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How to Clean a Bathtub Without Breaking Your Back: These Kitchen Staples Will Get It Sparkling

We've got solutions for every type of tub! 

Ahh. There’s nothing like a long soak in a warm tub after a long day. But as soon as you get out and the water drains, there always seems to be a ring around the inside. “When we scrub ourselves in the bath or while standing in the shower, traces of the dirt, soap, skin cells and body oils we remove can remain on the surface of the bath,” explains Karina Toner of Spekless Cleaning. “Combine that with minerals in your water, and over time a buildup can form on the surface of your bath that — if not cleaned regularly — can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.” To know how to clean a bathtub whether it’s clawfoot, copper or ceramic, we have the expert-tested strategies and the best ways to help it stay that way!

What makes cleaning a bathtub such a challenge?

Tubs are small and their surface is smooth — so why is it so difficult to keep them clean? “First, soap scum and hard water really cling to surfaces, so if they’re allowed to build up they can form a seal that takes a lot of scrubbing to break down,” explains Ilya Ornatov of NW Maids in Seattle, WA. “Caulk, which typically lines where the tub meets the wall if your tub isn’t free-standing, also absorbs dirt, grime and moisture, becoming a mold breeding ground. Plus, tubs are low to the ground, which makes them tough to reach into to scrub. And finally, different types of bathtubs (porcelain, plastic, metal, etc.) can require different cleaning techniques and products.”

How often should you clean a bathtub?

This can somewhat depend on how often you use yours — a family of four taking multiple daily baths and showers will typically have to be cleaned more often than a single person who washes up only once a day, but in general the advice is to clean your whole bathroom, including your tub, once a week. (Click through to learn how often to clean things in your home.)

“This may seem like a lot, but once you get into the habit, you’ll find it’s actually much easier to maintain — by cleaning weekly, you prevent the buildup that forms along the tub that can require a lot more elbow grease,” says Ornatov. “You can basically just apply your cleaner, let it sit for a few minutes, quickly wipe it down, rinse and go on with your day.”

You can also push off scrubbing your tub a little longer by using a daily shower spray after you bathe. “Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, and leave that in your bath with your other products,” says Toner. “Spray this mixture on the tub after each use, and it will help prevent the buildup of soap scum and grime.”

How to clean a bathtub

how to clean a bathtub: Woman cleaning the bath tub in the bathroom

Make sure to figure out which material your tub is made from, then follow the instructions below.

How to clean your bathtub if it’s porcelain-, enamel- or ceramic-coated

“Add water to baking soda until a paste forms — how much you’ll need depends on the size of your tub, but typically ½ to 1 cup of baking soda will be enough,” says Ornatov. “Apply the paste to the tub surface using a damp sponge and let it sit for 15-20 minutes — this lets the alkaline qualities of the baking soda break down the buildup clinging to the tub. Next, use the damp sponge to gently scrub the baking soda paste and lift off any stuck-on grime, then rinse using your showerhead and you’re done.”

If your bathtub is plastic or fiberglass

“You want to be careful with anything too abrasive, since that can scratch more sensitive plastic surfaces,” says Ornatov. “Luckily these surfaces are easy to clean using a sponge dampened with plain ol’ dish soap and warm water — the soap breaks through dirt, skin cells and oil easily. If you have a lot of soap scum, you can follow up by wiping the surface down with a rag dampened in white vinegar — the acids will eat through soap scum and remove it.”

If your bathtub is stainless steel

First, you want to avoid any harsh chemicals like bleach, abrasive cleaners or steel wool, all of which can damage the metal surface. “Stainless steel is actually relatively easy to clean as its surface is natural non-stick. Just mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then coat the entire surface and let sit for about 10 minutes,” says Ornatov. “When time is up, scrub with a soft brush and rinse thoroughly. The vinegar will leave the whole tub shining like new!”

If your bathtub is copper

Much like stainless steel, you’ll want to avoid harsh chemicals or anything abrasive with copper, as well, since this can destroy the natural protective layer, called a patina, that the metal forms. Copper, as it happens, has a naturally anti-bacterial surface, so it can require even less cleaning than a non-copper tub. In fact, it’s advised to just rinse the tub down after each use, then wipe dry to prevent hard water stains as general maintenance. However, if you do need to give it a more thorough cleaning, it’s best to stick to dish soap, warm water and a soft sponge.

How to clean a bathtub without straining your back

Regular sponges and cleaning cloths can get the job done when it comes to cleaning a tub, but if reaching down is giving your back a run for its money, there are some tools you can use to make the job easier.

1. Enlist a broom

First, you can use the same mop you use on your floors, or even a clean broom if you need more scrubbing action — this way you don’t need to bend to reach those tub corners at all. See a demonstration of how this works, here:

2. Use an electric scrubber

TikTok users also made the electric “shower scrubber” go viral, after users discovered its high-powered spin brush was able to easily remove even the most stuck-on grime in seconds. See one demonstration, here:


Amazon products you won’t shut up about! Starting a series of amazon products that are absolutely worth the hype 👏🏽 The shower scrubber has absolutely changed the game for my sunday reset cleaning. No hands & knees scrubbing for this years spring clean!!! Added to my bio 🧽🚿 #electricscrubber #spinscrubber #amazongadgets #cleaninghack #showercleaning

♬ original sound – Mackenzie | MRH Lifestyle

There are several scrubbers currently on the market, most of which are rechargeable and come with multiple different brush heads to help you scrub different surfaces and get into tight corners or cover larger surface areas. It’s good to note they aren’t just good for cleaning showers — they can also scrub floors, your oven and anywhere else in your home you find tough to reach.

Two to try: LABIGO Electric Spin Scrubber LA1 Pro, or TASVAC EB5 Electric Spin Scrubber.

For more bathroom cleaning hacks, click through the links below!

How to Get Soap Scum Off of Anything: Experts’ Genius Solutions

These Kitchen Staples Will Unclog a Bathtub Drain Quickly Without Harsh Chemicals

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