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Clearing a Clogged Bathtub Drain

Category Plumbing
Clearing a Clogged Bathtub Drain, Pulling Hair From Clogged Drain
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.
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By 8 found this helpful
June 29, 2009

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.

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By Sandy from Elon, NC

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May 14, 20151 found this helpful

Clorox or any other cleaning product in large quantity will indeed wreck all of the breakdown processes in a septic tank---think very carefully before you pour that kind of stuff down your drains or toilets!

A cheaper, faster, and safer way to deal with this is to go the the local equivalent of the "dollar store" and buy a "hair catcher" to put into the tub drain. It catches a LOT of the hair, and you just pull it out and clear all the hair off of it once a week or so.

I toss it into the dishwasher to clean it---had the same one for going on three years now and it still works great---no caustic substances are needed with this thing.

Total cost----a dollar.

Oh yes I almost forgot---it also helps to brush your hair vigorously before you get into the tub or shower. My daughter and I both have very long hair, and we get less of it in the catcher if we brush first.

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June 30, 20090 found this helpful

I was told that clorox will mess up your septic tank. Kills the needed bacteria to keep the tank working. I can see it working great for the drains, but then if it kills the bacteria in the tank. You fix one thing and mess up another.

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June 30, 20090 found this helpful

Hi Sandy, I read alot of your ideas and copy many of them so I don't forget them. Don't know how you get so smart but I enjoy reading what you have to say on several web pages. Keep up the good work. Pat in North Carolina.

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By 1 found this helpful
March 30, 2011

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.

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Source: Frugal Village

By duckie-do from Cortez, CO

Comment Was this helpful? 1
March 30, 20110 found this helpful

I don't see any reason for using the bleach, that would not unclog the drain. It is the hot water that is doing the work. Soda and vinegar would work and would be better for the environment than bleach.

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March 30, 20110 found this helpful

The only down side to this tip is for people who has septic tank instead of public sewage, the bleach can kill the good bacteria. :-(

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March 30, 20110 found this helpful

Do not put bleach down your drain or toilet even if it is only once a month. where I work we clean with bleach and would put bleach in toilet and the sanitation person came to do their inspection and told me that we should not do this. It can hurt the septic tank. She said just do it once in a while not everyday or once a month.

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March 30, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with other posters. Bleach is a terrible idea, very toxic to the water system. And a whole bottle! A better way is 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar or 1 cup boiling water. To get all the baking soda down the drain, push it along with a bit extra vinegar or water.

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Anonymous
March 31, 20110 found this helpful

So sorry but, besides what's already been mentioned about environmental issues, bleach is a highly corrosive chemical and sitting/standing in older plumbing pipes will greatly shorten the life of those pipes and the fumes emitting from it is horrible for the lungs and eyes. :-(

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April 1, 20110 found this helpful

Bleach and your septic system is a delicate balance. The good bacteria break down the "sludge" and make your system work properly. I don't know the science et, but do know what my septic cleaner guy told me. Bleach used very sparingly, no garbage disposal use, no fats down the sink. Also have your system cleaned/pumped every few years. The baking soda and vinegar trick work well for me. Good luck.

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March 14, 20130 found this helpful

If you can, prevent rather than fix.

I had clogged tub drains until I realized the tub stopper does nothing to prevent hair from entering the drain. I removed the stopper (normally, a twist and lift is all you need), and inserted a mesh basket. I've never had a clogged or slow drain since. Now, I only use the stopper if I'm going to fill the tub for a sit down tub bath.

No chemicals, no plumber, no slow drain. Wait til you see what this basket catches. And best of all, you can get the baskets @ 2 for a dollar at most dollar stores.

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By 1 found this helpful
January 15, 2009

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

Comment Was this helpful? 1
January 15, 20090 found this helpful

They make a neat little gadget designed to stop hair from entering the drain. One is a "cup" like thingy, it sits in the drain, and one is a "dome" type thingy, it sits outside the drain.

I have never had to purchase drain cleaner thanks to this device.

They make a drain basket for kitchens too, for those of us without garbage disposals.

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January 15, 20090 found this helpful

I also have long hair and have to clean the shower drain once a month. A crochet needle also works well.

