Your shower drain trap should be cleaned more often than the one under your kitchen sink, as it tends to accumulate more debris over time. Human hair and dead skin cells can accumulate very fast, impairing the water flow and eventually clogging up your shower drain completely.
To clean your shower drain trap, you should first remove the grate and attempt to take out any large debris by hand. A drain snake can help you remove larger obstacles and anything that’s too far inside to be reached by hand. Finally, you should use a cleaning solution to thoroughly dissolve any remaining debris and clean your drain grate before putting it back in place.
How to Clean Your Shower Drain Trap
Cleaning your shower drain trap will take you about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the layout of your plumbing and how much material you need to remove. The most difficult part is removing large debris by hand, as this can often get messy and may also require additional tools if your pipes have too many bends.
Materials and Supplies
Before you begin, do an inventory check and make sure you have everything handy. You shouldn’t leave your drain open for too long, so any interruptions (for example, taking a trip to the hardware store) should be avoided.
These are the materials and supplies you’re going to need:
- Drain cleaner (if you want to use a premade cleaning solution)
- Baking soda and vinegar (if you want to make your own drain cleaner)
- Drain snake (optional – if debris has accumulated deeper inside the pipes)
Remove the Drain Grate
Start by removing the drain grate. Check if there are visible screws – if so, remove them with the screwdriver.
Check beneath the surface of the grate too. Sometimes the screws are not easily visible from the outside and may require you to stick the screwdriver deeper into the grate.
If you don’t see any screws, use a flathead screwdriver at the edge of the grate to lift it up gently. Once you’ve freed it a bit, use the pliers to pull it out completely.
Don’t apply too much force, especially if your grate is made of plastic or hasn’t been removed in a while. You may need to wiggle it around a bit until it starts to come out.
Remove Large Debris by Hand
Once the grate is out, put on a pair of gloves and reach inside to pull out any debris you can reach. Most of the time, you will pull out a clump of hair and scum. Keep a bucket handy to dispose of anything you remove.
If your grate is clogged and the issue is further inside than you can reach by hand, you should use a drain snake. Using a drain snake is easy – simply push the snake inside the drain and keep turning the handle until it’s a few feet deep. You may not necessarily feel any obstructions blocking the snake from going deeper.
Once the snake is in deep enough, keep turning the handle to remove any obstructions along its path. When you feel that the snake is moving freely, start pulling it out. Be careful and don’t pull too fast, or you may get a small eruption of debris and old water.
Use a Cleaning Solution
Now that you’ve removed larger obstructions, it’s time to use a cleaning solution. You can either buy a drain cleaner at the store or make it yourself using baking soda and vinegar.
Making your own drain cleaner is easy – simply mix baking soda and vinegar in equal amounts. Before pouring the solution down the drain, pour some boiling water into it first. Then pour in the cleaning solution.
Homemade drain cleaners can be just as effective as commercial products for small blockages, according to at least one study. You should only use strong chemicals for more serious problems that you can’t resolve with household products.
If you’re using a store-bought drain cleaner, check the instructions to see how much you should use, and simply pour that much down the drain. You don’t need to lead with hot water in this case.
In both cases, wait around 15 to 30 minutes for the drain cleaner to do its job. Afterward, pour some boiling water down the drain to flush it. You should see water draining much faster than before you started the cleaning operation.
Clean the Drain Grate
All that’s left now is to clean the drain grate. Simply wash it with warm water and soap. Don’t use any harsh cleaning agents or brushes as they might damage the surface of the grate.
Wipe off the grate with a cloth and you’re done. Put it back in, tighten its screws (if it has any), and your shower is good to go!
How Often Should You Clean Your Shower Drain Trap?
How often you should clean your shower drain trap depends on the number of people you live with and how often everyone showers. For most households, the ideal frequency is around once every couple of weeks. If you live with multiple people with long hair, you may need to do it more often to avoid build-ups from clogging your pipes.
Q: What should I do about a badly clogged drain trap?
A: If your shower drain trap is severely clogged, or the issue is farther down the plumbing than your drain snake can reach, you should call a professional. Any DIY attempts come with a risk of permanent damage to your plumbing in this scenario.
Q: How do I minimize clogging in the future?
A: If you want to avoid having to do this too often, you should install a hair catcher. Hair is the main contributing factor to shower drains getting clogged. You should also use drain cleaner regularly – at minimum every two weeks.
Q: Is using store-bought cleaning solutions better than using homemade ones?
A: A homemade drain cleaning solution is usually strong enough to get rid of most small debris and other problems. Store-bought versions use stronger chemicals that can dissolve more difficult clogs, but they be used sparingly as they cause damage to your pipes over time.
Cleaning your shower drain trap is easy and doesn’t require professional help. You don’t even need to buy a commercial drain cleaner, as you can use household products like vinegar and baking soda to achieve a similar effect. Always start by removing large debris by hand or with a drain snake, otherwise your draining solution will not work as effectively as it should.
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.