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Fight Back Against Your Bathtub Stains

The harder you scrub, the cleaner the tub.

All bathtub cleaners are created equal.

These are just two of the many misconceptions that exist in regards to cleaning bathtubs. However, there are many different types of bathtubs, and many different ways to remove stains from each type.

Below you’ll find an introduction into three of the most common bathtub materials. You’ll also find information on how to determine bathtub types and some different ways to remove stains from each bathtub. Ready? Let’s dive in.


Acrylic tubs are easy to find in modern homes and apartment complexes. If you have a tub that looks like it’s made of a plastic material, it’s acrylic.

While acrylic tubs are popular, they’re prone to discoloration and cracking if you use abrasive chemicals. So it’s important to use caution when cleaning your tub.

Whenever you try a new soap scum remover or hard water stain cleaner, do a spot test on a small area. Additionally, don’t use heavy duty tools—like scrub brushes or scouring pads—on your acrylic tub.

For routine cleaning, you can use basic cream cleaners or dish soap. If you’re tackling a difficult stain, let your cream cleaner sit for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing. Or try an eraser tool. In both cases, you’ll want to do a spot test.


Enamel tubs are fairly popular as they have a classic look to them, but are light and inexpensive. Do you have an old claw-foot tub? Or does your tub sound metallic? Then you’ve got an enamel tub. Enamel tubs are typically made of cast iron or steel and are coated with an enamel covering, hence their name.

This enamel coating is sensitive to acidic chemicals such as vinegar and bleach. It’s also prone to scratches and chips, so stick to soft sponges, cloths and other gentle cleaning tools.

Here again you can use dishwashing liquid for regular weekly cleaning. If you’re battling against stubborn stains, however, you’ll have to call on powdered cleaning agents. Make a paste using water and the cleaning powder and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then rinse and wipe. Of course, you’ll want to do a spot check before you scour the entire tub with a powdered cleaner.


Pure porcelain tubs are very heavy and expensive, so they aren’t as common as acrylic and enamel tubs. However, if you live in a historic home built around the 1920s, you may have one.

At first glance, you won’t be able to tell a porcelain bathtub from its enamel counterpart. But there’s a simple item you can use to determine bathtub types in this situation: a magnet. Since enamel tubs cover cast iron or steel, they’ll be magnetic. So if the magnet doesn’t stick, you have a porcelain tub.

Porcelain tubs have a higher tolerance for cleaning agents than enamel or acrylic tubs. But that doesn’t mean you have to use harsh chemicals on them. Dishwashing liquid works well as a regular cleaner for a porcelain bathtub, as does a DIY scum-fighting remover of vinegar, dish soap and cornstarch. If your tub has a tough stain, you can break out some cleaning screens—which are similar to lightweight sandpaper. One example is ShawsPads.

Now that you know how to determine bathtub types—and different ways to remove stains from each bathtub—you’re ready to go. Planning on cleaning the shower while you’re at it? Check out these shower cleaning tips before you get started.

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