Let’s look at these substitutes in more detail and discuss how you can apply them to achieve the same effect you would with a plumber’s putty.
The best substitute for a plumber’s putty is an adhesive sealant. Other substitutes like aquarium putty, silicone caulk, terrarium putty, and plumber’s dope also work well. A more common substitute is PTFE tape, although you can also use duct seal or a rubber gasket instead.
1. Adhesive Sealant
Adhesive sealant is the ideal alternative to plumber’s putty. It’s durable, waterproof, and won’t wear away easily, making it perfect for sealing areas around faucets and drains. Adhesive sealant also works on both plastic and metal pipes, making it a suitable substitute for plumber’s putty around PVC pipes.
Adhesive sealant also works at high temperatures, which makes it ideal for outdoor plumbing fixtures and hot water taps. The sealant also doesn’t break in cold water, provided it’s plumber-grade sealant.
What makes adhesive sealant the perfect substitute for plumber’s putty is that you can use it on plastic surfaces without worrying about long-term damage. While plumber’s putty is effective, it’s not ideal for plastic or PVC pipes as it may cause wear and tear over time.
Adhesive sealant is also easy to apply and can be used in hard-to-reach areas. If you don’t have a plumber’s putty and need to seal PVC pipes, adhesive sealant is ideal.
Best Plumbing-Grade Adhesive Sealant
GE Sealants & Adhesives M90006 (click to see Amazon listing) is a silicone-based plumbing sealant that is ideal for kitchen and bath faucets. It’s shrink and crack-proof and 100% waterproof. It also won’t discolor metals and can be up to 7x stronger than regular adhesives.
2. Silicone Caulk
Silicone caulk is another suitable substitute for plumber’s putty, and many plumbers prefer silicone in many applications. Like plumber’s putty, silicone caulk is waterproof and can be used in most plumbing fixtures. However, silicone caulk is semi-transparent, and it will blend better with your home decor.
Plumber’s Putty or Silicone?
One advantage of using silicone caulk in place of plumber’s putty is that silicone works on multiple surfaces, including plastic, while plumber’s putty isn’t effective on plastic or PVC. Silicone caulk also doesn’t contain anything that will damage your pipes or faucets over time.
However, while effective, silicone caulk isn’t as durable as plumber’s putty and needs to be maintained more often. You’ll have to clean it regularly and replace it once it starts to wear off. It also requires precise application and may not be suitable for beginners. If you apply silicone caulk in the wrong area, you’ll need a scraping tool to remove it.
Nevertheless, silicone caulk is still a great option for sealing leaking pipes and faucets since it dries much faster than plumber’s putty or even adhesive sealant. You’ll only need to wait around 30 minutes after applying silicone caulk before letting the water flow.
Best Silicone Caulk
Gorilla Waterproof Caulk & Seal is a waterproof silicone caulk that is ideal for all types of surfaces and can withstand high temperatures. It’s 100% waterproof, dries quickly, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It’s also mold and mildew-resistant, which makes it ideal for plumbing fixtures.
3. Terrarium Putty
If you’re out of plumber’s putty and need an urgent replacement, terrarium putty can do the trick. It’s easy to make if you have cat litter and some soil, and is waterproof to an extent. Many people use terrarium putty as a temporary substitute for plumber’s putty, especially in emergencies.
Place some chemical-free cat litter into a bowl to make your own terrarium putty. Add some soil and water and mold the mixture into clay form. You can use this clay around the house as a substitute for plumber’s putty. It also works on plumbing fixtures and is waterproof when it dries out.
Here is a quick video that shows how to make it:
However, avoid using terrarium putty as a permanent substitute since it’s not as stable as plumber’s putty and doesn’t have the same adhesiveness as other substitutes. It can also be difficult and messy to mold if you’re making your own.
While you can get ready-made terrarium putty online, it’s better to use plumber’s putty instead. However, if you really need to seal a leak and don’t have time to buy plumber’s putty, homemade terrarium putty will do the trick.
4. Plumber’s Dope
Also known as pipe dope, plumber’s dope, like this recommended type on Amazon, is a watertight sealant used on faucets and pipes. It’s very similar to plumber’s putty and can be used as an effective substitute. Unlike plumber’s putty, plumber’s dope doesn’t harden. This makes it ideal for joining threaded pipes and sealing other plumbing fixtures.
What makes a plumber’s dope ideal is that it can handle water pressure and acts as both a sealant and lubricant. If you need a substitute for plumber’s putty to strengthen the seal of threaded pipes or block a leak, plumber’s dope is effective.
However, it’s not as versatile as plumber’s putty and can’t be used as a sealant on windows, doors, and other household fixtures since it doesn’t dry out. The good thing is that you can use it as an instant sealant or even a temporary plug for leaks until you can call a plumber.
5. PTFE Tape
PTFE tape, like the brand I recommend found on Amazon, is often used in place of plumber’s putty to seal leaks around faucets and seal pipe joints. Unlike plumber’s putty, which is an adhesive, PTFE tape is wrapped around the pipe fixture to seal the leak. PTFE tape is the go-to solution for most plumbers since it’s readily available and easy to use.
PTFE tape is flexible and water-repellent, which makes it ideal for plumbing fixtures. Many plumbers will use it along with other sealants when joining or sealing threaded pipe fixtures. Like plumber’s putty, you can also use PTFE tape to seal gaskets and in other areas around the house.
Can I Use Teflon Tape Instead of Plumber’s Putty?
You can use Teflon tape instead of plumber’s putty. Teflon tape doesn’t react to chemicals and won’t wear away when exposed to solvents and acids. It also has high pressure and temperature resistance, and you can use it in places where plumber’s putty will wear off easily.
