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How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain in 10 Minutes or Less

Save a Call to the Plumber

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by Jeff Patterson in Bathroom Plumbing

I just wrapped up unclogging a bathtub at my tenant’s house – and it went way smoother than I anticipated.

One of the things I appreciate most about being handy is saving money on simple plumbing problems.

Dripping faucets. Running toilets. Leaky valves. Clogged bathtubs.

You name it, most of the time plumbing tussles aren’t that hard to fix yet they’ll cost you a pretty penny.

$79 here or $129 there. It all adds up over time and brings new meaning to the phrase “being nickeled and dimed” (don’t get me wrong, the pros are worth every penny but I love saving dinero when possible).

Acquiring plumbing know-how isn’t a skill that comes easy for most of us.

Especially when you’re worried that you’ll make the problem even worse than it already is.

Today I’ll show you how to easily unclog your bathtub. And I promise that you’ll be thrilled with the results πŸ™‚

Here are the supplies you need

Unfortunately, many of us pretend that nothing is wrong (although we know better) when our bathtub starts backing up.

And some DIYers, it’s okay we’ve all done it at one time, resort to chemical solutions. But these products often lead to more frustration and even the occasional expletive because they don’t work that great.

If you start to smell a pungent odor coming from your bathtub drain along with water backing up it means you’ve got a clog. Stinkiness ensues because hair, dead skin, oils, and other unmentionable stuff getting stuck in your tub’s waste pipes.

Fortunately this is an easy fix — for anyone. You can totally do this on your own without picking up the phone to call a plumber or handyman.

If you’ve even been frustrated with a slow draining bathtub and didn’t know how to fix it, today’s brand new Home Repair Tutor show is for you.

You’ll learn step-by-step how to remove that nasty clog and get back to enjoying a soothing bath.

 

Learn how to remodel your bathroom, save money, and increase your home’s value with Bathroom Repair Tutor

 

 

What’s Next

Clogged bathroom sinks are also a pain in the butt – this tutorial shares how to unclog a sink in 10 minutes.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doingΒ a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

83 Comments
  1. chris aka monkey says:

    $90 will buy a lot of stuff for us diyer’s lol thanks for your tip…even though it is a little disgusting looking it is an easy fix….i use dawn and vinegar to clean and once in a while i will pour some baking soda down the drain and watch it bubble cause it’s fun and also because i think it cleans some of that yuck off the inside xx

    1. Hi Chris,

      I agree, cleaning the drain is for the faint of heart. Good tip on using the Dawn and baking soda/vinegar. Especially for pipes you can take apart.

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

      1. Joyce Bates says:

        Regular cleaning treatments keeps my drains free flowing. I pour in baking soda and then vinegar. When the mixture stops bubbling up I follow with some very hot water. If any drain feels a little sluggish I treat it immediately. In 27 years I’ve never had a problem.

        1. Thanks Joyce for the great tips πŸ˜‰

        2. Richard says:

          how much baking S….and how much vinegar….?

  2. Lina Hollander says:

    Jeff:

    I watched the “unclogging the bathroom drain video”. So interesting and informative and I SO wish I had seen it BEFORE I spent 320 — YES! $320 — having my drain unclogged! Further more, I had purchased a new faucet set, which I found that the plumber was unable to install because my pipes are not to code. Cost to replace pipes???”Oh, figure $1000.00 (plus cost of pipe!)! That will not be happening any time soon, thank you very much! So my bathroom (as you may or may not remember, my house was built in 1900) is way stuck in the sixties with its ugly hardware.

    So…any tips on “How to install your own faucet set for the sink/tub”???

    Man, its always something for the poor homeowner, right?

    Great tutorial, as always.

    1. Hi Lina,

      That is a HUGE bummer. What kind of pipes do you have?

      Wish I could have helped you before the $320 flew out of your checking account πŸ™

      Jeff

  3. Irene Foss says:

    Thank you very much for the video. Cleaning that bath tub drain does look a little icky. I would never have expected it to be so easy. We have been in the same old house for 45 years. It’s paid for so why move. Our bath tub drain has never been cleaned. It drains so sloooooow now that I know how to do it it’ll be draining like crazy.
    How about how to clean the kitchen sink drain. We paid plenty for a plumber to come the last time it got plugged up. We sure don’t want to pay for that fix again unless we have to.

    1. Hi Irene,

      Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll try to help you if you do.

      The sink drain can be easy or it can be a pain in the rear. A lot of times your P-Trap is clogged. You can place a bucket or piece of tupperware under it then remove the two nuts that hold it to the other waste pipes. Then you can clean it out in a bucket of water and put it back together. B

      If the clog is beyond the P-Trap the plumber likely had to snake out the line. So it can be a bit involved.

