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Floor drain, running water in shower

How To Clean Shower Drains

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Cleaning Tips

If there’s a nasty smell in your bathroom even after you’ve cleaned it, chances are it’s coming from your shower drain.

Much like cleaning a shower, there’s no single ‘right’ way to tackle a shower drain, but ignoring it is definitely the wrong approach.

Let’s explore the art of cleaning shower drains, ensuring they stay free-flowing and fresh, no matter what surprises they might be hiding.


Why You Should Clean a Shower Drain

A clean shower drain prevents unpleasant odours, reduces the likelihood of clogging, and extends the life of your plumbing.

Regular cleaning removes hair, soap scum, and other debris, ensuring a healthier and more pleasant bathroom environment.

It’s a simple yet important aspect of home maintenance that often goes overlooked because we expect drains to take the dirt away, not keep it.


How to Clean a Point Shower Drain (and Stop It From Smelling)

Looking down to shower drain grid, wet tiles on floor, man feet visible in lower part

Point shower drains are commonly found in traditional shower designs. 

They are typically located at the centre of the shower floor and can be square or circular in shape.


Initial inspection and preparation

Before you begin cleaning, inspect the drain for any visible clogs or debris.

Gather necessary supplies such as gloves, a brush, bicarb soda, vinegar, and perhaps a commercial drain cleaner or a plumber’s snake, depending on the severity of the clog.


Remove the drain cover

Most centre shower drains have a removable cover. Carefully lift or unscrew the cover.

If it’s a screw-in type, use an appropriate screwdriver to gently remove it. 

For covers that are snapped in place, apply gentle pressure to pop them off. Be careful not to damage the cover or the drain.


Remove debris manually

With the cover off, remove any visible debris, such as hair and soap scum, from the drain opening.

A small brush, or even tweezers, can be helpful in extracting accumulated debris.


Deep clean with bicarb soda and white vinegar

After manually clearing the debris, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. 

This natural combination will fizz and help break down any remaining grime and buildup. Let this mixture sit for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Flush the drain with boiling water to rinse away the baking soda and vinegar solution, along with any loosened debris. This will also help to remove any residual odours.


Optional: Use a commercial drain cleaner

Removal of blockage in floor drain, the hand of a man with a bottle of drain cleaner.

For more stubborn clogs, you might need to resort to a commercial drain cleaner.

Follow the product instructions carefully, as these cleaners can be harsh on your plumbing if used improperly. Use them sparingly to avoid any long-term damage to your pipes.


Check and clear deep clogs

If the drain is still not flowing freely, use a plumber’s snake to do a deeper clean of the shower drain.

Carefully insert the snake into the drain and gently push until you feel resistance, then twist and pull to remove the blockage.


Replace the shower drain cover

Once the cleaning process is complete and the drain is clear, replace the drain cover.

Make sure it is secured properly to prevent any accidents or mishaps.


How to clean clogged point shower drains with a drain snake

You’ll need to use a drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or auger, for stubborn clogs.

It’s a flexible rod that you insert into the drain to physically break up and remove blockages.

Insert the drain snake into the drain and turn the handle to extend the cable. Once you feel resistance, rotate the auger or snake to catch the clog, then pull it out.

It’s more hands-on but can tackle clogs that other methods can’t.


How to Clean a Linear Shower Drain (Strip Drain)

Floor drain in a modern shower,

Linear shower drains, also known as strip drains, require specific cleaning techniques due to their unique design. 

These drains are often found in modern, walk-in showers and are valued for their sleek appearance and efficient drainage.


Remove and clean the drain cover

Gently remove the cover of the linear drain. This is usually a straightforward process, but be gentle to avoid damaging it.

Clean the cover with soapy water and a brush. For stubborn grime, soaking it in vinegar can help.


Clear the drain channel

Inspect the drain channel for debris like hair and soap scum. 

Use a small, narrow brush or a cloth to clean inside the channel. Be thorough, but gentle to avoid any damage.


Flush the drain and reattach the cover

After cleaning, flush the drain with hot water. This helps to clear away any remaining debris and ensures that the drain is completely clean.

Once everything is clean, place the cover back on the drain.


How to Clean Fixed Shower Drains

Modern en suite bathroom with large shower, toilet and wash basin in beige natural with natural stone tiled walls.

