Fri May 05 2023

How To Unclog a Bathtub Drain – 5 of the Best Steps to Know

How To Unclog a Bathtub Drain – 5 of the Best Steps to Know

Now, you bought a bathtub and are enjoying it very much. This is when you face one of the most common yet essential issues in a bathtub: a blockage in the bathtub drain. Even with the proper maintenance, it is inevitable that the bathtub drain accumulates a build-up of foreign dirt and debris. Without proper care, it can lead to severe damage to the bathtub and even the plumbing line. Let’s face it. Nobody wants to dirty their hands and unclog a bathtub drain. But without it, you can be assured that you won’t be getting the intended lifespan from your bathtub, whatever that bathtub is made of. Unclogging a bathtub drain is an easy process, and can take about 20 minutes of your time to do the process completely. In this article, we will discuss how to unclog a bathtub drain properly and easily. 

Bathtub Drain Clogs – The Main Cause

As mentioned before, drain clogs are one of the most common issues when it comes to bathtubs, and more people in the household means more frequent clogs. It is not a viable option to call the plumber every time you need to take care of a clogged drain. Instead, with a few steps and a homemade cleaning solution, you can resolve the problem in a jiffy. As said, what are the main causes of a drain clog?

First and foremost, a drain clog is mainly caused by hair. If your household has people with long hair, then you are in for a ride. Fun fact, you are expected to lose 100 strands of hair in a shower or bath. Where do you think these strands of hair accumulate when they fall? In your bathtub drain of course. Most hair tends to exit through the drain holes, but some of the ones that escaped sit near the nuke and corner of the drain. After some time, once there is enough accumulation, this hair forms a ball and clogs the drain. These greatly influence the flow output in the drain and ultimately clog the whole drain line if not taken care of.

Not only the hair strands, but there are also other elements, such as soap residue, chips from the bathtub surface (due to poor maintenance or aging), bathing oil sediments, and other toiletries that leave residue on the surface of the tub, as well as in the drain.

So, there are various elements that can cause a clog in the drain and ultimately slow down the draining process. Now, you know the cause, it is time to see the process, which helps to unclog the drain easily.

How Do You Unclog a Bathtub Drain? – 5 Easy Steps

Let’s imagine a scenario, where your bathtub drain is clogged with all the elements mentioned above (including hair and other soap residues), and we are assuming that the clog is minimally spread to the drain line.

The following five easy and effective steps help you to fight against this clog: 

STEP #1 – Remove the Debris Naked to the Eye

Before going into the cleaning process, it is necessary to check if you have all the ingredients for the process. The first thing you need is a plunger. A plunger is a tool that you can get from your local hardware store, or even an online store. As said, a plunger is a tool where you place a large orifice over the drain, and, as the name suggests, you plunge it to remove the dirt and debris from the drain. The next thing you need is a cleaning agent. It is better to have a strong cleaning solution that can cough up the remaining minute dirt and debris in the drain line. For this cleaning process, it is better to use sodium bicarbonate and white vinegar. This does not affect the bathtub surface and at the same time, it will get the cleaning job done. The last thing, if possible, you can use a plumbing snake. It greatly helps to remove any harmful chemicals and other big elements that are stuck inside the drain line. With this tool, you can easily drag up big chunks of dirt and debris in short amounts of time. Same as a plunger, you can also get the plumbing snake from your local hardware store or even online. Last but not least, wear gloves and a mask during the cleaning process.

Now, the first step to cleaning the debris in the drain is to remove the large chunk of dirt. By wearing gloves, you can remove them easily. If you have installed the drain stopper, you need not worry about cleaning the drain. You can simply pop up the drain stopper and voila, and you have access to the drain. But, what if you have a modern bathtub? Most modern bathtubs have an integrated drain stopper. In those cases, it is better to identify what type of drain stopper it is. Mostly the different types of drain stoppers come down to screws. Meaning you can use a screwdriver to unscrew them, then you will have access to the drain.

