How To Remove A Bathtub Drain Stopper Stuck In Closed Position By Consumer Reports

A bathtub drain stopper is a vital part that helps prevent water from draining or acting as a valve to drain the water. The drain stopper sometimes gets stuck due to built-up gunk. 

That’s the reason why you need to remove the stopper to clean the drain thoroughly. Though all types of bathtub drain stopper serve the same purpose, you must identify your drain stopper type so that you can remove it properly. There are usually five main types stuck in closed position: toe-touch, push-pull, lift-turn, pop-up, plunger style (trip lever).

Figure 1 Types of bathtub drain stopper

Getting confused? Don’t worry because we are about to introduce to you in detail how to remove the bathtub drain stopper types!

How to remove a bathtub drain stopper stuck in closed position?

What will you need?

  • Old rag or towel
  • Pliers
  • Penetrating lubricant
  • Drain body remover
  • Adjustable wrench or Channel-lock
  • Flat-head screwdriver


To seal your bathtub with a toe-touch drain stopper, you only have to push it down with your toe. In case you want to drain the water, pull the drain stopper up. 

Usually, this type of drain stopper uses a spring-loaded design. The stopper body is fixed in place using a screw under the cap of the stopper. A toes-touch drain stopper is easy to install, easy to use, and easy to disassemble. 

There would be nothing too complicated when it comes to removing a toe-touch stopper.

How to remove a toe-touch drain stopper

Step 1: Cover the tub surface with an old rag or towel. You don’t want to scratch the tub’s finish or spray it with dirt in the stopper, do you?

Step 2: Unscrew the cap by hand to reveal the screw underneath. Twist the cap counterclockwise to remove it. 

Step 3: Remove the main part of the drain stopper. Get yourself a screwdriver and twist the screw underneath the cap you just removed counterclockwise. When it is loosened, you can unscrew it using your hand. Then, lift the main part of the drain stopper out and you are good to go. 

After successfully removing the toe-touch drain stopper, you can either clean it or replace it with a new one. Just remember to bring the drain body part with you to the store to get the most suitable one. To place the drain stopper back, reverse the removal process.

Push-pull and Lift-turn

A push-pull and lift-turn stopper are much alike regarding their designs and installation. One main difference between these two types of drain stopper is the way each of them functions. While the push-pull needs pushing down to close and pulling up to open, the lift-turn requires twisting.

Unlike the toe-touch, it is a little trickier to remove a push-pull/lift-turn drain stopper. You will need a channel lock and nose plier to remove this kind of bathtub drain stopper stuck in closed position.

How to remove a push-pull/lift-turn drain stopper

Step 1: Cover your tub’s finish with an old rag or towel.

Step 2: Get the channel lock. Make sure that the drain stopper is into the closed position on down so that it will not turn anywhere while you are doing your job. 

Then, use the channel lock to grip tightly under the top knob on the cap and turn it. Keep twisting until the knob is loosened enough so that it can easily come out.

Step 3: Turn the brass shaft exposed after removing the knob. Then, lift the stopper.

After cleaning the drain stopper, insert your new drain key into the drain body. 


Pop-up tub drains are designed with a stopper. And on their overflow faceplate, there is a mechanism that allows you to control easily. It is a bit troublesome to remove and clean a pop-up tub drain stopper. However, don’t worry, we will make it simple for you.

Step 1: Cover your tub’s finish with an old rag or towel.

Step 2: Remove the top cap by twisting it counterclockwise when the drain stopper is locked in place.

Step 3: Use a flat-bladed screwdriver to unscrew the main portion of the drain stopper. This stage can be done from inside the bathtub and there will be no need to go underneath, depending on which problem you are coming into: water doesn’t stop flowing down the drain or the spring or the push-pull portion no longer works.

Step 4: Clean or replace the whole drain stopper key inside. In case you want to get a new one, make sure that you take the main part of the pop-up drain stopper to the store with you. This will ensure that the thread at the end of the drain stopper will match up with the one inside your bathtub.

Step 5: Put the cleaned/new drain stopper back by reversing the whole process. Remember to use a screwdriver to tighten everything in place and reinstall the top cap. 

A small tip for you, if you are unable to unscrew the main part of the pop-up drain stopper, insert several drops of penetrating lubricant.

Plunger style

A plunger style or a trip lever is the type of drain stopper functioning using a Turn Style overflow plate or Trip Lever.

How to remove a plunger style drain stopper

Step 1: Cover your tub’s finish with an old rag or towel.

Step 2: Use a screwdriver to remove the screws in the trip lever.

Step 3: Once the trip lever is loosened, pull out the whole body part inside. 

Step 4: Take the needle nose plier to remove the cotter pin and separate the faceplate from the linkage. 

Step 5: Install a new shiny faceplate, put the cotter pin back in; remember to bend it over so that it is perfectly secured in place. And your drain stopper is good to go.

In case the water is not draining well, you can take the float in the body part and raise it.

Wrap things up!

Next time your drain stopper is not doing its job, don’t hesitate to take it out and clean it. Follow our steps to remove and clean a bathtub drain stopper stuck in close position effortlessly. Have a nice time chilling in as clean as a new pin tub.