How To Make A Suction Cup Stick

To get a suction cup to stick, choose the right surface and use these tips to get the most secure suction.

Here’s the secret to how to make a suction cup stick: Choose a smooth, flat, non-porous surface, clean it thoroughly, then press a clean suction cup firmly against the surface. Leave it alone for 24 hours afterward to ensure a strong seal.

Unfortunately, I had to learn these tricks the hard way! Not too long ago, I was at my wit’s end with the suction cup that was supposed to keep Dave’s shaving mirror aloft. After the mirror had fallen off our shower wall several times, I was determined to find out how to make suction cups stick better once and for all!

So I did some research, employed what I’d learned about how to get suction cups to stick, and I’m happy to report that we’ve had barely any difficulties since! Learn how to make suction cup hooks and accessories stick below!

How To Make Suction Cups Stick In 7 Easy Steps

Suction cups stick best on very smooth, non-porous surfaces like the center of a ceramic tile.
The center of a smooth tile is a great place to stick a suction cup.

Step 1 – Choose A Suitable Surface

The ideal surface for mounting a suction cup is clean, flat, and completely smooth. Even the strongest suction cups won’t adhere well to porous or textured surfaces, because it’s next to impossible to achieve a bond that’s free of air pockets. (That’s why suction cups don’t work well on textured tile, car dashboards, and other textured surfaces.)

That being said, there are many surfaces that suctions cups will stick to, including glass, hard plastic, acrylic, fiberglass, and stainless steel. You can affix suction cups to windows, mirrors, glass shower doors, the front of your dishwasher, or even the side of a metal filing cabinet without problems.

Before you put up a suction cup, clean the surface thoroughly.
To get suction cups to stick, a smooth surface isn’t enough — it should be clean too!

Step 2 – Clean The Surface

Before attempting to apply a suction cup, it’s important to make sure the mounting surface is squeaky clean. Scrub your chosen surface with your preferred household cleaner, then rinse with water and dry thoroughly with a lint-free cloth.

The goal of cleaning the surface is to remove any dirt or debris that could get in the way of proper adhesion. (Struggling to get rid of soap scum or mineral deposits on shower walls? Try my powerful homemade shower cleaner!)

After cleaning the surface where you plan to put the suction cup, wipe it down with alcohol to make sure it's perfectly clean.
Rubbing alcohol will take care of any lingering impurities that could weaken the seal.

Step 3 – Wipe With Alcohol

Once the surface is clean, dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and use it to wipe the surface again. Why clean it twice, you ask? Rubbing alcohol is great for taking care of any lingering traces of dirt or grime, which will help make the suction cup stick.

(Similarly, rubbing alcohol also comes in handy when hanging Command strips or hooks — clean the mounting surface, then wipe it with rubbing alcohol before applying the adhesive strips for a strong bond that’s sure to stay put.)

To get a suction cup to stick to your clean surface, wash the suction cup itself, and leave a few drops of water on the cup surface.
A few drops of water on the suction cup can help form an airtight seal.

Step 4 – Wash The Suction Cup

After cleaning the surface, clean the suction cup itself. Not only will a clean suction cup bond more easily to the surface, but warm water will make it more pliable so you can press it down hard enough to create strong suction.

Rinse the suction cup under warm water, paying special attention to the inside, then shake off any excess water. (Don’t dry it, though — the water droplets on the inside of the cup will help prevent air pockets from forming inside the seal.)

Press the damp suction cup firmly to the clean, flat, non-porous surface and press all around it to make sure it is adhered firmly.

Step 5 – Press The Cup Firmly Against The Surface

Finally, it’s time to apply the suction cup! Press the suction cup against the surface you want to apply it to, then press down on the middle firmly, making sure there are no air bubbles between the cup and the surface.

Bonus Tip: Before applying the suction cup, smear a very small amount of petroleum jelly on the inside of the suction cup. Like the water droplets I mentioned above, a thin layer of Vaseline can help form an airtight vacuum seal. (Too much could hinder the seal, so use a light hand!)

After adhering the suction cup to the wall, leave it alone for 24 hours so it can get firmly attached and dry.

Step 6 – Leave It Alone

For best results, don’t skip this particular suction cup hack! After attaching the suction cup, leave it alone for 24 hours to give the bond time to “set.” Don’t put any weight on the suction cup or the item it’s attached to, and do your best to keep the area dry during this time.

Leaving it alone for a full day will give the moisture inside the suction cup time to dry, ensuring that the cup and surface are fully bonded.

Once your suction cup is stuck firmly, check it ever now and then to make sure it is still firmly attached to the wall.
Learning how to make suction cups stick made all the difference with Dave’s shaving mirror!

Step 7 – Check The Seal Occasionally

Once your suction cup is stuck, be sure to check the bond every once in a while. Press the suction cup firmly against the surface from time to time to remove any air pockets that may have formed.

Keep in mind that temperature and humidity changes (which are common in the bathroom and kitchen) can affect its pliability, and may cause air pockets to develop or the suction cup to pull away from the surface.

What If The Suction Cup Still Won’t Stick?

Like everything else on planet Earth, suction cups can get old. They may become less pliable or even brittle, or they may have tiny cracks or imperfections that you may not be able to see. Imperfections like these can make it impossible to make them stick, so you may need to replace them after a while.

The “Problem Solved!” Series

Do you ever have a problem getting suction cups to stick?

How To Get Suction Cups To Stick - woman holding suction cups; woman's hand putting suction cup on shower wall

How To Get Suction Cups To Stick

Jill Nystul
Suction cups won't stick? Never fear! Learn how to make suction cups stick better by following these simple tips.
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Active Time 10 minutes
Wait Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 10 minutes


  • Suction cup
  • Lint-free cloth


  • Rubbing alcohol


  • Choose a suitable surface: clean, flat, and completely smooth.
  • Clean, rinse, and dry the surface with a lint-free cloth.
  • Wipe down the surface with rubbing alcohol.
  • Rinse the suction cup, then shake off the excess water (but don't dry it).
  • Press the suction cup firmly against the clean surface, making sure there are no air bubbles.
  • Don't touch the suction cup for 24 hours to give the bond time to set.
  • Remember to press down on the suction cup occasionally to remove any air pockets that may form over time.

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • If you have textured tile or other surface that isn’t quite smooth enough for suction cups, but is smooth enough for 3M Command adhesive strips to stick, use one of those and attach your suction cup to that. Works great in my shower which has textured tiles.

  • I knew about a dry, flat, clean surface but never thought about waiting 24 hours before attaching anything to the suction cup. Thank you (again) Jillee and team for another excellent article :)

  • Just before you’re ready to stick the suction cup in place… rub it against your forehead. Don’t know how or why this works, but it does!

  • When my kids were younger, I wanted to attach a bath toy net in the tub area but the suction cups would not stick regardless of how clean the tiles or cups were. Turns out there were ever-so tiny cracks in the tiles that inhibited suction. I couldn’t see them until one kidlet used the tile wall as a canvas for dry markers.

  • I’ll have to try these tips.We have a
    little plastic caddy with suction cups that has never stayed in place. I figured I would probably just have to live with it.

  • Perfect timing! I just bought a cat toy I was about to throw out because the suction cup wouldn’t stick. I’m going to try this right now. Thanks, Jillee!

    • I love suction cups! I have them in my cupboards to hold small items like egg separators, small strainers, bottle brushes, pot holders, rags etc. They’re so handy!

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