how to clean a stained bathtub

How to Clean a Stained Bathtub

A nice long soak in the tub sounds like the ideal way to end a busy day. Imagine lying there with a glass of wine in hand, a box of chocolates on the side, some scented candles, some unsightly stains surrounding you…

Stains?! Yes, you read that right! Nobody wants to unwind in a tub full of blemishes. Ghastly marks really do ruin an otherwise perfect dream! 

But do they really have to spoil everything? Nope! Stains can be eradicated in no time at all, if you’ve got the right tools. Find out how you can remove stains from your bathtub below, so you can get back to that all important chill-time.

Find Out What Type of Bath You’ve Got Before You Treat It

Before you start cleaning your stained bathtub you need to know what your tub is made out of. It’s super important to do this because not all the cleaning methods below will be suitable for all baths. Here are the different kinds of bathtubs you can have:

Acrylic baths

Acrylic bathtub

Acrylic tubs are some of the most common ones around today, and they’re the ones that look more plastic-like. They’re very easy to get hold of in the UK, however, they’re usually the tubs that get stained the quickest! 

With that in mind, you should know that you shouldn’t really clean these baths with scourers or rough pads. You should also avoid cleaning them with too many chemicals, particularly harsh ones, because they’ll ruin the bath. Natural products, like white vinegar, are the go-to ones when washing these tubs.

If you need to find out if your tub is acrylic, gently place your palm on the side of your tub and press very gently in. If the side gives a little, you know it’s acrylic. 


Enamel baths 

Enamel bathtub

Enamel tubs are also fairly popular in the UK, and they’re the baths that are made from iron or steel and are covered in enamel, hence the name. Like acrylic tubs, enamel ones are also prone to getting scratched, so you’ve got to be cautious when you pick up your cleaning tools. 

Plus, this type of bath doesn’t always react well to chemicals, so you’ve got to stick to more natural products when cleaning this kind of bathtub. 

If you need to find out if your tub is enamel just hold a magnet up to it. If the magnet pulls towards the bath, you know there’s metal underneath the enamel coating. 

We’ve written a guide on how to clean enamel bathtubs if you need some enamel-specific tips.


Porcelain baths 

Porcelain bathtub

Porcelain tubs are some of the most expensive bathtubs you can buy in the UK today, and this is likely why most homes don’t have them. 

That being said, if you are likely enough to own one of these tubs, you can rest assured that you can use most chemical cleaners to clean the stains and germs out of these baths. However, most of the time harsh chemicals are not needed to clean and remove stains from baths. 

If you need to find out if your tub is porcelain, hold a magnet up to the side of the bath, if nothing happens, feel the side of the bath for any give. If the magnet doesn’t react and the side of the bathtub doesn’t give, you have a porcelain tub. 


Find Out What Stain You’ve Got Before You Treat Your Bathtub

stained bathtub

Finding out what your bathtub is made out of is important, but finding out what kind of stain you have in your tub is also crucial. If you know what type of stain you’re dealing with before you start cleaning, you can stop wasting time with experimentation, and get to work much faster! 

Here are the most common stains you’ll typically find in bathtubs:

  • Hard water stains – Get rid of them by using white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Rust stains – Get rid of them by using Borax substitute and water.
  • Bacterial stains – Get rid of them by using white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda or bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide. 
  • Soapy residues – Get rid of them by using white vinegar or just water in some cases. 
  • Hair dye stains – Get rid of them by using white vinegar or bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Once you know what you’re dealing with you can pick a cleaning method to eradicate the problem. Find out what methods you can try below. 


Dos And Don’ts When Treating Stains in a Bathtub

bathtub stain treatment dos and donts


  • Use soft tools – Hard scorers and pads will likely scratch surfaces. 
  • Stick to natural products whenever possible – Harsh chemicals are not absolutely essential. 
  • Do stick to the measurements stated in the methods below. 


  • Don’t rush around when using chemicals.
  • Don’t forget to wear protective gear.
  • Don’t forget to keep the windows open
  • Don’t forget that you need to rinse your bathtub down when you’re done cleaning it. 


How to Clean a Stained Bathtub

Below you’ll find various methods you can try in order to remove a stain from a tub. Keep in mind that not all methods will have the desired end results after just one try, so you may need to repeat the methods below multiple times. 

The white vinegar method 

clean stained bathtub with the white vinegar method

What you need: 

What you need to do: 

  1. Open a window for ventilation.
  2. In the spray bottle mix two parts of white vinegar with two parts of water. 
  3. Go over to the stained area in your tub.
  4. Shake the mixture in the bottle. 
  5. Spray the mixture onto the stained surfaces. 
  6. Wait approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Saturate a cloth in warm water. 
  8. Blot at the stained area with the cloth. 
  9. Repeat the steps above. 
  10. Rinse the bathtub down with hot water when you’re done. 

