All water supplies contain colloidal mud that does not get filtered out and which you never see until it sticks to the side of your tub; and let’s face it, who among us has no dirt or oil on their bodies?
Cleaning the Tub
To start, whenever you take a bath or shower, have a window open or use the exhaust fan to remove the airborne moisture you’re creating. Keep the ventilation going even after you’ve finished your daily ablutions. This will keep those airborne droplets from later condensing on walls and ceiling and tub, creating unsightly mineral deposits and mildew.
Upon completing your morning shower or evening bath, rinse the tub; remove any hair from the drain, then dry the tub with a cleaning cloth. Once a week, thoroughly clean the tub, and do it immediately after using it because the steam you created with your shower or filling the tub has loosened the residues on the tub, thus facilitating cleaning. Follow the procedures we list for cleaning fiberglass and porcelain tubs.
Be alert to the problem of bath oils. Many, if not most, leave a thick, oily scum around the tub that must be removed immediately upon completing your soak.
Cleaning Fiberglass Tubs
Because its polished surface can be easily dulled and scratched, a fiberglass tub must be cleaned using a soft cloth, sponge, or soft-bristled brush with liquid laundry or dishwashing detergent, a liquid all-purpose household cleaner, or baking soda mixed with warm water. Avoid all abrasive cleaners – scouring powders, steel wool, abrasive scouring pads, or scrapers. The problem with using even the mildest, least abrasive of scouring powders is that they can leave tiny scratches behind that catch dirt, grease, hard water deposits, and soap residue. Over time, ever more scouring is needed to remove the embedded soils. This only leaves more scratches.
Cleaning Porcelain Tubs
Bathtubs with porcelain enamel surfaces are more resistant to scratching and cannot be dulled easily, either; however, this doesn’t mean that, over the long term, they cannot be damaged by harsh abrasives or strong solutions. It’s therefore safest to use the same materials and procedures used for cleaning fiberglass surfaces.
Whenever you clean any kind of tub, always rinse afterward to ensure no cleaning residue remains.
Tough stains (not including rust) can be removed with hydrogen peroxide. Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is no longer around; however, TSP substitutes like Spic and Span may remove stains and thick deposits of dirt, grease, or soap scum. Chlorine bleach is also effective; however, many people do not realize that it is a major pollutant, and should be avoided. It’s possible the newer oxygen bleaches like Sunlight may work, but we have seen no reference made to its use in this manner. Whatever you use, rinse it off quickly.
Cleaning Rust From a Bath Tub
Rust stains may be attacked first by applying a paste of borax and lemon juice. If that doesn’t work, apply some dry cleaning solution of the type found in spot removers. As a last resort, don rubber gloves and apply acetic or muriatic acid. Use sparingly and carefully, as strong acid slowly disintegrates the enamel, going right down to its metal base. Rinse acid off thoroughly after use.
What if you just inherited a tub that has years of mineral deposits (lime) built up on it?
- Spray with full-strength vinegar repeatedly until the stuff is gone
- Apply Mr. Clean Extra Strength, CLR Kitchen & Bath Cleaner, Lime Away, or Bar Keepers Friend
- Spray on an oven cleaner
- Rub it with a wet pumice stone.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the stuff has sat so long that you couldn’t get it off with dynamite.