The Easiest Way to Clean a Shower Drain

how to clean your shower drain

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Taking a shower at the end of a long day is a great way to wind down and relax. But that therapeutic experience can be easily ruined once you realize your shower is draining slowly, or worse, not draining at all. Thankfully, most shower drainage issues can be prevented with the help of a necessary (if not fun) chore: cleaning your shower drain. Keep reading to learn when to do it, how to do it, and how to keep your shower drain clean longer.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Shower Drain?

To keep your shower running well, and to prevent any odors or clogging, clean the drains of regularly-used showers once a month. Showers that are used less often, like in guest bathrooms or spare rooms, can be cleaned quarterly. Regular shower drain cleaning keeps your plumbing in great shape and keeps your shower in tip-top condition.

What You'll Need

Here's what you'll need to clean out your shower drain.

  • Water (both warm and boiling)
  • Soap
  • Drain snake, either electric or manual
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Melamine sponge
  • Clean washcloths

Step 1: Clean the Drain Cover

Before you remove the drain cover to start cleaning out the drain, make sure you clean the drain cover first. Grab your gloves and lift the cover off of the drain, and then remove any stuck-on hair or soap scum. If it still looks pretty dirty, let the cover soak in a bowl filled with warm, soapy water while you continue cleaning.

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Step 2: Break Out the Drain Snake

Now that you can access your drain, it's time to break out the drain snake (AKA, an auger.) Drain snakes are great for getting big clogs (often made of hair) out of your drains. Depending on your model, your drain snake may be electric (operated with a drill) or manual (operated by hand).

For best results, follow your manufacturer's instructions, but here are a few tips: push the snake into the drain until you feel resistance—you've met a clog! Rotate the snake as to catch the clog, then slowly pull it up and dispose of the clog. If you pull the drain snake up too quickly, you risk losing the clog,

Step 3: Add Baking Soda and Vinegar

Once any large clogs have been removed, it's time to clear out the rest of the drain using two household helpers: baking soda and vinegar. First, boil four cups of water. Then, pour the hot water down the drain and follow it with a cup of baking soda. Next, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain and let the drain sit for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how dirty the drain may be. The mixture should start to fizz.

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Step 4: Rinse It Out

After this time has elapsed, turn on your shower's hot water. Let it run through the drain for a few minutes to flush away any of the remaining vinegar and baking soda mixture. Then, replace the drain cover, rinsing off any of the soapy water it soaked in if necessary.

Step 5: Clean the Surrounding Area

Now that your drain is all clean and back together, you'll need to clean the area surrounding your drain. (It probably got pretty dirty in between all the snaking, pulling, and pouring.) Use a damp melamine sponge and some elbow grease to scrub away any scuff marks, buildup, or grime. Use a clean and damp wash cloth to rinse away any dirty residue left behind by the sponge.

How to Keep Your Shower Drain Clean Longer

Cleaning your shower drain, though necessary, is certainly no one's idea of fun. To keep it clean longer (and have to clean it less), keep these tips in mind:

  • Use an easily-removable hair catcher or drain screen on top of your drain cover. These will catch hair before it goes into your drain, preventing your drains from clogs and preventing you from having to use the drain snake.
  • Don't use body wash, shampoo, or conditioner with large particles in it, like oatmeal or other chunky exfoliating materials. These ingredients can get stuck in your drain and cause a clog. (If you can't bear to give up your oatmeal facial scrub, make sure to flush away any particles left in your pipes with a minute or so of hot water.)