How To Unclog A Bathtub Drain With Standing Water?

This is a subject that most of us have had to deal with from time to time. Whether it is from kids’ toys accidentally falling down the drain or your partner’s latest shaving session, drains clog.

Most clogs that develop standing water are caused by an obstruction in the drain tube or drain cover itself. Unscrew the drain cover and locate any hair, gunk, grime or soap pieces and remove them.

I have dealt with legos in the drain as well as plenty of nasty hair tangles that I would prefer to forget. My therapist said, “soon”… but I swear she has been saying that for years hmmm.

How you deal with the clog is dependent on what is creating the standing water in the tub. So the obvious first step is to see what is causing the standing water.

How Do You Get Water Out Of A Bathtub That Won’t Drain?

Alrighty then, so our bathtub drain is stuck and will not drain no matter how long you sit and stare at it. There are a few options to get that standing water out of the bottom of your tub.

wet and dry vac
Image from Shoppingcenter

The easiest method to remove standing water from a bathtub is using a wet/dry vac. Make sure you plug the shop vac into a safe location away from water before turning it on. Suck up the water and dispose of the standing water outside and preferably not back into another house drain.

I have used my shop vac a few times and it worked great actually. There are a few other methods but to me, they are more hands-on compared to the wet/dry vac method.

My first tub clogs were fixed by dipping a cup into the water and emptying it into my toilet. In my brain, that made perfect sense but I really could have just been potentially just displacing the clog into another portion of my apartment plumbing lol.

After messing around with trying to physically remove the standing water, I ended up moving up to trying to remove the actual clog and open up the drain pipe.

If you have a ton of standing water in your tub though, it is a pain to try and remove anything from the drain itself. Do your best to get as much of the standing water out as possible before trying to see what is going on further down the drain.

How Do You Open A Clogged Drain With Standing Water?

Most times people just toss Drano down their drains and call it a day. Of course, there are pros and cons when it comes to chemicals but I will get to that further in the article.

The easiest way to open up a clogged drain with standing water is using a simple 3 step process.

  1. Pour 3 pots of boiling water “slowly” down the drain.
  2. Mix a cup of vinegar and baking soda with 2 tablespoons of dawn dish soap and slowly pour the mix slowly down the drain. Make sure that it goes into the drain and not onto the bottom of the tub.
  3. Pour another 3 pots of boiling water “slowly” down the drain.

If you need to repeat the process then I suggest doing this versus adding chemicals down your drains. If for some reason any and all natural clog removal attempts fail then go to the more heavy-duty commercial clog removal options.

Why Is There Standing Water In My Bathtub Drain?

bathtub with standing water due to faucet not off

This is a question that you need to ask yourself as well as those you live with. If you have little kids then just assume that you will have many clogs in most of the drains in your house. I have actually had my bathroom and the kitchen flooded by one of my daughter’s friends.

Let’s sidetrack for one minute on this because I was lucky to have caught it when I did.

My daughter’s friend ended up getting a stain on her shirt so she wanted to soak it in the bathroom sink. Well, the one thing that she didn’t do after putting her shirt in there was “turn off the faucet”!

I was in my office working and for some reason decided to check on the girls. Boy oh boy was I happy that I came out and mad that I didn’t come out sooner. I turn the corner and boom, I see water flowing out of my bathroom and starting to flow onto my kitchen floor.

I rush into the bathroom and see the shirt stuffed into the drain with water pouring down the sink cabinet and into the toilet and then onto the floor.

Talk about a fun cleanup. So what is the point of the story you might ask? Well rude person lol, clogs can come in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes from things you never thought could cause them.

Can You Put Drano In A Tub With Standing Water?

Drano for bathtub standing water

You can put Drano in anything you want that has standing water. You can also put anything else in there as well first before heading straight to the chemical option. There are also plenty of natural drain clog removers that you can find at your local grocery store. It never hurts to support locally before heading online.

Drano has been known to remove clogs in drains that other methods including natural or organic options have been unable to fully remove. If for any reason heavy-duty chemical clog removers have not removed the clog, please contact a local professional plumber because the issue might be further into your plumbing.

I have used Drano before and with great results. Now that I live where I have a septic system and a leech field, I do not want to dump chemicals into my backyard. Sure, it isn’t great to dump down city drains either but what doesn’t go down city drains (gross lol)?

Before using any chemicals on your clogs, make sure and read the instructions fully. You should also make sure there is fresh air especially if you are sensitive to strong odors.

Can I Use A Plunger On A Bathtub Drain?

a man using a plunger to clear the drain causing standing water

With newer plumbing, using a plunger on a bathtub drain is no problem. If you are trying to unclog a travel trailer tub/shower/toilet and the plumbing is flimsy, you would be careful with how much force you use when using the plunger itself.

You can use a plunger on a bathtub drain as long as you use a medium amount of pressure when plunging the drain hole itself. Too much force could rupture a pipe or cause other issues further down the system itself. Start with light pressure and work up as needed.

Another thing to keep in mind is where has that plunger been and more importantly who else has used it. I actually have two plungers in our house. One is for the toilets and the other is for other odd jobs like unclogging hair clogs in showers and tubs.

How To Unclog A Shower Drain With Standing Water?

The shower drain gets clogged with hair far more frequently than bathtubs these days. Most people tend to take a shower versus a bath. I guess we have gotten so busy that any form of relaxation almost makes us feel guilty for some reason.

baking soda, vinegar, dawn dish soap
Image from Bow Wow WOW LLC

You can unclog a shower drain by first removing the drain cover and cleaning out any obstructions that are in the drain itself. After that, pour at least 3 pots of boiling water down the shower drain. Next, mix a cup of vinegar and baking soda with 2 tablespoons of dawn dish soap together and pour the mix down the drain. Follow up with another 3 pots of boiling water. Repeat as needed.

Most clogs are a mix of hair and soap and can build up over time and cause slow water draining and eventually standing water. I have noticed that our showers clog far more often than any of our tubs. When we had younger kids, I do believe that our tubs were for sure clogged more often than showers.

How To Prevent Future Clogs In My Bathtubs and Showers?

drain hair trap for bathtub and shower

There are a few things that any household can do. Now if you have a ton of people living with you, getting clogs in drains is just going to happen. You can however help minimize issues including standing water with a couple easy to install “fixes”.

The best method to prevent clogs in your bathtub and shower is by installing a “hair catcher” in all of the bathtub and shower drains in your home. These easy-to-install devices will literally catch all the hair that tries to go down your drains. You then just check them monthly or sooner depending on the amount of use and people in your home and just empty them into the trash.

Right now I have 2 of the hair catchers or drain hair traps. Whatever you want to call them, they work and have taken a lot of the work out of trying to remove hair and gunk from my drains. You can find these locally as well as online. There are odds are a million different options, sizes, and brands but I went with the cheap black ones and love them.

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