How to Unclog a Frozen Shower Drain

A frozen shower drain can be pretty expensive, often leading to costly repairs that you can avoid. So how do you rid yourself of ice in the shower drain?

All you need to do is pour half a cup of baking soda, then run a cup of vinegar in the drain. You’ll notice your shower drain sizzling. Proceed to pour salty hot water inside the drain.

Following these simple steps will unclog your drainage in no time. But you may wonder how exactly baking soda, vinegar, and salty water react to unclog your shower drain. Keep reading to know how.

How to Unclog a Frozen Shower Drain

A frozen shower drain is a plumbing blockage caused by stagnant water in the drainage that eventually freezes, creating a solid block of ice. So how do you know if your shower drain is frozen?

How Do You Know if Your Shower Drain Is Frozen

During winter, when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water freezes. This freezing can be the onset of an annoying problem common in most bathrooms during winter; a frozen shower drain.

You’ll first start noticing poor drainage of water as you take a shower. Soon afterward, you’ll notice that you’re ankle-deep in water. This is a clear indication of a clogged shower drain.

Why It Is Important to Unclog a Frozen Shower Drain

Water tends to expand when it freezes. You do not want this problem in your shower drain or pipes leading out of the shower drain. This is because your pipes might burst and cause messy leaks in the house.

Ignoring or taking a lot of time to work on your frozen shower drain might result in very high repair bills.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Unclog a Frozen Shower Drain

Now that you have confirmed that your shower drain is clogged, you must act on it as soon as possible to continue enjoying your showers.

Materials You Will Need

  • 3 gallons of water
  • A cup of salt
  • Half a cup of baking soda
  • A cup of white vinegar
  • A large pot

Step 1: Boil Water 

Put 2 gallons of water in a pot and leave it to boil.

Step 2: Add a Cup of Salt

Woman salting boiling water in pot on stove, closeup

As the water is boiling, add a cup of salt into the water. Salt is an effective de-icing agent. It will melt any ice in your shower drainage. Salt lowers the water freezing point, so a salty water concentration will freeze below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ensure all the salt dissolves in hot water. You’ll use this hot water later on in the guided steps.

Step 3: Pour Baking Soda into the Drain

adding baking soda to the drain

Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain. While doing so, ensure all of it goes inside the drain to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Step 4: Pour Vinegar Into the Drain

Add one cup of vinegar to the drain. Make sure you do this immediately after pouring baking soda into the drain. This is because a reaction must happen immediately between baking soda and vinegar to aid in the process.

The reaction creates a solution that helps clean the drainage. You’ll see this as frosting and sizzling from the drain. In addition, these two compounds also melt the ice and lower the freezing point of water.

Next, cover the drain with a drain plug for around ten minutes and let the mixture act on the ice. 

Don’t worry; this reaction won’t cause damage to the pipes. In any case, these two compounds can improve the overall flow of your shower drainage by cleaning and clearing future blockages.

Step 5: Pour Hot Water Into the Drain

pour hot water down the drain

Pour hot water from step 2 into the drainage. Make sure to do this slowly to ensure a steady flow of hot water into the drainage.

This ensures that all ice is melted, thus allowing the baking soda and vinegar solution to penetrate further into the drain.

Step 6: Open Your Hot Shower and Let It Run

Run hot shower water for a while. Doing this will have the following benefits.

  • It helps get the mixture through all the remaining parts of the drainage system for proper de-icing.
  • It helps to flush away all remaining frost in the shower drain. 
  • It’s also excellent to tell you if the solution has worked. You can check if water flows smoothly into the drain without backing up.

How Long Will It Take for Your Frozen Shower Drain to Unfreeze

This method of unclogging the shower drain will work almost immediately. However, it will also depend upon you carefully following the instructions above. Also, before using this method, you should do due diligence to ensure that it’s ice causing your shower to clog.

You can do this by shining a flashlight down your shower drain and looking for any signs of ice. However, to be more effective, snake your shower drain using a thin pipe or a plumbing snake drain to have a better feel of the blockage.


Can You Snake a Frozen Drain?

Yes, you can. You can use a plumbing snake drain to carefully examine the end of the pipe that you push down the drain. If there is no, hair or dirt, you probably have a frozen shower drain problem.

Should You Plunge a Frozen Drain?

No. A plunger will not help, especially if the frozen blockage is vast and runs deep. In addition, you may end up only clearing frozen bits of ice near the drain and leaving those embedded deep inside the drain.

How Long Does It Take for a Frozen Drain to Thaw Naturally?

It will depend on the weather. Ice in your drain will eventually thaw out, though it may take the whole winter period.


With the careful implementation of this method, you’ll have your bathroom draining water normally in no time.

You don’t need commercial drain cleaners to solve your drainage problem. In addition, you’ll not break bank when using this method because you only need a few affordable items commonly found in most households.

In short, it will be a simple DIY drain cleaning project that will not cost much and save you on huge repair costs when a pipe bursts.

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