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How to Clean a Bathtub

If your bathtub isn’t as squeaky-clean as it should be, it might not be your fault. Soap scum and dirt can build up even with regular cleaning. The following tips will help bring your tub back into the bathroom spotlight.

Cleaning a bathtub iStock

While we think of bathtubs as a place where we get clean, it’s often not until they get a bit dingy that we realize how badly they themselves need to be washed. If you’re noticing that your tub isn’t as bright and shiny as it could be, it’s time to get scrubbing.

What to Get Before You Start

Before you tackle the dirt and grime, you’re going to need some supplies to get the job done:

Before you begin cleaning, it’s a good idea to put your rubber gloves and safety glasses on. If using bleach, don a mask or respirator and run the bathroom fan to protect your lungs.

How to Deep-Clean a Bathtub

Depending on what your tub is made of, with a little vinegar, baking soda, bleach, or toilet bowl cleaner, you can scrub away the soap scum and dirt that’s collected in it.

How to Clean an Acrylic Tub

Harsh cleaners can dull the finish on acrylic tubs. Luckily, there’s a solution: a mixture of dish soap, baking soda, and lemon juice. The baking soda acts as an aggregate for breaking up the soap scum.

  1. Create a 1:1 mixture of baking soda and dish soap and add a few drops of lemon juice.
  2. Mix until it becomes foamy.
  3. Using a sponge, coat the tub with the solution and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  4. With a wet sponge, clean the tub from top to bottom, allowing the dirty water to run down into the tub.
  5. Rinse the entire tub with water.

How to Clean a Porcelain or Fiberglass Tub with Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent household cleaner and disinfectant. It does an excellent job on dirty porcelain and fiberglass tubs, though it can be too harsh for an acrylic tub.

  1. Mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Follow a 2:1 water-to-vinegar ratio for fiberglass and a 1:1 water-to-vinegar ratio for porcelain tubs. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice for scent and an extra cleaning boost.
  2. Spray the entire tub with the solution and allow it to sit on the surface for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Using a damp cloth or a sponge, lightly scrub the surface of the tub. Start at the top and work your way down to allow loosened grit and soap scum to run into the tub and drain out as you work.
  4. If the tub is heavily stained, fill it with a solution of ½ to 1 gall of vinegar, hot water, and a cup or two baking soda, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain the tub and use a sponge to scrub the stains. Repeat as necessary.

How to Clean a Bathtub with Bleach

If the tub you’re cleaning is especially soiled, you may have to take your cleaning efforts up a notch with bleach. Keep in mind that you’ll want to wear a face mask or respirator, safety glasses, and gloves when working with bleach.

Also, some acrylic tub manufacturers warn against using bleach in their tubs, stating that it will void the warranty. Bleach is safe on fiberglass or white porcelain.

  1. Mix ½ cup bleach into about a gallon of water.
  2. Using a sponge, coat the tub’s surface with the bleach and water solution and wait 5 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes, scrub the surface with the sponge, paying special attention to the tougher stains.
  4. Rinse the tub with cold water, being careful not to splash the bleach.

How to Clean Mold and Mildew in a Bathtub

Mold and mildew can be tough to remove, but here’s a helpful trick: Use gel toilet bowl cleaner with bleach. The gels in these products cling to the mold and break it down.

  1. Squirt toilet bowl cleaner along the moldy and mildewed area.
  2. For mold in the corner of a tub surround, squirt the gel into the corner and then cover it with a paper towel to create a dam.
  3. Let the gel sit on the surface so the bleach can work its way into the mold and mildew. While this usually takes about an hour, extremely moldy surfaces might require overnight treatment.
  4. After the gel has had time to sink into the mold and mildew, scrub wash the tub from top to bottom with a scrub brush.
  5. Rinse with cold water, being careful not to splash the bleach.

Those cleaning tips should help you renew your bathtub’s bright, smooth finish. With the right recipe and a little bit of elbow grease, your bathtub can be the centerpiece of your bathroom once more.