Bathtub Won’t Drain? Reasons & Fixes

by Jay | Updated on December 18th, 2022

Are you dealing with a clogged bathtub drain? It’s a common plumbing issue and can be extremely frustrating. But don’t worry – we’re here to help! This blog post will explore the most common causes of clogged bathtub drains and explain how to fix them. Read on for more information!

How to deal with a blocked bathtub

A fix can clear your blockage, no matter what the cause. Here are some easy solutions you may attempt before hiring a plumber if your bathtub won’t drain.

A bathtub filled with dirty water due to a clogged sewer pipe, close-up

Identify the Problem

When a bathtub doesn’t drain, it’s important first to identify the cause of the clog. Common culprits are soap scum, hair, bath bombs, cosmetic products, and damaged pipes. If you can identify the source of the blockage, you can take steps to remove it. For example, if the clog is due to a buildup of soap scum, you can use a homemade solution of boiling water and baking soda to dissolve the soap scum. You can use a plunger to dislodge the clog if it’s due to hair. Once you have identified the cause of the clog, you can proceed with specific solutions to clear it.

Clear visible blockages

Use a container and protective gloves to remove your tub’s standing water. Next, remove the drain stopper, then use your fingers to remove any visible hair, soap scum, or other debris from the drain. Additionally, clear the drain cover of any hair or debris.

Flush the drain with boiling water

Hot water is typically used to melt grease, remove soap residue, and clean other obstructions. Boil around two liters of water, then pour it down the drain after clearing any obvious blockages. Don’t do this if you have PVC (plastic) pipes since the hot water can damage them.

Baking soda and vinegar

This potent home remedy combination can remove stains in addition to clearing drains. After adding half a cup of white vinegar, add half a cup of baking soda to the drain. 2 liters of boiling water should be poured down the drain after waiting about 15 minutes for the fizzing to stop.

Use a plunger to unclog a clogged bathtub drain

Teenager girl plunging the clogged bathtub with the plunger

If your bathtub isn’t draining properly, you may have a clog in the drain. In this case, a plunger can be a great solution for unclogging the drain. To use a plunger, you’ll need to fill the tub with enough water to cover the plunger and create a seal. Then, use a cup-style plunger to create suction and push the clog through the pipe. Sealing the overflow hole to ensure the pressure is focused on the clog.

Grab a plumbing snake

If the plunger doesn’t work, you can use a snake or auger. This tool is inserted into the drain to break up and remove any blockages physically. Be careful not to damage your pipes when using this tool.

A plumbing snake or auger aims to reach down far into your drain and remove any clogs. In a nearby hardware store, you can purchase or lease an auger.

Using pliers or a screwdriver, remove the drain stopper, then carefully lower the cable into the drain. As far as you can, insert the drain snake before encountering resistance.

Twist it to grip the obstruction, then remove it. Till all the muck has been removed, carry out the process repeatedly. Then, run the tub’s water again to see if the problem has been fixed.

Use chemical cleaners to clear clogged drains

You may need a chemical cleaner if a plunger doesn’t clear the clog. These are available in liquid or gel form, and you pour them down the drain. The process is easy, but you should understand the potential risks. Chemical cleaners contain healthy ingredients like lye, bleach, and sulfuric acid.

These can damage your pipes, so be sure to use them with caution. Wear gloves and protective goggles and follow the instructions on the label. The chemical cleaner should begin to break down the clog within a few minutes. Let it sit for an hour before flushing it with hot water. Try the next method if your tub still doesn’t drain after this.

How to use chemicals to unclog a shower drain

  • The instructions on the box, including how much of the product to use, should be read and followed. The quantity you use will differ.
  • To protect your hands and eyes, wear gloves and goggles.
  • Avoid combining different chemicals, as this might produce harmful gas.
  • Pour chemicals down the drain.

Note: You should not handle chemicals carelessly. They can damage your drainage pipes, particularly if you use them often.

