Whether you’ve had a hard day at work or just need some R&R, a long soak in the bath can do wonders for your stress level. This isn’t possible, however, if you don’t own a bathtub drain plug.
A stopper is necessary to prevent your bathwater from flowing down the drain. If you don’t own one, you can try some DIY methods that may help.
These approaches are simple and quick, and most can be accomplished with common household items.
You should be able to find affordable bathtub stoppers at your nearest hardware store, but the temporary resolutions in this article may help if you cannot get to one immediately.
These range from using jar lids, washcloths, plungers, and even a coffee pod.
Keep reading to find some of the most effective DIY bath plug methods below!
What Are Bathtub Stoppers?
Before we get into the DIY methods, we need to outline how bathtub stoppers or plugs work. The main aim of these devices is to keep water inside your bathtub.
These will block the openings leading to your bathtub drain, preventing any water from escaping down into the pipes.
The stopper will also create a watertight lock to stop the water from fleeing down the drain.
Bathtub plugs are available in several sizes, shapes, and materials. While some may look different from others, they all perform the same function.
Most bathtub plugs are equipped with a hilt or a handle, allowing the user to remove the stopper easily when they are finished with their bath, letting the water drain in the process.
The majority of bathtub stoppers are very strong and should last you a long time. While they can last many years, they will eventually start to weaken.
Once they deteriorate, they won’t be able to create a watertight seal anymore, so your bathwater will keep leaking down into the drain.
If you notice that your bathtub stopper is looking worse for wear, you may need to replace it.
However, if you aren’t able to purchase a new one, or need an emergency solution, you can try several DIY methods that can help you seal your bathtub.
DIY Bathtub Plugs: How To Plug A Bathtub Drain Without A Stopper
Most of the methods below involve using household objects that you may already have in your home.
These temporary resolutions will act as an effective bathtub plug, so you can keep having baths until you can purchase a replacement stopper.
Try Plumber’s Putty
The plumber’s putty method can work wonders for bathtub plugs that have a faulty gasket.
The rubber gasket on the stopper helps to create the seal, but if this is defective, water will keep escaping down the drain.
Plumbers putty is a quick fix until you get a new stopper, or can replace the rubber gasket.
It’s normally used by plumbers to fix leaks in drains and various other fixtures.
Once you have your plumber’s putty, take a little and use your hands to roll it into a long, wormlike shape.
The length should be long enough to circle your bath’s drain. Take the stopper out of the drain, then line the hole around it with the putty.
Cover the putty and the drain hole with the plug. The putty will help to create a watertight seal, allowing you to fill your bathtub once more.
However, remember that this method can only be used once, as you will need to take the putty out of the drain to drain your bathwater.
Disposable Coffee Pods
If you have a coffee machine, you probably have empty individual coffee pods somewhere in your home.
You can use these pods, or single-serve plastic coffee cups of comparable size, to plug the drain. 15-milliliter medicine cups work well for this.
To try this method, take your empty coffee pod or cup, then place it inside your drain hole with the bottom end in contact with the drain.
Start filling up your bathtub and see if water remains in the bath.
As there is no seal, some water might leak into the drain, but you should have enough in the tub to take a bath.
If your drain is a lot larger than your pod, try wrapping rubber bands around the pod to create a seal. You can also try using plumbers’ putty, as mentioned above.
Jam Jar Lids
If you don’t have coffee pods or can’t find a plastic cup that’s the right size, you may find success with the jar lid method.
You’ll need to find a jam jar lid or a plastic lid that fits over the drain’s opening. Position this lid flat on the bottom of the tub.
Start filling the bath with water, then use your hands to press on the lid, hard. You can also dampen the lid’s underside with water beforehand to create a securer seal.
The load of the water and the suction from the bottom will help the lid remain in position, preventing your bathwater from escaping.
Test Your Toilet Plunger
Most individuals own a toilet plunger stored somewhere in their homes. This simple item works very well as a DIY bathtub stopper.
