How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain With Standing Water

Yellow rubber duck sitting on edge of bathtub with standing water due to a clogged drain.

Your bathtub sees a lot of dirt, hair, and soap scum on a daily basis. As this debris builds up inside your drains, you may notice the water begins to drain slowly, slowly, slowly… until it stops draining at all! Now what?

When dealing with a clogged bathtub, it’s important to fix the problem as soon as possible. Stagnant water isn’t just unsightly to look at — it can pose health problems to you and your family. In as little as 24 hours, it can develop a layer of biofilm, which harbors dangerous waterborne pathogens. And don’t forget that mold and mildew love a moist environment. 

If you have a bathtub full of water that won’t drain, there are some steps you can take before calling a Toronto plumbing emergency service. Learn how to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water with household items here!

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Before we dive into how to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water, heed the following warning first: do not use storebought chemical drain cleaners!

You might think a bottle of Drano or Liquid Plumr is the quickest and easiest solution, but it’s not worth the long-term damage they cause. These solvents contain harsh chemicals that eat through your drains, and repeated use can eventually lead to holes in the piping. 

Start With a Plunger

When you have a bathtub full of water that won’t drain, you should first start with a plunger. The best plunger to use for unclogging a bathtub is a cup plunger. It is specifically designed to adhere to flat surfaces. 

Cup plunger

First, you need to prepare the tub by covering the overflow plate with duct tape. This is the opening sitting a few inches under the rim of the tub that drains excess water to prevent spillage. Once the overflow plate is sealed tightly, remove the drain stopper by unscrewing it or pulling it out. 

Position the plunger over the drain and make sure the rubber cup adheres to the tub surface. Push and pull the plunger using quick, forceful motions without breaking the seal between the cup and the tub. Repeat this process a few times until you notice the water starts to drain. You can remove the tape and replace the drain stopper once you’re finished. 

Try a Drain Snake

If your trusty plunger doesn’t get the job done, try a drain snake. You can find many different types of drain snakes at your local hardware store, but we recommend starting with a plastic one. This should be enough to poke a hole through the blockage and allow the water to start draining. 

You never know what you’ll pull out of your drains, so you’ll need a strong stomach for this. 

Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

Once you’ve eliminated the standing water, you can get creative with homemade drain cleaners. 

To start, dump a pot of boiled water into the drain. Then, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed immediately by a cup of white vinegar. Let this mixture sit in your drains for 10-15 minutes, then run hot water to wash it down your sewer line.

The chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar works wonders on soap scum and organic matter like hair. Better yet, it’s a safe alternative to chemical drain cleaner. So, the next time you have a slow drain, try this first!

Because this mixture needs to go directly into the drain, it won’t work if you have a bathtub full of water. That’s why it’s important to first use a plunger or drain snake or simply scoop the water out in a container. 

Keep Your Plumbing System in Top Shape With Same Day Plumbing

Do you have a sink or bathtub full of water that won’t drain? Do you want to save yourself the time of learning how to unclog a bathtub drain? Don’t like dealing with standing water because of its harmful effects? Not to worry — Same Day Plumbing is coming to your rescue. 

We have the best drain cleaning technology available, including hydro jets, so we can have your drains flowing freely again in no time at all. Just call or schedule an online appointment.