Typical causes for your bathtub not draining

The dirty messy clogged ping bathtub filled with a water with soap's foam

Clogged hair

The major cause of shower and tub drainage issues is probably this. Your hair occasionally finds its way down the drain.

If a hair blockage is the cause of your problem, you’ll probably notice a slower outflow. The drain will eventually get progressively slower until it becomes clear that something is obstructing it.

The buildup of dirt and grease

This one doesn’t happen as frequently, but it still may.

Getting rid of the oil and dirt collected during the day is one reason to take a bath. However, some of the dirt you must wash off your body after a long day of labor can remain in the drain line.

Septic backup

We don’t want to spend too much time on this. But in actuality, you can find that a septic system backlog is an issue if your tub isn’t draining properly or the water is backing up.

Towel scum

Water flow might be obstructed by soap buildup in your drain line, which can cause the drain to run more slowly.

How to prevent a clogged bathtub in the future

long-fur brown cat

As a general rule, prevention is always preferable to treatment, so after your drainage issues have been fixed, remember to reduce the likelihood of your bathtub drain being clogged once more. In addition, what follows should be noted.

  • Take off your makeup before you shower. Use a facial pad or wipe to remove any makeup before jumping into the tub. The cosmetics won’t end up in the sewer this way.
  • Use bath products that dissolve easily: Steer clear of bath products that include ingredients that are difficult to dissolve in water. Use sugar or salt scrubs with ingredients that dissolve more easily to prevent blockages.
  • Cosmetics shouldn’t be flushed down the drain: If you wish to reuse old cosmetic product bottles, avoid flushing the liquid down the bathtub drain. Instead, fill a container with the contents and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Check your pipes; it’s impossible to prevent pipe damage completely. Pipes will inevitably become old, malfunction, or corrode. However, by doing inspections every two years, you can maintain tabs on the state of your pipes.
  • Install a hair catcher: Installing a drain guard is the best technique to stop hair from traveling down the drain. A hair catcher placed above or within the drain will capture not just hair, but debris, items, or soap scum flushed down the drain. These products are available in various shapes, sizes, and materials.
  • Routinely inspect the drain for any hair, soap scum, or other debris causing a blockage.
  • Run hot water down the drain after each use. This will help prevent soap scum and other debris from building up.
  • If possible, use a non-toxic cleaner to avoid damaging the plumbing and pipes.
  • Once in a while, pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain opening, followed by one cup of white vinegar. This mixture will foam and help clear away any particles stuck in the pipes.

Following these steps regularly can reduce the risk of a clogged bathtub drain and save you from unnecessary repair costs.

Consider professional assistance if necessary

If your DIY efforts have failed and your bathtub still won’t drain, it might be time to seek professional assistance. A professional plumber can assess the situation and provide a comprehensive solution. They will likely inspect the drain for any blockages, look for signs of damage, and explore the possibility of a more extensive plumbing issue.

It’s important to note that although professional help can be beneficial, it is usually more expensive than attempting to fix the issue yourself. Therefore, make sure you weigh the pros and cons before deciding to call a professional.

If you decide to hire someone to help with your bathtub drain, research the plumber you are considering hiring. It’s best to look for reviews online or ask friends and family for recommendations. You should also ask the plumber about their rates, experience, and other relevant questions before hiring them.


Gurgling sounds, sluggish drains, unpleasant odors, and water backing up indicate a clogged drain. Hair, cosmetics, bath bombs, soap scum, and broken pipes are common causes of bathtub blockages. Such plumbing issues can be resolved with boiling water, vinegar, baking soda, a plunger, or a plumbing snake.

Use dissolvable bath products, take off your makeup before taking a bath, clean your pipes, and install a hair catcher to prevent blockages in the future.


Self assessed Germaphobe, specializing in everything water, water filters, health and nutrition. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I've acquired immense amount of knowledge when it comes to natural, biology, and everything about human anatomy.