If your bathtub isn't draining well it can be a problem for taking baths and being able to use your bathroom properly. Getting the drain clear will make your bathtub, and bathroom in general, easier to use. This is a guide about clearing a clogged bathtub drain.
By H.Clark 2
I saw a tip using baking soda to unclog a bathtub drain. I didn't bookmark and now can't find it. Can anyone recall the tip?
September 21, 2009
Okay. What I want to know is if the baking soda/vinegar will work on a clog that is not responding to Drano? (Not completely clogged, but very slow-moving.) Does anyone know? Thanks.
We recently paid a plumber $95 to clean a clogged bathtub drain. All our home remedy tips did not free the clog. In fact, we even had to have them get the "snake" that we had used out of the drain because it was lodged in and we couldn't get it to move. He shared a tip that will help keep drains clear. The problem we had was that hair had clogged it up. He said to pour a half gallon of Clorox in there once a month to keep it flushed. He also said never to use those liquid drain cleaners in a situation like this because they would just stop at the blocked up place and make the situation worse.
By Sandy from Elon, NC
For slow drains in old houses, pour a bottle of bleach down the tub drain once a month in the evening (every 5 weeks for the bathroom sink). In the morning, heat up a tea kettle and pour one gallon of water down the drain. Aim for the drain (or use a funnel), so as not to crack porcelain. This works only on slow drains.
Source: Frugal Village
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
If drain cleaners are not working in a shower or bathtub drain, the problem might be higher up.
The shower drain in my long-haired teenage daughter's bathroom was plugged so badly she ended up standing in water up to her ankles when she took a shower. I tried all kinds of drain cleaners, to no avail. Then one day, I took the grate off the top of the drain so that I could look down with a flashlight and possibly see something. What a surprise: I could only see a couple of inches down! The crossbars in the pipe, like a plus sign about two inches down, were completely covered with hair!
I used needle-nose pliers to pull out a wad of long hairs as thick as my thumb, that was draped over the crossbars, hanging down like a fringe, almost completely blocking the pipe where drain cleaners had no effect.
By Mary from Hummeltwown, PA
I was so happy to find these handy tools at Lowe's. No more using wire to unclog the bathroom sink, and the cute little bathtub plunger, was so colorful to pass up!
I need to know if my problem is a pipe clog or a septic problem. The tub fills only to flow from under the toilet and therefore floods the bathroom.
November 29, 2013
Pipe clog (unless all your drains are stopped). The clog is below where the drain from the tub joins the drain from the toilet. The wax seal under the toilet is leaking, and water from the tub backs up to the toilet and leaks through the seal onto the floor.
When we recently found that the water in my bathtub was not draining. I discovered that the lever from the overflow cover was broken. I replaced the bathtub overflow cover unit with a new one.
When I completed the replacement, I tested the water in the tub for drainage and the bathtub drained just fine. When I pressed the lever one direction, it drained and when pushed the other direction, it blocked. Two days later the tub will not drain. I removed the newly installed cap and pulled the whole unit that's connected to it out of the overflow pipe, which had a metal cylinder-like tube at the end. I then tried plunging the drain opening on the tub floor, but the water simply came up the overflow pipe out the cover opening back into the tub. It would seem to me that there is more than just dirt as an impediment, but I suspect some part of the system that may be lodged blocking the outflow. Any suggestions what it may be and what can be done to remedy this?
December 31, 2012
We had that problem too. We snaked the bathroom tub, sink, & stool so many times. The answer came to us when we had to replace the stool. We found a plumber in the yellow pages. Got some good recommendations. They came and snaked the stack! You have to go on the roof for that.
If you can access the stack, rent as big a plumber's snake as possible and to the job yourself. Be sure to ask the rental agency lots of questions, they want their equipment back in good shape too. Be sure to clean the snaket off too. That is just plain common courtesy. You will save lots of little tub snaking jobs in the future.
I have a clogged shower and my toilet drains into the shower. I ran a snake down into the shower and it felt like it was coming out the vent. I ran a hose into the vent and the water came into the shower. Can someone please help?
October 7, 2013
I had a similar problem, finally called the plumber. There were tree roots getting into the sewer line, he cleared them out.
By lovell 1
In my bathroom the face basin and toilet drains properly, but the bathtub does not, it drains outside of my house. I ran a snake in the pipe and that did not help, what can I do?
By Lovell from Houston, TX
April 10, 2011
Try putting 1 cup baking soda in drain. Follow with either 1 cup salt OR 1 cup vinegar. Finish with 1 cup boiling water. If you run out of liquid before all the soda and/or salt is down, you can push it along with a little extra vinegar or boiling water. Wait at least 1 hour before using drain.
