How to Remove a Shower Drain Cover

Tile shower.

Is your shower drain clogged? Unless you want to stand in dirty, soapy water every time you shower, you need to clear that clog quickly. To do so, you need to know how to remove your shower drain cover.

Most shower drain covers can be removed without too much fanfare. But since there are so many types of drain covers, it can take a minute to figure out how yours works. We'll explain the different types of shower drain covers, how to remove them, and answer a few questions about the removal process:

  • Types of Shower Drain Covers
  • How to Remove a Clog from a Shower Drain
  • Shower Drain Cover Removal FAQs

Types of Shower Drain Covers

Shower drain covers come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. Some of the most common types of shower drain covers include:


These covers look like a flat or slightly bowed strainer. They are held in place by a single screw, which can easily be removed using a Philip's head screwdriver.

Push/Pull (Often Confused with Lift-and-Turn)

These stoppers operate using a push-and-pull mechanism, locking when they reach the top or bottom to open or close the drain. To remove it, 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)

This stopper looks similar to a push/pull stopper and operates similarly. The main difference is that to lock the stopper, you lift it and slightly twist it clockwise. To remove the stopper, turn it to the open position, then lift it and look for a set screw. If there is no screw, simply turn counterclockwise to remove it. If you see a small screw, turn it with a flathead or Allen wrench until it is 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).


Opening and closing with a push of your toe, this style of stopper can sometimes be unscrewed (counterclockwise) from the open position. This removes 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 stopper free from your drain – no tools required! Grasp the body (not the toggle), rotating as you pull.

How to Remove a Clog from a Shower Drain

If you remove your shower drain stopper and all the hair and grime in your drain don't come out with it, you still need to clear out the clog. Use these methods to remove the clog from your shower drain:

  • Plastic Drain Clog Remover Tools for Hair: These plastic tools look like extra-large zip strips with spikes and work like a cheaper version of a pipe snake. To use the hair remover, hold it by the handle and feed it into the drain (you may not even need to remove the drain cover). Wear gloves and goggles and be prepared for splatter. Pull it free from the drain and wipe up any grime with a paper towel. Repeat from different angles until the drain is clear. You can pick up a clog remover from your local home improvement store for a low cost.
  • Baking Soda & Vinegar: A non-toxic alternative to chemical drain cleaners, baking soda and vinegar can break up gunk stuck in pipes. Simply pour one part baking soda into the drain, followed by four parts distilled white vinegar. Let it fizz for 15-20 minutes, then pour a large pot of boiling water directly into the drain.
  • Plunger Method: Sometimes clogs get stuck deep in a pipe, and a plunger can get them moving. Add three to six centimetres of water, covering the overflow plate with a wet rag or duct tape. Pump the plunger forcefully several times, then repeat this process three to four more times before testing the drain.

Shower Drain Cover Removal FAQs

Can I replace my shower drain cover?

Yes, you can replace an old shower drain cover with a model that fits your preferences. The process of changing out your shower drain cover depends on the existing cover and the cover you want to install. The main things to keep in mind when considering a shower cover replacement include:

  • Drain opening size: Not every drain opening is the same size. Before picking a new drain cover, measure the size of your drain opening to ensure the new one will fit.
  • Existing drain cover: Some drain covers have elements that may require you to modify your tub or choose the same style of cover as a replacement.
  • Outlet type: Certain drain covers have outlets, which are short pieces of tubing that need to be compatible with the drain opening. Some are threaded; in these cases, the new cover should also have a threaded outlet.
  • Features: Some drain stoppers have hair catchers and other features built into them. Consider looking for one that can prevent clogs when choosing a replacement.

Preventing Future Clogs

To keep clogs away, you can purchase a shower drain hair catcher. These are not compatible with every drain cover style, but for those that are, these inexpensive devices can easily prevent clogs in your shower.

Still fighting with your bathtub drain? Win the fight with professional assistance from Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighbourly company, today.