How to clean your bathtub properly

Experts suggest following the manufacturer guidelines and tips for cleaning your bathtub to prevent permanent damage to the tub liner. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ryan C. of Hemet, Calif.)

Experts suggest following the manufacturer guidelines and tips for cleaning your bathtub to prevent permanent damage to the tub liner. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ryan C. of Hemet, Calif.)

Are stubborn bathtub stains dampening your sparkling bathroom oasis? With so many cleaning products on the market, it’s hard to decipher what’s best for your bathtub and what products might damage it.

Highly rated house cleaners and bathtub installers offer these tips:

Prevention is key

Most tubs will stay clean if regularly maintained, says highly rated Indianapolis-based Home Cleaning Centers of America owner Ken Leffel. Clean out your bathtub every week to prevent soap scum buildup and stains. To stop stubborn water spots and mildew from forming, dry the tub with a towel or squeegee after each use. Remove bath mats, products and toys after it drains, as rust forms when water’s trapped.

Know your tub

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” formula for cleaning bathtubs. It’s important to know what kind of bathtub you have before applying harsh products and chemicals. Some tub liners corrode and peel when exposed to abrasive cleaners, says Jeff Barrie, owner of highly rated Bath Crest in Indianapolis.

Bathtub cleaning tips

bathtub cleaning tips
The proper cleaners can remove soap buildup and rust stains from tubs. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ryan C., Hemet, Calif.)

Porcelain bathtubs

Most bathtub cleaners are safe for porcelain. For stubborn stains and discoloration, Leffel suggests mixing a bleaching powder, like Ajax or Comet, with water to form a thick paste. Scrub the affected area and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes, rinse and repeat if necessary. For extreme cases, Leffel recommends porcelain sandpaper, a heavy-duty sponge or handheld scrub brush.

Acrylic bathtubs

Most non-abrasive and non-aerosol bathroom cleaners are safe to use on acrylic. Trent Stone, owner of highly rated bathtub manufacturer and installer L.J. Stone in Muncie, Ind., recommends Glass Plus, 409, Fantastik, Kaboom and Scrub Free products. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the chemicals off.

To soften mineral deposits with a natural cleaner, use a water and vinegar solution. Do not use abrasive cleaners like Comet, Ajax or Soft Scrub, because they can cause irreversible damage to the acrylic tub liner, Stone says.

Fiberglass bathtubs

Clean fiberglass bathtubs with dishwashing liquids, liquid laundry detergents or non-abrasive bathroom cleaners. For a natural cleaner, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests wetting baking soda with water to form a paste. Rub the paste on a sponge or brush to clean. For stubborn stains, let the cleaner sit for an hour. Use acetone nail polish remover to remove tough stains like adhesives, tar and oil-based paints. Use a cotton ball to apply the acetone, then rinse it off.

If cleaning doesn’t help, consult a highly rated house cleaner or a bathtub refinishing company on Angie’s List.


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