What is the best way to clean a tub drain?
By Barbara from FL
July 28, 2010
A tub drain often has hair stuck in it. Pry off the cover and reach in with something like an old toothbrush to snag out the hair and accumulated soap gunk. Hopefully, this glob of hair and whatnot is all that is causing your drain to be sluggish.
I have found that Drano crystals are very effective for dissolving accumulated hair and soap scum.
I don't put any faith in the baking soda and vinegar treatment, as all that does is create air bubbles in the drain. Pouring coke down the drain would also put bubbles in the drain. Why would that work? I know people swear by it, but I just don't believe it! I suspect that baking soda and hot water would help in a kitchen drain, as it would react chemically with grease build up. Drain cleaners are strong bases; baking soda is a mild base -- the chemical reaction would be the same, only not as strong.
By Linda 1
I need to unclog a tub drain that has sheet rock pieces in it. The tub is stopped up.
My bathtub has a self close stopper. I took off the little thing connected to a chain that went down in the pipe to open and close the drain. When I did the tub got slower and slower to drain. Is there something dropped down in the pipe that is keeping water from draining out of the bathtub?
By CAROLYN 2
I use a product called Thrift (this product is recommended by plumbers) to unclog drains. After standing in water in the bathtub, I used the product with no results. Any suggestions will be appreciated. I need to avoid plumber cost.
By Carolyn H.
How do you speed up a slow drain?
This same question was posted on thrifty fun and here are some remedies. (04/30/2008)
Hi Beth! None of the tips posted on the link above worked for me last time I had this problem, so I bought a product at Menard's called Instant Power Hair and Grease Dissolver. It comes in a tall black plastic bottle, inside of a clear plastic bag, like a baggie. I poured about 2 cups of it into my (bath) drain, and by the next morning the drain was completely clear!
I also realized what was causing my problem, it was the body wash I had been using, one of the "cream" types. It was good for my skin, but awful for my drain! Made it greasy and a trap for hair and dirt.
You might want to give it a try. :) (05/02/2008)
The Menard's fix sounds interesting. I never use chemical products that might harm the drain. I use my garden hose to clear all drains. It even works on the toilet unless there is an unusually tight clog.
Simply hook the hose to a faucet (I try to hook it to my basement stationary tub faucet so I get hot water which is more effective). Use one of nozzles on the hose that is the skinny type if you have one, and push it down the drain as far as possible, then pack wash cloths or rags all around to keep the water from coming back into the basin or tub that is slow. Have a friend turn the water on full force while you hold the nozzle into the drain.
Let the water run for several minutes...at least 5. The drain should clear, but if not, I'd try it again only longer. It helps to do this process at the wall of a sink and sometimes you will discover the clog is in the trap (curved pipe) under the sink and can easily be cleaned out by hand, eliminating the need to use the hose. (05/02/2008)
Put some baking soda followed by vinegar in the drain on a regular schedule. Maybe once a month helps keep it running smooth. (05/03/2008)
Hi. I frequently use the method of pouring baking soda in the drain and then vinegar. However, I do heat my vinegar in the microwave before pouring it in on top of the baking soda. But stand back, because it really steams up. You can hear the gurgling, then I run hot water afterwords and watch the little whirlpool because the water runs so much faster.
What helps unclog a bathtub?
Andrea from Clyde, OH
If you do a search on bathtub drain, you will see some entries about using baking soda and vinegar. I tried it on my slow flowing drain and it helped quite a bit. You put the baking soda in, then pour the white vinegar into the drain and you will see a lot of foaming. Some say to follow that with hot water. I did notice that it did not work as well on my Mom's drain but she has a permanent screen that covers the drain - she can't remove it to clean hair or anything out of it, so it is a real pain. (01/29/2009)
Remove the plug and run the hot water to unclog.
There may be hair in the drain. I use a piece of a thin coat hanger or wire with the tip bent like a hook. Try to fish out any hair that might be in the drain. Just clean just below the drain, don't try and shove the wire too far into the drain.
Then use a 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar.
Pour the soda down the drain (you may need a pin or something to push it down the drain). Then pour in the vinegar and it will start to fizz.
Put the plug in as fast as you can and let sit for about 5 min.