      But it sounds like you wouldn’t mind a tutorial on how to clean out the kitchen sink drain!!

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

      1. Lynette says:

        A tutorial to clean the kitchen pipes would be awesome! Thanks for the video!

        1. Hi Lynette,

          You got it!! I’ll make that a future post.

          πŸ™‚

          Jeff

  4. Janisse Larsson says:

    Thank you so much for this info. I am a single woman in my own small older house and can’t afford much. I do have tub problems with the lever and the drain. This gave me the confidence to tackle it myself like many other things I have had to do.

    1. Hi Janisse,

      You can totally do this project!!! Trust me, I’m not the smartest person and make a ton of mistakes. Yet, I could figure this out-LOL. If you have any problems or questions feel free to send me an email. I’d be happy to help you out.

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  5. Ridiculously easy, but not for the faint of heart. It’s bad enough when it’s in your own house, plugged by your own family, but you showed steady hands and nerves of steel fishing some renter’s unholy gunk from the foul darkness. Great post!

    1. Lol, you always crack me up John. My tenant is awesome. She’s really wonderful and we couldn’t be more fortunate. My steady hands are mostly due to good video editing, haha.

      Jeff

  6. Di Swanson says:

    For anyone who does not have a lot of tools, I use Ream n Clean pipe cleaners. It seems to work great for me.

    1. Thanks for the tip

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  7. Marsha says:

    I have found that if you open a wire hanger you can feed it down the drain & it works great for grabbing the hair so you can pull it out. The hanger goes down further than the needle nose pliers.

    1. Hi Marsha,

      Thanks for your great tip. I’ve found this to be super useful, too. It’s amazing how much stuff gets stuck in drains. This also works really well for showers πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  8. D Riding says:

    A dental pick work very well with retrieving the hair etc from the drain pipe.

    1. That’s another great idea. Make sure to sanitize that bad boy afterward-LOL

      Jeff

  9. ls says:

    baking soda down the drain followed by any kind of vinegar. fast-ez

  10. Sandra says:

    Videos like these have saved me so much money. Thanks for posting.

    1. Hi Sandra,

      Well I’ll keep making them πŸ™‚

      Make sure you use some of that money on yourself-LOL

      Jeff

  11. Rita Hernandez says:

    I’m going to try this! We have an older home and our bathtub drain has always been slow to drain!

    1. Hi Rita,

      Sounds like a plan. If you have any questions let me know Rita. I’d be happy to help.

      Jeff

  12. Travis says:

    I do appreciate you touching on this subject. Although I will say the thing that bothers me the most about unclogging drains is the inconsistent hardware. Seems like all bath tubs are different. And I have found some that I can even get the drain cap off and it seem like it was never meant to be taken off, unless by sawzall…

    1. Hi Travis,

      I hear ya!! And some of the hardware is ancient. That’s where a Zip It or wire hanger would come in handy. I do like taking off the over flow plate and snaking the drain that way.

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  13. Linda Hollander says:

    Jeff:

    OK, so…the drain is working like a CHARM!

    Now…I bought a new shower head, but I can’t get the old showerhead off. I, my daughter, and my daughter’s boyfriend all tried and we can NOT do it…we used a rubber jar opener with pliers and a wrench…no. We tried wrapping it in gauze with the pliers (my neighbor’s suggestion…no.

    I have a feeling whoever screwed it on did not thread it correctly, hence it is sticking.

    WHAT is the solution? Please do not say call the plumber, the pipe is probably not to code!!!!!

    ANY help here would be so appreciated.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Sounds like the shower head might be cross threaded or the installer didn’t use Teflon tape. This is a pain in the behind!!

      You could try to use large channel locks directly on the old shower head since you’ll be throwing it away anyway. You could also try ViseGrip pliers and slide a 20 inch copper pipe over the handle to get more leverage.

      At the very least, you could also remove the entire shower arm and replace it along with the shower head. I’d think about this option as long as the shower arm was a common finish that you could find at a hardware store or plumbing supply house.

      What do you think? Hope this helps.

      Jeff

  14. gaby raaymakers says:

    Thanks, very useful.

    1. Thank you Gaby, hope it helps you out πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  15. Sunil says:

    Hey Jeff.. this is cool stuff, clearing the clogged drain. I did it by accident when I was pushed to the limits of frustration due to the clog. I told myself that this is not rocket science and started removing the screws. Voila.. out came all the bundles of hair and thereafter the sound of water flowing was pure music to my ears. I told this to a few folks too.

