After a long and stressful day, a nice soak in the tub can be a relaxing way to unwind. However, this experience is highly dependent on a working stopper that prevents water from escaping down the drain. If your bathtub doesn’t have a working plug or stopper, there are ways to block the drain without them.
Fortunately, there are quick and easy ways to block your bathtub drain with just a few common items found around the home. These home solutions include using a plumber’s putty, an empty coffee pod, a jar lid the same size as the hole, a toilet plunger, a wipe in a bag, and more.
While you can find simple, inexpensive plugs at your local home improvement center, these temporary solutions can work in emergency situations or if you can’t get to the store right away. The methods outlined below will show you how to make a makeshift drain plug from items you probably already have on hand.
How do bathtub plugs work?
The main purpose of the bathtub stopper or stopper is to keep the water in the bathtub. Covers the hole over the bathtub drain, preventing water from leaking out. The plug does this by forming a tight seal to prevent water from escaping through the hole.
There are a variety of plug types available on the market and they come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Regardless, they all accomplish the same thing. In most cases, the tub stopper will be equipped with a handle or chain that can be used to remove the stopper when you are ready for the water to drain.
Most bathtub drain plugs are very durable and can last for several years. However, over time they will gradually begin to fail. If wear and tear is keeping your tub stopper from working properly, it may be time to replace it. In the meantime, there are a number of temporary fixes you can implement to clog up your bathtub.
How to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Stopper
Many of the following methods for blocking your bathtub drain without a stopper can be done using common household items. These short-term solutions will allow you to continue enjoying your bathroom in luxury and prevent the water from draining away before you’ve had a chance to get rid of all your worries.
1. Plumber’s Putty Repair
This method works great for tub stoppers that have a bad gasket and no longer provide the proper seal. Using a plumber’s putty offers a temporary solution until you can completely replace the gasket or plug. This putty is used by professional plumbers to prevent leaks in drains and other fixtures.
Take some plumber’s putty and roll it in your hands to form a long snake shape. It should be long enough to go around the bathtub drain. Next, lift up the plug or pop-up drain and use the putty to line the hole around the drain. Close the drain plug over the putty and you should now have a tight seal. Keep in mind that this method is only a one-time solution, as you will need to remove the caulk when you drain the tub.
2. Single Serve Empty Coffee Capsule
If you own a Keurig, chances are you have an empty single-serve pod lying around the house. This, or a small cup of a similar size, can be used to effectively block the drain. Both a 15ml plastic medicine cup and an empty coffee pod are a perfect size.
For this method, firmly place the cup or pod into the drain hole with the bottom end in first. Then, start filling the tub to see if it can hold water. It may leak a bit, but it should last long enough to take a bath. If the cup is significantly smaller than the drain, you can wrap rubber bands around the body for a better seal, or consider using a plumber’s putty.
3. Bottle Cap Solution
If the coffee pod isn’t working well enough, or you just don’t have the right size cup on hand, you can try using a jar lid to cover the drain hole. Take a plastic lid or a flat jam jar lid that is big enough to fit over the hole. Position the lid so that it is flat on the bottom of the tub.
Start filling the tub and press the lid down firmly. You can create an even stronger seal by slightly moistening the underside of the lid first. The weight of the water and the suction created under the cap will ensure that it stays in place and water does not escape down the drain.
4. Toilet plunger
I’m sure most people have a toilet plunger lying around that can be used for this method. In this case, the toilet plunger can act as a makeshift stopper for the bathtub drain. However, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the rubber end of the plunger first with soap and water, especially if you’re going to take a shower.
Once the plunger is clean, place it over the drain hole and press firmly to form a seal. Then remove the wooden handle, unless the hole for the handle is completely through the plunger. Regardless, leaving the wooden handle on can make it much easier to remove the stopper when you’re ready to tub train. You just have to be okay with looking at it while taking a bath.
5. The plastic bag and wipe trick
If you have a washcloth, small towel, or small sponge, you can use it to make a temporary stopper for your bathtub drain. For this solution, simply put the wipe in a small plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. If you don’t remove the air, the bag could float to the top and not provide a sufficient seal for drainage.
Then seal the ends of the bag by zipping it shut or using a rubber band to secure it. Roll or fold the filled bag over the drain so that the material fits snugly into the hole. Turn on the water and hold the bag in place until there is enough pressure to hold it up on its own. Alternatively, you can fill a plastic zipper bag with water, seal it tightly, and place it over the drain.
Another temporary solution to blocking the bathtub drain without a stopper is to use duct tape. The best type of tape for this method is a waterproof tape, or more specifically Gorilla All Weather. Simply cover the drain hole with a double layer of tape, so it can hold water long enough to allow you to enjoy a bath.
For best results, plug the drain hole when the tub is completely dry. Press down firmly on the tape to ensure it adheres properly and creates a proper seal. This method can work great in a pinch, but the tape can be difficult to remove once you’re ready to drain the water.
7. Marine drain swivel plug
The final option for plugging your bathtub drain is to use a swivel marine drain plug. This method will only work for those who are anglers and have this device in their toolkits. They are primarily used to drain water from ballast tanks or live fish wells after a day of fishing on the water. However, they can be just as effective at preventing bathtub water from draining.
To install, simply twist the marine drain plug clockwise into the drain using its brass T-handle. Once you’re ready to remove it, all you’ll need to do is gently pull it up. handle and turn it counterclockwise. Please note that these plugs will only work if they are the same size as the drain hole.
Wrapping it up
Although knowing how to block a bathtub drain without a stopper can be helpful in a pinch, finding a permanent solution will help you avoid future problems. For a long-lasting solution, purchase a new bathroom stopper and install it yourself or enlist the help of a professional plumber