Fixed shower drains, commonly found in many bathrooms, are integrated into the shower and cannot be easily removed.

Here’s how to clean them:


Assess the shower drain

Begin by assessing the drain for visible signs of clogging or debris accumulation.

Gather your cleaning essentials like gloves, a brush or a drain cleaning tool, bicarb soda (baking soda), vinegar, and potentially a commercial drain cleaner.


Clear surface debris

Clear away any hair, soap scum or other debris that might be visible on the surface of the shower drain.

Use a small brush to reach into small crevices.


Use a natural cleaning solution

Baking soda - sodium bicarbonate and vinegar

Use a natural solution of bicarb soda and white vinegar for a thorough clean. Pour a cup of baking soda directly into the drain, followed by an equal amount of white vinegar.

This combination will create a fizzing action that helps break down grime and buildup.

Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then flush the drain with boiling water.


Deep clean for stubborn clogs

If the clog persists or if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn blockage, consider using a commercial drain cleaner.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely and use these chemicals sparingly to avoid damage to your plumbing.


How to Clean a Shower Drain Trap

Cleaning a shower drain trap is an important task for maintaining your bathroom’s plumbing and preventing clogs.

The drain trap, often known as a P-trap, is the curved section of the pipe that holds a small amount of water to prevent sewer gases from entering the home. 

Over time, this trap can collect hair, soap scum, and other debris, leading to clogs.


Prepare your materials

You might need gloves, a bucket, a plumber’s wrench, a brush, and perhaps some baking soda and vinegar. 

Make sure the shower is dry, and turn off the water supply if possible.


Access the shower drain trap

Most shower drain traps are accessible from the shower, but some may require you to go under the floor or behind a wall panel.

If you cannot easily access the trap, it might be best to call a professional plumber or cleaner.


Remove the drain cover and clear the debris

Water drain hole is clogged with hair clump. Woman hand in gloves is cleaning the shower drain.

Start by removing the drain cover. This might require unscrewing or gently prying it off, depending on the design. Be careful not to damage the cover or the shower floor.

With the cover off, you can often see and reach debris at the entrance of the trap.

Use your fingers, a wire hanger, or a specialised tool to remove as much debris as possible.


Clean with bicarb soda and white vinegar

For a deeper clean, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar.

The mixture will fizz and help break down grime and buildup. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then flush with boiling water.


Test for proper flow

Once you’ve cleared and cleaned the trap, reassemble any removed parts. Make sure the drain cover is securely replaced.

Run water in the shower to check that it flows freely. This is also a good time to check for any leaks under the shower if the trap is visible.


How to Prevent Dirty Shower Drains

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to shower drains. 

Here’s how to keep your shower drain fresh and clean:

  • Remove hair and debris from the drain cover once weekly (or every other day if you’re up to it).
  • Consider using a drain guard to catch hair before it enters the drain.
  • Flush your drain with hot water every week to help prevent buildup.


FAQs About Cleaning Dirty or Clogged Drains


Can you clean the shower drain with a toilet plunger?

Rubber plunger with wooden handle on the shower floor.

Yes, a toilet plunger can sometimes be used to dislodge clogs in a shower drain. 

It’s especially useful for clogs caused by soap and hair.


How do you unblock a shower drain with standing water?

To unblock a shower drain with standing water, start by removing as much water as possible. 

Then, use a plunger or a drain snake to dislodge the blockage.


How do you minimise mess when unclogging a shower drain?

Start with less invasive methods like hot water or baking soda and vinegar to minimise mess. 

Use a bucket to catch debris if using a drain snake, and wear gloves to keep your hands clean.


What can dissolve hair in a shower drain?

Chemical drain cleaners can dissolve hair in a drain. 

However, for a safer and more natural approach, baking soda and vinegar may help break down hair accumulations.


Can you unclog bathroom sinks, bathtubs and kitchen sinks with the same methods?

Yes, these methods can be applied to unclog bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and even kitchen sinks. 

The principles of shower drain cleaning are generally the same across different types of drains.


When to Call Professional Help

If you’ve tried these methods and you still have a clogged or smelly shower drain, it’s time to call in a cleaning expert or professional plumber.

Persistent or severe clogs can be a sign of a deeper plumbing issue that requires professional attention.

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.