A man installing a shower head in a bathroom.

How to Prevent Shower Clogs

It’s hard to wash your worries down the drain if even the water doesn’t go down.

After an exhausting day, sometimes the best thing is a hot shower. But what happens when the dirty, sudsy water starts to collect at your feet? Unfortunately, clogs happen. But we have good news! There are a few things you can do to help prevent a clog in your shower from ever happening in the first place!

Use a Mesh Hair Trap

A person in orange gloves cleaning a drain in a bathroom.
Consider getting a hair trap for your shower to keep stray hairs from clogging up your pipes.

Oftentimes, when a shower gets clogged, it’s because of hair. The easiest way to keep some of the hair from clogging the drain is to take a moment before your shower to brush your hair. That way, you can throw any hair that comes off into the trash can, rather than letting it slip into your shower drain. It won’t completely prevent hair from getting in your pipes, but it could stop a lot of it.

Have you ever seen a mesh hair trap before? They’re little covers you can put over your shower drain that allow water to pass through, but they trap hair before it can get too far. When you’re done, just clear the hair from the trap, throw the hair into the trashcan, and put the trap back in place. If picking out the hair grosses you out, or if you have to pick hair out of the trap that isn’t yours, it’s a good idea to wear gloves!

Use Less Oily Body Products

Have you ever used coconut oil in your hair? On your skin? Just like you wouldn’t pour greases and oils down the kitchen sink, you shouldn’t wash oils down the shower drain. If you use coconut oil or other oil-based hair or body products, we recommend wiping as much off with a paper towel as you can before hopping in the shower. Another option is to use your oil products after you get out of the shower. If you still prefer to use them before, just be sure to leave enough time for the oils to absorb before showering. If oils get in your pipes, they can harden, making it difficult for water to flow past.

Usually sugar scrubs and salt scrubs contain oil as well. Before you think about using that scrub in the shower, check the ingredients. If it contains oil, our plumbers say it’s best to use those outside the shower and wipe off the excess.

Don’t Dump Cleaning Buckets Down the Drain

When you mop your floors or wash your car, where do you pour the bucket?

If you answered “shower” or “bathtub,” you might want to rethink where you’re emptying all that dirty water! It makes sense to pour it in the tub, but chemicals used to clean your car or floor can wreak havoc on your plumbing, and there’s likely a lot of hair and debris in that water. If you can’t find anywhere else to safely dump it, we recommend using one of those mesh shower drain traps like we mentioned earlier!

Related: “Wait! Don’t Flush That!”

Flush Your Drains Regularly

Morri-Jenkins tech standing in front of a bathroom with tools.
A super easy way to keep your drains clean is to pour boiling water down them. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

One way to help keep your shower pipes clear of clogs is to flush them with boiling water. This helps break down any oils or other products that might be collecting in your pipes. Please be careful not to splash the boiling water on yourself!

Another option to keep your shower drains clean is to occasionally run vinegar or baking soda through them. Just pour half a bottle of vinegar down the shower drain and let it sit for about ten minutes before rinsing it out with hot water. Does the smell of vinegar gross you out? You can use baking soda the same way! Just pour some down the drain and rinse with hot water. If something about your shower seems smelly, these are also great options for clearing out odors coming from the pipes.

If nothing else, letting your shower run after you shower can help keep your drain clear by rinsing the leftover hair (hair that your mesh trap didn’t catch) down the pipes so it doesn’t build up and get caught. You don’t need to keep the water running for long after—one minute is plenty!

Shower Already Clogged?

Even if you use all of these methods, sometimes your drains will still get clogged (though it’s far less likely). If you believe the clog is manageable, you can try clearing it yourself with a couple safe methods. Does the clog refuse to budge? Our team of plumbers is highly trained for even the most stubborn clogs and plumbing problems, and they’re always ready to help!

How to Unclog Your Shower

A man using a plunger to clean out the drain clog.
There are very few DIY solutions for clogs that are actually safe for your drains. Using a plunger is one of the only methods we recommend you use.

If it seems like a minor clog, you could always try flushing it with boiling water, vinegar, or baking soda. If that doesn’t work, you could try using a plunger on your shower drain to force the water to move. To do this, remove your drain cover and center the plunger over the drain itself. Fill the tub with a little bit of water to help the plunger seal around your drain, and then push the plunger up and down several times. If this doesn’t work, stop there! There are a lot of “solutions” you can find online that will actually make your problem worse.

Plumbing No-Nos

It may be tempting to follow the direction of people on the internet with their latest plumbing “solutions,” but unless you’re taking the advice from professional plumbers, you risk damaging your home plumbing. Some common things people try (but shouldn’t!) include:

Plumbing problems don’t magically go away, and if you can’t safely or easily fix the clogged drain yourself, it’s best to call a plumber. If you frequently have clogs and you’re doing everything you can to prevent them, you might have a bigger problem with your plumbing that only a professional can fix.

Recommended: “7 Common Plumbing Misconceptions”

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