How to Clean a Bathtub Drain in 10 Easy Steps [A Full Guide for Beginners]


Maria DeSouza

| Published September 20, 2023

We’ve all been there — dealing with a clogged-up bathtub drain that prevents water from going down like it should. Annoying, right?

Fortunately, we provided effective solutions in this super easy 10-step guide on how to clean a bathtub drain!

No need to call a professional plumber or panic! We’ll tackle this together and restore your tub to its squeaky clean self in no time. So, grab your gloves, and let’s get this drain flowing like a champ!

Understanding Your Bathtub Drain

You’ve got this tub at home, and it’s been treating you pretty well — relaxing soaks, bubbly baths, and warm plunges. But have you ever wondered what’s going on down the drain?

In the succeeding sections, we’ll enumerate its parts in plain and simple terms. Plus, uncover the common causes of clogs. 

Get ready to understand your bathtub drain like a pro!

Basic Components of a Bathtub Drain

Your bathtub’s drain has four main components:

  • the drain cover, which keeps debris and loose hair from clogging;
  • the drain stopper, which controls water flow;
  • the drain pipe, which carries standing water and wastes away; and
  • the P-Trap, a U-shaped pipe that traps water and prevents sewer gases from coming back up.

NOTE: Tubs have different types of drain stoppers depending on the kind of tub you have.

Common Causes of Clogs

The following are common causes of bathtub drain clog and blockages:

  • Hair Accumulation
  • Soap Scum and Residue
  • Foreign Objects
  • Mineral Deposits
  • Grease and Oils
  • Lack of Drain Screens
  • Aging Metal Pipes

NOTE: It’s essential to avoid pouring fabrics or textile materials down the drain. They can contribute to clogs and may require specialized methods of textile conservation if accidentally lodged in the pipes.

How to Clean a Bathtub Drain: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to easily clean your clogged tub drain and restore its water flow with this effortless guide. You won’t have to worry about pooling water anymore!

Preparation: Tools and Materials You Will Need

Before your start with the cleaning process, it’s crucial to have the NECESSARY TOOLS and materials ready. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • An old toothbrush or small cleaning bottle brush
  • Drain snake or auger
  • Toilet Plunger
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Boiling water
  • Bucket or container

Procedure: Cleaning the Bathtub Drain

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a slow bathtub drain, specifically focusing on how to clean the bathtub itself:

  • Step 1: Prepare for cleaning – Gather the required tools and materials before you begin cleaning. Wear gloves to protect your hands from dirt and grime.
  • Step 2: Remove the drain stopper – If your bathtub has a drain stopper, remove the drain stopper completely to access the clogged drain using a screwdriver. You should also note that the removal method may vary depending on the type of drain cover. 
  • Step 3: Clear surface debris – Inspect the drain area and remove any visible hair, soap scum, or debris using gloves or a small bottle brush. Dispose of the debris properly.
  • Step 4: Create a baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution – Mix equal parts of sodium bicarbonate and distilled white vinegar in a small bowl or cup to create a cleaning solution.
  • Step 5: Use the cleaning solution to the tub drain – Carefully pour the sodium bicarbonate and vinegar mixture down the tub drain. Allow it to sit and work for at least 15 minutes. The foaming action will help dissolve the clog and loosen debris within the tub drain.
  • Step 6: Use a drain snake or auger to remove shower clogs (if needed) – If the drain is still clogged after pouring the cleaning solution, you may need to use a drain snake or auger. Insert the tool into the drain until you feel resistance, and rotate it while gently pushing forward.
  • Step 7: Plunge the drain (optional) – If the clog is not severe, you can use a plunger to dislodge it. Ensure that there’s enough water in the bathtub to cover the plunger’s cup. Construct a tight seal around the drain and plunge up and down vigorously.
  • Step 8: Flush the drain with boiling water – After using the cleaning solution and removing clogs, boil a pot of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the clog. The hot water will remove any soap scum or residue and ensure clean drains.
  • Step 9: Replace the drain cover or stopper – Put the drain cover or bathtub stopper back in place once the drain is clean. Secure it properly to prevent debris from entering.
  • Step 10: Regular maintenance – To maintain a clean bathtub drain, consider performing this cleaning routine once a month or as needed, depending on the amount of usage and the rate of debris accumulation.
an image of a female onix cleaner scrubbing the bath tub area

Regular Maintenance Tips

Here are some vital tips to keep your bathtub drain in good condition:

  • Take a moment to remove any visible debris from the surface of the bathroom drain.
  • Invest in a hair catcher or drain claw that fits over the drain opening.
  • Pour a pot of boiling water down the drains once a week or as needed.
  • Flush the drain with the baking soda and vinegar solution once a month to prevent clogging.
  • Avoid using a chemical drain cleaner, as it can be harsh on your pipes.
  • Never mix commercial cleaning products with other cleaning solutions.
  • Avoid flushing foreign objects, as they can lead to clog and blockages.
  • Consider scheduling a professional plumbing inspection once a year.
  • Installing a filter can help catch debris and prevent it from reaching the drains.

Specific Methods to Unclog a Bathtub Drain

If you don’t know where and how to start cleaning your tub drain, here are easy-peasy methods to unclog that sucker. 

