How to Remove a Shower Drain Cover

Tile shower floor and shower drain

Is the hair monster that lurks beneath your shower drain cover back again? If you’re tired of waiting on a slowly draining tub after washing the little ones at night or standing in dirty, soapy water every time you bathe, shed a little light on things and clear clogs the permanent way by removing your shower drain cover.

Shower Drain Cover Removal

There are a nearly endless array of drain covers. Keep paper towels nearby for removal – hair and soap accumulations often come out with the cover. We’ll cover some of the most common here:

  • Screw-In
    Looking like a flat or slightly concave/convex strainer, simply unscrew these covers with a flat or Phillips head and remove them.
  • Push/Pull (Often Confused with Lift-and-Turn)
    Hold the stopper body in place and unscrew the top knob (counterclockwise) with pliers and a rag or rubber grippy to prevent scratching. Unscrew the brass insert beneath with a flathead, then lift the stopper.
  • Lift-and-Turn (Often Confused with Push/Pull)
    From the open position, lift and look for a set screw. If no screw, simply turn counterclockwise to remove it. If you see a small screw, turn it with a flathead or Allen wrench until just loose enough to remove the stopper (not entirely).
  • Pop-Up Drain Covers
    Some pop-up drain covers pull straight up and off. Others must be wiggled back and forth. Rocker-arm-style covers must be pulled up to clear the drain, then horizontally away (you’ll see the attached arm when you pull up.)
  • Toe-Touch
    Opening and closing with a push of your toe, this style of stopper can sometimes be unscrewed (counter-clockwise) from the open position, removing the cap. In other models, the shaft cylinder will turn with cap rotation, and the entire mechanism unscrews from where it’s threaded into the crossbar. Some shaft cylinders also have a threaded, flathead screwdriver slot for removal.
  • Flip-It Style Shower Drain Stopper
    Simply pull this free from your drain – no tools required! Grasp the body (not the toggle), rotating as you pull.

Still Stuck?

If removing the shower drain cover doesn’t allow for the complete evacuation of the dreaded hair monster, there are other methods of flushing them out…

  • Plastic Drain Clog Remover Tools for Hair
    These plastic tools look like extra-large zip strips with spikes and work like a more inexpensive version of a pipe snake. You can pick up a single one from your local home improvement store for less than $3, or a multi-pack for around $5, which allows you to toss the clog remover after use (yuck). Positioning the ring-size handle over a finger, you feed the strip down the drain and pull it back up to remove hair. (Sometimes you may not even need to remove the drain cover). Repeat from different angles until the drain is clear. Spoiler alert: Where gloves and goggles and be prepared for splatter.
  • Baking Soda & Vinegar
    A non-toxic alternative to chemical drain cleaners, this can break up gunk stuck in pipes. Simply pour in 1/4C baking soda, followed by 1C white vinegar. Let fizz for 15-20 minutes, then pour a large pot of boiling water directly into the drain.
  • Plunger Method
    Sometimes clogs get stuck where you can’t see, and a plunger can get them moving. Add 1-2 inches of water, covering the overflow plate with a wet rag or duct tape. Pump the plunger forcefully several times, then repeat 3-4 more times. Check draining capacity.

Preventing Future Proliferation

To keep future drain monsters from multiplying, you may wish to purchase a shower drain hair catcher. These are not compatible with every style drain cover, but for those that are, these inexpensive devices can prevent annoying and potentially costly clogs in difficult-to-access areas of your plumbing system.

Still, fighting with your bathtub drain? Win the fight, giving tough clogs the boot with the professional assistance of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, today.