We sure don’t want to step into a bathtub that is stained and looks dirty, and you probably don’t either.
There are ways to remove all kinds of bathtub stains. Whether your bathtub is made of enamel, acrylic, porcelain, or something else, we have tips. This includes removing soap scum, hard water stains, rust, and many more nasty marks that can embed themselves in your tub.
It’s important to take note of the material of your bathtub. Each material has certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to cleaning. This ensures you don’t cause damage to your tub.
Enamel bath tubs
Enamel tubs are usually made from porcelain enamel — a powdered glass that’s bonded onto steel. This is then dipped into liquid enamel before being heated in a kiln to create a smooth and durable tub.
When it comes to cleaning, the best way to care for enamel tubs is regular weekly cleaning with non-toxic and gentle cleaners. We seriously advise against bleach as it can weaken the outer layer of enamel.
You should also avoid abrasive cleaners as they could scratch the enamel.
Always Check First
If buying a commercial cleaner, always check the instructions to ensure that it’s approved for enamel.
Acrylic bath tubs
Acrylic is a popular choice. It’s made from sheets of acrylic before being reinforced with fiberglass to increase durability. The material is quite soft, but it’s long-lasting and lightweight, making it a great choice for your budget, and also easy to install. It’s pretty easy to maintain and clean acrylic tubs, too.
When cleaning, use mild, non-abrasive cleaning solutions. Warm water, dish soap, and a soft sponge will do the trick!
We don’t recommend using acetone-based cleaners or other solvents as this will damage the acrylic.
Porcelain bath tubs
How To Clean an Old Porcelain Enamel Bathtub or Sink
Porcelain bathtubs are a top choice if you’re after a luxury bathroom. These tubs are made from a base of iron, glass, tile, or steel before being coated with porcelain. They are durable and easy to clean bathtubs and are fairly resistant to harsh chemicals. However, porcelain is more likely to rust so watch out for that.
When cleaning porcelain bathtubs, you have plenty of options. Dish soap or baking soda is great for general cleaning, but you can use hydrogen peroxide for harsher stains.
Try to avoid harsh chemicals where possible, although it’s less likely to cause damage than on other materials. The verdict on abrasive cleaners is up in the air. We will recommend a few but it’s necessary to test in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn’t cause damage.
Fiberglass bath tubs
Fiberglass is reinforced plastic and is a great budget-friendly option. These tubs are lightweight, easy to install and if there is any damage, you can easily carry out repairs. However, they are prone to fading, cracking, and scratching so you have to be careful with your maintenance.
When cleaning, you have lots of options. You can use dish soap, baking soda, or a commercial cleaner. Always check on the product packaging of your chosen commercial cleaner if it’s safe to use on fiberglass.
Plastic bath tubs
We can’t forget about plastic bathtubs. While these aren’t necessarily a fixed feature in a bathroom, they’re still in high use especially amongst parents with small babies. It’s good to wash your baby in a smaller tub — usually made of plastic — but it’s also important to keep these plastic tubs clean.
When it comes to cleaning, it’s a good idea to use natural and non-toxic cleaners since your little one will be sitting in it once it’s clean. Dish soap, white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are all great cleaners.
How to Remove Bathtub Stains
Let’s look at some of the most common stains that will appear in your bathtub and how to remove them. If there are any modifications you need to make for certain materials, we will call those out, too.
Soap Scum on bath tubs
Soap scum is an unsightly stain, but there’s an easy and effective way to remove it that should work on all kinds of tub materials. Do be careful when making the paste as it shouldn’t be too abrasive on certain materials.
Mix together enough Borax and lemon juice to create a thick paste. Make it a bit runnier for sensitive materials like enamel, acrylic, and some porcelain materials. Make sure you have enough to cover the soap scum.
Apply the paste to the soap scum stains.
Let it sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing off with a soft cloth.
Hard Water Stains on bath tubs
Hard water stains can be tricky to remove, so we recommend a high-strength commercial cleaner called Bar Keepers Friend. You can use this on porcelain, fiberglass, acrylic, and enamel. Don’t use it on plastic tubs though.
Sprinkle over the hard water stains area. You may want to wet the area first to ensure the cleaner sticks to the surface.
Rub gently using a sponge or cloth.
Caution when caring for your bath tub
Don’t let Bar Keepers Friend sit on the surface for any longer than one minute. Any longer could cause damage.
Rust on bath tubs
Nobody wants to bathe in a rusty bathtub. Thankfully there’s an easy and eco-friendly way to remove rust stains. This method is suitable for all bathtub materials.
Mix together hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar until you have a creamy consistency.
Apply this solution directly to rust stains.
After 10 minutes, use a nylon brush or a pumice stone to buff the stains in a circular motion. This will help to scrape off the loosened rust.
Repeat if necessary.
Mould (Black Stains) on bath tubs
Mold typically shows up in your grout lines and the silicone sealant, rather than the tub itself.
For mold, we use Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Clinging Bleach Gel which can kill and remove mold. This does contain bleach so it should only be used on plastic and porcelain. Even though we don’t normally recommend bleach for porcelain, this product was specifically made for it.
However, because you won’t be applying this directly onto the tub, and more likely the grout and silicone, you could use it for other materials. Especially, if the mold is contained in those areas and you rinse the solution away well.
Use the nozzle spout to apply this cleaner directly to the mold-affected areas.
Put paper towel over the gel to prevent it from dripping down into the tub.
Leave for between 30-60 minutes. Check regularly to make sure it’s not dripping into your tub.
Use a tile cleaning brush with firm bristles to scrub the gel well. This will lift the mold right off.
Rinse well with warm water. Make sure you remove all the products.
Make sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear and open windows for ventilation.
Dye Stains on bath tubs
If you’ve dyed your hair over your bathtub, you may notice some unsightly stains. Not to worry — here’s an awesome method to clean your bathtub.
Fill the tub up with hot water ensuring the stains are well covered.
Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda into the water. Mix well.
Let this sit for 10 minutes. However, if the dye stains are bigger or tougher, you could add more vinegar and baking soda and leave overnight.
Scrub with a brush or cloth.
Drain the tub and rinse the water.
Repeat if necessary.
Tannin on bath tubs
Tannins are decayed organic substances that leave a yellow color and bad odor in your bathtub. To figure out if your yellow stains are definitely tannin, you have to check if there is tannin in your water supply.
Fill up a glass with water and leave it overnight. If the color remains the same without settling at the bottom of the glass, then you have tannins in your water.
It’s very important to use a water filter to remove tannins from your water. This will prevent future stains.
In terms of removing existing tannin stains, it can be near impossible but try this:
Pour a 35 percent hydrogen peroxide solution and a few drops of ammonia into the stain.
Once the bubbling stops, scrub it away quickly.
If the stain is still there, apply a poultice — such as a poultice powder, diatomaceous earth, or flour mix — with the hydrogen peroxide.
Scrub well and rinse away thoroughly.
Dry the area.
Bleach Stains on bath tubs
If you’ve left bleach on for too long or used bleach on the wrong materials, what can you do to remove the stains? This is quite similar to the method for removing rust stains but with an extra step.
Mix together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar in a bowl. Mix until you have a cream consistency.
Use a sponge to apply the solution to the bleach stains.
Leave it until the solution completely hardens.
Use a wet sponge to wipe off the solution after a few hours. This will remove the bleach stains.
Now mix together oxygen-based laundry detergent and water to create a paste.
Use a clean sponge to scrub the solution into the bleach stains.
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