydro jetting which clears deeper clogs and cleans debris off pipes with high pressured water. Similarly, using a garden hose as a home remedy is a great idea!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    @louromano - Thanks for your kind words. Glad you find this helpful :)

  • louromano profile image

    louromano 5 years ago

    Nice hub. Thanks for share this tips. Vote up and useful

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Thanks a lot, MAFLongfellow and Mrs. Menagerie. :)

  • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

    Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

    Ah ha! Very handy indeed!

  • MAFLongfellow1 profile image

    MAFLongfellow1 6 years ago from BYESVILLE


  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    @anglnwu - Thanks for the read and sweet comment, Angeline!

    @rsusan - You're welcome!

    @DzyMsLizzy - Ah, that's true. A washer supply faucet will probably work, though. I guess having a long hose is a plus. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Congrats on the staff pick win! This technique will work for sure..but some types of bathroom sink faucets do not have the right kind of thread to mate up with a garden hose. In this case, it may be necessary to run the hose in through the nearest window.... ;-)

    Good job on the article, and well-explained. Voted up & useful.

  • rsusan profile image

    Rika Susan 6 years ago from South Africa

    Thanks, Om! Will try your tip for cleaning tiles. Thanks for your feedback.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Love your visuals. Brilliant idea using the garden hose and definitely cost-effective. Rated up.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    @Robin - Thanks so much for the read and sweet comment, Robin.

    @k9keystrokes - Thanks! Glad you like my dorky diagrams.

    @BkCreative - Yep, water is a very powerful and safe material when it comes to unclogging shower drains!

    @Pamela - Thanks for dropping by, Pamela. Hope this little technique will work for you.

    @dallas - Thanks a lot!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    @marellen - You're so lucky! Well, if it does happen, now you know what to do about it!

    @almasi - Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

    @snakeslane - Thanks for the read and comment, snakslane.

    @rsusan - Try using baking soda and white vinegar! They always work wonder.

    @prasetio - You're very welcome, prasetio. Thanks for dropping by.

    @Cardisa - It's great that you try to unclog your drains and fix little stuff around the house yourselves. You can save quite a bit of money this way.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Easy to follow and understand! Flag up!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Excellent hub and I am bookmarking it as we have problems with out shower occasionally. You explained this method very well. Rated up and useful.

  • BkCreative profile image

    BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    How very clever! Why not harness the incredible power of water - makes so much sense. Thanks a million for a tip that I would use because I do not ever believe in using toxic chemicals. Love the illustrations!

    Rated way up!

  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

    Big congrats on your staff pick win today! A great hub with a wonderful way to unplug the shower drain. I thought your diagrams were spectacular!



  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

    What a great eco-friendly way of unclogging a shower! If our shower clogs up we will have to try this. Thanks for the step by step guide and for the original pictures!

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

    I hate gooey hair scummy stuff! That's always the culprit and it's sticks to the drain pipes. I like your instructions. We often try to do our unclogging and fixing ourselves.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Very well written about to unclog a shower drain. Actually I had never knew about this and I don't have experience with this. Thanks for share this tips. Vote up and useful. Cheer...


  • rsusan profile image

    Rika Susan 6 years ago from South Africa

    Good, clear explanation of something my dad has been doing for years, Om. It really works! Now, if someone can just tell me if there is an easy way to clean the tiles in the shower (without using something toxic), I will be content...

  • snakeslane profile image

    Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

    Enjoyed seeing your work, thanks Om.

  • almasi profile image

    almasi 6 years ago

    Your awesome illustrations and awesome explanations have make this the first plumbing article I have ever enjoyed reading.

    Voted up and useful.

  • profile image

    marellen 6 years ago

    Om.....wonderful hub and looks like it can work. Thank goodness this has never happened to me and I hope it doesn't. Awesome and thanks for sharing...