How to Clean a Bathtub — Beat the Grime

How to clean a bathtub using natural and commercial products.

Having to shower in a grimy, dirty bathtub is never fun — but neither is the task of cleaning it. You might think that shiny white finish is long gone, but there are many effective ways to clean even the dirtiest tubs.

A bathtub can be cleaned using various methods and cleaning solutions; even natural ways can be effective. Don’t forget to pay attention to the tiles and grout around the tub as well.

How to Clean a Bathtub

The primary purpose of cleaning a bathtub is to restore its original color and remove grime and other buildup. Most tubs have a shiny or glossy finish, which is easy to restore if you know the right tricks.

Using a Commercial Product

Cleaning the bathtub using a commercial product is the most common way to remove dirt and grime. For this method, we recommend that you use protective gloves because some products can be harsh.

1. Clear the Tub

Before you begin to apply any product, you should clear the tub of any debris or hair in the drain. You could also give it a quick wipe with a damp cloth to get rid of any loose dirt. Use the showerhead to give the tub a pre-rinse before starting.

2. Find a Sponge

When you’re cleaning a bathtub, it’s important not to use anything too abrasive. You should steer clear of using steel wool or hard brushes as this will scratch your tub and damage the finish.

Instead, choose a two-sided sponge with a soft and slightly hard side. This will safely clean your tub without causing any damage.

Additionally, you can use a small brush — such as a toothbrush or grout brush — to clean around the faucet and drain.

If you have an acrylic bathtub, you might find a Magic Eraser beneficial. This will cover up scratches, which often occur on acrylic tubs.

3. Find a Suitable Product

There’s a wide range of bathtub cleansers available on the market. A popular choice is the Lysol Multi-Surface Cleaner. It cuts through grease and grime effectively and leaves a fresh citrus scent.

4. Get Cleaning

Before starting, read the instructions thoroughly. Some products require a reaction time, while others have to be applied, scrubbed, and rinsed out quickly.


Keep the room as ventilated as you can. Bathroom cleaner vapors can be quite overpowering. If you feel short of breath or the chemicals are getting to you, leave the bathroom for a few minutes.

5. Rinse Thoroughly

Rinsing the bathtub is crucial to get rid of the chemicals so nothing will transfer to your skin the next time you bathe. Some cleaners can also make the tub surface slippery, so be careful.

Natural Ways to Clean a Bathtub

Getting rid of tough stains and grime doesn’t necessarily require harsh chemicals. In fact, you can easily use everyday items that you probably already have in your pantry.

Using natural methods is also a good solution in family homes with young children. Children are much more sensitive, and a hard chemical cleaner could affect your child if inhaled.

Before You Start

Make sure the tub is clear of debris and remove any hair or debris in the drain. Rinse the bathtub thoroughly using the showerhead, and wipe with a clean cloth to remove loose dirt.

Method #1: Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is one of our favorite natural cleaning products. It’s highly effective yet safe for most surfaces, including the tub.

You can use baking soda to remove stains around the bathtub, but we use it specifically for rust. It can be devastating to discover rust on your white tub, mainly because it’s a pain to get off.

  1. Create a paste: Start with 2 tablespoons of baking soda, then add small amounts of water until it forms a paste.
  2. Scrub time: Apply the paste to the troubled area, and then scrub it into the stain.
  3. Vinegar: If the stains are persistent, apply some white vinegar to the area after applying the paste. Leave the combo to work its magic for 10 minutes, then scrub again with a sponge.
  4. Rinse: Rinse the area thoroughly.

Method #2: Vinegar and Water

Is there anything vinegar can’t do? We sure can’t think of anything — especially not when it comes to cleaning. Due to the slight acidity of vinegar, it’s highly effective against bacteria, mildew, and stains (1).

  1. Combine: Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake it well to mix the solution thoroughly.
  2. Clean and rinse: Scrub the area using a sponge and then rinse with clean water.

The strong scent of vinegar might linger in the bathroom for a while, but it will also get rid of other odors present. If you find the smell too strong or unpleasant, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Lemon tempers the vinegary scent and makes it less pungent.

