skip to Main Content

Why is My Drain Clogged? Five Surprising Causes

A slow or clogged drain every now and then is a regular occurrence for homeowners here in the Bay Area. Most people know the common culprits: hair, food scraps, maybe even a flushed kid’s toy (we’ve all been there). But what if your drain keeps clogging over and over again?

Frequently clogging drains can be a sign of a bigger problem in your plumbing system. But we’ve seen a lot in over 40 years of being the Bay Area’s plumbing pros, and it turns out there may be a few sneakier contributing factors to your slow drains.

Before you worry too much, try addressing these common issues to see if they alleviate the problem. If not, you’ll know it’s time to call a plumber for a professional drain cleaning!

Bath Bombs

Not all bath bombs are going to wreak havoc in your bathtub—you can still enjoy your relaxing, colorful soak. But be cautious about the materials you choose, as some of these products can lead to serious clogs, affecting not just your tub, but your whole plumbing system.

Avoid bath bombs with the following ingredients:

  • Glitter: glitter doesn’t break down organically, so it can get caught in pipes and cause blockages.
  • Oils: while essential oils may sound nice for your skin, they quickly lead to buildup in your pipes.
  • Dried flowers or herbs: if your bath bomb contains botanicals or any other solid materials, be sure to skim them out before draining the tub.


We’re obviously not going to tell you to stop using toothpaste! Just be wary of large globs going down your sink drain. These chunks can turn into a clogging sludge and even harden to a solid mass over time. If a bit of toothpaste falls off your toothbrush (or your child’s) try to throw it in the trash instead of washing it down the drain.


Soap scum is one of the most common reasons for a clogged drain. All soaps contain some form of fat, which builds up residue along drains in the bathroom and kitchen alike. We can’t eliminate soap from our daily lives, but we can be smart about preventing blockages.

Liquid soaps tend to contribute less to blockages than bar soaps, so you might try swapping. But whether you use liquid soap or solid, be sure to keep up a regular drain cleaning routine to head off any clogs before they happen.

Cat Litter

It doesn’t matter what the box says—you shouldn’t be flushing any cat litter down your toilet. As we’ve talked about before, the only things you should flush are the 3Ps: Pee, Poo, and Paper. For starters, our septic and sewer systems are built to handle human waste only. Secondly, even brands that claim to be flushable are still made of tiny rocks, sand, or plants, all of which can clog up your plumbing system.

Bones & Shells in Garbage Disposals

Many homeowners treat their garbage disposal as a total waste eliminator. While it’s certainly a powerful tool, there are limits to what it can handle. Non-fibrous foods and softer waste scraps are safe: vegetable peelings, meat scraps, and even small bones (under ½ inch diameter) in limited quantities.

Larger bones and hard shells can spell trouble for your kitchen sink—and the disposal itself. Never put crab, lobster, or shrimp shells down the disposal, large bones, or large quantities of any tough scraps.

What about eggshells? Perhaps better safe than sorry. While some manufacturers state that eggshells can be ground in moderation, we’ve also seen the fat content and sandy grit of eggshell residue lead to clogs over time.

When to Call a Plumber for a Clogged Drain

If you’ve tried simple mechanical cleaning methods, like a handheld snake or plunger, to no avail, call a plumbing pro! Similarly, if you notice that multiple drains are clogging throughout your home, that could be an indication of a larger problem in your plumbing system.

At George Salet Plumbing, we’ve handled clogs large and small. As local plumbing experts, we’ll be able to identify the problem and recommend the best solution for your home. If you’re in one of our service areas and need help with a clog or an annual drain cleaning, get in touch today!

George Salet Plumbing: Clogged Drain Experts in the San Francisco Bay Area

We’ve been San Francisco’s plumbing pros since 1979! We’ve built a reputation as honest, skilled, and clean plumbers, and we’re proud to stand by our work each and every day. When you’re looking for a trusted local plumber, for everything from drain cleaning to sewer line repair, look no further than George Salet Plumbing. Send us a message or give us a call today: (415) 234-0733 in San Francisco or (650) 557-3883 for the Peninsula.

Schedule a service with us today!

Schedule a service with us today!

Back To Top