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January 15, 20090 found this helpful

my hubby has to retrieve my hair from the shower drain about once a month. He uses a long screwdriver to scoop it out. He said "I must love you if I am doing this" and laughs! He has an aversion to loose wet hair!

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

In a household with 3 females with long hair, we continually have problems. I have found that a long crochet hook works best for me. It's easiest to fit down the drain, we just take off the grill and use the hook and hook the hair.

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

My husband made a small hook with a coat hanger. It works in all our drains.

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

I bought a gadget that works like a charm to get hair clogs out of drains. It is a long plastic thing with little teeth along the sides. The teeth are like little v's that point downward. The whole thing is about 2 or 3 feet long. You stick it down the drain, till it stops and then pull back up. The teeth grab the hair and all the slimy gunk attached to the hair. Clean off the stick and repeat a couple of times. You have a really clean drain.

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By 3 found this helpful
April 15, 2014

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!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

October 6, 20131 found this helpful

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?

By Ernster

Answer Was this helpful? 1
October 7, 20130 found this helpful

I would try pouring about 1/4 cup of dawn dish detergent down the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes then follow it with a kettle of hot water and then do a little plunging.

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October 7, 20130 found this helpful

I had a similar problem, finally called the plumber. There were tree roots getting into the sewer line, he cleared them out.

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December 27, 20121 found this helpful

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?

By Joe

Answer Was this helpful? 1
December 27, 20120 found this helpful

I have had to plunge the bathtub also from time to time. You have to cover any other openings when you plunge the bathtub or the plunger wont work very well. I wish I had more to advise than this!

Blessings and good luck on the bathtub!

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December 31, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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November 19, 20130 found this helpful

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.

By Amy

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November 20, 20130 found this helpful

Since no one has answered yet, I'll take a guess. You might have a leak somewhere under the tub, or even a hairline crack if your tub is fiberglass. The water flows to the lowest point first, this being under your toilet, then proceeds to flood the floor. Sorry I am no better help than this.

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November 24, 20130 found this helpful

Hopefully, you have called a plumber on this. There are many reasons for such situations, but it is not something one fixes oneself. You are always better to report the symptoms to the professional, and let them figure out how to fix the problem.

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November 29, 20130 found this helpful

You want to know whether it's a drain clog or a septic problem. If some of your drains are working it's not a septic problem, it's a blockage where the drain from the tub joins the drain from the toilet, or just below that. In that case, water from the tub can back up toward the toilet. There's a wax seal between the toilet and the floor, and if that seal is not perfect, then water backing up to the toilet will leak onto the floor.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 6, 2011

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 7, 20110 found this helpful

Did you try 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar close the drain tightly, let stand for 30 minutes, and pour one gallon hot bubbling water.

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April 10, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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July 21, 2010

What is the best way to clean a tub drain?

By Barbara from FL

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July 28, 20100 found this helpful

My plumber told me to use a half cup of bleach in each drain. Let it sit overnight and then in the morning run hot water, especially good on the kitchen (grease). It also is good removing soap gunk in the bath drain. But if you have a clog from roots or even hair, you need to snake the drain.

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July 28, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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By 3 found this helpful
February 17, 2010

I need to unclog a tub drain that has sheet rock pieces in it. The tub is stopped up.

By Linda

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January 16, 20140 found this helpful

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 Shelia

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By 0 found this helpful
August 26, 2013

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.

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November 3, 20090 found this helpful

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

Answers:

Drain Cleaning

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)

By Connie

Drain Cleaning

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)

By Jennifer

Drain Cleaning

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)

By Plumber

Drain Cleaning

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)

By louel53

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April 6, 20110 found this helpful

I need to unstop bath tub drain. It is loaded with hair.

