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 and white 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.

How to Clean Your Tub with Baking Soda

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 White 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 Make an Acrylic Bathtub White Again

Cast Iron vs Fiberglass Tub

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 Make a Fiberglass Bathtub Gleam Like New

Fiberglass vs Cast Iron 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 Whiten an Enameled Metal Bathtub

porcelain-enameled tub

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 Make a Porcelain Bathtub Look New Again

Pendant Light Above the Bathtub in the Bathroom

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

Retro bathroom with copper bathtub
Black and white bathroom with copper bathtub – 3d rendering Note: the room does not exist in reality, Property model is not necessary

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

jetted bathtub

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.

To Whiten Your Tub, Try Natural Cleaning Products First

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.

What If Natural Solutions Won’t Work?

woman cleans her bathtub

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 tubs. If 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 If Your Tub is Still Stained and Yellow?  

At this point, you’ve still got a few great options to turn your bathtub white again: 1) Refinish the tub yourelf; 2) Get a bathtub liner; 3) Buy a new tub. Let’s take a look at each of these.


Use a Bathtub Refinishing Kit


You will need to buy a bathtub refinishing kit, but these are more widely available than you would think. You can look at your local hardware store or online. These kits can usually be used for porcelain, acrylic, and fiberglass tubs, but check the packaging for confirmation that it can be used on your tub. The kit is designed for refinishing an average-sized bath. If you have a larger-than-normal tub, you might consider getting two kits at once.

How To Reglaze a Bathtub | Ekopel 2K Bathtub Refinishing Kit | Live demo

I strongly recommend the Ekopel 2K Bathtub Refinishing Kit. It’s odorless and different from all others I’ve heard of, it contains no toxic chemicals. You won’t even need a respirator! It will also dry in 24 hours instead of 48. 

You can walk through the process using the video just above. And if you run into any problems while you’re working, you can contact their live chat tech support during business hours. 

If you get this kit, you’ll also want to get:

  • 1-inch masking tape
  • 12-inch masking paper
  • wooden paint stirrer

But no matter what bathtub refinishing kit you choose, you’ll want to carefully check what items come in your bathtub refinishing kit so you don’t unnecessarily purchase them twice. (Some kits include sandpaper and a foam paint roller, for example.)

One more important word about your bathtub refinishing kit: Read the directions carefully! If those directions conflict with anything I mention below, follow the written directions that came with your kit.

Get a Bathtub Liner

A bathtub liner is a piece of molded acrylic that fits precisely over your existing bathtub. A bathtub liner, also called a tub wrap, can fix a fading finish, spider cracks, stains, scratches and rust. A basic bathtub liner will cost about $850-$1,000 and is made from either PolyVinylChloride (PVC) plastic or a  composite made of 85% Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and 15% acrylic. But it’s the installation that’s going to increase the price quite a bit. 

Read my post on bathtub liners for much more information, including whether your tub is a candidate for this type of operation.

Replace Your Bathtub to Get a White One

a woman looks at a corner tub in the store

Sometimes a tub’s time is up. It’s old and discolored and no amount of scrubbing will turn it new again. (Read my post about how long you can expect a bathtub to last.) Then one of the only way to get a bathtub that gleams like new is to actually get a new bathtub. If you choose to go this route, you can easily get overwhelmed by the variety of bathtub materials and tub types available these days.

To help simplify the process, I highly suggest you read my post 8 Easy Steps to Choose the PERFECT Bathtub. I’ll show you how to end up with a new tub that you love–one that beautifies your space and fits your budget. The sooner you follow the steps, the sooner you can relax in the brand new haven in your home!

So How Will You Make Your Tub White Again?

master bath with freestanding tub

There are a range of options for how to turn your tub white again, beginning with the least taxing and toxic: cleaning with a natural solution. From there, if you don’t have luck, move to chemical cleaning agents, and if you’re still not seeing the gleaming results you want, you’ll probably want to consider other options, such as DIY bathtub refinishing, bathtub liners, or possibly, buying a new bathtub.

Tags: bathtub materials, bathtub refinishing, how to clean a fiberglass tub, how to clean a porcelain tub, How to clean an acrylic tub, how to clean an enamel tub


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

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