If a clogged shower drain is causing you distress, you’re not alone. This common household problem is more than just a nuisance. It can lead to unpleasant odours, water damage, and even health risks if not addressed promptly.

This guide will provide you with a step-by-step approach to tackling a shower drain blocked issue, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge to clear the clogged drain efficiently and prevent similar issues in the future.

Recognising the Signs of a Clogged Shower Drain

Before tackling a blocked shower drain issue, it’s essential to recognise the signs. The most evident symptom is slow-draining cold or hot water or, even worse, standing water in your shower. However, there are other signs to look out for.

1. Unpleasant Odours

A foul smell coming from shower drains could indicate a blockage. The build-up of soap scum, hair clogs, dead skin cells, and other debris in the drainage systems usually causes this odour.

2. Gurgling Sounds

When your shower drain is blocked, you might also hear gurgling sounds as water struggles to pass through the obstruction.

3. Frequent Clogs

If you have a frequently clogged shower drain, it could be a sign of a more severe issue that needs a comprehensive fix.

Understanding the Causes of a Blocked Shower Drain

Understanding the reasons behind a clogged shower drain can help you prevent future occurrences. The main culprits include:

1. Hair and Dead Skin Cells:

These are the most common causes of a blocked shower drain. Hair and dead skin cells can easily accumulate, creating a physical barrier that prevents water from flowing freely.

2. Soap Scum:

Soap residue combines with minerals in water to form scum, a sticky substance that adheres to the walls of your drain pipes, creating clogged shower drains.

3. Hard Water Build-up:

Hard water, which contains high amounts of minerals, can lead to mineral build-up in your pipes and contribute to blockages.

4. Small Objects:

Small objects, like bottle caps or children’s toys, can accidentally fall into the drain and cause a shower drain clog.

Techniques to Unblock a Shower Drain

Once you’ve identified and understood the cause of blocked drains, it’s time to move on to the fixing process. There are several techniques you can use to unblock a clogged drain.

1. The Boiling Water Method

One of the simplest and least expensive methods to clear a minor blockage, particularly one caused by scum or grease, is to pour boiling water down the drain.


  • Boil a kettle of water.
  • Slowly pour boiling water down the drain.
  • Wait a few minutes and then check to see if the water drains more freely.
  • Note: Avoid using this method on PVC pipes, as boiling water can melt the plastic.

2. White Vinegar and Baking Soda Technique

A natural, eco-friendly method to unclog shower drains involves using white vinegar and baking soda. This combination creates a fizzing reaction that works to dislodge the blockage.


  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the blocked drain.
  • Wait a few minutes, then pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
  • Allow the mixture to work for at least 20 minutes.
  • Rinse the drain with hot water.

3. Using a Toilet Plunger

A plunger can be an effective tool for dislodging a blockage in your shower drain.


  • Place the plunger over the drain opening, ensuring it creates a seal.
  • Apply strong, rapid plunges to create suction and dislodge the blockage.
  • Continue this process until the water begins to drain freely.

4. Use a Drain Snake, Plumber’s Snake or Coat Hanger hook

If the blockage is deep within the drain, a drain snake or a bent wire coat hanger can be used to reach and remove the obstruction.


  • Push the drain snake or bent wire hanger down the drain until it reaches the blockage.
  • Twist and manoeuvre the tool to break up the obstruction and pull it out.
  • Run hot water down the drain to clear any remaining debris.

5. Using Commercial Drain Cleaners

If the blockage is stubborn and the above methods have not worked, you may need to use a chemical drain cleaner. If you are opposed to using chemicals, a natural drain cleaner such as our white vinegar and baking soda method may be the best choice.


  • Follow the instructions on the product’s packaging and wear rubber gloves.
  • Pour the recommended amount of cleaner down the drain.
  • Wait for the specified amount of time for the cleaner to work.
  • Rinse the drain with hot water.

Note: Chemical drain cleaners should be used as a last resort, as they can be harmful to your pipes and the environment.

How to Prevent Future Shower Drain Blockages

Here are some of our best tips to prevent future clogged shower drains:

  1. Install a Shower Drain Hair Catcher

These devices sit over your drain and catch hair and other debris before they can go down and cause a blocked drain.

  1. Regularly Clean Your Shower Drain

Regular cleaning can prevent the build-up of soap scum, hair, and other debris that can lead to blockages.

  1. Be Mindful of What Goes Down the Drain

Avoid washing objects or substances down your shower drain that could cause a blockage.

  1. Use a Water Softener

If hard water is an issue, consider installing a water softener to reduce the mineral content in your water and prevent mineral build-up in your pipes and hot water systems.

  1. Regularly Use a Homemade Drain Cleaner

Regularly using a homemade drain cleaner made from vinegar and baking soda can help keep your drain clear.

When to Call a Professional

While many shower drain blockages can be resolved at home, there are instances when it’s best to call a professional plumber. If you’ve tried the above methods and your drain is still blocked, or if the blockages are frequent and occur throughout your home, there may be a larger issue at hand and require shower drain repair

A professional plumber (like ours) can accurately diagnose and resolve the problem, saving you time, effort, and potentially costly repairs in the future.

Dealing with clogged drains may be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can effectively clear the blockage and prevent future issues. 

However, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber if the blockage persists or you suspect a more serious problem. Your home’s plumbing system is too important to risk.