no worm in bathtub

How to Get Rid of Little Black Worms in the Shower

You may be surprised to find small black worms crawling around the base of a shower. While harmless these worms look kind of gross. Today, I will explain how to get rid of them.

In general, cover the shower drain after you have a shower. Also, use an enzyme cleaner to break down the grime in the drain. Drain worms hatch from eggs that are laid in the grime in a shower drain by drain flies that fly into the inside of the shower drain. 

Therefore, stopping the drain flies from getting into the drain, and removing the areas where they lay their eggs – the grime on the inside of a shower drain and pipe – will stop the cycle, and all the existing black worms will eventually go away.

Where Little Black Worms in the Shower Come From

Drain worms like to live in soft, and moist environments. So, it can be a bit of a mystery why they are found on the hard surfaces in and around your bathroom. Here’s where little black worms in the shower come from, and how they ended up in your shower.

little black worms in a drain
Image from A-1 Sewer & Drain Cleaning Service

Little black worms (drain worms) in the shower hatch from eggs that are laid by a fly called a drain fly. The eggs hatch within 1.5 to 2 days after being laid. The worms feed for 1 to 2 weeks before turning into pupae. The hatch into drain flies after 1 to 2 days. 

There are two primary ways to get rid of black worms:

  • Stop the adult drain flies from getting into the shower drain.
  • Cleaning the shower drain, which also kills any eggs.

Drain flies are also called drain moths. The reason is they have furry bodies similar to a moth. Interestingly, both flies and moths form a pupa or cocoon which they hatch out of. But, once drain flies have been prevented from laying eggs it stops their life cycle. And then all of the adult drain flies will eventually die. And won’t be replaced by new drain flies that hatch.

The reason is once, drain flies hatch they will hang out around the shower drain and continue to lay eggs. Adult drain flies that lay eggs only live for 2 weeks. So, if the drain is kept covered during this time, all of the drain flies will die.

Cleaning a shower drain to destroy the drain worm habitat

The pipe underneath a shower has what is called a p-trap installed only a short distance from the shower drain. This is a piece of pipe that is curved in a ‘u’ shape. The inside of the wastewater pipes will typically have a foul odor. 

shower drain installation with p-trap
Image from Simple Innovations for Home and Office

The purpose of the p-trap is to cause water to accumulate in the bottom of the ‘u’. The water at the bottom of the p-trap seals off the rest of the waste water pipe from the drain. So, the foul odors in the wastewater pipe don’t flow back up the shower drain. 

However, because a shower is not used for many hours, bacteria will begin to grow and accumulate at the top of the water in the p-trap. As the somewhat dirty water sits there for a few hours at a time. This is the ideal environment for drain flies to lay eggs. The main source of food for drain worms is bacteria, grime, and slime.

Clean a shower drain to destroy the drains worm’s habitat

Cleaning a shower drain is very easy, and it will eliminate their food source and habitat where the eggs can be laid. The easiest method is to pour half a cup of baking soda or so into a shower drain, and then pour a few cups of vinegar down the drain. 

baking soda and vinegar solution
Image from The Grease Trap Man

After leaving it for 5 minutes or so, pour hot but not boiling water down the drain. This will soften the muck and grime and kills bacteria. As well as, any drain fly eggs. Another product that works very well is enzyme cleaner. This breaks the grime and muck.

Although not required, you can use a plastic bristled brush to scrub away the grime. There are special cylindrical brushes that will fit perfectly into the shower drain pipe. 

They also have a bendy metal stem. And will curve around the bend in a p-trap making them very effective at scrubbing away the grime and muck that accumulates there. However, the grill on the drain will need to first be unscrewed and removed.

However, if bacteria returns after two weeks or less, it will provide a medium for drain flies to lay eggs. So, it’s best to keep the drain covered.

Placing a drain fly trap and barrier over the shower drain

This is easily done by placing a plastic container over the shower drain after taking a shower. Doing so will not allow drain flies to enter the drain. 

Another trick you can do is to use a semi-see-through plastic container over the drain, with an adhesive such as glue or a few strips of double-sided tape. Drain flies will land on it thinking they can fly straight through it. 

drain flies stucked in a drain fly trap
Image from Tim Mills American Pest Control

It’s best to do this at night time when the shower won’t be used for long periods of time. Drain flies will be attracted to the scent of the drain, and will land on the plastic container.

You can use a regular glue stick and apply it over the exterior of the plastic container. Then when a drain fly lands on it, it will get stuck and die. You could also put a few strips of double-sided tape on the exterior of the plastic container. This will also catch some drain flies.

Interestingly, drain flies will lay eggs in any moist and soft medium such as food waste, and rotting wood. But, they prefer areas where there is grime, bacterial muck, and slimy gel-like material. Interestingly, drain worms eat the grime and muck that accumulates in a shower. 

According to Ohio University, the drain worms:

“…feed on the decaying organic matter, bacterial films, algae and sediment found in the moist environments.”

So, when you see them in the base of your shower they have typically consumed all of the grime, or the grime has become too overpopulated. The amount of eggs a drain fly lays varies a lot and can range from 10 eggs to 200. So, if a few drain flies lay eggs in your shower drain, drain worm numbers can get very large. Therefore, they will venture out of the drain in search of food.

Are Shower Worms Harmful

Shower worms in appearance look like dark-colored maggots and live in some particularly grimy and disgusting places. But, are shower worms harmful, do they bite, or otherwise cause any issues?

a person holding a tissue with a shower worm
Image from Chloë Joslin-Stout

Overall, shower worms are not harmful. According to Ohio University, they do not bite people. But, they eat algae, bacteria, and grime inside a shower. Therefore, if you see them do not touch them with your bare hands, and if you do wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Some people are vegan and don’t like to kill animals. In that case, if you see any you put into a container and place them outside. They can continue to live in the natural environment. 

Otherwise, spray them with regular bug spray to kill them. Or, squash them and dispose of them with a piece of toilet tissue. Doing so will reduce their numbers, and make it easier to completely get rid of drain worms from your bathroom.

Can Drain Worms Make You Sick

Various bacteria that can be found on bugs can make you sick. Drains worms don’t look very appealing and live in some dirty and grimy environments. Here’s whether drain worms can make you sick.

As a general rule, drain worms can make you sick. The reason is their diet consists of decaying organic matter, algae, and bacteria, and they live in polluted and contaminated water that can be present in a shower or drain. So, don’t touch them, and relocate them very far from your home or kill them.

a sick man with a headache wearing a mask

Bacteria found in and around environments that drain worms like can be toxic. If you accidentally ingest them, they can cause food poisoning-type symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, a fever, and an upset stomach. So, if you are going to hand drain worms wear gloves. And/or thoroughly wash your hands with an antibacterial soap.

When they crawl around at the base of your shower they can spread bacteria. Typically, this will get washed down the drain when you have a shower, and get mixed with the soap used when taking a shower. 

A large number of drain worms can hatch at once and can make their way into your bathroom in search of food. 

If you discover a large amount of them in your shower or crawling around in your bathroom, it’s a good idea to wipe down all of the surfaces that people are likely to touch with their hands or feet using a household disinfectant.

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