As relaxing as soaking in the bathtub can be, a clogged bathtub drain is one of the most putting-off things in a house. Stagnant water attracts disease-carrying insects and begins to stink after a while as well. 

The good news, however, is that unclogging a tub drain with standing water is relatively easy to do, so don’t call upon a professional plumber just yet. All you need to do is follow our DIY tips to a clog-free bathtub.

Why standing water in a bathtub is unhealthy

Standing water in clogged bathtubs attracts insects like flies and mosquitoes, which bring with them a host of diseases as well as worms like tapeworms and heartworms. In addition, stagnant water also encourages the growth of mold and mildew on the walls surrounding the bathtub. 

The tools of the trade

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Here’s a list of the tools and materials you will need for the job. A lot of these are things most of us already have at home, and even those you need to buy are inexpensive and easily found at the local hardware store.

  • A screwdriver
  • A bucket
  • An old rag
  • A plumbing snake
  • Toilet plunger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

The cleaning process

There are multiple ways you could go about dealing with a drain clog. Here are descriptions of the most effective ways to unclog your bathtub drain.

Remove all visible gunk

Very often, bathtub drain blockages are caused by gunk such as hair, soap scum, and bathing accessories. The first thing you need to do is remove all traces of visible blockage.

To do this, begin by removing as much standing water as you can using a bucket. Make Then, wearing the rubber gloves, reach into the tub towards the mouth of the drain and remove the gunk that is there.

This ought to remove a fair amount of the stagnant water from the tub.

Flush with hot water

unclogging bathtub drain

If the removal of visible debris didn’t unblock the drain, take a pot of boiled water and flush it down the drain. While this may not work if the block is caused by grease or if the drain is physically blocked by something, it is effective against minor blockages.

However, do not try this method if your bathtub is connected with PVC pipes. Boiling water can melt these pipes or soften the joints.

Use the plunger

Once again, use the bucket to remove as much standing water as possible. Then, jam a rag as tightly as possible into the drain opener. 

Ideally, have a helper hold the rag in place and then start plunging. This is a slow process, so you need to have patience before you can expect results. You will know you’ve been successful when you hear the water begin to drain out. 

If the drain gets unclogged this way, clear any remaining debris with warm water and check to make sure the drain pipe is clear.

Use the plumbing snake

While the plumbing snake, or drain snake, may be difficult for first-timers to use, it is not rocket science. And if you don’t own one, worry not, because you can rent from any tool rental or even from hardware stores.

Plumbing snakes are long and flexible metal cables with a metal augre at one end used to clean out clogged drains. Begin by removing the overflow drain plate. Then gently start pushing the snake into the drain.

Be sure not to force the snake or put too much pressure on it. Since the cable is flexible, you will not find it difficult to navigate bends in the pipe.

Once the snake encounters the blockage, the twisting motion of the augre attaches to the cause of the blockage. You can then gently remove the snake along with the cause of the blockage.

White vinegar and baking soda to the rescue

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Begin by using a funnel to pour a cup of baking soda into the blocked drainage pipe. Then, slowly pour a half cup of distilled white vinegar into the drain as well. This ought to start a chemical reaction, leading to some fizzing. 

Once the fizzing begins, cover the drain with the drain stopper until the fizzing stops. Then, wait for half an hour and turn on the hot water faucet to flush the drain.

Use baking soda and salt

This is another simple drain unclogging method using household items. Begin by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow that up by pouring half a cup of salt mixed with baking soda down the drain.

Allow this to rest for a few hours, preferably overnight. Your drain should be unclogged by then. Rinse the drain pipe with hot water to finish the process.

If nothing else works, bring out the chemicals

Chemical drain cleaners like Drano should be your last resort.

Before you buy a drain cleaning chemical, make sure to check that what you’re buying will not be harmful to your drain pipes. And always wear protective gloves while handling these chemical drain cleaners.

Pour the drain cleaner gently into the drain, making sure you do not splash any water. Wait for around half an hour and flush the drain with cold water to finish the process.

Call the professionals if all else fails

There are multiple reasons why a bathtub drain could be clogged, ranging from oil-based bathing products to hair and hard water deposits. If none of the above methods unclog your drain, it is definitely time to call upon the services of a professional plumber.

That being said, it is also worth mentioning that not everyone is cut out to be handy around tools and home repairs. If at any point you feel unconfident about DIY plumbing, reach out for professional help. It’s better to pay for the services of someone with know-how than to damage our home’s plumbing system. 

How to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water? was last modified: September 9th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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