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5 Reasons Your Bathtub Won’t Drain & 8 Ways To Fix It

Dealing with a clogged bathtub can easily ruin a person’s day. Not knowing how to fix it will add to the stress as well. I’ve encountered this problem several times, and there was no one solution that worked all the time. This is because the solution will be different depending on the cause of the blockage.

There are several reasons why your bathtub won’t drain, including dirt buildup, a damaged drain stopper, or pipe problems. The solutions can range from pouring baking soda or checmicals down the drain, to calling a plumber, depending on what is causing the blockage.

This article will cover:

  • why your bathtub won’t drain
  • how to tell what is causing the problem
  • some practical tips to fix and maintain it

Why Your Bathtub Won’t Drain

As I mentioned earlier, to solve the problem, you’ll need to look for its source. Here are some common reasons why your bathtub won’t drain:

#1: Soap Buildup

It’s inevitable to have soap scum or buildup in your pipes. This can obstruct water flow sooner and cause your bathtub drain to clog up. If you notice standing water in your bathtub, soap buildup could be one of the reasons. Other reasons may include bath essentials like exfoliators, bathing oils, and shampoo.

#2: Clogged Hair

Accumulated hair is one of the most common causes of a clogged bathtub drain. Shedding hair is only natural, but this issue can be easily prevented by removing hair from your drain on a regular basis.

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If the hair is left there for too long, it could cause greater damage and clog your pipes. Clogged hair may form into a clump of debris that has to be removed professionally by a plumber.

#3: Damaged Drain Stopper

Sometimes, the cause of the problem can be as simple as a faulty bathtub drain stopper. As its name suggests, a drain stopper prevents drainage while taking a bath. However, a broken stopper will either not drain any water at all or fail to work as a water stopper. This also happens when the drain stopper starts to corrode and form rust.

#4: Too Much Debris

When we bathe, the dirt and debris from our bodies go straight into our bathtub drains. For instance, sand or mud can get into the bathtub drain and accumulate in the long run. This is especially the case if the water flow in the bathtub is weak.

#5: Drain Pipe Blockage

This issue can take a turn for the worse if not addressed immediately. Blocked pipes may be caused by tree branches and roots that block and penetrate the bathtub drain.

This can impede water flow and cause standing water in the bathtub. What’s worse, is that it can ruin the entire plumbing of the house, even its structure, and result in hefty maintenance costs.

Ways To Fix Your Bathtub Drain

Each problem has its corresponding solution. Here are some ways to solve bathtub drain problems in the easiest and most practical ways:

#1: Use Boiling Water

Soap buildup can be addressed by pouring boiling water down the drain. To do this, boil a certain amount of water and pour it down the drain slowly. Remember that this remedy can only solve issues like soap buildup and may not work for hair clogs. If this solution fails, it’s time to try another method.

#2: Try To Pull Out the Hair Clogs

Sometimes, clogged hair may not be too far down the drain, and you can still pull it out. To do this, use a puller or stick to either push down the clogged hair for flushing or extract the debris stuck in the drain. As long as the issue is minor, doing this will help unclog your drain.

#3: Use a Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake can be an effective way to unblock your drain

A plumbing snake is a metal wire equipped with a spike at its end, (like this one on Amazon). You can use this to unclog your bathtub drain by inserting the wire and cranking the handle. It will then turn and scrape the walls of the pipes. This is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to clean and unclog your bathtub drain.

If you don’t own a plumbing snake, you can also try using wires, but you have to shape it into a plumbing snake first before use.

#4: Coat Hangers May Work

Imagine how a fishing hook catches fish. This applies to bathtub drain clogs as well. If you have a wire coat hanger to spare, try using it to unclog your bathtub drain. You can adjust the hanger using pliers to fit it down the drain. Try pushing the coat hanger in and out of the drain and see if it pulls anything out.

Be careful not to drop this down the drain as it might cause a bigger problem! As a precaution, tie a thread on the coat hanger, so you can hold it properly without dropping it.

#5: Pour Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture

This remedy is perfect for those who do not want to use chemicals to unclog their bathtub drains. All you have to do is pour at least a cup of baking soda down the drain and let it sit for five to ten minutes.

Then, get a cup of white vinegar and let it sit with the baking soda for several minutes. This remedy works perfectly for minor dirt buildup and grime.

#6: Try Plunging

You can purchase a plunger from the store (like this one on Amazon) and use it to unclog your bathtub drain. After plunging the drain, you will notice dirt and hair resurfacing from it. Remove these from the drain and plunge again until no dirt or hair comes out. If this does not do the trick, then you have to try other methods.