I have discovered a wonderful tool - It is a hose bladder. You connect it to a garden hose and place it down the drain clean out (overflow), insert it past the trap. Turn on the water and when there is enough pressure built up on the line it forces the clog out into the sewer system. No Chemicals- I have 1 bathroom and 5 kids (3 girls with lots of hair) and even with a screen we get clogs often. I can clear a drain in about 10 min. and don't have to worry about and chemicals in the tub. Hope this helps. (02/03/2009)
I've had good results with this drain cleaner: Pour 1 cup of baking soda into drain. You may have to "poke" soda into the drain to get it all in. Pour 2 cups white vinegar into drain. Insert drain stopper and fill sink with water. Wait 2 hrs. remove stopper.
Tried this in my bathroom sink that has been draining slow for months. I even cleaned out the trap a couple of months ago with no help. This did the job! (09/01/2008)
I need some help in cleaning out my bathtub drain. I have used "Plumbers Helper" like it was going out of style but still no results. Plunging has been almost a daily chore and still no relief. How about a few ideas? Help!
Louis from Sarasota, FL
If you have an old tub with the lever type stopper sometimes those get to the point where they don't go either open or closed all the way. This will cause it to drain slowly. My DH removed the plate where the lever is and pulled the stopper thingy out and put the plate back on. We bought a rubber stopper at the dollar store. It drains fine now. (02/19/2009)
Best of luck. Last summer, our tub wouldn't drain. The plumber found that our P-trap had disintegrated. We ended up taking backyard showers for 6 weeks (after dark of course) until we could find the $6000 to replace the trap and some rotted pipes under our 40 year old house. (02/20/2009)
Quick fix: Take a pair of needle-nose pliers and pull out the hair at the top of the drain. My bathtub was clogged and I blamed my white dog's bath; nope, the culprit was me! The proof is always in the drain, lots of brown hair. (02/21/2009)
I just did mine yesterday. I put in the baking soda followed with vinegar. Let it sit about 15 minutes then followed up by turning on the hot water. Yet no results. Then I took a plunger, plunged it a couple of times and I heard gurgle, gurgle and now the water is draining beautifully. Hope this works for you. (02/21/2009)
As far as exactly how to get rid of the clog, I am not sure. I have heard a lot of theories about vinegar, baking soda, hot water from a tea kettle. I don't know. However, if it turns out your clog is caused by excess hair, invest in a small rubber mesh drain screen. I bought one for about $1.00 or $2.00 at Big Lots. $2.00 could save you hundreds in the future by keeping hair out of your drain. (02/21/2009)
If you have the kind of tub drain with an overflow fitting that has a lever on it to open or close the drain, just remove the screws and pull the whole shebang out of the overflow hole. Clean the hair and gunk off of that icky thing, then stuff a wet rag in the overflow hole and plunge like mad at the drain with hot water flowing till it runs freely. Now reassemble it and you should be good to go. (03/19/2009)
By Red Neck
What do you do for a clogged tub drain?
Here is a list of websites I found regarding this problem:
Hope this helps. (04/06/2009)
By Robyn Fed
The hair might be higher up, not down in the drain. Here is what I did, and some other suggestions:
By Mary T
You can use a thing called "Zip-It" (or a similar product) that you should find in the plumbing aisle at your local hardware store. It's a thin plastic strip with thorny looking things along the sides. Push it down your drain as far as it will go then slowly pull up to remove hair (likely what's clogging your tub). Since you have already used chemicals to try to unclog your tub be VERY CAREFUL when pulling out the hair. The chemicals could splash up and get on your skin or in your eyes. Once you have unclogged your tub, you can put a hair catcher either inside your drain (usually metal) or on top of your drain (usually plastic) to prevent hair from going down and clogging your tub again.
How can I unclog a tub drain without the use of harmful chemicals?
By geo1202 from Pasadena, CA.
You can go to a store like Home Depot and buy an item called Zip It. It is a plastic strip with teeth along each side. It is a very inexpensive item. Here is a link to the site of the people who manufacture Zip It, you can read all about it and see it in action: http://www.zipitclean.com/ . (04/23/2009)
I also use zipit, but then follow it up with the following:
1 box of baking soda
1 cup of coarse (Kosher) salt
Stuff into your drain (don't worry, it won't make it worse). Chase it down with a small bottle of vinegar and let it bubble away. Wait 15-20 minutes or until you cannot hear any more fizzing and then pour a teapot full of boiling water down the drain.
