Exploring Emergency Plumbing Services

Bathtub Drain Keeps Clogging Up And Guests Coming Soon? Try These 2 Easy Steps

by April Rivera

If you expect overnight guests soon, and your bathtub drain keeps clogging up, you can unclog it fast with baking soda, dish detergent and vinegar. Bathtub drains don't just clog up with hair. The drains can also develop sticky blockages from the chemicals found in your hair conditioners and bath oils. If you don't remove the problems right away, they can eventually damage your plumbing system. Unclog your bathtub and keep it unclogged with these two easy steps below.

Pour Baking Soda and Vinegar Down the Drain

Baking soda contains a chemical called sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate reacts with other chemicals that contain acids, such as white vinegar, by making a gas. When the gas comes into contact with organic matter, such as soap scum, it bubbles or foams up. The bubbling and foaming action slowly dissolves the matter.

You don't need to premix the baking soda and vinegar for the chemicals to work. All you do is:

  1. Use a screwdriver to remove the cover from the drain. Set it aside, because you'll work with it later on.
  2. Insert the end of a wire clothes hanger down the drain to create an opening in the clog. Wriggle the clothes hanger around slowly to widen the opening. You want the baking soda and vinegar to penetrate as deeply into the clog and drain as possible.
  3. Drop 3 teaspoonfuls of baking soda into the drain, then wait 5 minutes for the baking soda to mix with the water inside the drain. The wet baking soda will coat or absorb into the clog to help break it up.
  4. Pour 2 cups of vinegar into the drain. You should see a reaction between the vinegar and baking soda right away. Don't stick your hands or fingers near the drain as the chemicals dissolve the clog to avoiding irritating your skin.
  5. Give the baking soda and vinegar 45 minutes to work. If the chemicals produce a strong odor, open up the window in the bathroom and place a circulating fan in the room. In most cases, you'll only notice a strong vinegar scent emitting from the drain.

Turn on the hot water tap in the bathtub to flush out the drain and to push the broken clog down the plumbing pipe. Wait at least 10 minutes before turning off the tap or until the water goes down the drain properly. 

Clean the Drain Opener and Bathtub

Before you replace the drain cover, you want to clean and sanitize it thoroughly. The drain cover is the first defense against soap scum, hair and other things. Over time, the drain cover builds up with debris and block the flow of water down the drain. Soaking the cover in hot water mixed with dish detergent for 20 minutes loosens up the debris, which keeps the opening of the drain free and clear. 

After the 20 minutes are up, scrub the drain cover with a firm-bristled toothbrush, then rinse it off with cool water. Secure the cover back in place with your screwdriver, then wash the bathtub out with a 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent. Dish detergent contains degreasers and other additives that break down oil and grease. If you use a lot of bath oils and moisturizers when you bathe, they can coat the surfaces of your bathtub over time. 

Finally, rinse the bathtub out with hot water to ensure that the surfaces are free of oils. If necessary, use a sprayer attachment to reach the back of the bathtub.

If the steps above don't work for your drain cleaning, contact a plumber for advice or services. You may have clogs inside the plumbing pipe connected to the bathtub drain that requires other methods to remove.