If you own a bathtub, you have probably had an issue at one time or another with a clogged bathtub drain. Bathtubs can clog up for different reasons, but whatever the reason, it’s something you have to fix as soon as possible. After all, bathtubs are one of the essential working parts of your home!

How to unclog a bathtub? There are a few different ways to fix a clogged tub, such as:

  • Drain claws
  • Toilet plungers
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Drano (or other drain cleaners)

If all else fails and nothing you do can get rid of the clog, you can call a plumber for assistance.

In this article, you will learn multiple ways to fix pesky bathtub drain clogs, what causes your drain to clog, and ways you can prevent drain clogs from forming. Keep reading to uncover what you can do to keep your bathtub draining like a dream.

How to Unclog a Bathtub

If you are dealing with a clogged bathtub drain, the chances are that you are already frustrated and in need of a fix now! This article is going to cover four options to unclog your bathtub drain: drain claws, toilet plungers, baking soda and vinegar, and drain cleaners like Drano.

If you try these and your water is still having trouble draining, it might be time to call in a professional plumber. They will be able to help you discover what the cause is and why these unclogging tips didn’t work for your specific drain issue.

Using a Drain Claw

Drain claws are designed to be snaked down your drain to gather excess hair that has accumulated in your pipes. As you shower, your hair will go down the drain along with your water. Large amounts of hair will collect in your pipes and cause a blockage.

It can be very frustrating and cause your water to back up in your bathtub or shower while you are using it. The water will eventually go down, but it can take hours, and you shouldn’t wait to get this issue resolved. A drain claw, like the Omont Drain Clog Remover, can quickly fix your clogged bathtub with just a few easy steps. 

As noted by “How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain?,” the steps to clear your drain with a drain claw are as follows:

  1. Before you can insert a drain claw into your pipes, you are going to have to remove any strainer or stopper that your bathtub has in the drain. If you don’t remove this, you won’t be able to get the drain claw down the drain, and it won’t be able to work correctly. 
  2. When you pull the strainer or stopper out of your drain, make sure you clean up any hair or debris that has collected around the base of the strainer or stopper. Part of your clog issue could be from the hair and debris that have collected right inside of your drain. 
  3. Take your drain claw and insert it into your drain. Pay close attention to how it feels when you are feeding it down your drain. Once you feel like the drain claw can’t go any further, that could be the root of your clog. 
  4. After you have found the source of your clog, twist the drain claw in a circular motion to allow the hair and debris to grip to the drain claw. 
  5. Slowly pull the drain claw out of your drain, continuing the circular rotation as you remove the drain claw. This will allow any extra hair or debris to attach to the drain claw as you remove it. 
  6. After you have successfully removed the drain claw, test the drain before you replace the strainer and or stopper to ensure you have eliminated the clog, and the water can flow down your drain again. If not, you can try to use the drain claw again, or move to another source to remove the clog. 

You Can Use a Toilet Plunger

You might be thinking, are you serious? Yes, we are! You can use a toilet plunger to unclog your bathtub. If you don’t want to use the same one that you use on your toilet (many germs collect on toilet plungers), have one set aside that you only use on your bathtub if you have issues with clogging. The Neiko 60166A Toilet Plunger is a perfect plunger to use on bathtub drains!

How to Use a Plunger to Unclog a Toilet, Sink, or Tub” has some great tips on how to unclog your bathtub drain by using a plunger.

  1. Remove any strainer and stopper from the drain opening. Your bathtub may have one or both of these items, depending on the brand and style of your tub or shower.
  2. Take a washcloth or towel and clean around your drain. Clean off your strainer and stopper as well to remove any debris.
  3. Run a few inches of water into your bathtub. If you don’t have water sitting in your tub, your plunger won’t have anything to create the suction needed to pull anything out of your drain.
  4. Place the plunger directly over the drain and use it the same way you would on your toilet when it gets clogged. Press the plunger down quickly as you use it.
  5. When you have plunged at least ten times, check under the plunger to see if any dirt or debris has come up through the drain. If it hasn’t, keep plunging and checking every ten or so plunges.

If nothing is coming up after you have been working with this method for a little while, it might be time to stop using the plunger and move on to one of the other methods. Your clogging issue might be a little deeper than what you can get to with the plunger. Don’t forget to replace your strainer and stopper when you are finished.

Try Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

It is impressive what baking soda and vinegar can do when you mix them. This is another situation where all you might need to get rid of that clog in your drain is already in your home!

Once you have located your baking soda and vinegar, it’s time to get started. Crunchy Betty’s article “How to Unclog a Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar” breaks down how easy it can be to remove a clog in your bathtub drain with just a few steps. 

