How to Unclog a Shower Drain

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If taking a shower leaves you standing ankle-deep in water, it's time for an unclogging of your shower drain. Commonly known methods like using a plunger, pouring drain cleaner and boiling water or baking soda and white vinegar don't usually work on shower drains. A much better method is to use a Zip-It tool, which is designed to grab hair near the top of the drain, which is the most likely source of the clog. If that doesn't do the trick, move on to snaking the drain.


Though many homeowners call in their plumber to tackle this job, this is a DIY project that anyone can handle.

Unclogging a Shower Drain With Zip-It

Found at local hardware stores everywhere, Zip-It is an excellent tool for unclogging drains. Resembling a large zip tie, Zip-It is a 2-foot-long, skinny length of plastic with barbed sides. When you pull the handle, the barbs on the side of the Zip-It tool grab hair and other clogs to break them apart. Zip-It is the brand name of one such tool, sometimes called a hair snare or stick cleaner.

If you don't have a Zip-It tool, you can try straightening a wire coat hanger or another piece of sturdy wire. Form a hook at the end of the wire to catch the clog and pull it out.

  1. Remove the drain cover. Most drain covers have a screw in the center that you simply loosen with a screwdriver. According to Benjamin Franklin, some drain covers lack a screw and instead snap into place. You can remove these covers by carefully prying at their edges with a small flat-head screwdriver or by pulling them up with needle-nose pliers.

  2. Grasp the Zip-It tool by the handle and slide it into your shower drain. Push the tool into the drain as far as it will go.

  3. Wiggle and twist the tool a bit. According to Sunshine Plumbing, this helps the tool get a good grip on the clog.

  4. Pull the tool back out of the drain slowly. As you do, grab hold of any hair or gunk that comes out of the drain with it and throw it away.

  5. Repeat this process a few times until parts of the clog stop coming out of the drain along with your Zip-It. Clean the tool before every new trip into the pipe.

  6. Flush the drain with hot water and verify that it now works properly.

Unclogging a Shower Drain With a Snake

When a Zip-It isn't enough, you'll need to snake your drain. Homeowners can purchase a snake, also called a drum auger, at any local hardware store. A snake has a turning drum and a long steel cable with a corkscrew tip that grabs hair and breaks up soap clogs in the drain line.


  1. Remove the drain cover.

  2. Feed the cable of the drain snake into the pipe. Depending on the model of the drain snake you have, you may need to turn a thumbscrew or flip a lever to free the cable.

  3. Continue feeding the wire until you feel resistance. This is your clog or a bend in the pipe.

  4. Turn the thumbscrew or flip the lever on the snake to lock the cable into place. Hold the drum about 6 inches above the drain and turn the handle clockwise while pushing down gently. This rotates the cable down inside the drain to break up the clog or work through the bend. A clog feels like moderate resistance, while a bend feels more like the cable is hitting a wall. Keep turning and pushing until the cable advances further.

  5. When you've gone several feet down the drain line, loosen the thumbscrew and begin pulling the cable out of the drain, feeding it back into the drum. The cable will be covered in nasty drain gunk, so wipe it down with a rag as you pull it out. Some drain snakes will automatically pull the wire back out of the drain for you. On these units, turn the handle counterclockwise to pull thesnake back out of the pipe. When you get to the end of the snake, you should see the clog or parts of it hanging off the end. Remove this debris and dispose of it.

  6. Flush the drain with hot water to see if the water flows more quickly. If it's not quite where you would like it to be, snake it again.



Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.