Nothing like getting ready for a pleasant bath or shower only to be confronted with a stinky shower drain stench. Even worse is discovering that the water isn’t draining after you’ve toweled off.
A blocked shower drain is inconvenient, mainly if it occurs regularly. Whether it’s soap scum, long hair, or something else (like mold) blocking your pipes or generating a stinky shower drain, this issue won’t go away on its own and must be addressed immediately. Fortunately, most shower drain odor and blockage concerns are simple to resolve if you properly clear a shower drain. Then, take some preventative actions to avoid a future blocked shower drain.
Understand that if you can’t get rid of shower drain smells on your own, the water doesn’t drain—or worse, is backing up—it could be an issue with the lines feeding into your sewer or septic tank. This is likely not a DIY fix, so hiring professional help is best. Just make sure you are hiring a plumber who is both licensed and insured.
How Often to Clean a Shower Drain
Clean your shower drain monthly to eliminate soapy sludge and trapped hair. Cleaning out the drain every other week is preferable if numerous shower users have lengthy hair.
Clogs should be removed as soon as possible using a toilet plunger, drain snake, or commercial solution (as described below in how to clear a shower drain). Slow-running or odorous drains may be readily cleaned with everyday home items such as baking soda, distilled white vinegar, or chlorine bleach.
One caution: Never mix cleaning products; even chlorine bleach and vinegar can produce toxic gas. Follow the instructions on the label carefully!
What You Need:
- Toilet plunger
- Drain snake
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Chlorine bleach
- All-purpose cleaner
- Commercial drain cleaner
How to Clean a Shower Drain With a Toilet Plunger
A toilet plunger is your first defense against a blocked shower drain. Fill the tub or shower cubicle with enough water to cover the plunger’s rubber bell. Plunge away with the bell over the drain hole. The pressure water’s power should remove the blockage and enable the standing water to drain. Try again if the shower does not drain or drains slowly.
How to Use a Drain Snake
A drain snake (or toilet auger) is required if the blockage is a mass of soap-scum-coated hair that refuses to move. One of these items may cost anything from $30 for a metal snake to $10 for a three-pack of plastic drain snakes.
It is simple to use a drain snake:
- Remove the drain cover and insert the snake into the drain pipe. When you sense resistance, you’ve reached the blockage.
- Wait to grab the snake.
- Rotate the snake until the blockage is captured, removed, or broken apart.
When you no longer feel resistance, carefully draw the snake out of the drain and remove the plug. Finally, run the shower high for a few minutes to ensure everything is clear. Replace the drain cover after cleaning it with hot water and an all-purpose cleanser.
Unclog a Shower Drain With a Store-Bought Solution
Most drain cleaners for home use are alkaline-based and employ sodium hydroxide and other chemicals to generate heat, which aids in the removal of obstructions. Because cleaning solutions are heavier than water, they may be poured down the drain when standing water is present.
It is critical to properly follow the instructions. Because most drain cleaners are toxic, eye protection and gloves are strongly advised. Follow the label directions to allow the product to work for the prescribed period. Never use a commercial drain cleaner before attempting to plunge or snake a drain to avoid splashing.
Other enzyme-based drain cleaners are available, such as Green Gobbler Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover ($25, amazon.com). They are less effective than chemical-based cleansers but are more ecologically friendly. The enzymes gradually break down hair and muck and are less harmful to pipes.
How to Clean a Shower Drain With Baking Soda and Vinegar
While baking soda and vinegar will not remove hair blockages, they are good at removing soap scum from drainage systems, which causes them to flow slowly. A fast flush of the drain once a month can also help eliminate odor caused by germs found in soap scum.
- Boil some water. Heat 4 cups of water in a teapot, then gently pour the water down the drain. Instead of boiling water, use hot water from the faucet if you have PVC pipes.
- Add baking soda and vinegar. Pour 1 cup baking soda (a measuring cup might assist) and 1 cup distilled white vinegar down the drain. Be prepared for some fizzing and bubbling!
- Wait. Allow the combination to work for 10 minutes before flushing with hot water.
How to Prevent a Clogged Shower Drain
Use a drain catcher.
Because hair is the most common cause of shower blockages, a shower drain hair catcher is a simple solution to avoid a blocked shower drain. A good hair catcher does not obstruct the flow of water and is held in place by suction or silicone rims. There are two kinds of hair catchers available:
- Internal hair catchers are available in various sizes to accommodate drainage lines. They are simple to install and conceal the trapped hair. That’s wonderful and terrible since you must remember to wash your hair after each shampoo.
- External screens are installed over the drain. They are affordable and straightforward to clean. However, they may be elevated on the shower floor.
Clean the drain regularly.
Get into the habit of regularly cleaning your shower drain—before clogs occur. Follow the steps outlined above to clean your shower drain with baking soda and vinegar about once per month.
Reevaluate your toiletries.
In a shower, soap scum is unavoidable, but particular soaps, body washes, and lotions may block the drain more than others. Those with oatmeal, vast bits of exfoliating products, or thick lotions may all contribute to or get entangled in a blocked drain. If you want to keep these goods, invest in a decent drain catcher and regularly flush the drain.
How to Get Rid of and Prevent Smells in a Shower Drain
Septic gas, bacteria, or mold produce shower drain scents. If you have a guest bathroom that is seldom used, the shower drain P-trap might grow dry, allowing sewer gas to escape. This is readily remedied by running the shower for a few minutes once or twice a month.
Odors might also be caused by soap scum accumulated in the pipes. Regularly using a decent shower cleaner can help break up some soap scum before it drains into the pipes. The scum and the dark, wet surroundings provide an ideal breeding environment for odor-causing bacteria and mold. Showers should be used regularly and cleaned once a month to keep smells at bay.
- Remove the drain cover. Use hot water and an all-purpose cleaner to thoroughly clean it. Scrub with an old toothbrush if required, then discard the toothbrush.
- Add baking soda and vinegar. 1 cup baking soda, followed by 1 cup distilled white vinegar, should be poured down the drain. Allow at least 10 minutes for it to foam and bubble.
- Flush the drain. To clean the drain, pour hot water down it. Remove the drain cover and replace it.
To kill odor-causing mold:
- Remove the drain cover. Allow it to soak in water with 2 teaspoons of chlorine bleach for at least 10 minutes.
- Clear the drain. Combine 1/2 cup liquid chlorine bleach with 2 cups boiling water. Pour the fluid down the drain and wait at least one hour.
- Flush the drain. More hot water should be poured down the drain. Replace the drain cover after cleaning and rinsing it.