How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain

Have you noticed your bathtub draining more slowly than usual? Maybe the water lingers in the tub for quite a while before emptying? Or, it could not be draining at all.

All are symptoms of a clogged bathtub drain.

The best thing to do is tackle the problem while it is still a slow drain, opposed to letting it become a full-on clog, and you’re stuck with a bathtub full of water. We’re going to detail a couple tricks of the trade for unclogging your bathtub drain that you can try before contacting your plumber.

Keep in mind that each method is not completely fool proof, and depending on the severity of the clog, these techniques may not always work. A professional plumber may need to be contacted. Don’t fret – the experts at Canuck Plumbing and Heating are available 24/7 to help you with your plumbing needs.

If you have a mild clog or a slow draining bathtub, here are some DIY methods that will hopefully cure your clog before it becomes a bigger issue.

We also don’t recommend using chemical drain cleaners, as they are highly caustic to the environment, and mixing chemicals can be harmful to your system. If you’ve tried our DIY methods to no avail, please contact us for an environmentally-friendly drain cleaner called BioSmart.

Tips for Homeowners: How to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

1. Remove and Clean the Stopper and Strainer

Depending on the amount of hair, gunk, and soapy residue that is clumped around these parts, the simple act of removing and cleaning the stopper and strainer in your bathtub drain can be highly effective. If your tub is draining slowly, this should be your first step in identifying the severity of the clog.

You may need a screwdriver to remove the stopper and drain mechanism, depending on your bathtub. Otherwise, most strainers/stoppers can be removed with a twist and a pull upwards.

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Once they have been removed, take a peek down the drain to see if there is more buildup down the pipe, or if the strainer was just full. If you can see the actual clog, try to remove it with tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers. If the clog is further down the pipe, try one of the following methods.

We recommend cleaning your tub strainer and stopper every few months as a preventive measure, obviously because hair and gunk are always going down the drain and will build up over time.

Even though there is a bunch of buildup, this is actually a good thing, as the strainer is stopping a good amount of hair and gunk from building up in the actual pipe. Better to clean the strainer than to unclog the drain every 6 months.

If you remove and clean the strainer/stopper and your bathtub is still draining ineffectively, move on to the next step.

2. Use a Plunger to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

Sometimes simply cleaning your strainer/stopper isn’t enough, so the next step is to try unclogging your drain with a plunger. While the strainer/stopper are still removed, fill your bathtub with enough water to submerge the plunger (this is what will help create suction).

You will want to wear rubber gloves and old clothes in case you get splashed, as dirty water and gunk will likely come up through the drain.

Place your plunger over the drain to create a tight seal and rapidly push/pull the plunger about 10 times or until dirty water and gunk come out. Check to see that the water drains at it’s normal speed. Try not to let the gunk you just released go back down the drain.

If this method does not work, even with added force and effort, you may need to move on to the next trick.

3. Use Baking Soda, Vinegar and Hot Water to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

Rather than purchasing an expensive chemical drain cleaner, you can give this natural method a try. Chances are you already have a kettle, vinegar, and baking soda at home already.

While the stopper/strainer is still removed, boil water in a kettle or a large pot. Next, very carefully pour the hot water down the drain. Even the boiling water can be enough to force the clog out, so see if your tub begins to drain properly. If not, continue on.

Next, pour a 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain. Waiting about 15-20 minutes, boil another kettle or pot of water, and pour down the drain. This should react with the baking soda and vinegar to clean the clog.

If your bathtub still does not drain properly, it is time to try one last trick.

4. Use a Drain Claw or Snake to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

If all of the previous methods have not removed the clog in your bathtub drain, the next option is to use a drain claw, snake, or auger to try and remove the clog.

This is basically a long, flexible wire on a handle that you can wind down the drain by turning the crank.  When unclogging a bathtub drain, start by unwinding about 3 feet of the snake down the overflow hole. You will feel a slight resistance as the wire passes through the drain trap or P-trap.

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Most often you will feel the clog when you reach it, allowing you to either push it through or snatch onto it and pull it out of the drain.

Just be careful not to go too far when snaking the drain, as you could snag it and cause a larger problem.

You can check to see if the clog has been removed while the snake is still in the drain, just turn the water on. If it drains properly, you’re good to go. If not, you may want to repeat this method a couple of times, or call a plumbing expert.

You can also check out this video for a better idea of how to use a drain snake to unclog your bathtub drain.

If you have a stubborn clog that you just can’t get rid of, or a tub full of water that is not draining at all, you can contact the experts at Canuck Plumbing and Heating to come over and clear that clog. We are available to help you 24/7 for residential and commercial plumbing emergencies. In case of a plumbing emergency, contact us right away!

2 replies
  1. Andre Beluchi
    Andre Beluchi says:

    What type of plumbing supplies would you need when it comes to unclogging a bathtub drain? My wife recently showed me the clogged bathtub that happened while she was taking a shower. Somehow the water is still there and she tried emptying the water out with bucket but, I guess that wouldn’t be a smart idea.

  2. Agustin
    Agustin says:

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it,
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