Whether it’s hair or gunk that’s causing the clog, we know the tricks to get it flowing like a champ!

Using a Plunger

Unscrew the overflow plate and fill it with a damp rag. Cover the drain completely and plunge vigorously for about a minute or two. Remove the plunger and run the water to check if the clog is gone.

Dry the drain assembly and smear the plunger with petroleum jelly.

Using a Plumber’s Snake or Hand Auger

Remove the drain cover or the overflow drain faceplate from the overflow hole. After which, insert the snake or hand auger, and turn the handle to break the clog. 

Retract the tool while rotating to grab any debris. Flush with water and repeat if necessary. 

NOTE: Use the tool with caution and follow instructions.

Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Slowly pour the suggested amount of drain cleaner into the drain, and let it sit for a few minutes before running hot water down to remove the clog and build-up.

Following recommended chemical drain cleaners‘ safety guidelines is VITAL to avoid potential hazards, especially when dealing with a stubborn clog. 

Using Natural Ingredients: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are natural options to unclog your drain. 

To remove debris or long hair clog, blend half a cup of sodium bicarbonate and vinegar in a measuring cup. Pour it down the drains and let it sit for 15 minutes

Boil water and flush the drain to remove any debris.

How to Dissolve Hair in the Drain

Say goodbye to annoying blockages, and hello to a smooth-flowing drain! In this guide, we’ll show you how easy it is to dissolve hair like a pro. 

Ready to tackle this hairy situation head-on? Let’s roll!

Homemade Solutions

Try these homemade cleaning solutions to clear long hair clogs. Add baking soda, white vinegar, or salt in a cup and pour them down the drain. Let the solution sit briefly, then flush it with boiled water.

Commercial Hair Dissolvers

Use a commercial hair dissolver for bathtub drains to clear hair buildup. Pour the solution down the drain, wait 15-30 minutes, and flush it with boiled water.

REMEMBER: Follow instructions as indicated on the packaging to prevent hazards.

Preventing Future Drain Clogs

Here are a few tips to keep your bathtub drains free-flowing and your worries at bay:

Regular Cleaning Routine

Regularly cleaning your bathtub drain and using drain covers help in maintaining a clean bathroom and PREVENTING CLOGS.

Clean your bathtub drain regularly by removing visible debris to prevent clogs. Run hot water down the drain once a week and use baking soda and vinegar to clean them once a month.

Using Drain Stopper and Strainer

Use hair catchers and sink strainers to trap debris and prevent the tub from draining slowly. Clean these filters regularly to maintain their functionality.

Drain covers and filters can prevent hair and debris clogs, saving you from plumbing issues.

Avoiding Dumping Certain Substances

Don’t pour cooking grease, oil, or fat down the shower drain to prevent clogs. Avoid putting coffee grounds, eggshells, and large food scraps down the shower drain.

Additionally, you must NOT flush non-biodegradable items like paper towels, cotton balls, dental floss, or wet wipes down the shower drain. 

Dispose of them in the trash or compost bin to avoid damage to your plumbing system. Proper disposal also protects the environment and saves you money in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

From choosing the right tools to dealing with stubborn clogs, we’ve gathered the most common queries to help you with tub and shower drain cleaning and efficient housekeeping.

How Often Should I Clean My Dirty Bathtub Drain?

The frequency of cleaning your bathtub drain will depend on the usage and debris accumulation rate.

It’s a good idea to clean your bathtub drain at least once a month to prevent clog and build-up. Regular cleaning helps maintain a smooth and efficient shower drain system.

Can I Dissolve Hair in the Drain With Vinegar and Baking Soda?

You can dissolve hair using vinegar and baking soda. The mixture creates a foaming reaction that helps break down hair and other debris, making it an effective natural solution for clogged drains.

What Should I Avoid Dumping in the Bathtub Drain to Prevent Clogs?

Avoid dumping grease, oil, fat, coffee grounds, eggshells, and food scraps down the drain. Non-biodegradable items such as paper towels and wet wipes are also a no-go to prevent bathtub clogs.

Dispose these substances PROPERLY in the trash or compost bin instead. 

In case of severe drainage issues, call a professional plumber for assistance.

Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Chemical drain cleaners can effectively unclog bathtub drains slowly. But these should be used with CAUTION. They contain strong chemicals that can harm pipes and pose health and environmental risks.

It’s best to use them sparingly and follow the instructions on the product label carefully. Consider natural alternatives or seek professional plumbing assistance for your concerns.

How Can I Maintain the Bathtub Drain to Prevent Smell?

To maintain your bathtub drain and prevent shower drain smells, clean your drain regularly with a cup of baking soda and vinegar to break down grime.

Ensure that a proper water trap (P-trap) is installed and let water run regularly. This prevents unpleasant odors from entering the shower drain.


Keeping your bathtub drain clean is important for a HYGIENIC bathroom. Luckily, there are numerous ways to effectively maintain its cleanliness!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain your shower drain to prevent future clogs. A few minutes of periodic maintenance can go a long way in keeping it clean and fresh-smelling.

Follow these easy tips to enjoy a smooth-flowing drain and a revitalizing bathing experience. Let’s keep those tub drains clean so you can say goodbye to clogs FOREVER! 

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