Once you get access to the drain, it is time to remove any dirt that is naked to the eye. After removing them, assess the situation by using a flashlight. Shine the light down into the drain, and check if there are major issues. Unfortunately, if you find any critical issues, it is time to call a professional to take care of the problem. In our scenario, we assumed that there are no such issues. And we also assumed that the clog is minimally spread to the drain line. In such a scenario with the help of light, ensure that there is no big debris in the line. If there are any, you can remove them with the help of a wire coat hanger. This can help the drain to cough up the debris from the drain line.

Now, if we assume, everything went according to the plan, we can go ahead and take the next step in the cleaning process.

STEP #2 – Clean the Drain Line

This is the step where you use the homemade cleaning solution to clean the drain line. First, ensure that there is no stagnant water in your bathtub. Once you do that, you get to the fun part. Pouring boiling water down the drain. Boiling water is a great way to remove any chemicals and oil sedimented in the drain line. This also helps to clear any grease and other chemicals used during the plumbing construction, and it also makes it easy for the dirt to drain. NOTE: Ensure you are using one liter of boiling water not more than that.

STEP #3 – Enter Plunger

Once you are done pouring boiling water down the drain line, it is time to use the plunger. Now, before using the plunger, it is best to ensure that the bathtub’s overflow is sealed off with a plug. This creates the necessary vacuum for the plunger to work on the drain line properly. In order to use the plunger, the first step is to remove the drain stopper and fill the area with water. Once you do that, take a small plunger (a sink plunger) and start applying the pressure. This creates a suction that, as the name suggests, sucks out all the dirt and debris. You need to repeat this process a handful of times to get the result that you are looking for.

In our scenario, minor debris requires 5-10 rounds of plunging to get the job done.

This step will remove all the major and minor debris and ensure that the drain is dust-free. Now, you are ready for the next step.

STEP #4 – Clean the Drain with NaCo3 (Sodium Bicarbonate) and Vinegar

One of the best ways to clear the blockage in the drain is to use a vinegar and sodium bicarbonate mixture. Not only can you clear the bathtub drain, but you can also clear your kitchen and shower drain with the help of this cleaning agent. After the plunging process, take a scoopful of sodium bicarbonate, or you can use bicarbonate soda, both of which are available in your local hardware store. Pour it down the drain and let it rest for a few minutes (max 20 minutes). Once the time is up, pour the white vinegar into the drain and watch the reaction.

When the sodium bicarbonate reacts with vinegar, its chemical reaction creates a foam-like substance that clears residues, dislodges the drain line, and even removes any unwanted odor. Clean it with fresh water once the foam starts to disappear. With this step, you are almost done with the cleaning and can now see the result.

In our scenario, with this step, you can get the best results. If you are facing the same scenario, you can stop the cleaning process with this step.

STEP #5 – Last Hope – The Plumbing Snake

Now, what if your blockage problem still persists? Then your only hope is to use the plumbing snake. Now, if your drain holds more or larger pieces of debris, then insert the snake line into your bathtub drain. The flexible pipe pushes down all the debris and ensures the pipe is clean and ready for draining. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, and you should be good to go.

It might seem like a lengthy process, but essentially all these steps should only take you 20-30 minutes, and cost you less than calling a professional plumber.


  • How do you unclog a bathtub drain in 5 minutes?
  • If the situation doesn’t appear to be critical, you can go with the sodium bicarbonate and white vinegar technique to unclog a bathtub in a few minutes. 

  • What will dissolve hair in the bathtub drain?
  • Vinegar and baking soda can break the hair strands and dissolve them to unclog the drain. But make sure you are using a limited amount of the cleaning agent to dissolve the hair.

  • Is it okay to pour boiling water down the drain?
  • Yes, it is okay to pour boiling water down the drain. Boiling water is a great way to remove chemicals and oil sedimented in the drain line. This also helps to clear any grease and other chemicals, which are used during the plumbing construction and makes it easy for the dirt to drain.


    Bathtubs are a great way to relax and destress yourself., Issues such as clogging in the bathtub drain can degrade the experience, and it is not efficient to call a plumber every time you have a clog. This article explains easy steps to clean the drain without having to spend a lot of money. If you are looking for the best and most reliable bathtubs, Magnus can be your best choice. With a wide variety of bathtubs, you can get the best bathtub for your bathroom. You can access the collection from here.