How to Unclog a Shower Drain

We’ve all been there – you step into a steaming hot shower and quickly notice your feet are surrounded by a pool of water. And then, the water takes (what feels like forever) to drain.

The likely culprit? A clogged drain. Although annoying, it can be rather easy to fix a slow drain and restore your shower’s performance in a matter of minutes with the help of some expert recommendations.  


Over time, a variety of “gunk” can accumulate within shower drains, including hair, soap scum, grease, bath product residue, as well as mineral build-up from water. If left untreated, these types of build-up will significantly slow down a drain and result in unwanted standing water. Hair, dirt and other residue may also be visibly left behind, giving the shower an unpleasant appearance.


1. Put on rubber gloves and eye protection to ensure safety.

2. Turn on a fan or open a door/window to maintain good ventilation in case you need to use a chemical cleaner to clear your drain.  

3. Remove shower drain cover and check for visible obstructions (like a large clump of hair) outside and within the drain. If an obstruction is near the surface and safely accessible, try pulling it out by hand. We do not recommend using a plunger, wire coat hanger or other household objects, as you risk damaging your drain and making the blockage worse.

4. For tub and shower combo drains, make sure there is adequate distance between your drain stopper and pipe for optimal water flow.

5. If your drain is still not working properly up to this point, our experts suggest using a chemical drain cleaner – specifically formulated to remove blockages based on the drain location (bath or kitchen), the type of system (municipal sewer or septic) and pipe material (PVC, ABS, copper, cast iron or galvanized steel).  

Recommended Drain Cleaners:

Hercules Glug Bath Liquid Drain Opener works effectively on clogs common in lavatories, including clogged shower drains and bathroom sink drains, because it contains bleach to dissolve hair and soap scum clogs. Another great option for showers is Hercules Glug Crystals Drain Opener. It uses powerful crystalline flakes to quickly clear sluggish drains and dissolve hair, soap, other organic material and grease clogs.

Both of these products are non-acid formulas that can be poured through standing water to attack the clog and begin working instantly. With the exception of aluminum, they will not harm porcelain plumbing fixtures, metal/plastic pipes or septic systems. Each product is also formulated to deodorize drain odors and contain corrosion inhibitors to help prevent pipe and fitting damage.

Some individuals may prefer to try a natural mixture (baking soda, vinegar or hot water) versus a chemical drain cleaner. Our experts note that this type of natural remedy may only partially open a blockage, but never completely eradicate it. For a more long-term solution, a chemical drain cleaner is the smart choice.

Glug Drain Cleaner Crystals


If you’ve followed each of the steps above and your drain is still stopped up, it’s time to call your local plumber or maintenance professional. For the most severe drain blockages, Oatey recommends Hercules Clobber, the fastest and most effective method of cleaning the drain. It’s formulated to remove all organic matter. Additionally, Hercules Sizzle is a powerful scale remover that effectively eliminates scale, salts, mineral deposits, slime and corrosion. Both of these products can only be used by licensed plumbing and maintenance professionals.  

Before using these acidic drain cleaners on metallic drain lines, Oatey recommends that the integrity of lines is confirmed to be in good condition to help prevent any pipe/joint damages during the cleaning process.  

Hercules Clobber
Hercules Sizzle

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