By Beffy from Dayton, OH

Answers:

Unclogging a Bathtub

I've used tweezers to get most of mine out. After that I use the white vinegar and baking soda remedy. I also bought those screen plug drain things for all my drains. I found mine at my local flea market. (10/11/2010)

By keeper60

Unclogging a Bathtub

"Nair" will do it very fast if the problem is hair. It is made to dissolve hair on your body and it will do the same thing in your sink. (10/12/2010)

By Lilac

Unclogging a Bathtub

On the Mr. Fix-It show on WGN radio, Saturday morning, Lou Manfordeni suggested using a 'Drain Claw' to remove hair from drains. It costs about $5.00, and is sold at most ACE or True Value Hardware stores. He also suggests some drain cleaner with the word CAT in the name. (Can't remember complete name, maybe something like Black Cat.) Give the drain claw a try. (10/12/2010)

By WIsgal

Unclogging a Bathtub

I think the ladies who have thought to use Nair (or any other product such as that) are brilliant. I would try just fishing out the hair with a wire or pliers or part of a coat hanger bent into a loop. I also use an old toothbrush. If that doesn't do the trick, use Nair.

I don't see how vinegar and baking soda will do anything, but bubble. Do they dissolve your hair if your put the solution on your head? Of course not! What they do is react together to make salt water and carbon dioxide, hence, the bubbles. (10/12/2010)

By louel53

Unclogging a Bathtub

Do you have an afghan crochet hook, can you borrow one? It is a crochet hook that is long and straight like a knitting needle. Hopefully you can reach into the drain with it and pull out the hair. (10/12/2010)

By knitter926

Unclogging a Bathtub

Use Clorox (about 2 cups) and boiling water. Alternate between the two. Give the Clorox time to "eat" up the hair. Trust me this works every time. You may have to use a whole bottle of Clorox and keep redoing it, but it will clear out any drain. (10/13/2010)

By Bythec42

Unclogging a Bathtub

Use a wet/dry vac, just don't turn it on till you have the nozzle firmly over the drain opening. Works like a charm and no chemicals. (10/21/2010)

By work smart

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March 29, 20110 found this helpful

My tub drains slowly (the only one in the house that does). I am sure there isn't a clog. I have an enamel tub, so I removed the plate, and when I gently pulled it out there wasn't a chain. I don't know if it a plunger type or a ball. Do I have to remove the tub, or is there a way to take out the drain plate from the tub so I can see into the drain?

By George from Berlin, MD

Feedback:

By rygobus 10/29/2010

Sometimes when a bath tub drain is slow, there is an accumulation of hair and crud in the drain between the tub and the trap. Trap cleaners rarely clear these obstructions. There is a tool available at most home stores that is just right for this job and it only costs a couple of dollars. Find a Zip It, they work great!

Good luck. Rygobus

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October 23, 20100 found this helpful

What is a good way to open a slow drain without taking everything apart?

By Charlie from Las Vegas, NV

Answers:

Fixing a Slow Drain

I use vinegar and baking soda every week to keep my drains running smoothly and odor free. Dump baking soda down the drain, then pour vinegar in after. The acidity of the vinegar and the bubbling action will help keep drains clear. (07/01/2010)

By sassieroses

Fixing a Slow Drain

Also, have you tried the salt and boiling water? There was a post this past week, too, by a man that puts coffee grounds down his drain and never has slow drains, search that out on this site for more details. Good luck! (07/02/2010)

By mom of towers

Fixing a Slow Drain

Try using boiling water, I mean water boiled in a pot or teakettle, not just very hot from the faucet. This should help dissolve whatever is clogging the drain. As you may have to do it several times, while waiting for the next container of water to boil you could use the vinegar/baking soda combination. (07/11/2010)

By AnnmacC

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October 10, 20100 found this helpful

I need information on how to unclog a bathtub drain.

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July 21, 20100 found this helpful

How do you clear a clogged pipe for the sink or tub?

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June 29, 20100 found this helpful

How can I clean out my bath tub drain? I've pulled out a clog of hair, but it still doesn't drain properly. I don't want to have to hire a plumber.

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June 10, 20100 found this helpful

What can I use besides commercial drain cleaner to clear a clogged kitchen drain?

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March 8, 20100 found this helpful

How do you unstop a clogged drain line?

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

These ideas may or may not work for a really badly clogged drain, depending on what's clogging it, but it's worth a try.

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February 15, 20100 found this helpful

Our kitchen sink is draining slowly. Can anyone help me with this problem?

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January 7, 20100 found this helpful

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?

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November 19, 20090 found this helpful

Tips for clearing a stubborn or clogged drain. Post your ideas.

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October 3, 20090 found this helpful

What can I do to open a slow moving drain?

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