How to Remove a Bathtub Clog

If there is someone living in your house who has long hair (you, perhaps?) it’s just a matter of time until you get a clogged drain in your shower or tub. It’s the kind of problem that develops slowly until one day you rinse out your shampoo and realize the water is covering your ankles. Not good. Your first reaction might be to bug your husband to fix it or to grab a bottle of Drano. Stop!  This is a really easy problem to fix that you can do all by yourself with no nasty chemicals. Since it’s How-To Tuesday I’ll show you how! This whole job takes less than ten minutes.

There is really only one tool you need to fix this: an auger. It’s sometimes called a plumber’s snake. Basically it’s a long, flexible metal tube with a corkscrew-type thing on the end. It attaches to a plastic handle. The idea behind an auger is that you feed the metal hose into a pipe and twist it around a whole bunch. It will screw into the hair/lint/banana peel that is clogging your pipe and it can be pulled right out. Most of the time it works flawlessly. Anybody who has indoor plumbing needs an auger. They can unplug showers, toilets and even dryer ducts inside the wall (remind me to tell you sometime about the glob of lint as big as my head that we got out of the dryer vent!) Augers are cheap and I’d recommend buying one that’s at least 15′.

Any time you’re dealing with bthroom stuff you should wear rubber gloves. The stuff that comes out of the pipes is nasty! (I wasn’t wearing gloves to feed the auger down the drain but I was absolutely wearing them when I pulled it out!)

There are several different types of stoppers at the bottom of your tub. I’m not going to go into how they’re removed because it’s usually not necessary.  Just lift the stopper high enough to feed the auger down the drain. It might need a little help getting in. I had to jiggle and force mine past the stopper.


Feed the auger down until it stops. It usually won’t be too far. Then you’ll tighten the screw that holds the auger in place.


Hold on to the auger and twirl the handle so it screws the end into the glob of yuck down in the drain.


Now you’ll pull the auger out. It may take some tugging, especially if the clog is big. But if you got the auger in, you can get it out. And when it comes out it should be pulling something incredibly disgusting with it. Ewwww!

Put the clog in an old plastic grocery bag after you dry heave a few times. Then throw it away. Far away. Turn on the faucet and see how the water is draining. Does it go down a lot better? If it still seems slow, you can repeat the process again.

Pat yourself on the back. Wasn’t that easy?

| Filed under Bad Things, Fix-it, How-To, Yuck

10 thoughts on “How to Remove a Bathtub Clog

  1. Wow, I didn’t know there was a tool I could use! I end up using a wrench and a pair of pliers to dismantle the drain cap and then I stick my hand in there (I have small fingers) and pull all that gunk up. It’s totally disgusting but very satisfying – particularly when I reassemble the drain and turn the water on to watch it flow swiftly out of the tub.

    I haven’t had to do it nearly as often now that my oldest daughter (she of the incredible tresses) has moved out.

    1. I find the disgusting clog very satisfying too (although I can’t imagine touching it! The ones at our house smell so horrendous!), It’s the same satisfaction I get when I clean my kids ears. I love a dirty Q-tip.

  2. You are so cute Jennie! Definitely adding Augar to my shopping list. I’ve been using a short plastic thing about 20 inches long that I found At a store once, but it certainly isn’t as good as the system you just described. ♥

  3. When my friend called a plumber in our ward, he told her whatever to use and “pull til what looks like a wet rat comes out. Then you’re set!” 🙂 I’m just so glad my husband is the one most bugged by water backing up in the shower, LOL!

  4. This was a very helpful post! Gross, but helpful. I love how you are not afraid to do stuff. I have forgiven you for saying you don’t like Revlon Colorstay (my lipstick for 10 years). As I was putting it on myself this morning, I really questioned myself, wondering if there is something wrong with me that I like it.

    1. Hey, if it works for you then stick with it! I used for several months because it comes in really nice colors. I just don’t think the staying power is as good as some of the other brands. It’s still light-years ahead of regular lipstick, though!

  5. I have to also say that one time I made my husband take the sink drain apart underneath because I knew it was clogged. The wad that came out was so gross, I took a picture of it and sent it to my sister.

  6. I can’t believe I’ve been married to the most handy man in America for 10 years and he has never once mentioned an auger! Even at our last house where we had a perpetually slow drain in at least 3 bathrooms!! I can only assume it’s one of the few tools his father has never used and that’s why he never has. I have always just used Drano, which only works sometimes. But I am going to get one of those augers and try it the next time I have a clog. Watch, with my luck as soon as I do, he’ll be like, “Oh, ya, I’ve used those 100 times.”

  7. I did this about a year ago with a huge borrowed auger and pulled up a half-a-dozen baby wipes that one of my kids had somehow pushed down the drain. Ick. About 8 inches of hair and sloughed skin cells had piled up behind the baby wipe clog for the 2 months it took to borrow an auger.

    The shower has been backing up again lately, and I didn’t realize they had such small portable augers. I just bought one this morning. Thanks for the solution!

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