Did you try to plunge a clogged shower drain but find yourself causing more harm than good? Numerous plumbing resources suggest trying to use a plunger on a blocked drain, but it’s not always the best solution. 

We will explain why plunging your shower drain may have not worked so well for you and alternative methods that may work better. 

In this guide, we will cover:

  • Why plunging shower drain made it worse
  • Causes of shower drain clogs
  • Preventing shower drain clogs
  • Alternative methods to fix your clogged shower drain

Why Plunging Shower Drain Made It Worse

A plunger uses pressure to remove a clog in a toilet by breaking it up and sending it down the drain. 

Unfortunately, the pressure from a plunger probably won’t break up a shower drain clog. Instead, it will only send the material deeper down the drain pipe completely intact. 

The clog still exists, but now it’s even deeper into your plumbing system, causing your shower to drain slowly or not drain at all. 

Don’t live with a slow drain! Read the All Masters Plumbing blog on the 7 Best Tips for How to Clear a Slow Drain (Plus 1 Bonus Tip!)

Causes of Shower Drain Clogs

There are a number of culprits that will cause a clog in your shower drain, including hair, sediment buildup, soap scum, and foreign objects.


It probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise that hair tends to cause clogged shower drains rather commonly.

Hair escapes down the tub drain when you shave in the shower. It can also escape down the drain when hair falls out as you wash and dry it. 

Sediment Buildup

Sediment buildup develops as a result of hard water, which is water that contains especially high levels of minerals, such as calcium. 

The sediment buildup not only affects your water heater but sticks to your drain pipes and accumulates over time. 

Sediment increases when you use hot water, making the shower a particularly vulnerable location in your home (especially if you love hot showers).

Soap Scum

When you have hard water, you may notice high levels of soap scum. 

This soap scum can also build up in your drains. 

Foreign Objects

Sometimes, you allow items to fall down your drain on accident, such as jewelry or a toy. When this happens, it can also cause a clog in your shower drain. This is why getting a camera inspection of your drain is often helpful.

Preventing Shower Drain Clogs

Use these simple methods to prevent shower drain clogs before they happen. 

Drain Strainer

Purchase a mesh drain strainer that will catch items before they fall down the drain. 

The mesh drain strainer will fit into your drain. The small holes allow water to flow down the drain but catch the other items. 

When the drain strainer appears full, you simply pull it out and clean out the contents in the trash before replacing the clean drain strainer. 

You can also find drain strainers that come with a drain stopper that allows you to keep water in the tub when you want to take a bath.

Water Softener

A water softener removes minerals from your water supply.

With soft water, you won’t experience as many calcium deposits and other mineral deposits in your pipes.

Reduce Water Heater Temperature

Generally speaking, most residential water heaters produce water at 120° in accordance with recommendations by the authorities. 

If you have your water heater set higher or don’t mind reducing the temperature a bit, lower temperatures can reduce the amount of buildup in your drains.

Alternative Methods to Fix a Clogged Shower Drain

Whenever the water reaches the overflow drain in your tub, you know it’s time to take action before the standing water causes damage you didn’t expect. 

So you learned that you can’t use a plunger when performing drain cleaning on your shower. What can you do to fix a clogged shower drain?

Boiling Water

You may find success unclogging your drain with boiling water. 

Boil water in a pan and pour it down your shower drain (carefully) to see if the heat can break up the clog for you. 

While not the most effective method for a stubborn clog, this method is free and safe for your plumbing, so it’s a good place to start. 

Be mindful that boiling water may also cause damage to plastic PVC pipes, so you should only use boiling water on clogs that involve metal pipes. 

Drain Snake

A drain snake is a long, flexible item with a pointed edge that you feed into your drain. Once you reach the clog with the plumbing snake, you will turn the handle or power the device to break up the clog at the source.

A manual snake drain costs less, but they don’t work quite as well as powered options. You can learn how to use one, here.

Drain Cleaner

Use a drain cleaner to attack the clog. 

You can use powerful drain cleaners that contain caustic chemicals, such as Liquid Plumr. While effective, you will need to use a chemical drain cleaner sparingly as it can damage your pipes. 

Natural enzymatic drain cleaners don’t work quite as well, but they won’t damage your plumbing. These are becoming a popular solution for how to fix a clogged shower drain due to the consumer shift toward natural solutions.

Always use drain cleaners as instructed, and use caution when working with harsh chemicals. You need to keep the products out of reach of children and pets. Furthermore, you may want to use rubber gloves and goggles so the chemicals don’t cause irritation while you work with them.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you don’t want to buy a drain cleaner at the store, you can use a combination of baking soda and white vinegar. 

You will use one part baking soda to one part vinegar. 

When combined, the baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction in your drain. 

After you pour both ingredients down the clogged drain, you should hear a fizzy sound that indicates it’s working. 

After about 10 – 15 minutes, you will flush the drain with water thoroughly.

All Masters Plumbing in Arlington, TX

All Masters Plumbing offers drain cleaning services in Arlington, TX, and the surrounding areas, for anyone with a clogged shower drain that won’t succumb to your DIY methods. This is true of a main line blockage, which requires professional help. We can also help you with a clog in your kitchen sink and bathroom sink.

Additional plumbing services include:

  • Hydrojetting
  • Gas line repair
  • Plumbing repair
  • Plumbing replacement
  • Slab leak repair
  • Water heater repair
  • Water heater installation 

Contact All Masters Plumbing for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it bad to plunge a shower drain?

While it won’t necessarily cause damage, you should not plunge a shower drain. It will only cause the clog to travel further down your plumbing. 

What should I use to unclog a shower drain?

To unclog your shower drain, we recommend using a snake. 

Alternatively, you can use a drain cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. 

Should I pour boiling water down the drain?

You can pour water down your shower drain if you have metal pipes. However, the heat can damage plastic pipes.

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