How to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

3 Ways to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug blog banner

After a long, difficult day, few things are better than a hot bath. But, if you don’t have a working stopper, a relaxing bath can turn into a frustrating ordeal when the tub won’t fill up. Thankfully, there are several ways to create a DIY drain stopper for general use.

Ready to take advantage of your bath without a standard stopper? Below, you’ll find three ways to block a bathtub drain using household items and answers to common questions you may have:

  • Repurpose An Empty Coffee Pod or Old Medicine Cup
  • Put a Lid to Good Use
  • The Plastic Bag Method
  • How to Block a Bathtub Drain FAQ

1. Repurpose An Empty Coffee Pod or Old Medicine Cup

If you’re a coffee fan and use disposable coffee pods, you might have a solution sitting on your countertop. An empty coffee pod is the perfect size to block many bathtub drains.

To make a DIY stopper out of a coffee pod, place it upside down over the drain opening and then run the water. You may need to hold the pod to keep it from getting knocked away by the water. After the tub is partially full, let go of the pod.

The medicine cups that come with liquid medicines are also the right size to block a variety of bathtub drains. Use them the same way as you would an empty coffee pod to make a DIY tub stopper.

2. Put a Lid to Good Use

If your drain is too large for a coffee pod or a medicine cup, try using a lid of some kind. A jar lid, like the kind found on jam or peanut butter, is ideal.

Position the lid over the drain opening. If water still gets through the opening, try dampening the bottom of the lid and pressing it over the drain to form a tight seal. Hold the lid down until the water has partially filled the tub. The weight of the water should hold the lid in place.

3. The Plastic Bag Method

The plastic sandwich bag trick works great for larger drains and any drains that sit close to the tub wall. To do it, twist up a wet washcloth or roll up a damp sponge. Take the washcloth or sponge and put it in a plastic sandwich bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag and use a rubber band to secure it. Finally, shove the bag into the drain opening. Once inserted, the object inside will expand and fill the drain hole.

You can also achieve the same result using a sandwich bag filled with water. Just fill up the bag, seal it, and place it over the drain opening.

Though the plastic bag method works great, make sure to use a large enough washcloth or sponge. If you choose one that’s too small, it can get stuck in the drain and create a clog.

How to Block a Bathtub Drain FAQ

Why does my bathtub drain on its own?

Even with a drain stopper inserted, your tub may still drain over time. This frustrating issue can prevent you from fully enjoying a bath or end your bath time well before you’re ready. Here are a few reasons why your bathtub is draining even while the stopper is in:

  1. Faulty stopper: If your stopper has an issue, your tub won’t fill up properly. A faulty stopper may not be obvious right away, as some form a moderate seal that drains your tub slowly.
  2. Damaged overflow gasket: The overflow gasket is a metal circle located in the upper third of your tub that prevents the tub from overflowing. If the gasket is worn out, it can let too much water out.
  3. Wrong stopper type: Most bathtubs come with a stopper or drain cover, but you can also buy them at hardware stores. If you buy the wrong type of stopper, it can expose your drain, making it impossible to fill the tub.

Find a Permanent Solution for a Missing Drain Plug with Help from Mr. Rooter Plumbing

Knowing how to block a bathtub drain with common household items is great for one or two baths, but a permanent solution will be best in the long run. Mr. Rooter® Plumbing can help you reliably fill the bathtub by installing a new drain stopper. Contact us online or call to find a location near you to have us install a new drain stopper.