Tricks to Make Your Bathtub Gleam Like New

How to make your bathtub gleam like new again


I was desperate to make my bathtub gleam like new again. But after taking a bath with Epsom salts, I noticed that the bottom of my white tub was covered with brown spots. As such an avid bath taker, I had to learn the tricks for making my tub look squeaky clean.

To make a bathtub look new again, first identify your tub type. Next, choose the cleaning solution that matches your tub type and is the least toxic. Then let the solution set on stains, scrub with a gentle brush, rinse, and dry. If you’re not getting results, try a stronger solution.


Identifying your bathtub material is the critical first step, as that will determine the appropriate cleaning solution to use and the sort of scrub brush you will need. Read on to figure out how to get your particular bathtub gleam like new again. And if you’ve got a colored bathtub, I’ll show you how to make it sparkle like new:


Determine Your Bathtub Material


The most common bathtub materials are acrylic, fiberglass, porcelain or enameled metal. These materials can be hard to distinguish from one another but here are some simple tests:


  1. Acrylic and fiberglass both have some flexibility. Knock on the side of your tub and listen for a hollow sound. If you detect some give to the material, you can assume you’ve got acrylic or fiberglass. If there is no give to the material and you hear a thud, this suggests porcelain or enameled metal. If you suspect porcelain or enameled metal, skip to step 3.


  1. Both fiberglass and acrylic are prone to scratches and chips, but if you see faded spots on the bottom of the tub, you are most likely looking at fiberglass. Also, since fiberglass is porous while acrylic is non-porous, fiberglass will absorb water, so it’s prone to yellow over time.


  1. Once you have your tub type narrowed down to porcelain or enameled metal, it’s time to take a magnet off the kitchen fridge. If the magnet sticks to your bathtub, the material is enameled metal. The magnet will not stick to porcelain.


All this said, you might have a higher-end tub type, such as resin stone, cultured marble, copper or wood. In these cases, you likely can tell the material simply by looking. 

Read more about different bathtub materials here.


Make Your Bathtub Look Like New Again


A woman scrubs her bathtub to make it gleam like new again


Now that you’ve figured out what material your bathtub is made from, it’s time to clean it in the best possible way. Every bathtub material has slightly different requirements. This guide will help you treat your tub with tender loving care, as you coax it back to looking beautiful!


How to Clean an Acrylic Bathtub


With an acrylic tub, it’s important not to use abrasive powders that contain bleach like Ajax and Comet. You also won’t want to use hardwire brushes. 


For regular cleaning, try this solution:

  1. Mix equal parts dish soap and warm water in a spray bottle. Or substitute shampoo for dish soap.
  2. Spray on the tub surface. 
  3. Leave 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse with shower head. 
  5. Dry with a soft microfiber cloth.


For extra grime:

  1. Put lemon juice in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray on spots and let sit 10-15 minutes.
  3. Wipe with a soft sponge or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
  4. Rinse with your shower head.
  5. Dry with soft microfiber cloth.


For stubborn stains:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on stains.
  2. Spray with water.
  3. Leave 10-20 minutes.
  4. Scrub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or soft sponge.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Dry with a soft microfiber cloth.

You may have heard that white vinegar can be used on your acrylic tub. In some cases this is true and in others, it’s not recommended by the manufacturer.



How to Clean a Fiberglass Bathtub


You can follow the same steps just mentioned for cleaning an acrylic tub. However, fiberglass is porous and absorbs water, so it can get stinky if not cleaned regularly. Should you notice this problem, spray white vinegar on your bathtub several times a week. Leave it there, and when you go back later to do deeper cleaning, the task will be much easier.

Also, because it is porous, fiberglass can yellow over time. To keep a white fiberglass tub looking brand new, use a regular baking soda scrub:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on stains.
  2. Spray with warm water.
  3. Leave 10-20 minutes
  4. Scrub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or soft sponge.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Dry with a soft microfiber cloth.



How to Clean an Enameled Metal Bathtub


You need to go gentle on an enamel tub, both in terms of your cleaning solution and the cleaning tools.

