Tutorial on Cleaning Your Bathtub Drain

15 Minutes
If your tub drain is running slow this post is for you! It's a step-by-step tutorial how to clear it up and best of all it will cost you nothing more than time.
Here are some tell-tale signs you might need to clean your drains, 1.) You’re standing in your shower up to your ankles in water, and after your shower or bath the tub takes F-o-r-e-v-e-r to drain. 2.) maybe there’s a funky smell in your bathroom that you just can’t narrow in on, and even after you clean the bathroom your nose says something still isn’t right. 3) Your drain has become slow and you might be thinking you need to pick up a bottle of drain-o or maybe even call in a plumber. But wait! Before you waste any money on this problem, why not give it a shot at fixing the problem yourself- for FREE!! It’s not difficult, although it might be a little gross. Some of you will find great satisfaction in doing this. I kinda do.
Here are the tools you will need to do the job. A screwdriver (depending on your drain you may need a phillips head instead of a flat head), A pair of skinny pliers, some baking soda(mine is from Target, and you’ve never bought your baking soda at Target, you should, the Market Pantry brand is super cheap, like .29 cents), some vinegar, and a few paper towels.
I am doing my teenage daughter’s drain today and she has really long hair. Long hair means she uses lots of shampoo and conditioner. Using lots of shampoo and conditioner causes a build up of gunk in the drain, along with a bunch of hair washing down together, and it’s no wonder that the water can no longer get down the drain! (See my blog post for how to unassemble the plug and gain access to the drain.)
I’m not going to lie, sometimes the hair, soap, and conditioners smell really bad when you pull them out. They’re starting to rot. Put your paper towels down in the tub along side of the drain, and pick up your pliers. Insert them into the drain and pinch and then pull up. You should come up with a clump of hair. Make a face and put it in the paper towel. Continue doing this until the drain looks clear. I sometimes use a combination of the screwdriver and the pliers if I can’t reach all the hair, and if you don’t have skinny pliers, you may be able to just use your screwdriver, but the pliers are easier.
The next thing I do is just a great maintenance item. I pour about a half cup of baking soda down the drain, and then pour in vinegar until it bubbles up to the top of the drain. I leave that for about 15 minutes, and then pour really hot water (not quite to boiling) down the drain. This will help disinfect the drain and clean it too. That’s all there is, now reassemble your plug in reverse of what you needed to do to get it apart.
Now turn on your water and watch it go down the drain beautifully. Pat yourself on the back because you just save yourself some money, and by the way, Drain-o won’t clear up this type of problem anyway, it’s not a clog stuck in the drain, it’s stuck on that little + .
I know this is a little gross and if you don’t have the stomach for it, ask your hubby to give it a try before you call someone!
Now the next time your drain runs slow, you will know just what to do. Hope you found this helpful!
Removing gunk
Tools needed
Drain all fixed!
Diane Kaul
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Nicky Nicky on Jun 15, 2018

    How do I get rid of candle wax in drain. Have poured down Hot boiling water but is still draining slowly.

  • Malou Malou on Jul 30, 2018

    what is the measurement for the mixture?

  • Bambi Bambi on Dec 03, 2019

    Do you need to put a screen over your bathtub drain when you use it . Catches all the hair.

Join the conversation
2 of 86 comments
  • Roberta Roberta on May 28, 2020

    I use a small size bottle cleaning brush with a long enough handle them I poke it down the hole you would be amazed on what comes out onto the brush

  • Ruthann Nissly Martinez Ruthann Nissly Martinez on Dec 10, 2020

    I use the zip thing for drains that you buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot! Gets out all of the hair! Way more then I can pull out with pliers!