    1. Hey Sunil,

      Awesome stuff my friend!! I know how you felt, there comes a point where you’ve just had enough and you’re not gonna let a clog get the best of you. The cool part is that now you know how to fix any future hair balls-lol.

      Jeff

  16. Cindy says:

    My screw going into the drain cover is stripped. I have not been able to get it off. I have tried just about everything.

    1. Hi Cindy,

      You can buy a tool at a hardware store to remove stripped screws. Go to the tool department and explain your situation and I bet they’ll have the tool.

      But if you’d prefer not to mess with it you can try to remove the overflow cover plate and remove the plunger mechanism. You might encounter a lot of hair buildup on it. Who knows, you might not even have to remove the drain cover if this is the case.

      πŸ™‚

      Jeff

  17. great job JEFF PATTERSON. this is a great information about bath tub repair

    1. Thanks friend, the funny part is I just realized our tub needs this to be done again!!!

  18. Andrea C Leger says:

    Excellent information and explained easily enough for me to do.Thank you so much and will definitely look forward to more help!

    1. Thanks Andrea, great to hear from you. I’m super happy that you found the post helpful. If there’s anything you need help with just let me know. I’d be happy to help or do a tutorial on your specific project πŸ™‚

  19. Jen says:

    Great video! My bathtub is completely clogged and barely draining. I removed the stopper and used a ZipIt and retrieved quite a bit of hair. However it is still clogged. When i put the ZipIt down nothing more comes up. I tried the baking soda vinegar thing with hot water and no luck there. Tried a plunger still no dice. I have a different tub drain than shown I your video, and my overflow does not have a stopper as far as I know. Any suggestions? I am not opposed to chemicals at this point I will do anything to avoid the cost of a plumber!! Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Good job with the Zip It Jen.

      Here’s what you can do: buy a hand auger in the plumbing section of your hardware store.

      Fish it down the drain until you hit the obstruction. Then spin the auger clockwise and pull it out by hand.

      Chances are you’ll get the clog cleared out.

      If this doesn’t work then there’s something else that could be wrong and I’ll have to touch on that when the time comes πŸ˜€

  20. Dorothy says:

    How do I clean out my bathtub drain when the drain screen doesn’t have a screw? (Total plumbing novice here.)

  21. amelia says:

    i havent figured out how to get your videos, but read through the print.
    i havent had to clean my bothersome tub drain since i took toputting a small squirt of leftover laundry deter\gent.
    i started this when i had some with a scent i couldnt stand on my clothes and also overheard someone say her plumber told her the clog was a ball of grease [probably hair stuff].
    voila, a small squirt of prevention is worth a cup of vinegar and baking soda.

  22. Pierre Laberge says:

    The video link (as of June 26 2015) is broken. I’d love to watch if you could fix it. Thanks, pml

  23. Dell Oye says:

    Hair is the root of all evil in the world!

  24. Karen says:

    Where is the video? it is not showing on the page

  25. Diane says:

    How do I clean out my bathtub drain when the drain screen doesn’t have a screw?

  26. Sue says:

    My drain does not have the screen but apparently did at one time. There is a cross of metal where the screw would go, with a hole for the screw to go in. After I shower I use an old toothbrush and drag the hair out. Works like a charm for me because I do it consistently.

  27. S. Whelan says:

    Awesome! Any tips on clogged sinks!?

  28. Jane says:

    cool, so easy, who knew

  29. Shawn says:

    The problem that I am having is that the overflow on my bathtub doesn’t have screws attaching it. I for the life of me can’t figure out how it is attached even opening the panel by the tub.

    1. It might be attached to the tub with adhesive…and they may have done this at the factory.

      What brand of tub is it Shawn?

  30. kate g says:

    The best thing I’ve found to put down the pipe to grab hair (and I use it to get lint from under the lint trap too) is one of those two feet long flexible things with a claw on the bottom that you can usually get at a hardware or dollar store. I don’t know what the official name of it is, but they always have a red top that you use to open/close the claw. It works great, I don’t have to take anything apart and it’s a cheap solution.

    1. Thanks Kate for mentioning this tool, I actually have one sitting next to me…they’re awesome

  31. Crystal says:

    Hello
    I attempted this method and was able to get some hair out of the drain. I also used a plunger and plunger the drain as well. I then used drano and let it sit for 30 minutes and ran hot water. The drain is still slow and doesnt drain well it takes forever. I am trying to fix it on my own to save money. Any other ideas?

  32. Tanya says:

    My tub is full of water and has completely stopped draining all together. I have tried using the snake and a plunger but nothing is working.

