Originally Posted by DrunkleJon
Additionally, for short periods of time you can just leave it off. I have also set a paper towel over it with no ill effects.
This. If its still early during very active fermentation there should be enough CO2 coming out of small hole in your bucket lid to keep any nasties out for the short amount of time it would take to clean your airlock.
I also use a paper towel wet starsan solution to "plug" the hole in my bucket lids after I've sanitized the bucket and wait to fill it with my wort on brew day. I don't see why you couldn't just drape it over the hole if were really concerned.
It sounds like everything worked out though! One of my favorite things about brewing is the amount of problem solving and "macgyvering" involved.