Method #3: Grapefruit and Salt

Grapefruit is acidic and is, therefore, excellent at cutting through bacteria and grime (2). Salt is slightly abrasive but effective at getting the tub clean.

A pleasant bonus you get from using grapefruit is the citrus scent. Grapefruits are very fragrant and can leave your bathroom smelling fresh.

This method is very simple to do: all you need is a grapefruit cut in half and some salt. If your tub is large, you might need two grapefruits to complete the task.

  1. Prep the fruit: Cut the grapefruit in half.
  2. Sprinkle the salt: Cover one half with salt and sprinkle a generous amount throughout the bath.
  3. Scrub: Use the salted grapefruit to scrub the surface, squeezing it slightly as you go. As the acidic juices are released, they’ll begin to work their magic.
  4. Switch: When one half of the grapefruit is out of juice, or you feel it’s had enough, switch to the other half. Apply some salt and get to scrubbing and squeezing.
  5. Rinse: Once you’re done, rinse the area thoroughly to get rid of pulp and salt.

Method #4: Lemon and Borax

This is another super-citrus scrub that will get rid of grime. Borax is excellent at removing tough stains and other troubles such as mildew or mold (3).

Top Tip

One tough stain that we like to tackle with borax is rust.

All you’ll need for this method is a lemon cut in half and Borax:

  1. Apply the borax: Sprinkle some borax onto the stains and a small amount on one half of the lemon.
  2. Scrub and squeeze: Use the lemon to rub the area while squeezing slightly to release the juices. This will begin to form a paste.
  3. Wait and rinse: Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 to 30 minutes — then wipe away the excess and rinse.

Method #5: Baking Soda, Castile Soap and Essential Oils

If you’ve got some organic soaps lying around, you’re going to love this method. It’s highly effective at removing soap scum that often builds up on the sides and bottom of the tub. This solution will also work great for bathroom sinks.

  1. Mix soda and soap: Mix one cup of baking soda and half a cup of castile soap in a bowl. Add the soap slowly until the solution thickens.
  2. Add essential oil: Add about four drops of an antibacterial essential oil, i.e. peppermint, lemongrass or tea tree (4).
  3. Scrub: Place some of the mixture on a sponge or cloth and scrub the tub.
  4. Rinse: Once done, rinse the bathtub thoroughly with water to remove the mixture.

Keeping the Bathtub Clean

If you want to avoid having to deep clean the tub every so often, get into the habit of cleaning it regularly. As we shower, dirt, sweat, grease, soap, and shampoo are left in the bath, not to mention the occasional bath bomb.

Regularly cleaning the bathtub doesn’t have to involve scrubbing or even a cleaning product. You can easily keep the tub clean by giving it a quick wipe after showering. Rinse the whole bath thoroughly with the showerhead to get the residue of the day down the drain.

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Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do use soft tools: Go for a two-sided sponge or a microfiber cloth to clean the tub. When you’re using an effective cleaner, you won’t need to scrub hard to get rid of stains.
  • Do follow instructions: When using a commercial product, always follow the instructions. If you’re not happy with the results, repeat the process.
  • Don’t use abrasive tools: Abrasive tools such as steel wool and hard-bristled brushes are a no-go. You should also avoid using scouring powders since these will cause damage to the surface.
  • Don’t mix products: This is a crucial point as you never want to mix things like ammonia and chlorine bleach. These will create toxic fumes and can even burn your skin (5).


Cleaning the bathtub is often a dreaded task, usually requiring plenty of scrubbing and chemicals. However, if you practice regular cleaning habits, the job becomes much more manageable.

How you clean a bathtub depends on the method you use. There are many homemade and commercial options, but no matter your choice, always use soft tools to avoid scratching the surface.

Have you had success with any of our chosen methods? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About the Author

Sylvia Jones

Sylvia Jones is a hands-on, DIY aficionado from Indiana. She is passionate about home improvement, gardening, and environmental conservation. In her spare time, you can find Sylvia getting involved in home improvement projects around the house with her husband, or spending quality time out in the yard.