6 Steps for Cleaning Out a Tub Drain

What You'll Need
Kettle and hot water
Round plunger
Coat hanger or thin wire
Baking soda
Plumbing snake
Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner

The first most people know of a clog in the tub drain is when the water is slow to leave the tub or when it simply won’t leave at all. At this point, there’s no other choice but to clear the clog. At some point, this will happen to everyone as grease, hair and debris build up gradually in the tub drain. You can call a plumber or use chemical drain cleaners from the store, but there are simpler ways to do it yourself to save money. Most use items you’ll have in your house and in a few minutes, your tub drain should be clog free.

Step 1 - Hot Water

First, remove the stopper in the tub. It should either pull out or unscrew and once removed, it can be set aside. Heat a kettle of water until it’s almost boiling and pour directly down the tub drain. This water is hotter than that in the tub and will move or soften the clog. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. If it doesn’t clear the clog, repeat once more to see if clears.

Step 2 - Wire

Taking a straightened piece of coat hanger or other stiff wire and poke down into the clog, lifting it up through the tub drain. The hot water will have softened it so it should be easier to draw up the loose hair, grease and dirt that are causing the clog. Keep working until you have cleared most of the clog.

Step 3 - Vinegar

In a pitcher, combine 1/3 cup baking soda with 1/3 cup vinegar. The mixture will effervesce immediately. Pour it directly down the tub drain and allow it to sit for several minutes before flushing with hot water. If the clog remains, repeat with the mixture and flush once more.

Step 4 - Plunger

By now much of the clog should have cleared unless it’s very persistent and deep. To clear more or all of it, use a plunger. You should already have one in your house and the best model is a round plunger which you can use on bathtubs and sinks (for toilets, you should have a plunger with a different shape).

Block the overflow on the tub with a rag and press down on the plunger over the tub drain to form a vacuum seal over the hole. Press up and down 10 times then remove the plunger. Run water into the tub to see if you’ve eliminated the clog. If not, repeat the procedure.

Step 5 - Snake

All plumbers use a snake to remove clogs. It’s a flexible steel cable and is between 15 and 25 feet long. Feed it slowly down the tub drain, pushing around corners, to remove the clog. You might need to pull and push a little to remove some items stuck in the tub drain. Once the clog is removed, wind the snake in and flush with water.

Step 6 - Vacuum

Remove the filter and any bag from your wet/dry vacuum cleaner and close the vent. Set the hose over the open tub drain and switch the vacuum on. This will suck up the remaining loose items in the clog so they can’t stick together again and form a new clog.