How to Clean a Bathtub

Gloved hands spray down bathtub tiles.

If you don’t hate cleaning, there is something wrong with you. There is absolutely nothing fun about cleaning. It’s smelly, gross, and dirty work. But at some point in your life you have a realization: Living in a filthy house sucks. If you have an appreciation for a clean home, you know how it can become an obsession. It starts with washing the dishes while your guests eat and ends with you vacuuming while they are still there. You ask them to politely move their feet; they ask you politely if they should leave. Whoa, can anyone say loony tunes? That was me. Yay!

When I was first transforming into a clean person, I assigned value to the cleanliness of each part of my home based upon the frequency it would be viewed by others. The living room and the kitchen were most important. Next was the toilet, then came my bedroom, and lastly the shower/bathtub. I rarely cleaned the bathtub because unless my guests were staying over, they would almost never see it. It is kind of embarrassing, but I still clean according to this philosophy. And if someone is coming to stay, I usually do a once-over on the whole apartment. Unfortunately, letting the tub go a few months before cleaning it can lead to some pretty intense filth. But I have found an easy, cheap, and earth-friendly way to clean the tub. I have described my technique below. And for those of you who are disputing my statement of cleaning not being any fun, you are deranged. If cleaning is so fun, then come clean my house. Oh you don’t want to? Ha. I say ha, sir.

Steps to Cleaning a Tub with Vinegar and Baking Soda

  1. row of old bathtubsTubs are generally made of either fiberglass, acrylic, porcelain, stone, or metal. For the most part it doesn’t really matter what the tub is made of because the steps to cleaning a tub outlined here will work for all of them. The only exception is with acrylic and fiberglass tubs. They will scratch if you use an abrasive cleaner like a green scrubby. For those tubs, use just use a sponge or rag, which means you may need a stronger cleaner. Try borax and lemon juice; it has a little more kick than baking soda and vinegar.
  2. rinsing bathtubThe first step to cleaning a bath tub is to remove all the toiletries and give it a good rinse. This will get the surface wet while rinsing some of the hair and things down the drain. If you have any deposits of soap or shampoo, try to get rid of them with water. If you have a shower curtain, remove it and wash it separately. If you have a cloth shower curtain and liner, wash it in a machine on the delicate cycle. Dry it on low or no heat. Plastic shower curtain liners have a tendency to disintegrate in the washing machine.
  3. scrubbing bathtub with baking powderThe next step is to sprinkle baking soda over the wet surface of the tub. The moisture from the rinse helps the baking soda stick to the tub. Baking soda is an amazing cleaner, but it won’t do much of anything on its own. Use a stiff scrub brush to scrub the tub. The baking soda will form a paste with the water and act as an abrasive to remove mildew and stains. Use your elbow grease and scrub the dickens out of the tub.
  4. scrubbing with vinegarAfter you have thoroughly scrubbed the tub, dip a sponge with a green scrubby attached into some vinegar and continue scrubbing the tub. The vinegar is a disinfectant, and it will activate the baking soda to help remove stains even more. Thoroughly scrub the whole tub, concentrating on any heavy build-up areas. You may want to use gloves for this. Vinegar has a way of sticking with you.
  5. rinsing sides of tubNow give the tub another rinse and look for any spots that you may have missed. Rinse the baking soda and vinegar off the tub and see what sort of stains, if any, are left. Make sure to look closely around the drain, faucet, and shelf areas were you store your shampoo and conditioner. Filling a bucket with water to rinse the tub will be the quickest way to rinse everything down the drain.
  6. Dirty spots on tubwidth=Touch up those spots that you missed on the tub using the same process outlined above. Reapply the baking soda to the spots that are left and scrub them using vinegar, if needed. You can also add a drop of soap to the vinegar to help lift grease or scum. Once again elbow grease is going to play a vital role in this step. The stain to the right of this article is a mildew stain that has penetrated the caulking. The only way to get rid of that stain is to replace the caulking or bleach it so you can’t see it. Stick to an oxygen bleach like hydrogen peroxide or OxiClean. It is easy on you and easy on the environment.

Commercial Tub Cleaning Products

I have tried some commercial tub cleaning products. Mostly they are some combination with bleach. All this really does is make it so you can’t see the filth, which means it’s still there. The only commercial cleaner I have used that I liked was Comet. It is a mixture of powdered bleach and abrasives. The abrasives are helpful for removing dirt. Comet is a pretty old school cleaner, and it works really well. But it does add some unnecessary pollutants to the world. So that is kind of a downside. But if you have to use a commercial cleaner, that is my recommendation. Just don’t forget the gloves, and use a good scrubby. Also, don’t mix it with other cleaners, especially ammonia. And next time you are at someone else’s house, be sure to check out their tub. It will give you amazing insight into that person’s life.

Natural Tub Cleaners

Bottle of VinegarVinegar is an effective disinfectant that is cheap and easy to use. People like to use it with baking soda because it gets all bubbly. You can get it pretty much anywhere, or order the vinegar straight from Amazon.

Box of Baking SodaBaking soda is magical stuff with a million different uses. Every house needs to have this on hand. Once the box is opened, it begins to lose its effectiveness and is almost inert after 60 days. So restock it often.

Rubbing elbows behind the backElbow grease is on demand and in stock. All you have to do to get it is work, sweat, and get the job done. Elbow grease can be restocked with a good meal and a peaceful night’s rest. It’s the new shortcut in cleaning.