  1. Combine 2 cups water, ½ cup baking soda, and ¼ cup of degreasing dish soap into a paste.
  2. Optional: add 4 drops of tea tree or peppermint oil, which are known to help break down grime.
  3. Spread the solution over the surface of the tub.
  4. Leave for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Scrub with non-abrasive cloth or sponge.
  6. Rinse with the showerhead.
  7. Dry with a microfiber cloth.



How to Clean a Porcelain Bathtub


For regular cleaning of a porcelain tub, use the same baking soda and degreasing dish soap solution recommended just above for the enameled metal tub.

However, for hard water stains on a porcelain tub, Reader’s Digest suggests this formula:

  1. Plug the drain.
  2. Pour 3 cups of white vinegar and fill with hot water. 
  3. Let soak for 4 hours. 
  4. Drain the water. 
  5. Stains should come off easily.

Use a pumice stone or nylon brush on a porcelain bathtub.


How to Clean Stone Resin, Copper and Wood Bathtubs


Here are some important facts about cleaning other, less common bathtub types:

Stone Resin: Do not use a vinegar solution or baking soda paste. You will damage the finish. Use an ammonia-based cleaner.

Copper Bathtub: Use a diluted vinegar solution. A baking soda paste is acceptable.

Wood Bathtub: Do not use steel wool. A diluted vinegar solution is fine. You may use baking soda but do not scrub hard, and use a gentle brush.


How to Clean a Jetted Tub

Cleaning a tub with jets is trickier business. And it’s mission critical. 

The reason is that if you don’t regularly clean a jetted bathtub in the right way mold, mildew and other harmful bacteria can accumulate in the jets. There are four main things to know about cleaning jetted tubs:

  1. Run the Ozonator on the Regular
  2. Only Use Low Foam Bath Products
  3. Routine Clean Monthly 
  4. Deep Clean Quarterly

It’s not hard but you’ve got to do it right to reap the mental and physical health benefits you can get from your jetted tub. For detail, read my post How to Keep a Jetted Tub Clean.



Start with Natural Cleaning Products

Baking soda can be used to clean many bathtub materials


When it comes to choosing a cleaning solution, what’s best for your bathtub is also best for you. There’s no need to introduce toxic chemicals to a poorly ventilated space like the bathroom when a homemade, natural solution will do. Start with the recommendations above, and if they aren’t adequate, and you must get this tub clean, you can progress to a chemical remedy. Or consider alternatives.


Related Questions


What Can I Do if Natural Solutions Don’t Work? If homemade natural solutions aren’t doing the trick, you may want to purchase a green cleaning solution and try that. If you’re still out of luck, you can consider progressing to chemical solutions. Always wear a mask, use gloves, and turn on your bathroom fan

Some tub types can handle surfactant powders, which are mild abrasives, such as Ajax and Comet. These contain small amounts of bleach but are no-nos for acrylic tubsIf you have a fiberglass tub, you are in the clear to create a more potent bleach solution. Again, do not bleach acrylic or you will damage the surface. Also, bleach is okay on white porcelain only, because it will stain other colors white.


What Can I Do If There’s Permanent Yellowing? Or If I Refuse Chemical Solutions? Sometimes a tub’s time is up. It’s old and discolored and no amount of scrubbing will turn it new again. At this point, you’ve got two options: 1) Replace the bathtub; or 2) Order a refinishing kit. With a bathtub refinishing kit, you will add a new outer coat to the tub. 

There are numerous DIY refinishing kits available from your favorite home improvement store, plus youtube videos to show you how to do it. You’ll need to prepare the tub surface, which might involve removing extra caulking around the tub’s edge with a razor. Refinishing a fiberglass tub may require sanding. Then you’ll clean the tub thoroughly and rinse it several times in a row. Dry the tub completely with a blow dryer. Put on an even coat of gel using a roller. Drying time can take several days depending on the kit that you use.

However, if DIY isn’t your cup of tea, search up a local bathtub refinishing company and let them do the work for you. Your tub will soon look and feel new again.


Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of

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