  1. You are going to want to boil a pot of water on your stove. Once the water starts to boil, take the pot to your bathroom and pour the water down your bathtub drain. Be cautious; boiling water can cause burns if you get it on your skin. 
  2. Measure out ½ cup of baking soda and pour it down your drain. You are going to want to let the baking soda sit for a few minutes. 
  3. Once the baking soda has sat for a little bit, take a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of hot water and dump that down your drain on top of the baking soda. 
  4. Cover the drain to keep the mixture in your pipes and keep it covered for 5-10 minutes to allow everything to dissolve inside of your drain. 
  5. After the time is up, you are going to want to make another pot of boiling water and dump that down the drain to flush everything through the pipes. 

What About Drano?

If you have exhausted all other options for unclogging your drain or you just want to use Drano in general, it can work wonders! Drano is a chemical that can quickly dissolve hair, soap scum, and other debris that may have collected in your bathtub’s drainpipes.

According to the FAQs on Drano’s website, you can use Drano to unclog kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, showers, or clogged bathtubs. Note: The only thing you never want to use Drano on is your toilet.

Read all of the instructions on the bottle of Drano (or other drain cleaner) before you start using the product. It will tell you exactly how to use the product and how long to let it sit in your tub before you test to see if it has dissolved whatever is clogging your drain.

Generally, for clogged drains, let the product sit for 15 minutes. If your drain is extra stubborn with the clog, let it sit for around 30 minutes before rinsing water down the drain.

Some types of Drano come with a snake tool to use alongside the product to help dislodge any debris from the drain as the Drano is sitting in the drain. It works similarly to the drain claw to remove the hair or other debris from the pipes.

What Are the Best Drain Cleaners?

If you are looking into chemical drain cleaners to rid your pipes of hair and debris, you are probably wondering which one is the best. Read on to find out recommendations of the top five drain cleaners that you can use.

The top five drain cleaners for unclogging a bathtub drain are:

Always remember to read all the directions listed on the chemical you are thinking about using before you start using it on your drain system. You want to make sure you are not only using the product correctly but that it is safe for your specific drainage system. You can never be too safe when it comes to protecting your pipes while you are trying to fix a clog.

What Can Cause Your Drain to Clog?

If you are having issues with your drain clogging up repeatedly, it might be time to understand what can cause your drain to clog. Several factors can come into play when it comes to bathtub clogs.

There are five common reasons that your drain can clog up. We are going to take a look at each reason and why it can affect the way your water drains from your tub or shower.

  • Hair – One of the biggest reasons drains clog up is from excess hair getting stuck in the pipes. The hair goes down the drain the same way the water does, but it can get tangled up and stuck to the sides of your pipes on the way down, causing some severe clogs over time. The hair can even attach to other debris in your pipes, which will cause the drain to clog up even faster.
  • Soap Scum – Soap scum is an unfortunate result of using soap in your shower or bath. It will gather on your walls over time, and it does the same thing inside your pipes. Just like you need to clean the soap scum off of your bathtub or shower walls, you need to clean it off of the pipes as well. If you don’t clean it, it will solidify on the sides of the pipes as it flows down the drain, causing some serious clogs in your pipes.
  • Hard Water – If your home has hard water, it could cause you some issues in your pipes. You may not be able to notice in the water, but eventually, the materials in your hard water can attach to the pipes in the same way that the soap scum does. If you don’t clean out your drainpipes, the hard water will eventually cause you to have a clog resulting in reduced water drainage.
  • Debris – Any dirt and debris can cause a clog if a large amount is going down your drain, especially if you have children that enjoy playing outside in the summer. If you live near a beach of any kind, the sand that goes down your drain when you bathe or shower can cause clogs in your pipes. The best thing to do if you are covered in sand, dirt, or mud, is to rinse yourself off outside before you even come into the house. It will save you lots of time and headaches if it clogs up your pipes over time.
  • All of the above – If you have all of the previous things going into your drain, then it could potentially clog up faster and more often. Once either the hair, soap scum, hard water, or debris starts to collect in your drainpipes, it’s only a matter of time before you have a significant clog on your hands. They cling to each other as they go down the drain attaching themselves to the lining of the pipes. 

With every shower or bath, you are adding to whatever has accumulated on the sides of your pipes. It will slowly close over time, and you will notice when your water starts to drain more slowly that you are going to need to take action and get your pipes cleaned out. You don’t want to wait; it will just cause you more stress and possibly cost more money down the road.

How to Prevent Your Drain from Clogging

If you have noticed your drain seems to clog frequently and you are tired of spending the time to fix the clogs, then you should try a few of these easy tips to ensure you are doing all you can to keep the water running smoothly down your drain.

A few tips you can do to keep your drain from clogging up are:

  • Always use a drain debris catcher. If you can purchase a drain cover, like the TOYHUYI Bathtub Drain Hair Catcher, to go over your existing stopper or one that replaces your stopper altogether, like TubShroom’s Revolutionary Tub Drain Protector, it will help catch any unwanted debris from going down your drain altogether. Instead of your hair and other things such as soap scum and dirt attaching to your pipes once it goes down your drain, you can avoid most of that by merely using a drain cover.