PS. This is good for freshening any drain! (04/23/2009)
I pour in baking soda then white vinegar. After it stops fizzing, I pour a little bit more vinegar in, then boiling water. (04/29/2009)
Try boiling water & a few squirts of Dawn Detergent (the one with the grease fighter additives). (04/30/2009)
There may be built up gunk and hair just out of sight. Try using a small hook made of an untwisted metal coat hanger, and see if you can fish anything out. Be sure to wear gloves, cause if you see what is usually in there, you won't want to touch it. (05/06/2009)
What can I do to open a slow moving drain? It is in the bathtub, so probably mostly hair.
When our bathtub drain slowed up, my husband used the toilet plunger on it. Gross, but worked. This was after using Drano and boiling water a bunch of times. (10/01/2008)
What I do is to take the out the drain stopper, an easy process, pull out the gunk with needle nose pliers and replace the drain stopper. Much easier than taking the time to pouring stuff down the drain and not have it work. (10/01/2008)
Get a bent piece of wire and fish the hair out of the drain, it is usually near the top of the drain. You'd be surprised how much hair can accumulate there. (10/01/2008)
I recently read here on ThriftyFun that a plumber recommended pouring a bottle of "Nair" or another depilatory type hair remover (for women's legs) down the drain and leaving it sit for several hours because hair is usually the main culprit. You may have to do it twice. (10/04/2008)
I have a slow kitchen drain. Anyone have any tips for unclogging it? I know I've seen answers to this in the newsletters but I can't find where I filed them.
- Linne Dodds
Mix 1 c. salt and 1 c. baking soda, pour down drain followed by 1 c. vinegar. It will boil and bubble, cleaning out the drain. When all the bubbling stops follow up with a lot of hot water. Hope this helps. (05/10/2001)
The best kitchen drain cleaner I've ever used is: 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda sprinkled into the drain; pour 1/2 cup vinegar over it and let sit for about 15 minutes. Pour boiling water (I usually just use hot tap water) over it for several minutes. This flushes the drain nicely, removes grease and/or hair buildup, and keeps the drain open for a long, long time. Even my husband was impressed with how effective it is! (05/10/2001)
Using a septic tank treatment in the drain every month will keep it cleared out. If you have a disposer use the rubber plug that came with it to stop up the non disposer side, then fill the disposer side with water. Hold the plug in the non disposer side down firmly and turn the disposer on. The disposer will turn into a water pump and force the clog out. (07/05/2005)
Baking soda and hot water, or simply boiling water are often enough to clean the sink.
When you use baking soda and vinegar together, they bubble and create CO2, but they don't react with the grease in the clog. Products such as Drano are a strong base, and they react with the grease in the clog and dissolve it (base+grease=soap). Baking soda is a milder base, and so will work in the same way. (01/05/2009)
Tips for clearing a stubborn or clogged drain. Post your ideas.
To clear a clogged drain, try this simple technique before using a chemical product. Pour 1/2 cup of salt down the drain followed by boiling water. Continue to flush with very hot tap water. Until the clog breaks.
By Joesgirl (01/04/2005)
For slow-running drains, shake a half a box of baking soda down the drain, then dump in one cup of vinegar. It will bubble and foam like crazy. When the foaming stops, flush the drain with very hot water for 2-3 minutes. Cheap and easy!
By Becki in Indiana (01/04/2005)
Pour a cup of yogurt (no fruit please) down the drain and leave it for several hours. I read it here a while ago. It works, so now I have yogurt in my fridge for the drain (I can't eat it) and yeast for Mom's bread but also for the septic tank. (01/19/2005)
Oh my gosh, I put three bottles of drain cleaner in my shower to fix a clog, did not work. I poured 1 cup of salt and 2 tea kettles full of hot water down it as a last resort. Next time I'm doing that first. Thanks for the great tip. (03/31/2007)
This is THE BEST advise that I've EVER received! Works like a charm immediately! (11/27/2007)
By Was "Stuck in the muck";
I have a slow clogged bathtub for months. I have tried all kinds of chemical product even plunging. I read somewhere, (may have even been on this site) to try a wet/dry vac. The nozzle hose opening is too big to put in the drain. I took a smaller vac hose (plastic not metal) and put it inside the wet/dry vac hose. I sealed the gaps with my hand. In two minutes after using it, I check the inside container. Sure enough here inside floating was a small cap from a tube of conditioner (they kind you get with haircoloring) I cannot believe this worked! I was just about to call a plumber! Now my bathtub drains perfect. If this is where I did see this tip, thanks a million to whoever posted it. (12/09/2007)
My shower drain was running slow for a couple months but, just didn't have time to check into the problem. Finally, one night it just stopped draining. First I tried a whole 80 oz. size bottle of Liquid Plumber and a lot of plunging after allowing the 15 minutes to sit and do it's thing, and NOTHING! Then, I just went to Walmart and bought a 25 ft. snake. Put almost all of it through the hole where you have the drain plug knob because the drain in the bottom the tub had a built in plastic screen so it wouldn't fit through there.
