Household Products That Will Leave Your Shower Drain Sparkling

When you clean your bathroom, it's easy to forget about the shower drain. You may even think it's one area you can safely ignore. But not cleaning your shower drain can lead to bigger problems later ... and using the wrong methods can too. Although your first instinct might be to grab strong cleaners or call a professional to strip away the grime, other options exist.

If you look around your home, you'll find several products you already have that you can use to clean in and around your shower drain. From squeezing lemon juice and sprinkling salt to refresh your drain to dropping Alka-Seltzer tablets and pouring vinegar into it to fizz the buildup away, you want to understand the why behind these methods. The goal is to get to the root of the problem and solve it, saving you money and time and ensuring your shower drain sparkles.

Lemon and salt refreshes shower drains

Lemons have a strong citrus scent and a high amount of citric acid, which helps break down soap scum and grime that can clog your shower drain to leave a pleasant, clean aroma. A 2015 study published in Food Science & Nutrition showed that lemon juice also has powerful antimicrobial properties. Meanwhile, salt acts like a gentle abrasive to scrub your shower drain and also has antimicrobial properties.

To use lemon and salt to leave your shower drain sparkling, slice a lemon in half and sprinkle a generous layer of salt over the cut side. Use the lemon as a scrubber on and around your shower drain. When you finish, rinse the area with warm water, flushing the lemon and salt residue down your shower drain (you don't want any leftover lemon juice to damage the finish!). The water will also flush any loose debris.

Mix cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda to create a potent cleaning agent

Cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda can be combined to make a cleaning solution to tackle stained or grimy drains. Cream of tartar is a natural bleaching agent, and salt and baking soda are soft abrasives that scrub away stuck-on grime without damaging the pipes. Of course, baking soda has the added benefit of eliminating odor, and salt also has antimicrobial properties.

To leave your shower drain sparkling using cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda, combine ⅛ cup of cream of tartar with ½ cup of salt and ½ cup of baking soda in a jar. Screw on the lid and shake well to mix. Pour half of it down your shower drain followed by two cups of boiling water. Leave it for an hour before flushing it with water for a few minutes to clear any leftover debris.

Castile soap naturally breaks down grime and oils

Castile soap cuts through the toughest of grease and is a more natural cleanser than harsh, chemical products, meaning you can safely use it around your pets. It also works to break down body oils, and removes grimy buildup in and around your shower drain.

There are two methods to clean your shower drain with liquid Castile soap. One option is to mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with a few squirts of soap. Apply it around the drain, scrub until the grime lifts, and rinse it with water to flush away any residue.

Another option is to wet the area around the shower drain and sprinkle a layer of baking soda on it. Using a wet cloth with a dab of soap, work the baking soda into the drain's surface to break down any stains or residue. Finish by rinsing well.

Epsom salt and hot water dissolve grime

One of the clever ways to use Epsom salt to refresh your bathroom is to dissolve grime in and around the shower drain. Like other salts, its granular texture helps break down buildup. In addition, its chemical composition of sulfate and magnesium gives it powerful cleaning properties, allowing it to react with grime. And combining it with hot water speeds up the cleaning process, making it even more effective.

To use Epsom salt to make your shower drain sparkle, pour in hot water and add two teaspoons of Epsom salt. Add another round of hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes. Finally, flush the drain with water. That's it; you're done! There's no scrubbing necessary because the Epsom salt removes the gunk on its own while the water pushes everything through your drain, thus eliminating odors and keeping things flowing.

Alka-Seltzer tablets and vinegar combine to break down buildup

Among the many Alka-Seltzer cleaning hacks to try around the house is using it in the drain. Yes, these tablets are often taken to alleviate heartburn or indigestion because their components react with water to create a carbon dioxide gas that will fizz, but switching the water out for vinegar creates a combination that will break up buildup and debris so you can rinse them away. Plus, vinegar has strong antibacterial properties.

For this method, drop a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets into the drain. Then pour a cup of white vinegar down after them to kick off the reaction. Wait five to 10 minutes for the combo to break down the debris and odor-causing organisms. Lastly, pour boiling water down the drain to flush any leftover vinegar, Alka-Seltzer, and grime from your pipes. Repeat the process if it's slow to drain.

Essential oils deodorize and disinfect the drain

Essential oils are concentrated liquids that come from plants. Given their strong scent, it's no surprise that there's an essential oil hack that'll keep your bathroom smelling fresh, but some – including cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, and tea tree – can even disinfect and deodorize your shower drain due to their natural antimicrobial properties. They kill odor-causing bacteria while leaving behind a fresh, long-lasting aroma.

To make your shower drain sparkle using essential oils, squeeze 5-10 drops of your preferred scent into the drain. Add ¼ cup of baking soda using a funnel and then ¼ cup of white vinegar. As you probably know from your elementary school science experiments, they'll fizz as they combine. Leave the mixture roughly 15 minutes before flushing the shower drain with hot water. Repeat this process weekly or as needed to keep your shower smelling fresh.

Bleach kills mold and mildew

Mold and mildew can be an ongoing battle in your shower because the environment is consistently warm and humid. Fortunately, splashing bleach onto these spots kills mildew and mold spores, and keeps them from growing back on nonporous surfaces, ensuring your shower drain remains sanitary.

A few words of caution when using bleach: Since bleach has strong fumes that can cause respiratory problems if inhaled, make sure your bathroom is well-ventilated before you start. It's also a good idea to wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from splashes.

Dilute the bleach by mixing 1 teaspoon for every cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the bleach solution onto mold or mildew growth and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Take a brush and scrub away any spots you see before rinsing with clean water. Allow the area around the drain to dry thoroughly.

Hydrogen peroxide removes mold and mildew to deodorize

The final common household essential you can use to clean your shower drain is hydrogen peroxide. As an antiseptic and oxidizing agent, hydrogen peroxide gets to the root of the problem by getting rid of mold and mildew, and removing odors while still being able to be safely used on a wide range of surfaces without causing damage.

Pour a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into a spray bottle so that it's easy to target its application. Spray it directly onto the moldy or mildewy spot, completely covering it. Wait for the hydrogen peroxide to stop fizzing (about 10 minutes) and then scrub the area with a soft-bristled brush, cloth, or wet sponge to remove any residue. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. By drying afterward (including after every shower when possible), you lessen the chance of mold and mildew forming.