How to Unclog the Bathtub


Most slow draining bathtubs are a result of hair and soap scum. They build up over time and cause your bathtub to drain slowly or even stop draining altogether. When you notice the water starting to not flow freely, it’s time to take steps to return the water draining to normal.

Manual Method to Unclog your Bathtub

  • If you have a pop-up stopper, twist counterclockwise to unscrew it.
  • You can take a wire hanger, straighten it, and then make a small hook out of one end. Carefully insert it into the drain and “hook” the gunk. Pull it out and remove the gunk from the hook. You may have to wiggle it gently around some before it will come out. Repeat until no further gunk is removed.
  • Run water to check your results. It should be draining properly so now you can replace the stopper.

Plunger Method to Unclog your Bathtub

  • Remove the tub stopper.
  • Stuff a wet cloth into the overflow drain hole (usually located directly under the stop lever). This helps create a vacuum and makes your plunging more effective.
  • If the tub is empty, turn on the hot water and add a few inches. You don’t want it to be empty because the water under the clog helps to clear the drain faster.
  • Seal the mouth of the plunger over the drain.
  • Push and pull the plunger about 10 times or until the water starts to drain.

To learn more about the secret to plunging and a recommended plunger type, read the “grab your plunger” info here.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Method to Unplug your Bathtub

  • With the bathtub empty, pour one cup of baking soda down the drain. Quickly pour one cup of vinegar down the drain. Close the stopper or use rags to block the drain opening. Leave it working for 15 minutes. The fizzing action will help dissolve the clog.
  • Remove the stopper or rags and run hot water (not boiling) to check the water drainage flow.
  • Repeat steps if the drain has not cleared. This method also removes the calcium carbonate that builds up over time in the drain.

Before Using Chemicals, Consider Calling a Plumber

Drain cleaners have very strong and caustic chemicals. They can dissolve any clogging particles in your drain, but can also corrode your metal pipes over time and cost you much more money to fix. If you do choose to use these harsh products, be sure to carefully follow the instructions.

What Should I Expect?

That beautiful sucking sound that signals all is working well again! You might need to repeat the previous steps a few times or try another method.

We are ready to help you if one of these methods doesn’t work or you don’t want to deal with the smelly gunk that comes out of your clogged drain.

Contact us, a licensed, bonded, and insured Tampa plumber if you would like to us to professionally unclog your bathtub or shower. Our plumbers are available for all of your bathroom plumbing problems.