They come in different styles and sizes and either made of plastic or metal. You have to remove the drain cover after each use and empty whatever has collected into your trash can. That’s it! It’s a simple as that to help avoid clogged drains with this device.

  • Never pour soap directly down your drain. You are going to have soap scum build up in your pipes regardless, but you can help avoid massive amounts of soap scum attaching to your pipes if you limit the amount of soap that goes down the drain. 

If you use bars of soap in the bath or shower, try to avoid dropping smaller pieces down your drain once the bar of soap gets smaller. If you drop a bar of soap down the drain, it will only make the soap scum worse, and in return, it will clog your pipes faster.

  • If one of your issues is hard water, consider getting a water softener. This can be a more expensive solution to hard water issues, but a water softener uses salt to alter the water composition. If the water softener isn’t an option, you can try using a descaler. It will help keep the minerals in your hard water from sticking to your pipes and drains.

A water softener that you can try is the Fleck 5600SXT 64,000 Grain Water Softener Whole House System. If you would instead use a water descaler, try the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler.

  • Handle signs of clogging right away. If you notice that the water isn’t flowing down the drain like it used to, you can use a drain cleaner or baking soda and vinegar to try to get rid of the clog before it gets worse.
  • Avoid putting anything down your drain that could cause a clog, such as sand, dirt, and mud. Those are going to be some of the worst things you can allow to go down your drain. They can quickly bond together on the sides of your pipes and cause you issues with your water flowing. Not to mention, if you already have problems with hair going down your drain, the sand, dirt, and mud can and will attach to any hair that has already accumulated on the lining of your pipes.

If your family has just come home from a trip to the beach or your kids are incredibly muddy when they get home, hose off outside before taking showers inside to minimize the sand and dirt going down into your drain.

  • Flush your drains occasionally. If your drain has a history of clogging, flushing a large amount of water down your drains from time to time can help loosen some of the debris that has collected on the sides of your pipes. You are going to want to use hot water to do this as it will be more likely to remove any debris from your pipes versus using cold water.

Is Hair Still a Problem?

Have you tried everything, but hair is still an issue in your drain, and you don’t have a drain claw or snake to remove the hair? There are few items you may have lying around your house that could help you reach some of the hair that is closer to the top of your bathtub drain.

Here are a few around the house solutions to grab that pesky hair out of the drain:

  • Tweezers – Most people have tweezers in their bathroom. Did you know you can use tweezers to remove hair from your bathtub drain? You sure can! If you take the stopper off of your tub’s drain, you can use tweezers to get any hair you can reach. If you can’t remove your stopper from your drain, you can still try to work around the stopper to remove any hair that is clinging to the stopper or right inside of your drain.
  • Wire clothes hanger – If the tweezer hack isn’t working, you can always try to use a wire clothes hanger. You are going to use the end with the hook to remove any hair that might be attached to the stopper or the entrance of your drain. Straighten the hanger the best you can and place the hook in the drain. Depending on the size of your drain, you may have to squeeze the hook to be a bit smaller. Once the hook is in the drain, turn and twist the hanger to attempt to catch as much hair as possible on the hanger.
  • Hair remover – If you have hair removal cream in your bathroom, you can try to use a whole bottle of hair removal to help break up the hair in your drain. It will work the same way that it does on your legs by breaking up the hair that has collected on your pipes. Check the ingredients list to make sure that it will not harm your pipes first, though.
  • Vacuum – If you have a powerful vacuum cleaner, it might be just what you need to remove the unwanted hair from your drain. You will have to remove the stopper from the drain for this method to work correctly. Also, make sure that the drain is completely dry when you do this. It is very important to make sure everything is dry. Water and vacuum cleaners don’t mix, and this could ruin your vacuum if there is any water that could get sucked up into your vacuum.

When in Doubt, Contact a Plumber

If you have exhausted all of the options you feel comfortable with, it is time to get some hired help to assist you with your clogged drain. There could be a deeper issue at play when it comes to the clog. Plumbers can be expensive but, if you have a problem that could potentially be serious, calling a plumber is your best bet.

They can save you money in the long run by coming out and solving your clogging issue quickly and effectively. If you wait too long, you might find yourself having spent quite a bit of money and still needing to have a plumber fix your issues instead of just calling them to begin with when nothing else worked.

In Conclusion

Keeping your bathtub or shower drain water flowing sufficiently is very important. You want to make sure you are doing regular maintenance if your drain tends to clog up. Hair, soap scum, debris such as sand and dirt, and even hard water can cause your drain system to clog up.

It can be a huge frustration to get things back on track, but with our tips, you should be able to do it yourself without the help of a professional. But remember, if you are in over your head and your tub is still having issues, it might be time to call in a plumber to help solve your drainage issues.