To my amazement I pulled out a hamster sized ball of hair among other indescribable things that have apparently been building up for years. GROSS! It was so quick and easy! Best $10 bucks I ever spent! Better and cheaper than calling a plumber on a Sunday night! (02/17/2008)
OMG! Thank you all for the tip about the salt followed by boiling water. It's 11:00 pm, and yucky brown water would come into my bathtub when I would turn on my sink. I poured 1/2 cup of salt down my tub, and 1/2 cup down my sink. followed by boiling water in both and it worked! God bless you all for sharing the tip. It saved me from calling the plumber tomorrow. (05/15/2008)
By Dalila in Chicago, IL
It works, it works, it works! I have been dealing with a tough clog for almost 7 months now. Spent hundreds in drain cleaners and even tried the baking soda and vinegar (which did not work) plunged, and even have a snake caught in the over flow which I cannot get out, and nothing worked. So I figured what the heck, went to the cabinet and had about a 1/4 cup of salt left. Poured it in the drain and plunged it down in there. To my amazement the water is starting to go down slowly. Now I need to go buy more salt and finish the job. Thank you so much for posting such a wonderful tip. From one tired mother who is tired of bailing out water.. (08/29/2008)
I had to smile when I read about the person who found the plastic cap in their drain. I once had a toilet that wouldn't flush but wasn't clogged with anything. The water was clear. Turns out there was a little clear cover to a razor trapped down there. Had to take the stool off the wax ring to figure it out.
Our bathroom sink has been draining slow for several months. I tried the tip found here for using the wet/dry vac. It worked!! I first loosened some of the gunk from the top of the drain then vacuumed the rest, it pulled up the mess from the bottom of the pipe. Thanks for the tip! (11/01/2008)
I need to know how to remove hair from the bathtub drain. The water cannot go down well, because the drain is clogged up with hair. Please also advise me how to avoid the same problem in the future? Thanks a lot.
Try Drano or the other drain de-cloggers, and then rinse. Go to a hardware store and buy what they call a "snake"; just a big flexible wire contraption to pull out the hair, or if the hair is really obviously bad, then pull out as much as you can first by hand (you can often lift up the cover of the drain to clear the hair clogs), and then applying drain cleaners, as the corrosive components of the drain cleaner might splash up when you are using the snake and burn you. (08/04/2009)
I'm assuming since the hair got down the drain you don't have a strainer type cover. This is important to prevent this from happening in the future. You can probably find a universal one in any hardware store or get creative and make your own. If you do not want to use chemicals to dissolve the clog, you will have to pull the hair out with a crochet hook or something similar. A coat hanger with a hook at the end may do the trick.
If the hair is too far down to reach, try plunging it upwards a few times. Push down slowly without force to create a seal and pull up quickly to force the clog up where you can better reach it. Good luck! (08/04/2009)
Take a wire clothes hanger and take it apart to make a long piece of wire. Then crimp one end to make an L shape bend. Insert this into the drain a little ways, turn a little, and pull back up. This will usually have a glob of hair attached. Remove the hair and do again until it comes back out clean. (08/04/2009)
Hi. I was going to suggest using the wire clothes hanger too. I bought a strainer to put over the opening from Walmart for around $1. It came with two sizes. One for the tub, and the other for the sink. They work wonderfully! (08/05/2009)
I saw somewhere that some husband was amazed when his brilliant wife poured Nair down the drain and it worked. Haven't tried it, but it sure makes sense to me! Good luck! (08/05/2009)
By Gina J.
This worked great at my father in laws. Pour about 1/3 box of baking soda down drain, then any type of vinegar on top of it. Leave it alone for about 1/2 an hour, then rinse with hot water. You may have to do this a few times. It's cheaper than drain cleaner or a plumber. (08/05/2009)
Someone had posted elsewhere on here, that for prevention, or to speed up slow drains, to boil some water on the stove. Pour about 1/2 cup plain ammonia down whatever drain, then pour in the boiling water. Leave a window open, cause if you are leaning over the drain, the hot water will cause ammonia fumes to hit you in the face. Also, be careful carrying the boiling water, don't trip, don't burn yourself or pets.
I just used the hottest tap water I could get. The original poster said that the ammonia cuts the body grease and soap scum that line the drains, which is what causes them to be slow in the first place. They recommended doing this about once a week. (08/05/2009)