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How To Clean And Get A Bathtub White Again

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Bathtubs are one of those things that we all take for granted until they need a good clean. Cleaning a bathtub may not be the most glamorous of chores, but it’s important to ensure the bath is dirt and bacteria-free. 

However, cleaning the bathtub itself can be tricky to do properly, particularly if yours has stains built upon the enamel over time.

Getting rid of these stains is a tough job, but to make it a little easier, you’ll find a guide on how to clean a stained bathtub below. In just a few steps, your yellowing and grimy bathtub will be clean and white again!

Keep reading to learn how to get rid of hard water marks, rust, and mold stains from your bathtub! 

How To Get A Bathtub White Again

To Get A Bathtub White Again

We’ll cover how to clean a bathtub below, including how to get rid of some common stains, like mildew, rust, or hard water. 

How To Clean Stains From A Bathtub 

Begin by gathering everything you need in one place. You will need:

  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • A scrub brush/sponge
  • Microfiber cloth or paper towels

Rubber gloves are optional, but they can help avoid vinegar smells transferring to your hands.

Step 1: Microwave The Vinegar

Pour a quarter cup of white vinegar into a microwave-safe container, then heat in the microwave for under 90 seconds. The liquid should be warm, not boiling. 

Step 2: Coat The Tub With Dish Soap

Pour the dish soap into the tub. The tub doesn’t need to be fully covered in dish soap, but the resulting lather should be able to coat the full surface when you begin cleaning. 

Step 3: Pour The Vinegar

Next, pour the warm white vinegar into the tub so it mixes with the soap, but don’t start cleaning yet.

Step 4: Use Baking Soda

Use a spoon to measure out four tablespoons of baking soda, then scatter it evenly over the tub. The baking soda should layer over the soap and vinegar to create a cleaning solution.

Step 5: Start Scrubbing

Now you can start scrubbing. The baking soda, vinegar, and soap mix should create an effective cleaning solution that makes it easier to clean. 

Use the rough edge of your sponge to scrub the tub, concentrating on the dirtiest areas. Once you’ve scrubbed the whole tub, leave the mixture to sit at least half an hour, but no more than an hour. 

During this time, the cleaning solution will work further on the grime, breaking down any stains or hard water deposits. 

Step 6: Wipe Off and Rinse

Once you’ve left the mixture to work for the recommended time, use a cloth or paper towels to wipe the tub. You should see the stains and dirt lifting clean off onto the towels.

Next, you’ll need to rinse any leftover lather or dirt down the drain. Either run your faucet or fill a jug full of water and use it to rinse the tub

If you notice any other marks, you may need to repeat this process to make sure the tub is completely clean. 

How To Clean Stains From A Bathtub

The process above is a great way to get your bathtub gleaming again, but if you have stubborn stains on the enamel, the methods below may help. 

Cleaning Light Stains 

If the stains on your bathtub are relatively light, household ingredients can work wonders at removing them.

  • Scatter some baking soda over the tub, then spray a water and vinegar mixture on top.
  • Leave the substances to bubble for a few minutes, then use a sponge or a cloth to scrub them further. 
  • You should notice a paste forming. Leave the paste to work on the stains for 15 minutes, then wipe down with a sponge. 
  • Rinse the leftover solution down the drain

Cleaning Tough Stains

If you notice tougher stains on your bathtub, you’ll need a slightly stronger solution than baking soda and vinegar.

  • Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts baking soda to make a cleaning paste.
  • Use a cloth to rub the paste onto the stubborn stains, then leave the mixture to work for up to an hour. 
  • Once the time is up, use the cloth to wipe away the paste, then rinse any leftover solution away. 
  • If any stains remain, you can repeat the steps until the mark is removed.

Cleaning Hard Water Marks

It’s easy to be disheartened when you notice mineral deposits around your bathtub drain but fear not, as these stains aren’t that hard to remove.

  • Soak a few paper towels in full-strength white vinegar. 
  • Place the soaked paper towels on top of the hard water stains, letting the vinegar work on the minerals.
  • Leave the vinegar to work for one to two hours.
  • Once the time is up, make a baking soda and vinegar paste, then use it to scrub the marks away. 
  • Rinse everything away after the stains have been removed. 

Cleaning Rust Stains 

Rust stains are another common problem for bathtubs, especially if they’re old. You can treat these with borax powder and lemon juice.

  • Begin by scattering borax powder over the rust stains.
  • Cut a lemon in half, then rub the fruit over the stains to produce a paste.
  • Leave the paste to work on the rust for up to half an hour.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe away the mixture, then rinse everything down the drain. 

How To Clean Mold And Mildew From A Bathtub

How To Clean Mold And Mildew From A Bathtub 

The methods above work well at removing common stains from a bathtub, but there may be times when only stronger solutions, like bleach, will do. 

