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How to Fix a Slow-Draining Shower

I'm a part-time home handyman and I've used the method in this article to unclog many stopped up shower drains.

Is Your Shower Draining Slowly? Here's How to Fix It

Is your shower drain clogged, causing it to drain slowly? The most common reason that shower drains become plugged is due to hair accumulating in the upper part of the drain. Luckily, a slow-draining shower is an easy problem to fix in most cases.

Several Ways to Unclog a Shower Drain

There are several ways that you can use to unclog a stopped-up or slow-draining shower drain, here are the three main methods.

Chemical Drain Openers

The most commonly used method for clearing shower drains is that of chemical drain openers. These products work utilizing a chemical reaction and can be effective, however they also present a hazard when used in an area where you'll be standing in bare feet.

If products such as Draino fail to work and don't go all the way down the drain, they may come back up when you're taking a shower, causing serious chemical burns to skin. It's generally best to avoid using any kind of chemical drain openers in showers.


A good, old-fashioned plunger can be an effective way of unstopping a clogged shower drain, however you won't want to use the same one you've used on your toilet to avoid getting harmful germs in your shower. A standard, mushroom-shaped plunger, not the elongated kind designed specifically for toilets, can often work on a clogged shower drain.

Drain Snakes

There are a variety of drain snakes—not to be confused with drain augers—which can be used to unclog your drain. Plastic drain snakes are designed to have a series of ridges or teeth along the side that grab onto hair and other debris, allowing you to then pull it up and out of your drain. We prefer to use plastic drain snakes instead of either of the two unclogging methods mentioned above. They cost only a few dollars and can be reused many times.

The first step to unclogging a shower drain is to remove the drain cover.

The first step to unclogging a shower drain is to remove the drain cover.

Step 1: Remove the Shower Drain Cover

Items Needed

  • flat head screwdriver
  • gloves
  • drain snake
  • trash bag
  • paper towels

Most standalone showers feature some kind of metal drain cover, such as the one in the photo above. First, you'll need to remove this in order to use a plastic drain snake to remove any hair that could be causing your shower to drain slowly.

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  1. Using a flat head screwdriver, gently pry up on the drain cover. It may be held in place with a bit of silicon adhesive, which will require some effort to pry the cover away from. Some covers may feature a couple of screws, which will need to be removed first.
  2. If you aren't able to move the cover, please stop here. Your drain cover may be permanently attached and you'll need to call a plumber.
  3. At the point where you can grab the drain cover with your fingers, go ahead and gently pry it off.

Step 2: Use the Drain Snake to Remove Clog

Note: Because shower drains are such dirty areas, to prevent illness we suggest that you wear rubber gloves when unclogging your shower drain and disinfect the entire area afterwards.

Start by slowly rotating the drain snake tool as you insert it into your shower pipe, stopping if you encounter resistance. Retrieve the drain snake if you feel any resistance, as it may soon be full of hair.

If you have a severe hair-clogging problem in your drain, you may need to repeat this process several times. An old pair of scissors might be useful to cut twisted hair off of the drain snake tool.

Step 3: Replace the Drain Cover

After you've removed all of the hair and debris that you can using the drain snake, you can go ahead and replace the shower drain cover. With some shower drains, this may be as simple as snapping it back in, but with others you may have to replace a couple of screws.

Run some hot water down the drain for a couple of minutes to wash any dislodged hair on down the pipe before it gets a chance to get stuck again. If you've done the procedure correctly, and if there's not some more serious clog further down the drain, you shouldn't have any more standing water in your shower.

When to Call a Plumber

Not all cases of a slow-draining shower are the result of a hair clog. A slow-draining shower can indicate a poorly working septic system or clogged sewer line. Be sure to call a professional plumber if your drain is still clogged.

Consider a Shower Hair Catcher

Shower hair traps or hair catchers work by catching strands of hair before they enter your drain. You can find models of shower hair catchers that can be placed over the top of the drain to help avoid future shower drain problems.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Nolen Hart

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