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How to Clean a Bathtub in 6 Simple Steps

Woman cleans her bathtub
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Soaking up suds in the bathtub is one of life’s little pleasures… unless you haven’t cleaned your bathtub in a while. Whether you enjoy baths daily or annually, Learning how to clean a tub can keep your bath looking as fresh as you feel when you come out of it.

You may be wondering why you have to clean a bathtub — doesn’t it stay clean because there is always soap and water flowing around in it? Not exactly. Here’s why it’s smart to learn how to clean your bathtub regularly, along with a step-by-step guide to doing it the right way.

6 steps to clean your bathtub

The reason we need to learn how to clean a tub is to eliminate the dirt that comes off of our bodies, along with the buildup of soap scum that collects around the tub when the water drains. Creating a regular cleaning schedule makes it quicker to do each time, instead of scrubbing for hours after two years of soap accumulation. It also keeps the ceramic of the tub lustrous for much longer.

Step 1: Prepare your cleaning supplies

Here are some products and tools you’ll need to clean your bathtub:

  • Medium cleaning bucket: Use a specific bucket for cleaning to keep water and cleaning chemical mixtures separate from other household uses.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda makes a fantastic cleaner, deodorizer, and stain remover.
  • Vinegar: Combine vinegar with baking soda for a natural drain cleaner.
  • Tub and tile cleaner: A tub and tile cleaner can help remove mineral buildup.
  • Dish soap: Dish soap is an excellent general cleaner when combined with water.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia, or bleach, is a heavy-duty cleaner that can stain clothes and other surfaces. It is toxic, so only use it when the area needs a deep cleaning and ventilate the area well.
  • Scrub sponge: A scrub sponge is non-abrasive and absorbs water and chemicals.
  • Stiff cleaning brush: A stiff brush will help clean built-up areas of grime.

Step 2: Dump a bucket of water into the tub

Fill a bucket with hot water —  the heat speeds the process. Dump the bucket all over the tub and let it drain. If needed, clear any drain clogs with a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.

Step 3: Sprinkle baking soda

Baking soda is the pantry staple of the cleaning world. Grubby stains and buildups get cleaned away — or at least get a good start — with some baking soda. Sprinkle it all over the wet tub.

Pro tip: If you have an extra dirty tub, try to use a tub and tile cleaner for a deeper and faster clean.

Step 4: Scrub the bathtub down

Next, fill your bucket up with more hot water and a couple of tablespoons of dish soap. Take a non-abrasive scrub sponge and the dish soap water and scrub the all around the tub. Use a stiff cleaning brush to clean off stubborn stains. Use the bucket to rinse away patches already washed, or that need another round of scrubbing.

Pro tip: If you have mold or mildew growing in or around your tub, use a spray bottle with a mixture of water and bleach. Let it soak in for a couple of minutes before scrubbing the tub. Be sure to rinse away the bleach before using any other chemicals.

Step 5: Rinse the tub

It is important not to scrub at the dirt and soap scum and then leave it to harden in the tub again. Use the showerhead or continue to fill up the bucket and pour it over the tub to rinse it out as you clean.

Step 6: Give it a shine

The ceramic isn’t the only part of the tub that needs cleaning. Finish the process by polishing the faucet, handles, and around the drain. Do this with a clean cloth and a bit of any of the cleaning products you used when cleaning out the tub. Dry them off to get them to shine.

Don’t want to use chemicals? Here’s how to clean your bathtub naturally

Chemical cleaning agents can be effective in cleaning your tub, but they aren’t the only option. You can use a natural tub and tile cleaner to get the job done. There are multiple options for natural tub and tile cleaners, so finding one that matches your needs shouldn’t be difficult. Using eco-friendly cleaners helps to keep harmful chemicals out of our septic systems and do less harm to our water sources.

There are also biodegradable, eco-friendly dish soap options that can be used both in the bathroom and in the kitchen. A combination of vinegar and baking soda makes a great all-purpose cleaner, too.

Frequently asked questions

Can baking soda be used to clean my bathtub?
Absolutely. Baking soda is a highly effective cleaner and stain remover, especially when it comes to bathroom surfaces. Sprinkle the baking soda on the entire surface after wetting it and then scrub it off. Combine it with vinegar to unclog bathtub drains.

What do I do if there’s mold in my tub?
When you clean your bathroom, invest in products that kill mold. A bleach and water mixture is effective. If it persists or seems damaging to your health, you might need to replace the sealant around the bathtub or call in a professional.

How do I get my bathtub white again?
Wet the tub with water and sprinkle baking soda around the entire area. Use a bucket filled with dish soap and water along with a scrub sponge to scrub it off and remove any stains. A tub and tile cleaner that uses bleach can also help break down stains.

What causes brown stains in a bathtub?
Reddish-brown stains in a tub or a shower area come from dissolved iron and other minerals in your water that oxidize with oxygen. When it settles on the bottom of the tub, it forms these stains. Keeping to a cleaning schedule and using stain-removing cleaning agents will prevent the brown stains from forming.


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