How To Plug A Tub Without The Stopper

Taking a bath without a way to plug the tub doesn’t usually work well. You need something to plug the drain, so the water doesn’t swirl down the drain almost as fast as it leaves the faucet. If the stopper is taking time off in an undetermined location, you’ll need a different way to plug the tub.

Luckily, creating a temporary solution is not as hard as you think. You probably already have what you need to create a watertight seal in your bathtub, so there’s no need to put off a relaxing soak any longer. Here’s how to plug a bathtub without a stopper. 

How Do You Stop A Bathtub Without A Stopper?

Perhaps your bathtub stopper is nowhere to be found, or maybe its gasket is worn out and no longer functions correctly. Either way, your bathtub won’t hold water. Thankfully, you don’t have to put off your muscle-calming soak indefinitely until you find time to locate a new stopper. 

Many of the following (temporary) fixes are quickly completed with things you probably have lying around your home. So, without further ado, let’s take a look. 

Plumber’s Putty

WM Harvey 043010 43010 Professional Grade Plumber's Putty, 14 oz, Off- White

When the gasket on your pop-up bathtub drain goes on strike and no longer creates a tight seal between the water and the drain, plumber’s putty is a good option. While this isn’t a forever fix, it’ll hold water in your tub while you take a bath. If you use this method more than once, you’ll probably need new putty each time, but it works. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plumber’s putty
  • Pop-up drain stopper

If you don’t have the drain stopper, this method won’t work. But, if the stopper is still in the drain but doesn’t create a seal, this is a great option. Start by rolling a fair amount of putty between your hands to make a rope-like shape. 

Make sure the rope is long enough to encircle the drain completely. Next, lift the drain stopper and fit the putty around the drain hole. Press the drain stopper into place, squeezing the putty firmly against the tub. This creates a watertight seal. 

Once you’re done bathing, lift the drain stopper and remove the putty. 

Toilet Plunger

While this method doesn’t sound particularly appealing, it works. The plunger creates a tight seal around the drain, preventing water from escaping the tub. Before using an everyday toilet plunger for a temporary bathtub stopper, clean it well. 

Scrub it with soap and water to clean it, then rinse the suds off. In some cases, you might be able to take the wooden handle off. However, if the hole for the handle goes all the way through, leave the handle in the plunger. 

Fit the cup of the plunger over the drain hole in the tub, then press it to create a watertight seal. Fill the tub, and you’re good to go!

Jar Lid

You might have mason jar lids hanging around if you can jam, fruit, or other preserves. The flat part (the lid itself, not the ringer) will create a seal tight enough to hold water while you bathe. 

Find a lid large enough to cover the drain hole, then fit it over the drain. Turn the water on and fill the tub. Eventually, the weight of the water and suction from beneath the drain will create enough pressure to keep the lid in place. 

Single-Serve Coffee Pod

Single-serve coffee pods can act as a temporary drain for your bathtub, providing the sizing is generally the same. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Single-serve coffee pod
  • Plumber’s putty (optional)

If the sizing between your drain and a single-serve coffee pod, use one to plug the drain. Fit the cup upside down over the drain hole. The hole in the cup will allow water to leak slowly, but it should be long enough to take a bath. 

If the sizing is slightly off, use a rope of plumber’s putty to create a tight seal around the drain and coffee pod.

Small Medicine Cup

A small medicine cup should work as a seal, so if you have one of those lying around, try that. This method works the same way as the coffee pod – simply compare the sizing of the medicine cup to the drain hole. 

If the cup is large enough, fit it over the drain hole, then run the water. Alternatively, you could drop the cup into the drain if it’s large enough, but getting it out of the drain can be hard when you want to empty the tub.

If you want to fit the cup into the drain right-side up, add a few rubber bands around the top of the cup. This will help create a tighter seal, ensuring water doesn’t escape quickly while you bathe. 

Watertight Duct Tape

Gorilla All Weather Outdoor Waterproof Duct Tape, UV and Temperature Resistant, 1.88" x 25 yd, Black, (Pack of 1)

All-weather duct tape works, too, if you don’t have the materials in the previous methods. Choose waterproof duct tape, like Gorilla All Weather tape. The process is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.

Cover the drain hole entirely with two layers of tape. This should create enough of a seal to let you take a bath. Once you’re done, remove and dispose of the tape.

Washcloth In A Bag

A washcloth in a plastic sandwich bag will do the trick if you don’t have any of the other materials listed above. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Small washcloth
  • Sandwich bag

Start by fitting the washcloth into the plastic bag. Squeeze as much air as you can, then seal the bag. Roll the washcloth in the bag, so it fits snugly into the drain. Insert it into the drain (most of the washcloth will stick out of the drain), then run the water. 

You’ll have to hold the washcloth in place until there’s enough water in the tub to hold it in place.

Marine Drain Twist Plug

If you’re an avid fisherman, you can put your tools to good use at home. A marine drain twist plug (providing it’s the right size) will block the drain hole, allowing the tub to hold water. You’ll need the correct size, but once you find it, insert the plug into the drain hole. 

Push the plug down, ensuring it fits snugly. To prevent the plug from leaking water, twist the plug clockwise inside the drain. Once you’re done bathing, turn the plug counterclockwise and pull it up and out of the drain to empty the tub.

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