How to prevent blocked drains in the bathroom

Avoiding blocked sinks, showers, bathtubs and toilets

Is your bathroom sink, shower, bathtub or toilet prone to blockages? Slow draining water in your bathroom drains can make even the simplest daily routine difficult. This is especially the case for single bathroom homes catering to large families. We have compiled a few tips that will help prevent blocked drains in each of your bathroom’s plumbing fixtures.

How to avoid a blocked shower drain

The main cause of blocked showers is hair, soap scum and skin cells. This debris can get caught in the pipes, accumulating over time so that the water can’t drain properly. You may notice the water pooling around your feet while you shower, draining slowly or gurgling sounds in the pipes. The best way to prevent a blocked shower drain is to minimise the amount of debris that gets into the drain.

  • Install a shower drain hair catcher - A pack of 10 hair strainers will cost you under $10 at the local hardware store. They’re easily to install, long-lasting, fit on most shower drains and can be easily removed and disposed of in the bin.

  • Use a liquid soap in the shower - A bar of soap can be very slippery and almost everyone has dropped a bar of soap in the shower at some point. When the bar gets really small, it can easily slip down the drain and sit in the pipe. Switching to a liquid soap or body wash eliminates this possibility.

  • If you’re planning to wash your hair, give it a good brush before getting in the shower. This will remove any loose hairs and minimise the amount that goes down the drain.

  • Dry body brushing is good for your drains and your health. It helps to improve the lymphatic system and circulation, stimulate blood flow to the heart, improve skin tone and minimise the appearance of skin conditions such as cellulite. It removes dead cells before you get into the shower, reducing the amount that ends up down the drain.

How to avoid a blocked bathroom sink

Bathroom sinks get blocked for many of the same reason as a shower drain. So most of the tips above can be applied. However, sinks are also prone to blockages caused by other items such as tooth-flossing picks and brushes, dental floss, cotton buds and beard trimmings.

  • Installing a drain grate is the best way to prevent these bulky items from accidentally ending up in the pipes.

  • For beard trimmings, use a clippings catcher and dispose of the trimmings n the bin.

How to avoid a blocked bathtub drain

Again, soap scum, hair and skin cells are the main cause of blocked bathtub drains so applying the tips from above will reduce the risk of a blockage occurring. Households with young children will be aware that small toys can sometimes get sucked down the plug hole when draining the bath. Removing all the toys from the bath before pulling the plug can prevent blockages caused by toys.

How to avoid a blocked toilet

Toilets are unique from the other drains in your bathroom. It’s normally by accident that foreign debris ends up in the sink, shower and bathtub. However, people intentionally flush things down the toilet, not realising how damaging it can be to the plumbing system. Some people flush cotton buds, tampons, wet-wipes, sanitary pads, nappies and all other sorts of bulky items. These items can lead to major clogs in the sewer pipes. If a blockage occurs in the main sewer pipes outside the home, every single drain in the house can start malfunctioning.

  • Preventing blocked toilets is simple. Always keep a bin in the bathroom and make sure the whole family is aware that nothing apart from faecal matter and toilet paper can be flushed down the toilet.

Never pour oil down the kitchen sink

It may seem counterintuitive that pouring oil down the kitchen sink can result in a blocked drain in the bathroom. However, all of the plumbing fixtures in your home connect to the same main sewer line outside of your home. Grease coagulates when it cools, coating the interior lining of the main sewer pipe. This layer of grease can build up over time, making it harder and harder for the water to travel through. When the main line gets blocked all the drains in your home will experience problems.

Grease also acts like a binding agent, causing other debris, such as wet-wipes, to clump together. Dispose of grease, oil and fat in the bin or compost.

How to unclog blocked drains in the bathroom

Bicarb soda and vinegar

We don’t recommend chemical drain cleaners for unclogging drains (see six reasons why here). However, you can try bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to remove minor blockages in the sink, shower or bathtub. Place two tablespoons of bicarb soda down the drain, pour about 250ml of cheap vinegar down and leave it to sit for 30 minutes. The chemical reaction can push the blockage forward. After 30 minutes has passed, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain.


Plunging can be effective at removing blockages from all of your bathroom drains. Just make sure you purchase the current plunger for whichever drain is blocked. Toilets require a slightly different plunger than the sink, shower and bath drains. A plunger will force pressurised water in both directions, which can help to effectively loosen whatever is clogging your bathroom drains.

Place the plunger over the drain opening forming a tight seal. Getting the seal right is imperative because this is what creates suction and loosens the clog with the action of the plunger. Using quick, forceful strokes, push the plunger down, then pull up, repeating five to six times until the water drains freely.

Clean out the S-trap or floor waste

This trick can work for blocked sinks in the bathroom and kitchen. Unless the plumbing in your home is very old, the majority of S-bends can be easily unscrewed by hand or using a wrench. Make sure you place a bucket underneath the pipes before attempting to unscrew it. You may also want to wear some rubber gloves. Simply unscrew the trap and use a coat-hanger or piece of wire to clean out the blockage into the bucket. Replace the trap making sure its screwed up tightly.

You can also clean out the shower waste by removing the drain grate. Wear some rubber gloves and see if you can reach the blockage by hand. If this doesn’t work, use a bent coat hanger to reach the clog. You may be unpleasantly surprised at the size and smell of the slimy hair clog that comes out, so make sure you have a bucket ready!

Call a Sydney blocked drain plumber

If you need help with a blocked drain, JAB Plumbing Solutions are the team to call. We specialise in drainage including professional drain cleaning, hydro jetting, CCTV drain inspections and drain repairs. Our high-pressured hydro jetting machines can quickly and safely clean your entire sewer line, restoring health to your bathroom drains safely and efficiently.