How to Clean Bathtub Stains So the Tub Looks New Again

Cleaning bathtub stains can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and products, you can get your tub looking new again. Here are some tips for removing all types of bathtub stains effectively.

What Causes Bathtub Stains?

Bathtubs can accumulate many types of stubborn stains over time. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Soap scum – Residue from soap, shampoo, and bath products builds up on surfaces. This often appears as a hazy, whitish layer.
  • Hard water stains – Mineral deposits from hard water leave behind white chalky stains. These can be difficult to remove.
  • Rust stains – Iron and other metals in the water cause orange and brown rust stains.
  • Mold and mildew – Wetness enables mold and mildew growth, causing black or green stains.
  • Hair dye – Color from hair dye can stain surfaces it comes into contact with.
  • Bodily fluids – Things like blood or urine can leave behind stubborn organic stains.
  • Dirt and grime – General dirt, oil, and grime accumulate over time. This often appears as dark streaks or spots.

Proper cleaning is required to remove these types of buildup and stains from bathtub surfaces.

Supplies Needed for Cleaning Bathtub Stains

Before tackling stubborn bathtub stains, make sure you have the right cleaning supplies on hand. Here are some recommended products:

  • Baking soda – Acts as a gentle abrasive to lift stains. Also neutralizes odors.
  • White vinegar – Helps dissolve mineral deposits, soap scum, and more.
  • Dish soap – Added to baking soda, it acts as a degreasing agent to cut through grime.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Bleaches and disinfects to clean mold and mildew stains.
  • Liquid barkeeper’s friend – Contains oxalic acid to remove rust and mineral stains.
  • Soft scrub cleanser – Has baking soda and bleach for scrubbing stubborn buildup.
  • Non-scratching scrub sponge – Won’t damage surfaces when scrubbing heavily soiled areas.
  • Toothbrush – Handy for scrubbing in crevices and around fixtures.

Steps to Remove Different Types of Bathtub Stains

Follow these methods to tackle various bathtub stains:

Cleaning Soap Scum

  1. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over soap scum stains. Spritz with vinegar and let bubble for 5 minutes.
  2. Scrub with a damp non-scratching scrub sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. For leftover residue, wipe with dish soap on a damp sponge. Rinse again.

Removing Hard Water Stains

  1. Cover stains with vinegar and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. This dissolves mineral deposits.
  2. Scrub with baking soda paste (3 parts baking soda, 1 part water).
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Use liquid barkeeper’s friend for any leftover stains.

Eliminating Rust Stains

  1. Apply lemon juice or vinegar to rust stains. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle on baking soda and scrub with a toothbrush.
  3. Rinse and dry. If needed, apply barkeeper’s friend and scrub.

Cleaning Mold and Mildew

  1. Spray moldy areas with hydrogen peroxide. Let bubble for 10 minutes.
  2. Scrub with baking soda and dish soap paste. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Disinfect and prevent recurrence with white vinegar sprayed regularly.

Removing Hair Dye Stains

  1. Wipe stains immediately with rubbing alcohol. This can prevent setting.
  2. Apply hairspray and let sit 15 minutes to dissolve dye. Scrub with an old toothbrush.
  3. Clean with baking soda paste. Rinse thoroughly.

Eliminating Organic Stains

  1. Apply hydrogen peroxide to organic stains like blood or urine. Let bubble for 10 minutes.
  2. Scrub with baking soda paste. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Disinfect regularly with white vinegar spray.

Cleaning Dirt and Grime

  1. Apply a 50/50 mixture of dish soap and warm water. Let sit briefly.
  2. Gently scrub with a soft sponge, then rinse thoroughly.
  3. For tougher grime, make a baking soda paste. Apply and scrub.

Tips for Keeping Your Bathtub Stain-Free

Once you’ve tackled those tricky tub stains, keep your bathtub sparkling with these maintenance tips:

  • Wipe down surfaces after each use to prevent buildup.
  • Rinse soap scum away immediately, don’t let it dry on.
  • Squeegee water from walls after showering.
  • Spray vinegar after use to prevent soap scum.
  • Use bath mats to absorb excess moisture.
  • Clean your tub 1-2 times weekly to stay on top of grime.
  • Apply car wax occasionally to create a protective barrier.
  • Replace shower curtains regularly so they don’t stain tub surfaces.
  • Install a shower filter to prevent mineral deposit stains.

With some elbow grease and the right techniques, you can get your bathtub looking clean and new again. Follow these tips to keep it stain-free long term. Enjoy the sparkling results!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove old, set-in stains from my bathtub?

For really stubborn, set-in stains, try letting baking soda or vinegar paste sit directly on the stains overnight before scrubbing. You can also try a tub-specific paste cleaner like Zep Commercial Tub & Tile or Comet Bathroom Cleaner. Apply a thick layer, let sit, then scrub.

What is the easiest way to remove bathtub rust stains?

Liquid barkeeper’s friend works quickest and easiest for rust stains. Simply apply it full-strength to the rust spots, let sit briefly, then scrub with a sponge or brush. It breaks down rust on contact.

Why do my bathtub stains keep coming back?

If you’re cleaning with the right products but stains still recur, the issue may be with your water supply. Installing a water softening system or shower filter can help prevent recurring hard water and rust stains. Also be sure to squeegee after each shower.

How can I prevent mildew stains in my bathtub?

To prevent mildew, keep your bathroom well-ventilated, wipe surfaces dry after use, and clean frequently with a disinfecting cleaner like vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to spray shower curtains, walls, and caulking regularly too.

How should I clean a fiberglass bathtub?

Avoid abrasive cleansers on fiberglass, as they can scratch the surface over time. Use a soft sponge and gentle cleaners like dish soap, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide instead. Magic Erasers can also work well for gentle fiberglass cleaning.

What is the quickest way to make my tub sparkling white again?

For a quick brightening boost, spray surfaces with vinegar, sprinkle liberally with baking soda, let fizz for 5 minutes, then scrub. The acidity in vinegar combined with the abrasiveness of baking soda helps lift stains. Finish by rinsing thoroughly.


Removing bathtub stains may seem daunting, but with a little elbow grease and the right techniques, you can get your tub sparkling again. Target different stains with natural cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Maintain your freshly-cleaned tub with regular wiping, squeegeeing, and disinfecting. With some persistent effort, you can restore your bathtub to a like-new condition. Enjoy the renewed look and hygienic feel of your immaculate tub!