How to Clean a Bathtub and Remove Stains

Learn the best and most effective ways to clean a bathtub and bring back its shine with this step-by-step guide. Get rid of bathtub stains forever!

Do you cringe every time you see your stained bathtub? You are not alone. It’s a common problem, especially in hard water areas. 

Clean bathtub in modern bathroom

Bathtubs are prone to soap scum, mineral buildup, and stubborn stains that can make them look dirty and unappealing. Scrubbing them with regular cleaning solutions seems to have no effect on the stains.

It’s frustrating when you can’t seem to get rid of bathtub stains and restore your tub’s shine back to its original state. Fortunately, there is hope! You can remove stains from a bathtub and make it look new again.

Identify the Types of Bathtub Stains

Before you can remove stains from your bathtub, it’s important to know what type of stain you’re dealing with. There are several common types of bathtub stains, including rust, soap scum, hard water deposits, and mold or mildew.

Rust stains are typically reddish-brown in color and caused by metal objects left sitting on the surface for too long.

Soap scum is a filmy residue that develops from repeated use of soap and hard water.

Hard water deposits typically appear as white or gray spots on the surface of the bathtub.

Mold or mildew is characterized by dark black or green spots and thrives in damp environments like bathrooms.

Why Use Homemade Cleaners?

For this, we’re going to use homemade cleaners instead of commercial. Of course you can use commercial if you want. But some commercial cleaning products aren’t safe for every bathtub material. For example, a porcelain bathtub is much tougher than an acrylic.

And chances are you don’t even know what material your bathtub is made of. These cleaners will clean any type of bathtub without damaging the surface.

Gather Your Cleaning Tools and Solutions

Before you start cleaning your bathtub, make sure you have all the necessary cleaning tools and solutions. Below are some of the essential items that you need:

  • Rubber gloves to protect your hands
  • A scrub brush with stiff bristles for tough stains
  • A sponge or cloth for wiping down surfaces
  • A spray bottle for applying cleaning solution
  • Baking soda or Borax for a natural cleaning agent
  • Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide as a powerful stain remover
  • Commercial bathtub cleaners if preferred. Avoid bleach and harsh powder cleaners if you have an acrylic tub.

Clean Your Tub First

Before applying any deep cleaning solution, it is important to do a quick cleaning of your bathtub. Make sure you remove all objects from your bathtub before starting pre-cleaning process. Sweep up any debris and hair on the floor area of your bathroom.

This step will help remove any loose dirt, debris, or soap scum that can interfere with the effectiveness of the cleaning solution. You may use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the surface of your bathtub.

Once you have completed this step, you can move on to applying a deep cleaning solution that will effectively remove all bathtub stains.

Bathtub Cleaner Recipes to Remove Stains

After pre-cleaning your bathtub, it’s time to mix and apply the cleaning solution. You have several options based on what you have available in your home. 

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

These will make a paste that will take care of stains that resist other methods of cleaning.


  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (or distilled white vinegar)

Mix them together in a bowl. Stir until the mixture becomes a paste-like consistency. Then, using gloves or a brush, apply the mixture onto the stained areas of your bathtub surface.

Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then wipe with a damp cloth and rinse.

Dawn and Vinegar

Pour both ingredients into a spray bottle. Spray it all over the tub. Let it sit for 30 minutes before wiping it down.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Never mix baking soda and vinegar – they don’t form a useful cleaner. Here’s how to use them. 

  1. Mix a spray bottle of 1:1 distilled white vinegar and water.
  2. Run hot water in the tub and use a cup or bucket to pour it all over the tub sides and bottom.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda everywhere, especially where it’s stained.
  4. Spray the diluted vinegar on the baking soda.
  5. Start scrubbing the tub with a sponge. The vinegar and baking soda will form a paste. They may also fizz a little.
  6. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then wipe it down and rinse with hot water.
  7. If there are still stains, try the baking soda and peroxide solution above.

Rinse the Tub with Water

After letting the cleaning solution sit for 30 minutes, it is time to rinse the bathtub with water. You need to remove every trace of these cleaners to keep them from potentially irritating skin the next time someone uses the bathtub.

To do this, just turn on your showerhead or bathtub faucet and let lukewarm water run over the surface of your tub until all cleaning solution has been removed, and you no longer see any suds or bubbles.

Be sure to rinse every inch of your bathtub surface, including corners and crevices. If you’ve got a shower head that comes off the wall, this is so easy. If not, use a cup or bucket to distribute the water.

If you still see stains after rinsing with water, don’t worry; some tough stains may require a second application of cleaning solution.

Scratches and Cracks

If you notice any scratches or chips on your bathtub’s surface while rinsing, it may be best to contact a professional for repair rather than risking further damage.

Rinsing thoroughly is important because leftover cleaning solution can leave residue that makes your tub slippery and even more challenging to clean in the future. Once done rinsing, use a clean towel to dry off your tub’s surface fully. Drying will prevent potential water spots from developing and leaving behind minerals that dull its shine.

Check and Address any Remaining Stains

After you’ve followed the cleaning process, it’s important to inspect your bathtub for any remaining stains. If you notice that some stains still persist, don’t worry. There are a few things you can try to get rid of them.

If you see hard water stains or mineral buildup, use the mixture of vinegar and baking soda (again). The vinegar will dissolve the minerals and loosen the stain while the baking soda will act as a gentle abrasive to scrub away at them without damaging your bathtub surface.

If there are rust stains on your bathtub surface, use lemon juice mixed with salt. The acidic properties in lemon juice can help break down rust while the salt acts as an abrasive cleaner to scrub away at it.

And if there is mildew or mold growth on your bathtub surface, spray it with hydrogen peroxide solution. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing.

Remember to rinse thoroughly after using these solutions so that no residue is left behind on your tub’s surface.

Prevent Future Bathtub Stains

After spending time and effort cleaning a stained bathtub, it’s only natural to want to keep it looking spotless. The following tips can help you prevent future stains:

1. Clean Your Bathtub Regularly: Keep your bathtub clean by wiping it down after each use. Develop a cleaning routine that includes deep cleaning at least once every two weeks or more often if necessary.

2. Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals: Many commercial cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can damage the surface of your bathtub and cause discoloration or staining over time. Consider making your own natural cleaners using simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.

3. Use a Shower Curtain: A shower curtain can help prevent soap scum, water marks, and other stains from accumulating on the surface of your bathtub.

4. Soak in Vinegar: If you have hard water or live in an area with high mineral content, you may notice stains developing more quickly than usual. To prevent this, soak your bathtub in vinegar for 30 minutes every few months to dissolve mineral buildup before it has a chance to stain your tub.

5. Fix Leaks Quickly: Leaks around faucets or in the plumbing behind your tub can cause water to pool on the surface of your tub and eventually lead to staining. Be sure to fix any leaks as soon as possible to avoid this problem.

Enjoy Your Clean Bathtub

Cleaning a stained bathtub is not easy, but it is definitely possible with the right tools and solutions. And it’s so rewarding once you’re done and have a nice sparkling tub you actually feel like soaking in.

With these cleaning tips, you can get a clean bathtub that looks like new. Remember to always use caution when dealing with strong cleaning solutions and to regularly maintain your bathtub to prevent future stains from forming.