  33. Cheryl A Poulin says:

    Our drain has a screen on it that doesn’t have screws on it. It won’t pop out. Saw on the net that you can’t remove this kind. We snaked through the overflow pipe but no clog. Think it’s in the pipe between drain screen and overflow . Any suggestions. If you get this question twice it’s because I thought it rejected the first one. Forgot to confirm not a spammer.

  34. Ed says:

    I’ve tried every step in your video to unclog my tub, got very little hair out. The tub drains very slow, so when I shower I’m I a full tub.

  35. Ed says:

    A snake will not fit and the “hair snag poker” they sell at Home Depot didn’t reach far enough to pull anything out.
    Do you have any other suggestions, please?

  36. Lisa says:

    Thank you Jeff. Easy peasy thanks to you. That is some gross stuff coming out of there. Ick.

    1. Glad the advice helped. It’s not fun cleaning drains, yuck

  37. Jack says:

    I highly recommend Drain-FX Plus. Heard about it on the Gary Sullivan show and it cleared my shower drain. Bought it online…cleared my slow running sinks as well. Eco-friendly & effective. and it’s reusable.

    1. Good to know Jack, thanks for sharing. I prefer the snaking technique because it’s a little easier on the pipes than chemical drain cleaners.

  38. L Mead says:

    Prevention is the best thing. Any hardware store should have fine mesh drain strainers. The hair collects in them instead of going down the drain.
    Another thing is to check if the drain is closed. That happened to me. I thought the drain was clogged but somehow the stopper got flipped down.

  39. Joanne Clark says:

    Whenever my drain starts to drain slow I plunge it that brings all the junk up & then can get the stuff out runs great after every time.

  40. DC says:

    WHAT IF YOUR DRAIN COVER DOESN’T HAVE A SCREW??

  41. Jada says:

    I can’t seem to get the screw out of drain part. There is hair wrapped around it, what should I do now?

  42. Char says:

    Hello Jeff,
    What can be said—yet another amazing help to be grateful for.
    Hoping these kinds of fixes will stop people from using Drano or other dangerous chemicals that we will all be forced to drink eventually as they get to the water table.
    Dad was a plumber, taught me one main and important thing: NO Chemicals: destroy the pipes, damage the earth , damage us.
    Doing these kinds of fixes go far beyond saving money.
    Happy New Year and thank you,
    Char

    1. Thanks Char, couldn’t agree more with your Dad.

  43. AG says:

    Great information. We have a old tub that needs cleaning. Any suggestions on what we can make without using chemicals that do harm. Our tub is over 50 yrs and is the original green tub. We live in Puerto Rico. Thanks

    1. Thanks AG for asking, I’d start with plain vinegar and see how that does. Borax is also a good option that isn’t toxic. Hang in there down in Puerto Rico. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  44. Veronica says:

    Hi Jeff πŸ™‚ My tub doesn’t have an overflow. I had used baking soda/vinegar method. little came up. I purchased an snake and opened up access point in the kitchen used and little came out. Because when i used the kitchen sink, it backs up into the bathtub, i had started there. I went to the bathtub, tried the snake and could not get it fished into the plumbing. I used a little shop vac which pulled up a lot of stinking, black water. I ran hot water and thought the clog was gone. Alas, it is not. What can I do? Thank YOu for your help. πŸ™‚

  45. Patti says:

    What can you do next if that’s clean and the trap itself is clean there’s no hair coming out but the water is still laying when you run it for so long it just lays on the top of the drain what can I do next. Thank you for the tips

  46. Erin says:

    Thanks for the informative video! I followed it to a tee got a huge gob of hair out and now, for some reason, the water isn’t draining at all (total stand still). I’m at a loss as to how I could have made this worse? Only thing I can wonder is if somehow when putting the overflow stopper back on/in I triggered it to get stuck in the no drain position (?) “up” (sorry, don’t know the right lingo here!).

    Thoughts as to how I could have made the clog worse, despite pulling out a ton of hair?

    Thanks!

  47. Angie says:

    My tub & sink drains have water standing in them. I have tried plunging them & I have tried baking soda & vinegar multiple times. It helped my sink but my tub is still clogged & it literally take an hour & a half to drain the tub water out..

  48. Janet Parke says:

    I have tried snakes liquid draino and many other remedies. it been 7 months and it still takes 2 days to drain the water out. nothing works. I have paid plumbers and still no fix my manager charges me 90 dollars every time one is sent to unclog she refuses to belive that its anything on her end I dont know how to get her to relize the pipes are shot and need replaced just looking in the grain you can see the pipes are corroded . so I live with it any clues on what to do will help. there is a pipes outside the the apartment where the bathtub sits but im afraid to take off the cap because its glued tight on it and I dont want to pay more money on repairs if it breaks

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