PTFE or Teflon tape is also easy to apply and remove since it doesn’t have the same stickiness as plumber’s putty. And since it can handle high pressures, it can be used on both gas and water fixtures.
When using Teflon tape, make sure you have the right one for the type of fixture you’re applying it to.
Here are the different colors of Teflon tape and their uses:
- White tape: Ideal for water pipes, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures.
- Red tape: Extra dense and is used on larger pipes and outdoor plumbing fixtures.
- Green tape: Special applications only, usually in special gas pipes.
- Yellow tape: Made for general fuel and gas applications.
Always check that you’re using the right type of Teflon tape on different fixtures, and make sure you’re using a sealant that complements the tape.
6. Duct Seal
Duct sealant, like this brand found on Amazon, is a dough-like substance used to seal air leaks in HVAC fixtures. It’s waterproof, airtight, and blocks out noise, making it ideal for doing repairs around the home. What makes duct seal unique is that it can withstand high pressure and can be used to seal leaks in air and gas pipes.
Duct sealant also has a clay-like texture and is easy to use. It also doesn’t harden, so you can use it and easily remove it without having to scrape it off. This makes duct sealant ideal for repairing home appliances, HVAC systems, and even plumbing fixtures.
Can You Use Duct Seal Instead of Plumber’s Putty?
You can use duct seal instead of plumber’s putty in plumbing fixtures. Duct seal is pressure-resistant and waterproof and can be used to seal both air and water leaks. However, it’s more suitable for non-plumbing applications.
Apart from application, one of the main differences between duct seal and plumber’s putty is the texture of both sealants. Plumber’s putty will harden after some time, making it ideal for plumbing fixtures, while duct seal remains soft and moldable, which is helpful in repairing appliances and HVAC systems.
7. A Rubber Gasket
Rubber gaskets are usually included with most faucets and plumbing fixtures. They help stop leakages in threaded pipes and are used in most modern plumbing applications. If your tap is leaking, it usually means the rubber gasket is damaged and needs to be replaced.
The rubber gasket is usually slightly bigger than the tap and can prevent the tap from leaking. Rubber gaskets are also cheap solutions to most leakage problems, especially when the leak occurs around a pipe joint.
Here is the link to a rubber gasket kit on Amazon that will likely have the size you need.
Can I Use a Rubber Gasket Instead of Plumber’s Putty?
You can use a rubber gasket instead of a plumber’s putty if you’re trying to seal leaks between two threaded pipes. However, rubber gaskets can only be used around pipe joints and aren’t a sealant like plumber’s putty.
Nevertheless, if your pipe has a rubber gasket and proper threading, there’s no need to use plumber’s putty as well. However, you’ll have to replace the rubber gasket if it wears out and the pipe starts leaking.
If the joints and faucets of your pipes already have a rubber gasket but are still leaking, check that the rubber gasket’s size is right. Rubber gaskets come in all sizes, and using one that’s slightly bigger or smaller will cause a leakage.
8. Aquarium Putty
Aquarium putty is ideal if you’re looking for the best substitute for plumber’s putty for underwater use. As the name suggests, aquarium putty is made for plumbing fixtures and can handle high water pressure of up to 1000 PSI. It’s also non-corrosive and can be used on metal, plastic, or glass surfaces.
Like plumber’s putty, aquarium putty needs time to set before it becomes completely waterproof. However, you don’t have to wait long for the putty to set, and you can open the water after 20 minutes. With high-temperature resistance, aquarium putty can also be used to patch up leaks in geysers and hot water taps.
While plumber’s putty is also suitable for most plumbing fixtures, it’s not as durable as aquarium putty and may damage the pipes. Aquarium putty, on the other hand, is non-corrosive and will last much longer than plumber’s putty. It’s also resistant to petroleum acids and other chemicals.
So, if you’re looking for a more durable alternative to plumber’s putty for underwater use, aquarium putty is ideal.
Best Aquarium Putty
I highly recommend this brand. While this putty is made for aquarium use, you can use it on any underwater fixture. It cures in 30 minutes and provides a rock-solid seal for any plumbing fixture.
9. Epoxy Putty
Epoxy putty is a mixture of two substances that create a hard-setting sealant. Epoxy putty kits contain a putty that is used to seal the leak and a hardener used to set the putty in place. While it’s mostly used in plumbing fixtures, epoxy putty can be used for anything where you would normally use plumber’s putty.
The main difference between epoxy putty and plumber’s putty is that the former comes with a hardener and can’t be easily moved once it sets, while plumber’s putty stays soft. The advantage of this is that epoxy putty is more permanent and won’t wear away over time. If you don’t need to move your plumbing fixture regularly, epoxy putty is ideal.
The disadvantage of this is that once the putty sets, it’s difficult to break, which makes repairs difficult. However, if you’re using epoxy putty to seal pipe leaks, you’ll get a rock-solid and durable solution.
Best Epoxy Putty
The brand I recommend is a durable epoxy putty is almost unbreakable when it sets and can be used to repair metal pipes. It can withstand high temperature, water pressure and won’t get damaged by acid, petroleum, or gas. It also comes in a small 4 oz (113.39 g) tube for repairing home items.
Is Plumber’s Putty Necessary?
After reading through this comprehensive list of possible plumber’s putty substitutes, you may find yourself wondering: “Is plumber’s putty really necessary?”.
Plumber’s putty is often necessary because it prevents and stops leaks around your drain, sink, and faucet. Without it, there’s no seal around these components, making them much more prone to leakages and long-term structural damage.
For more, check out The Best Substitute for Plumbers Tape | With 3 Alternatives.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!