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How to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain – Some Quick and Easy Methods

A clogged bathtub drain

Poor maintenance of your drain can lead to either a slow draining bathtub or a complete blockage in the pipes. What causes such obstructions is usually hairs, heavy dirt or other debris that can’t dissolve easily. The question here is whether you need to call a plumber to unblock your drain or you can try to fix it on your own. In this article, we are going to share 5 effective methods on how to unclog your bathtub drain in no time.

Clean Your Bathtub Strainer and Stopper

Bathtub stoppers could be cleaned with or without using chemicals. On the other hand, some bathtub stoppers have screws whereas others don’t. With our first method, you can see how to unclog your bathtub in three different ways – by cleaning a push drain stopper, levered stopper or drop stopper.

The first thing you ought to do is to check the bathtub drain stopper. Most of the clogs are caused by accumulated hairs and other debris. It takes 5 minutes at most to clean the strainer and stopper and to assemble everything back, depending on the type of stopper you have. If you feel any uncertainty, call a drain unblocking specialist to avoid any damages to your draining system.

You may need the following tools:

  • A screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Heavy wire or coat hanger

Push drain stopper

First, you need to remove the strainer or stopper. To do that, you may need a screwdriver to remove the screw, however, remove the tap before you unscrew the stopper. Remember, you need to:

  1. Choose the right fit screwdriver otherwise you may harm the head of the screw and not be able to remove it.
  2. Once you unscrew it, keep the screw away from the drain to prevent from losing it once you turn on the water to clean the strainer.

Levered stoppers

If the cover of your strainer or stopper doesn’t have a screw, then you can pull it up by hand and remove the tangled blockage. However, older bathtubs have stoppers inside the drain pipes and most of them have a lever on the overflow plate and a cover over the drain.

  1. The first step is to remove the cover and clean the crossbars.
  2. Then proceed with unscrewing the plate and pulling out the long metal linkage. Clean all parts that you have just taken out and run some water to test the drain pipes. 
  3. If the linkage is wary or crooked, readjust it.

Drop stopper

Compared to the levered and push stoppers, the drop stoppers usually have knobs that help you lift them and open the drain. However, there is also a screw set underneath the drop stopper. You’ll need to unscrew it and determine the type of blockage.

For example, sometimes it is wrapped around the crossbars and in this case, you need to cut the wad with a utility knife and with needle-nose pliers to pull out the debris. Unfortunately, often the amassed clog under the stopper cannot be reached and you may need a heavy wire or coat hanger to get rid of it.

Check also: Water Leaking from Under the Bathtub: Possible Causes and Solutions

Unclogging a Bathtub With a Drain Claw

If cleaning the strainer and stopper was ineffective and the issue with your clogged bathtub persists, then you may try using a drain claw. The tool isn’t pricey, but it easily unblocks your drain with the tiny hooks attached to it.

The tools you may need are:

  • Screwdriver
  • A washcloth or paper towels
  • Drain claw

Step 1. Remove the stopper and strainer if you have one

The first step is to remove the strainer as you will need to remove the blockage of hair or soap (or both) under the strainer. However, in order to do that you will first need to remove the stopper’s cap and unscrew the strainer’s screws with the right head of a screwdriver. Put the screws somewhere away from the clogged drain to avoid losing them.

Step 2. Get rid of any excess waste material around the stopper

Over time, a lot of waste material builds up around the strainer and stopper. To remove it, use paper towels or washcloth.

Step 3. Push the claw through the drain and clear your clog

Once you clean the strainer and stopper, stick the drain claw into the pipe as deep as you can. When you reach the drain trap continue pushing through as far as possible, in order to collect much of the debris in your drain.

Step 4. Pull the drain claw out and clean it for another use

Slowly start pulling out the claw so its small hooks can collect the accumulated hair, soap and dust. Once you take the tool out of your drain, give it a good clean to keep it in shape for any upcoming blockages.

Step 5. Test the water flow and assemble everything back

Run some water to see if you have successfully removed all the debris. Hopefully, the water will go down the pipe smoothly. If this is the case, then it’s time to proceed with putting your strainer back in place. This time you will have to screw back the strainer or if you have only a stopper, then you will just need to place it back in the drain. 

This method didn’t fix the issue? Well, then try unclogging your bathtub with a plunger.

