How to Clean a Clogged Bathtub Drain

You take a nice bath in your tub. When you’re done, you feel relaxed and energized. You drain your bathtub and go to your room to change. You go back to the toilet, and stare in horror. The dirty water in your tub is still there. All the stress that was washed away now comes back.

A bathroom emergency like this must be dealt with immediately. Sure, you can wait for a few hours to see if your bathtub will slowly drain, but those hours can turn into days if your tub is badly clogged. Plus, stagnant water in the tub can lead to more problems, such as the following:

  • Formation of mold and mildew.
  • Becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies, and other insects that can carry diseases and parasites.
  • Foul smells will linger and spread in your house.

So before any of that happens, take care of your clogged bathtub immediately using these methods.

1. Remove Any Remaining Water From the Tub.

Scoop it out and pour into a bucket. When the water is at a level that you can’t scoop anymore, use a rag to absorb the water, then squeeze the absorbed water into the pail. Repeat until there is no more water left in the bathtub.

2. Clean the Stopper.

Depending on the kind of stopper you have, you may need to use different methods in order to remove and clean it properly.

Drop Stopper – has a prominent knob that you lift then turn.
Push/Lock Stopper – push down on the stopper to release it.
Levered Stopper – usually comes with a screen over the drain. You can just unscrew the screen. If it has an internal stopper, unscrew the overflow plate and pull out the stopper and linkage.

Once you have removed the stopper (and the overflow cover if your tub has one), remove all the gunk and hair stuck on the stopper, screen, and coil. Make sure to wear gloves. Once you’ve cleaned the stopper thoroughly, replace it and check if the water will now drain properly from your tub.

3. Plunge the Bathtub Drain.

If cleaning the stopper doesn’t take care of the clog in your tub, it’s time to bring out your plunger. Remove the overflow cover and stick a rag in the hole so no air escapes when you pump the plunger. If you have someone who can help you, ask him to hold the rag while you plunge. Take off the stopper, then fill the tub with about 1 to 2 inches of water. Place the cup of the plunger over the drain, then firmly press and pull up to 5 times. Lift the plunger to check if any debris from the clog rises up. Make sure to remove any hair and gunk that come out right away. Check if the water will now flow freely down the drain. Repeat the process until your tub drain flows freely.

4. Flush Out Any Remaining Gunk in the Drainage System.

Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for about 20 minutes, then pour hot water into the drain. This will help remove any dirt and hair that stick to pipes and get rid of bad smells too.

If your DIY attempts still don’t work, make sure to call a professional right away. Also, remember that preventive measures will save you a lot of trouble, so make sure to pick up fallen hair and to clean your tub and drain regularly, don’t let pieces of soap fall into the drain, and use the baking soda and vinegar trick every other month.

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