3 Ways to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

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You’ve had a tough day and finally have a little time to unwind. A hot bath is just what you need, but your bathtub doesn’t have a working stopper or plug. Thankfully, there are a few simple solutions that can turn everyday household items into a DIY bathtub stopper.

These methods also work well if you need to stop a sink without a stopper. Try these three temporary solutions to see which one works best for you.

1. Repurpose an Empty Coffee Pod

If you use coffee pods for your morning caffeine fix, then you may have a makeshift bathtub plug sitting on your counter. An empty pod (like a Keurig cup) is just the right size to block the drain for many bathtub models. Don’t drink coffee? A 15ml medicine cup can also do the trick.

To set up this drain plug, firmly place the plastic pod or cup into the drain (bottom first) and begin filling the tub to see how well it holds. If it’s just a bit too small, wrap a few thick rubber bands around it to improve the seal.

2. Put a Lid to Good Use

Some drains have openings significantly larger than a coffee pod. If the coffee pod doesn’t work well—or if you don’t have any pods on hand because you make coffee the old-fashioned way—try a flat jam jar lid or a plastic lid.

To do this, place the lid so that it lies flat on the bottom of the bathtub. If you notice that water is still draining despite the lid being the right size, create a stronger seal by dampening the bottom of the lid and firmly pressing it as you begin filling the tub. Once the tub fills a little, let go. The weight of the water should help keep the lid in place.

3. The Plastic Bag Trick

Create a makeshift drain plug using a washcloth or small sponge inserted into a small plastic bag. Twist a wet washcloth tightly or wet a sponge that has been rolled to fit the drain. Place the cloth or sponge inside a plastic sandwich bag. Squeeze as much air out as you can and zip it closed or use a rubber band to secure it. Stuff the bag into the drain. The material should expand to snugly fill the hole, and the plastic bag will prevent water from escaping down the drain. Alternatively, fill a zippered plastic bag with water, seal it, and place it over the drain.

When using this method, make sure that your plastic bag and the cloth or sponge inside of it are large enough that they won’t go down the drain. A tub that won’t hold water is frustrating, but a tub that can’t drain is a much bigger issue.

Hire a Professional to Upgrade Your Broken or Missing Stopper

Knowing how to block a bathtub drain without a plug or how to stop a sink without a stopper can help in a pinch but finding a permanent fix will help you avoid future hassles. Picking up a rubber plug at a store is one possibility, but you could always lose it again, leaving you high and dry all over again. Your best bet is to have a new drain stopper installed by Mr. Rooter® Plumbing — home of your courteous plumbing professionals! Contact us online or call to find a location near you to provide bathtub repairs and more.