Blocked shower drain: the most effective way to unblock it

While you can fix a blocked shower drain with a plunger, hot water or caustic soda, the most effective way is to physically remove the obstruction.

  1. Remove the drain cover. If you have to unscrew it, don’t lose the screws.
  2. Pull out as much debris as you can.
  3. Straighten a thin wire coat hanger and use it to hook out any debris that’s out of reach.
  4. Throw away the offending material with the rest of the household waste.
  5. Get a drain protector to stop hair and other debris from going down the drain.

I have a blocked shower drain. Why is my shower not draining?

You may not see it while you shower, but each time you do, soap residue, numerous strands of hair, and millions of dead skin cells go down the drain. Over time, these gather in the drain, restricting the flow of water before eventually stopping it completely.

No question, a shower drain’s worst enemy is hair. Strands of hair get stuck, which in turn helps to trap more things. This clump of hair is then a magnet for more hair, soap residue and dead skin cells, which harden. There’s a kind of snowball effect – the bigger the obstruction, the better it is at catching more material which will block the drain.

You should also watch out that other things in the bathroom don’t end up in the shower drain, such as old plasters, bits of toilet roll, and packaging from toiletries.

How to unclog a blocked shower drain

1. Remove the drain cover

In most cases, you’ll need to remove the drain cover. You can pull it off, or you may need a pair of pliers to loosen it or a screwdriver to unscrew any screws holding it in place.

If there are screws, take them out of the shower and put them in a safe place outside of the shower tray. Don’t risk losing them down the drain.

2. Pull out as much debris as you can.

Pull out the clumps of hair and any other debris that you can get your hands on. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this!

3. Use a coat hanger to get the rest of the debris

Straighten an old metal coat hanger. Keep the hook the way it is, or adjust it as necessary. Bend the other end into such a shape that you can’t lose it down the drain.

Carefully insert it into the drain and use it to hook out further debris that’s out of sight.

4. Dispose of the blockage

Throw away the blockage with the rest of the household waste. Don’t flush it down the toilet and block that next! (If your toilet gets blocked, we have a guide how to fix that here.)

5. Prevent a blocked shower drain in future

Remind other people in the household to clear the drain every time after they’ve showered. Hair in the drain simply attracts more hair and debris. Nip it in the bud while it’s easy to reach, and prevent it from creating a giant mass of hair further down the pipe.

Better still, get a drain protector. You can buy several of these and still get change from a fiver. They’ll stop you from having to go through the same hassle again.