Just remember to clean and sanitize the plunger thoroughly beforehand, as it will remain in the water while you are in the bath.
After you’ve cleaned your plunger, position it over the drain, then push it downwards firmly. This will create a seal.
If your plunger allows you to remove the handle, do so, but leaving it in will make removing the plunger a lot easier once you’re done with your bath.
Washcloth and Plastic Bag Technique
Common household items, like a sponge, a small towel, and a washcloth, can temporarily act as a stopper for your bathtub drain.
Begin this trick by taking a plastic bag and cramming a washcloth inside it. Use your hands to compress as much air out of the bag as possible.
This stops the bag from floating up out of the drain, allowing it to create a watertight seal.
Next, zip the bag closed to seal it tight. If your bag doesn’t have a zip closure, use a rubber band to fasten it. Either fold or roll the bag in the drain, allowing the cloth to fit tightly in the opening.
Turn your faucet on as you keep the bag in position, allowing the water to fill the bath. Once there is enough force from the load of water holding the bag down, you can remove your hands.
If you can’t find a washcloth, an alternative is to fill the zipper bag with water, zip it shut, and position it over the drain.
Use Duct Tape
Tape can also work to block a bathtub drain. It’s best to use a waterproof brand of duct tape for this, not standard plastic tape.
This method is simple. All you have to do is use two layers of tape to close the drain’s opening.
This should last you enough time to take a bath, provided that the tape is waterproof and durable.
It’s best to tape over the hole when the bathtub is fully dry. Smooth the tape down hard to make sure that it is stuck down well to create an effective seal.
The tape method is ideal in emergencies, but bear in mind that it can be hard to remove once you are finished taking a bath.
Try A Marine Twist Drain Stopper
The last option on our list is to try blocking your drain with a marine twist-type drain stopper.
If you’re a keen fisher, you probably have this instrument inside your fishing kit.
Marine drain twists are mainly used to remove the water from live fish wells or ballast tanks after fishing.
They also work well to prevent water from leaking out of your bathtub.
To use this method, take your marine drain stopper and hold it by its T-shaped brass hilt. Twist it clockwise so it fixes inside your drain.
You can now fill up your bath with water as usual.
Once you’re done with your bath, pull the handle upwards carefully, twisting it in a counterclockwise motion.
However, take note that this method won’t work if these stoppers aren’t the same size as your drain hole.
Why Is Water Escaping From The Bathtub?
If you notice that your bathtub is leaking water, check the following things to find out why this is the case.
Start by ensuring that your stopper is fixed in your bathtub drain. If there is no stopper, the water will flow through the drain’s opening.
You should also look at the overflow drain that’s found closer to your faucet.
This is designed to stop the bathtub from overflowing. Water will drain through this opening if your tub is filled above this.
If your bathtub has jets, there may be small openings in these jets that leak water. If this is the case, you’ll need to block these holes to prevent water from escaping.
Water may also drain from your tub if your overflow tube is defective.
You can contact a plumbing expert to replace this, or do it yourself if you have the right experience.
If you’ve checked all of these things and find that water is still draining out from your tub, there may be a larger issue, like a crack inside the bathtub.
Another possibility is your drain hole has begun to deteriorate, meaning it cannot maintain a fixed seal anymore. This indicates that the entire drain itself will need to be replaced.
You can ask a professional for advice on how to do this. They can also confirm if any other issues need attending, so you can get your bathtub working again.
The Bottom Line
Plugging your bath’s drain with no stopper can be done, as long as you have some regular household materials lying around.
These items need to be able to shield the drain’s opening sufficiently and shouldn’t float upwards once the tub is filled.
Do bear in mind that the DIY methods above work well in a pinch, but the only way to solve this issue completely is to purchase a proper bathtub plug.
These plugs may start to wear down in the future, but they’ll last a long longer than the DIY approaches.