#7: Use Chemicals

If the clog persists after trying the previous remedies, it’s time to purchase chemical clog removers. You can easily buy them in supermarkets or hardware stores. I like this one from Amazon, it’s been really effective for me so far.

However, you have to note that these chemicals may pose hazards to your health when inhaled. Always read the manual that comes with the product before using it.

Also, the amount to use varies on the extent of the clog. Some chemicals are strong enough to damage the lining of your pipes. Use only what the manual recommends.

Most importantly, wear protective clothing, including goggles and rubber gloves so that you avoid contact with the chemicals.

NOTE: Do not mix two chemicals together as they might have a harmful and dangerous reaction when mixed.

#8: Hire a Plumber

If all else fails, then it’s time to contact a professional plumber. While doing it yourself is also a great idea, sometimes a DIY solution won’t work. Save yourself from frustration and talk to your trusted plumber. Plumbers have years of experience and specialized tools that can effortlessly solve the problem.

Moreover, fixing a clogged bathroom drain on your own can pose long-term issues that might be unfixable over time. Urgency is key in fixing major drain issues. If nothing else works from this list of safe remedies, call your plumber right away.

How To Maintain Your Bathtub Drain

Now that we have discussed the causes of bathtub drain clogs and some helpful solutions, here are some ways to maintain your bathtub drain, so you don’t have to fix anything.

#1: Clean Your Bathtub Drain Regularly

Clogs can be prevented through methods as simple as cleaning regularly. Aside from clogs, a dirty bathtub drain can cause unpleasant and foul odors. You wouldn’t want to bathe in a filthy and smelly bathtub.

You can keep your tub clean by either using baking soda and vinegar, plunging, pouring boiling hot water down the drain, or using chemical solutions. You don’t have to wait for a blockage to do this. It’s good practice to do this during your regular cleaning in order to prevent any blockages from occuring in the first place.

You can also call a plumber to fully clean your drain pipes regularly to avoid significant drain issues. Cleaning should already be a priority as you’d want to maintain your bathtub in tiptop shape to avoid problems in the future.

#2: Use a Hair Catcher

A hair catcher is a great at preventing drain blockages

Hair is one of the major problems that often crops up when it comes to clogged bathtub drains. This tool works as simply as catching hair before it falls inside the drain pipes. All you have to do is empty the hair catcher daily to avoid standing water. I really like this one on Amazon.

#3: Purchase Drain Guards

Drain guards are similar to hair catchers. Drain guards are made specifically to catch small particles that may get trapped within the walls of the drain pipes.

If you are fond of using bath salts and other exfoliants with small particles, make sure to secure one of these. This one on Amazon is a really effective one.

#4: Pour Salt After Baths

Sweat and oils are just part of our body’s natural processes. We often use body oils to help us relax after a long day. Since these are difficult to remove from our drain pipes, salt and boiling water can do the trick. After long, oily baths, pour boiling water with salt down the drain to dissolve the oils and sweat.

This will likewise prevent grime accumulation. Make your life easier through this simple remedy and avoid long-term drain issues.

#5: Limit the Substances You Use

You can also choose to limit the kinds of substances you wash down the drain. There are certain beauty regimens that involve the use of heavy oils, coffee grounds, egg yolk, flowers, and other objects or substances that could get trapped in your pipes.

If you want to use a bath bomb, make sure to secure a drain guard to catch particles like flowers, salts, and oils before they get whisked down the drain pipe.

#6: Hydro Jet Regularly

Make it a point to employ hydro jetters regularly to wash up your drain. Sediment, grease, and debris could be accumulating within the pipes of your bathtub drain, and the only way to flush them out is to use hydro jetters.

Since hydro jetters are complex equipment, you’ll have to call your plumber to do the job for you. This high-powered hose can help clear your pipes completely and prevent issues from recurring.

This is a speedy process that will only take about an hour of your time. It can also help eliminate tough pipe residues that could have accumulated throughout the years. Remember that you cannot perform this on your own, and you have to employ the services of a plumbing company.

But it may be worth having this done every 6 months or so as a preventative measure, and to keep your drains smelling fresh and clean throughout the year.


While you can always DIY your way into fixing a clogged bathtub drain, it’s always best to consult a professional plumber if the problem is recurring. These problems, solutions, and maintenance tips can help you detect the drain issue at hand and provide a remedy immediately.

Remember that each problem calls for a different solution. And sometimes prevention is better than cure. You can perform these maintenance tips to prevent your bathtub drain from clogging in the first place.