How to remove bathtub drain stopper

You decide to have a nice warm shower in your tub and the water doesn’t allow you. The water keeps draining slowly. And when you try to empty the tub, water again drains very slowly. Either ways, what is behind this is usually a tub stopper. Though the tub stopper is a very small item of your bathroom overall, but it can annoy you so much. The tub stopper may be clogged by gunk, soap buildup or hair, it may be worn out or you want to upgrade it. Clean it or change it, whatever it requires. Do it in the start, otherwise it will be great mess one day and you may be running the bathroom exhaust fan to get out the smell. And the first step for this purpose is to remove the bathtub drain stopper.

Before start battling right away with drain stopper in order to remove it, first equip yourself with all the information you will need. There are different styles of bathtub drain stoppers. The technique to remove these stoppers also varies quite a bit.

Different tools are used for these different types of bathtub stoppers. First identify the type of your tub drain stopper then choose the right tool. Here is the guide to help you identify the type of stopper and how to remove it.

Pop-Up drain stopper

  • You push down the pop-up stopper to close it.
  • To open it, push it again. And to remove the pop-up stopper, set the stopper is in open position and turn it in a counterclockwise direction. This unscrews it.
  • Then unscrew the shaft.

Some pop-up stoppers have either a turn style or trip lever mechanism on the overflow, which raise or lower the stopper. This type will be discussed later in Flip-lever drain stoppers.

Toe-Touch drain stopper

​As the name suggests, you can open and close this type of stopper with the touch of your toe. There are no knobs or tabs on it. The stopper is usually circular and its top is flat. Top cap of some toe-touch stoppers unscrews from a base cylinder. In such stoppers, the base cylinder is lodged into a crossbar in the strainer. Whereas in other toe-touch stoppers; whole stopper is just one unit that is lodged into the crossbar.

Follow the following instructions to remove it:

• Set the stopper in open position.

• Hold the shaft and turn the top cap counter-clockwise. If the entire unit moves by doing this, let go of shaft and continue to unscrew the top cap.

• And if the stopper is not one unit, first remove the top cap by turning counter-clockwise and then the cylinder.

Twist and Pull stopper

This is also known as lift-and-turn stopper. You can remove twist and pull stopper through steps described below:

• There is a small knob on the top of the stopper. Turn it counter-clockwise to remove it.

• After removing the knob, you will see a setscrew on top. Remove the setscrew using a screwdriver or Allen wrench.

• After removing the setscrew, detach the knob. Then, lift the drain stopper and unscrew the drain post.

• In case there is no setscrew, there will be a channel/pin mechanism. Lift the stopper and rotate it counter-clockwise to remove it from the strainer.

Flip-it drain stopper

Of all the bathtub drain stoppers, flip-it stopper is probably the easiest one to remove. There is a pair of O-rings that keep the stopper in place and block the drain. The toggle lever expands the shaft to seal O-rings.

To remove the stopper, hold the outer round body (not the toggle). Rotate the stopper and also pull it upwards. Or just wiggle it back and forth until it comes out of the drain opening.

PresFlo drain stopper

O-ring in PresFlo drain seals holds the cover in place. The stopper comes with a little suction cup. Make sure you keep the suction cup somewhere safe because may need that. If you don’t have a suction cup, buy one because you need that to remove this type of drain stopper. This drain stopper is easy to remove but it needs a couple of tries.

• Make sure the stopper is on flat level in the drain.

• Place suction cup on the stopper. Firmly press it down. Sometimes the stopper rotates with pressure. If this is your first attempt going this, it may take some time.

• Firmly grasp the suction cup and pull the drain stopper up and out.

Flip-lever drain stoppers

As the name suggests, there is a flip-lever that is fixed on the overflow opening. Inside the overflow pipe, there is a rod that raises and lowers a pivot arm. This pivot arm goes through the horizontal pipe and is attached to the stopper. Some drains also come with a strainer plate. This strainer plate covers the drain and is simply screwed.

• Locate and remove the screws from trip lever. When you remove the screws, faceplate will be loose enough. It will swing down and away. You should be careful so that it may not scratch your bathtub.

• Wiggle the trip lever a bit to pull it out from the tub wall. Don’t try to find the stopper at the drain opening as it lies inside the pipe. Just trying to save your time!

• You can also adjust the height of the stopper by tightening or loosening the adjustable linkage. The appropriate height of the stopper is important for drain to work properly. Bathtub will not plug completely if the stopper is too high and water will drain very slowly if the stopper is too low.


Now you may know very well about the different types of drain stoppers and how you can remove them. Removing a bath tub drain is not a difficult task and you may need to find water descalers to help clean things up.  You can easily do it by yourself if you identify the type of drain stopper you have and get the right tools to remove it.