How to Use a Plunger for Your Bathtub

If using a drain claw did not unclog the tub, then a plunger could help you remove the blockages. To apply this method, you need to know how to use a plunger and what steps to follow.

Tools you may need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Plunger
  • Duct Tape

Step 1. Remove the strainer and stopper and clear the area

As previously mentioned, the first step is to remove the strainer and stopper. Follow the procedure described in one of the previous methods to do so.

Step 2. Fill the bathtub with some water and prepare your plunger

Cover the surrounding edges of the main tub drain with duct tape and fill the tub with 2 inches of hot water to help dissolve the blockages. Place the plunger over the hole to create suction.

Step 3. Start plunging and test the drain

Begin pushing down the plunger and pulling it up in repeating motions. You will notice that the accumulated hair and dirt will start emerging from the drain. Quickly scoop them out of the tub and repeat the entire process several times until you remove all material that comes to the surface. When done, remove the tape and test the water flow.

If that doesn’t help, maybe it’s time for the well-known “baking soda and vinegar method”.

Unclog Your Bathtub Drain With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Although the method of mixing baking soda with vinegar and pouring boiling water into the drain seems a bit old-school, we highly recommend it! The products are less harmless to the drainage system than other chemical compounds, and they have proven to be effective in many situations, from unclogging drains to removing red wine stains.

The tools you may need are:

  • Screwdriver
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Gloves

Step 1. Clean and remove the stopper and strainer

Keeping the stopper and strainer clean is a must when you plan to unclog your bathtub with baking soda and vinegar. Same as in our previous methods, remove the stopper and/or strainer. Wipe the waste material using a washcloth or paper towels and proceed with cleaning the drain.

Step 2. Pour some boiling water into the drain

Boil some water and run it through the drain. Start pouring it slowly so you don’t burn yourself. Chances are it might either unclog the pipe and you won’t need to apply the baking soda and vinegar at all. Run some water in the bathtub to check if it drains normally. If not, then proceed with the next step.

Step 3. Add the baking soda and the vinegar

Mix half a cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar and pour the mixture into the drain. 

Step 4. Wait some time and pour boiling water once again

Set your timer for 20 minutes while you are boiling some more water. When the time comes, pour the boiling water into the drain once again. The hot water and mix of baking soda and vinegar will cause a chemical reaction that clears any blockages. Run some water to check if the procedure was successful and repeat the procedure once more if necessary. Is your bathtub still blocked? Then it’s time to use a chemical drain cleaner for unclogging a bathtub.

Use Bathtub Drain Cleaner

We have noticed that most people opt for bathtub clog cleaners, advice professionals London House Cleaners. Remember though, even if you purchase the best bathtub drain cleaner and despite its fast result, any kind of strong chemical products cause pipe damages. This should be your last resort as you can wreck the whole drainage system and cause harm to your environment.

Still, if you decide to use such a product, always follow the steps below.

Step 1. Read the instruction of your products

Always read the instructions first before you proceed with applying any kind of caustic, oxidizing or acid bathtub drain cleaner. As you will notice, on the back of the product each manufacturer has pointed out the safety precautions and exact steps.

Step 2. Remove any water from the tub and use the cleaner

There must be no water left in the bathtub so make sure to take it out using a bucket and dry out the tub before you put the substance into the drain. 

Step 3. Wait and flush to see if all is fine

On the bottle or package of drain cleaner, there should be a specified time you need to wait after you’ve poured the chemicals. When the time is up, carefully run some water to see if the bathtub clog cleaner was effective, and if it wasn’t, then it’s time to call a professional plumber. 

Your Bathtub is Still Not Draining?

If your bathtub is still not draining properly although you have tried all methods described in this article, then you definitely need a plumber to help you out. Sometimes, the clog is much further down the drain and regardless of the methods you are using to fix it on your own, calling a reliable plumber in London is the best decision you can make.


  • Although plumbing is not rocket science, understanding the basic functionalities and components of the drainage system can save you time and money.
  • Most of the issues related to bathtub clogs are because of poor maintenance.
  • Although it is fast and effective in the short run, using strong drain cleaners causes pipe damages.
  • Drainage systems require regular checks by professional plumbers.

How to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain – Some Quick and Easy Methods

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