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What to Do When Your RV Shower Drain Clogs

In this installment of our RV Mishaps series, we learn what to do when your shower drain is clogged.

When I first started traveling solo in my van, I thought I knew a lot about RVs, but it turns out I didn’t know as much as I thought. Having lived and traveled full-time in my Thor Motor Coach Tellaro 20KT Class B van, I treated it like a house on wheels. It’s stocked full with most of my belongings, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t and couldn’t do inside Nyxie (my van’s name). One of the advantages of having a Class B van is the full-service wet bath that comes with it. I usually never go without a shower that distributes hot water, unlike many other vanlifers. 

What Went Wrong

I was staying at an RV park in Moab, Utah, and I wanted to dye my roots with some purple shampoo to maintain my highlights—which apparently wasn’t a good idea. 

My wet bath shower wouldn’t drain, and the water started to build up. I started to panic and pulled a large bowl from my kitchen galley drawer, filled it with as much water from the wet bath floor as I could, and then threw it out the side sliding door. At first, I also began pouring it into the toilet but quickly decided that might not be a good idea either. 

Shower in an RV
A dry bath shower in an RV. | Photo: Ashley Rossi

I repeatedly did this until most of the water was gone, and then used paper towels and rags to soak up whatever was left on the wet bath floor. There had been quite a bit of water, but my immediate reaction wasn’t going to actually fix the clogged drain. After researching the possible issues and solutions, here’s what I learned along with the steps to unclog RV shower drains.

Lessons Learned

Clear Drain of Hair and Other Foreign Objects

Hair is the first thing I look for in my drain as I have long hair that sheds everywhere. I also have mesh covers over my galley sink, wet bath sink, and shower drains to help prevent hair and other small particles from getting into my drains, especially things like coffee grounds. Once you’ve removed any hair or other small particles, you can try using a plunger to clear the drain.

Check To See If Your Gray Water Tank Is Full

If your RV is connected to sewage services at a park or resort, try to empty the gray tank by pulling the gray tank handle to check that there’s no blockage. Empty the gray tank to see if this fixes the clog. 

Still Clogged Up

Create A Simple “Declogging” Mixture.

Harsh chemicals, like liquid Drano, can damage the pipes and valves in an RV. Instead, sprinkle baking soda down the drain directly from the box and pour vinegar immediately after. Then pour water down the drain to wash the mixture down. Repeat this procedure until your drain is no longer clogged. 

A drain foaming with cleaner
The baking soda and vinegar mixture will activate to help clear clogs in your drains.

You can also drop baking soda down the drain, 2 or 3 teaspoons at a time, and then pour vinegar. Wash the mixture down with hot water—although cold or room temperature water will work in a pinch. There are also RV-specific drain cleaners, like Green Gobbler, that are safe to use in your rig.

Finally, Drain Snakes

You can use drain snakes just like you would with your home plumbing system to loosen clogs and remove debris trapped inside your drains. 

I’ve successfully unclogged my shower drain by removing hair and using a baking soda and vinegar mixture, but in the event that none of these troubleshooting steps work, it might be time to contact a service technician. 

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