7 DIY Tricks on How to Plug a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

How to Plug a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

💧 How to Plug a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

You have had a long day at work, and now you want to take a bath to relax. But what happens when you are about to take that all-important bath, and your bath plug decides to give up and falls apart?

Of course, you can ignore this advice if your bath is fitted with a fixed bathtub drain stopper, such as a pop-up stopper. Luckily for you, a few easy solutions can turn common household items into a DIY bath plug.

Give these temporary solutions a go and see which makeshift drain plug works best for you so you can enjoy that hot bath you deserve.

💧 How Do Bath Plugs Work?

Bath Plug

A bath plug or drain stopper works by keeping the water in the bath and preventing it from draining away down the drain.

The plug works by covering the drain hole.

Most plugs use the water pressure above them to keep a tight seal and stop the water from draining away.

There is a myriad of types of plugs you can purchase.

They come in a range of sizes, shapes and colors.

But at the end of the day, they all accomplish the same: stop your bathtub water from draining away.

Most bath plugs are pretty durable.

They really only ever have one use, and they’re not used constantly.

Unless you have a large family that likes taking baths…

However, over time, they will start to break down and require replacement.

🧰 Use a Plastic Coffee Pod or Plastic Cup

used coffee pods

If you love caffeine and enjoy your coffee via a coffee pod (or Keurig cup, to some people) every morning, this is the fix for you.

Most single-serve coffee pods are similar in size to most drains in modern bathtubs not fitted with drain stoppers.

If you don’t drink coffee from pods or don’t have any lying around, try a small plastic medicine cup.

A small medicine cup will do the same job as a single-serve coffee cup.

To try this makeshift bath plug, hold the empty coffee pod or cup in the bathtub drain hole and fill up the tub with water to check how well it seals.

You need water pressure for this to be successful, so it takes a bit of water to hold it in place.

If the pod or cup is slightly too small for the drain opening, you could try wrapping a bunch of rubber bands around it to fit properly.

🧰 Use a Jar Lid the Same Size as the Drain Hole

Glass jars with lids

If you have a bath drain that’s significantly larger than that coffee pod, you could try another common household item: the infamous jam jar lid (or any type of metal or plastic lid).

For this temporary solution to work, place the flat jam jar lid upside down in the drain hole.

If it fits, it should provide a temporary seal for you to enjoy your bath.

Again, like any removable solution, you need water pressure to hold the lid in place, so you may have to fill the bathtub up considerably before the water pressure holds it in place.

🧰 Use Plumber’s Putty

Bathtub drain removal

Plumber’s putty can provide a temporary fix for your bathtub problem.

Plumber’s putty is best used in conjunction with your old bathtub plug.

To prevent water from draining away, roll up the putty into thick spaghetti and line the hole of the drain.

Then use the plug as normal. The putty should fill in the gaps of the bath plug.

If you don’t have this type of putty lying around, you could try normal putty, but be aware this can make a mess, and you don’t want it going down the drain and causing clogs in your bathtub drain.

🧰 Cover the Hole with Waterproof Duct Tape

woman with duct tape

Many households have duct tape sitting around, so this is an easy one to try.

Before you start, make sure your bathtub is dry to help the duct tape stick to the bottom of your bathtub.

You will probably need a double layer so it can withstand the water pressure of a full bathtub.

🧰 Try the Plastic Bag Trick

plastic bags filled with sand

You can make a temporary seal from a plastic bag filled with a wet washcloth.

Find a plastic sandwich bag and fill it with that washcloth that’s rolled up to fit the drain size and zip it shut.

You can use a rubber band to better secure the bag’s top.

Ensure you remove as much air from the plastic bag as possible to prevent it from floating up while filling the bathtub.

Ensure your bag fits snugly in the drain opening while filling the bath.

A plastic bag filled with water does the same trick, so you can also give that a go.

🧰 Block a Bathtub Drain With a Toilet Plunger

female plumber with plunger

Not everyone will be comfortable with this one, but we will add it anyway, as it works great.

By their very design, toilet plungers work well at sealing your bathtub drain.

Since you have used it for other tasks around the home, we won’t remind you of it. Make sure you clean the rubber end with hot water and soap.

Press down on the plunger over the drain hole, and you should have a nice watertight seal.

You can remove the wooden handle if it looks weird while you are bathing.

If it’s fixed to the plunger, we guess it’s staying where it is.

🧰 Block it with a Marine Drain Twist Plug

Marine Drain Plug

For all the keen fishermen and boaters out there, you could try using a marine drain twist plug.

Find a boat drain plug that’s a similar size to your drain and block it.

Hold down the twist plug to ensure it fits the hole correctly.

To block the water, hold the plug in place, and twist the handle clockwise to lock it in place.

Voila! you have yourself a blocked drain ready for your soothing bath.

💧 Conclusion

happy plumber

You can block a bathtub drain pretty easily from household items lying around with a bit of ingenuity.

Try to think, “What would MacGyver do?”.

All you need is some type of material or item that can cover the drain hole properly and won’t float up when you start filling the bath with water.

These temporary fixes are easy to apply in a pinch, but they are no substitute for a permanent solution.

Get off your computer or phone, head to your local hardware store, and buy a new bath plug.

PRO TIP: Take the old one with you so you purchase the right size.

If you are sick of constantly losing bath plugs, you could add a permanent drain stopper, such as a toe touch sink stopper which is very popular these days.

Call your local professional plumber if you are uncomfortable with any of these DIY methods or want a more permanent fix.

Don’t let something simple like no drain plug ruin your next hot bath!

Want to learn more about your home’s plumbing system? Feel free to check out our other plumbing articles.

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

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