It’s a good idea to use bleach occasionally when cleaning your bathtub, as it works very well at killing mold and mildew that may linger on the bath’s surface. 

Several bath cleaning products use bleach in their product, but these can often cost more than necessary.

Pure bleach costs a lot less, so a bleach and water solution is a cost-effective and efficient way of removing bacteria from your tub.

The bleach also has an added whitening effect so your tub will look whiter afterward. 

We’ll cover how to use bleach to clean mold and mildew from your bathtub below, but before we begin, here are a few things you should know.

Bleach is strong, irritating, and very dangerous. Always wear gloves and protective eyewear when cleaning with bleach, as this chemical can cause severe burns or blindness.

If you don’t have any protective eyewear, sunglasses will do, though it’s better to obtain eyewear specifically designed for protective purposes. 

The method below is better to do at night so you can use the bathtub in the morning. 

Step 1: Ventilation

Bleach fumes are extremely toxic. You’ve probably noticed that your eyes start to water when cleaning with bleach.

Cleaning a bathtub will require you to stand close to the bleach while you work on the stains, which increases the risk of you inhaling dangerous fumes.

This is why it’s important to ensure that the bathroom has a good amount of air circulating within it.

Open all the windows and doors in the bathroom. If the bathroom hasn’t got windows, turn the bathroom fan on and make sure that the bathroom door is open. 

If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or sick when working with bleach, move to a different room and take a break. 

Step 2: Preparing The Tub

Remove any hair products, loofahs, soap dishes, and bath mats from the tub.

There shouldn’t be any objects in or around the area. The only things that should be in the tub are the mold/mildew stains you want to work on.

Step 3: Fill Up The Tub

Use water to rinse the tub out, removing any dirt or hairs in the process. Next, fill the tub with two gallons of water.

If you don’t have a container to measure gallons, simply leave the faucet (see also our article on letting your faucets drip) on for one to two minutes. 

Step 4: Add Bleach

Once you’ve filled the tub, you can add the bleach. The ratio you’ll be measuring is 1:1, meaning a single cup of bleach for every gallon of water.

As we have two gallons of water in the tub, you’ll need to add two cups of bleach.

If your tub is particularly dirty and needs a thorough clean, you can add a little more bleach, but remember that the fumes will be more potent, so take care when doing so. 

Step 5: Spray The Walls

Carefully fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts water and bleach. Spray the bathtub’s walls with this solution, taking care not to get any on your skin. 

Leave the mixture in the tub and on the walls to work for 15 minutes. 

Step 6: Start Scrubbing

Once the 15 minutes are up, put your eyewear and gloves back on, then use a sponge to scrub the tub down.

Make sure you concentrate on any mold and mildew stains. You shouldn’t need to scrub for more than five minutes.

Step 7: Rinse 

After you’re done scrubbing, you should notice that any mold and mildew stains have been eliminated.

Now, carefully open the drain, allowing the dirty water and bleach mixture to flow down the drain. 

Turn your shower head on and rinse any leftover residue away. If your shower isn’t attached to your bathtub, fill a jug with some water and use it to rinse everything away. 

The bleach fumes will be active for a while, so keep the bathroom fan on and leave the doors and windows open to let the vapors disperse. 

How To Clean A Faucet And Shower Head

The following steps can help you clean your shower head and tub faucet from dirt, grime, and stains.

You will need:

  • A zip-lock bag
  • Rubber band
  • White vinegar (you can opt for a store-bought cleaner if you prefer)

To clean the faucet and showerhead, follow the steps below.

  1. Begin by taking your zip-lock bag, ensuring that it’s large enough to fit over your shower head, but not too big that it becomes too loose around the edges. 
  2. Fill this bag up with white vinegar, or a store-bought cleaner that can remove mineral build-ups, including magnesium, rust, and calcium.
  3. Place the zip-lock bag full of vinegar over the showerhead. The metal front face should be fully submerged inside the solution. Use your rubber band to tie securely to the showerhead. 
  4. Leave the solution to work for 30 minutes to an hour. After the time is up, remove the bag from the showerhead, taking care not to spill the vinegar. Dispose of the contents properly. 
  5. Use a washcloth or paper towels to wipe the shower head down, then turn the water on. The water should clean any leftover cleaning solution and remove any residual mineral deposits. You should also notice an improvement in water flow. 
  6. Repeat these same steps for your bathtub faucet. 

If after cleaning, water still flows poorly out of the showerhead, this is a sign that it will need replacing. 


Regular cleaning sessions are necessary if you want to maintain a clean, white bathtub.

Despite this, yellowing and stains are always a possibility. If you notice any marks, such as mineral deposits, rust, mold, or general dirt and grime, the advice above can help you remove these.

You can avoid these stains by rinsing the bathtub with warm water each time you bathe, then removing the leftover moisture with a squeegee or sponge.

These simple steps can do a lot to prevent stains and discolorations from forming later. 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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