4 Simple Steps to Clean a Bathtub with Sparkling Results

Learn the best way to clean a bathtub with these easy tips and you’ll have a squeaky-clean tub with minimal scrubbing.

Bathtubs provide an easy way to soothe away stress, but grimy buildup and stains can turn your evening soak into something less than relaxing. Without regular cleaning, bacteria, dirt, hard-water deposits, soap scum, and even mold or mildew can build up over time. To maintain your bathtub's shine and ensure it's ready for you, follow our simple cleaning guide, including the drain, grout lines, and caulking. We'll show you how to use household ingredients, including dish soap, white vinegar, and baking soda, to cut through grime and remove stains with minimal scrubbing, saving you both time and money. With our tips, achieving a squeaky-clean tub doesn't have to be a chore, especially if you incorporate them into your regular bathroom cleaning routine.

white bathroom with freestanding tub
Emily Followill

What to Use to Clean a Bathtub

Pay attention to the tub's material when deciding on the best way to clean it. The most common materials include fiberglass, acrylic, porcelain-enameled steel, and stone resin, all of which require different methods for cleaning. Acrylic and fiberglass tubs, for example, can be easily scratched by abrasive tools or cleaners, while porcelain-enamel surfaces are prone to chipping and rust.

Check with the tub manufacturer for specific directions, but in general, it's best to avoid steel wool or abrasive scrubbing pads when cleaning a bathtub. Choose mild cleaners or natural cleaning ingredients, such as white vinegar and baking soda, rather than harsh chemicals and scouring powders that can damage the surface of the tub. For any store-bought products, check the label to ascertain if the cleaner is safe to use on your type of tub.

neutral bathroom with clawfoot tub and shiplap walls
David Tsay

How to Clean a Bathtub

Depending on how often you use your tub, you might need to follow these cleaning instructions about once a week. If you use your tub less frequently, plan to give it a good cleaning at least once a month.

Step 1: Remove bathtub clutter.

If your bathtub ledge is full of bottles and containers, you'll have a tough time getting everything clean. Streamline your bath products by choosing only what you need and storing the other items until needed. Fit these few must-haves into a confined corner, or hang them overhead in a rack. This will also prevent your tub edges from gathering sticky residue left by dripping caps and pumps.

Step 2: Create your own bathtub cleaner.

Skip expensive store-bought bathtub cleaners and instead opt for something homemade. Mix together equal parts of distilled white vinegar and dish soap for an affordable cleaning alternative that is less harsh. Add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree, to mask the vinegar smell. The soap gets a boost from the vinegar, a natural acid that works magic on mineral deposits and soap scum.

Editor's Tip: Some specialty tub materials might require special cleaning solutions. Only use a method that's safe for your particular bathtub.

Step 3: Spray and scrub.

To clean your bathtub, spray the mixture on the entire tub, including the sides and bottom, and use a damp cloth or nonabrasive sponge to wipe away the residue. For tough bathtub stains, let the mixture sit for 15 to 20 minutes before scrubbing. You can also soak a cloth in the vinegar-soap mixture and lay it on top of a stain for extra cleaning power.

Save some time by filling your tub with an inch of warm water while you make your bathtub cleaner. As you spray and scrub the sides of the tub, the cleaner will drip down into the tub basin, settling on the bottom. Scrub the bottom last, then drain the tub.

Step 4: Rinse the bathtub clean.

Thoroughly rinse the tub with clean water to wash away any remaining cleaning solution. For extra shine, wipe the tub with a rag or a towel. This is also a good habit to practice after each use, so your bathtub is clean and free of residue.

neutral bathroom with large statement art above tub
David Tsay

How to Clean Grout or Caulk Around Bathtub

If your tub is built into an alcove or part of a tub/shower combo, the surrounding areas will also need regular cleaning. For a tiled tub surround, spray the area with a tile cleaner and gently scrub to remove stains and hard water deposits. Use a grout brush and a mixture of baking soda and water to remove grime between tiles. To clean the caulk or sealant around the bathtub, mix a small amount of chlorine bleach with baking soda to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the caulk and let sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing it clean. If the area is particularly moldy or damaged, consider removing and replacing the caulk.

How to Clean a Bathtub Drain

If your drain is running slowly or hasn't been cleaned in a while, take a few extra minutes to it while you clean the bathtub. Put on gloves and use a straightened wire hanger (with one end curved into a hook) to fish out hair or other drain-blocking debris. Follow by pouring hot water down the drain. To clear out any remaining buildup, pour one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar down the drain. Wait 15 minutes before flushing with hot water.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles