Plumbing Help: What to do When Your Shower Won’t Drain

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Arizona Resource Realty BR518926000

It's the dreaded half-bath of standing water, which can happen to anyone. Slow shower drains are frequently caused by a sticky accumulation of soap and shampoo, dirt and debris, dead skin cells, and hair that flows down the drain. In reality, most of the obstruction we observe is caused by an accumulation of hair over time.

The ensuing obstruction may accumulate in the drain trap if you're lucky. Otherwise, removing the buildup may be more challenging. Whatever the problem, here are our top recommendations for fixing a shower that won't drain, from simple repairs to more complex ones. Let's get started. Put on some clothing you don't mind getting soiled.

Regardless of the source, we've compiled a list of the best ways to cure a sluggish shower drain, ranging from simple fixes to more involved remedies. Let's get started. Put on some clothing you don't mind getting soiled.


  1. Fill the sink with boiling water and pour it down the drain.

You'll want to start by boiling some water to throw down the drain. This approach can aid in the repair of a clogged drain by dissolving some of the more minor obstructing particles, such as soap or grease.

It won't work on more severe clogs, especially if there's a lot of hair in the way. Even if this advice doesn't eliminate the obstruction, it may help speed up the drainage, making the tub more useable and allowing your shower drain to run slowly but not clogged.


  1. Utilize a Plunger

The type of obstruction, the location of the clog in the drain, and the architecture of the drain will all influence how successful plunging is. 


Unclogging a Shower Drain with a Plunger

  • To improve the seal, apply petroleum jelly to the suction pad's edge.
  • Fill the shower with enough water to immerse the plunger's end.
  • Plunge with all your might.


Plunging is another approach that, in my experience, has a poor success rate when it comes to showers, but it's always worth a shot because the time and expenses are so tiny.


  1. Dig it out!

Put on rubber gloves before unscrewing or prying off the shower drain cover with a screwdriver if you have them. It's not as difficult as you may believe (but every bit as filthy as it sounds). After that, straighten out a wire coat hanger with a bit of hook on end. Feed the wire down the drain to trap any hair, soap scum, or other clog-causing debris. Once you've pulled out everything you can, pour boiling water down the drain and reinstall the drain cover.


How to Avoid Clogs in the Future

Because prevention is always preferable to cure, once you've resolved your issue, don't forget to take steps to reduce the odds of your shower drain becoming stuck again. If you don't already have one, you might consider purchasing a drain guard to trap hair and prevent other debris from clogging the drain. A secure soap dish can also assist because soap leads to blockages by clumping knots of hair together.

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Comments (2)

Joan Valverde
HomeSmart - Colorado Springs, CO
GRI,CDPE,CNE,MRP,SRES Colo Sprgs, Blk Forest, Monu

Hello Tamra,  

All very good advice.  Before my chemo last year took my hair, I had A LOT of hair.  I often removed the shower drain and pulled out my hair.  During a shower, I would stick as much of my hair to the wall I could so it would NOT go down, but still it happens.  One benefit of very little hair now, it will be a while before my drain clogs again.


Have a wonderful day!

Jan 30, 2022 02:20 PM
Tamra Lee Ulmer

I'm sorry to hear that Joan but appreciate you taking the time to read this. Have a terrific Tuesday!

Feb 01, 2022 12:32 PM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Yeppir, that digging hair out with the wire is one uggie mess.  Amazing how much hair gets down there.  The boiling water a nice addition.  Make it a great week ahead.  Mark

Jan 30, 2022 10:39 PM
Tamra Lee Ulmer

Thank you for your time, Mark. Have a terrific Tuesday!

Feb 01, 2022 01:30 PM