Alternative routes you could take to remove the stains:

  1. Fill your bathtub up with warm water and pour three to four cups of white vinegar into the water. Leave the water in the tub for a few hours (about three to four) and then drain the water away.
  2. In a bowl, pour a generous amount of white vinegar. Then, grab some paper towels or kitchen roll, and soak them in the bowl of white vinegar. When the papers are saturated, place them onto the stained areas in the bath. Leave them like this for a few hours (about three) and rinse the tub down when you’re done. 
  3. For hard water stains, you will need to cover the stains in paper towels soaked in vinegar (Alternative 2), and then once the paper towels have been removed, you need to cover the stains in a bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar paste. You need to blot at the pasted areas with a damp warm cloth, and you may need to repeat the steps again.


The Borax substitute method

clean stained bathtub with the borax substitute method

What you need:

What you need to do:

  1. In a bowl create a paste from the Borax substitute and water. 
  2. Don’t make the paste too runny. 
  3. Go over to a patch of bath that is less visible and carry out a patch test with the paste you’ve just created. 
  4. Continue if all is well. 
  5. Spread the paste evenly over the stained areas of your bathtub. 
  6. Wait about half an hour.
  7. Grab a damp warm cloth and blot at the stained areas. 
  8. Rinse the area down completely. 
  9. Repeat the steps above again if need be.


The bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide method

clean stained bathtub with bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide

Note: Hydrogen peroxide is a very strong chemical that is likely to cause damage to acrylic bathtubs, so you should avoid trying this method out on these tubs. In addition to this, this method should be used as a last resort. 

What you need: 

What you need to do:

  1. Put your gloves and mask on, and keep all kids and pets out of the room as you work with hydrogen peroxide. 
  2. Open a window for ventilation. 
  3. In a bowl mix one part of hydrogen peroxide with two parts of bicarbonate of soda. 
  4. You need to create a paste.
  5. Go to a less visible patch of your bath and try this new paste out. 
  6. Continue with this method if all is well.
  7. Spread the paste all over the stained area. 
  8. Wait half an hour. 
  9. Get a warm damp cloth and start blotting at the stained area. 
  10. Rinse your tub down when you’re done. 
  11. Repeat the steps above if need be.


The white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda method

clean stained bathtub with white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda method

What you need: 

What you need to do: 

  1. Grab a clean spray bottle and fill it with two parts of white vinegar. 
  2. Add two parts of water to the spray bottle.
  3. Go to the stained area in your tub and cover it with bicarbonate of soda. 
  4. Spray the water and white vinegar onto the covered area. 
  5. Wait a few minutes while the products work together. 
  6. With a toothbrush, start rubbing at the stained patch so that you help to create a paste-like consistency.
  7. Leave the new paste on the stain for 20 minutes.
  8. Soak a cloth in warm water and go back to the stained area and start blotting it clean.
  9. Rinse the bathtub down when you’ve completed the stain removal exercise. 
  10. You can repeat the steps above if need be.


The specialised cleaner method 

When it comes to specialised products, there’s a big debate about what really does work and what doesn’t do anything. Plus, it may be difficult to come by a product that is actually suitable for the kind of stain you have.

So, do keep this in mind when exploring which stain remover to buy for your home.  

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Note: While the products below may not be listed as ‘stain removers’ per se, they can aid in the removal of stains. In addition to this, using the products listed below during regular cleaning sessions may prevent a stain build up too. 

  • The Pink Stuff can be bought in both bottle and paste form and can be used as a general purpose cleaner for all around the home. It’s super easy to use either version of this product because all you need to do is spray it onto an affected area and wipe the surface down. 
  • Cif is a multipurpose cleaner that has an almost runny-paste consistency. It’s very easy to use Cif in the bathroom, because all you need to do is squirt some Cif onto a cloth and then wipe the product into the affected area. 


How to Keep Bathtubs Clean

woman cleaning bathtub

Once you’ve cleaned your tub the last thing you want to do is to go and dirty it again. So, how do you keep a tub in tip-top form? Keep on reading and you’ll find out how.

  • When you’re done in the tub, rinse it down – this will remove any excess products. 
  • Once you’ve finished in the bath it’s worth giving the bathtub a quick clean with a natural cleaner – a white vinegar and water mixture would do the job. 
  • You should stay on top of cleaning your bath – don’t neglect it.