How to Clean a Bathtub

published Nov 21, 2020
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Credit: Cat Meschia/Kitchn

Living with two little kids, a husband, and a big dog, you could say my bathtub isn’t always in tip-top shape. The constant clutter of colorful, plastic and foam bath toys is only one part of the problem. It’s not abnormal for my white tub to be caked in a constant layer of sand and dirt from the backyard, along with the usual soap scum buildup around the drain and edges. Plus, we only have one tub in the house, so ours gets used daily—sometimes even twice, depending on if the dog got into mud.

Suffice it to say, I’m always in search of a bathtub-cleaning method that’s equal parts convenient and effective. Because I like to clean mine often, I don’t want to spend hours on my hands and knees, scrubbing. And, like any normal person, I would prefer sparkling results when I put in the effort. We all want our hard work (especially on the grosser chores!) to be worth it, right?

If you’re in the same boat, then you, too, might appreciate a comprehensive guide detailing how to clean a bathtub effectively and in the simplest way possible, and don’t forget the tub jets! I reached out to our friends at Grove Collaborative for intel. Here’s what they had to say. 

Things to Know Before You Start

While you’ll have to hunker down and deep clean your bathtub at some point or another, maintenance cleaning is the best way to prevent a bigger mess in your tub later on (think of it as doing future you a favor). Try investing in a daily shower spray to apply after you bathe, and try to use a squeegee on the tiles each time to prevent hard water buildup. 

Also, prioritize safety, especially when you’re using chemicals! Angela Bell and Georgia Dixon, Grove Guides at Grove Collaborative, suggest protecting your hands and lungs by wearing cleaning gloves and a mask if you’re cleaning in a small or enclosed bathroom space. And always test new products on an inconspicuous spot in your tub first to prevent discoloration or damage.

How to Clean a Bathtub, Step by Step

Time to clean your bathtub? Even if you keep up with maintenance cleaning, you can expect to put in a bit of work! But don’t worry—the process shouldn’t take too much of your time, and you’ll only need a few products: a tub cleaner, a sturdy brush, and a sponge or cloth.

Here’s how to clean a bathtub, step by detailed step!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Remove clutter

Now’s the time to remove any products, bath toys, or mats so you can thoroughly deep clean. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Wet the tub

Run warm water from the faucet or your shower head, if you have one, to prep the tub for its spa treatment.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Apply the cleaner

After choosing your favorite cleanser, spray or apply it throughout the tub and tile, allowing it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Dixon’s favorite is the Grove Collaborative Tub & Tile Cleaning Concentrate

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Scrub

With a sturdy scrub brush, loosen any stubborn debris in the main tub. Then, wipe the tub down with a clean sponge or cloth. Bell suggests wiping with a European Dish Cloth, as it has super absorbent properties and is reusable. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Do some detail work.

Don’t forget the tub’s crevices and shelves, along with faucets and fixtures! These forgotten spots, Dixon says, are where mold and hard water often hide. The right tool can make the job easier—Bell loves Full Circle’s Micro Manager Detail Brush for getting into those hard-to-clean areas.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Rinse product away

Rinse repeatedly to get rid of any cleaning agents, especially if children use the bathtub.

7. Clean your drain stopper

If your tub has a removable drain stopper, make sure to clean any hair or grime from the stopper and around the drain. 

How do I clean and disinfect my tub?

Remember, cleaning and disinfecting aren’t the same thing! To effectively disinfect a tub, you’ll need to use a disinfecting or antibacterial product. The Grove Guides opt for the natural versions from Seventh Generation and Method. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle; most must be applied to a wet surface and must remain for a specific amount of time before rinsing. “Keep in mind that natural disinfectants and antibacterial options use ingredients like citric acid and thymol, and may have a unique scent when compared with conventional versions,” says Dixon.

How do you clean a bathtub without scrubbing? 

There are some bathroom cleaners that claim to be scrub free. “The drawback is that these require ingredients that are harsh on the lungs, skin, and environment,” says Bell. “Using a daily shower spray can go a long way to help reduce mold, mildew, and soap scum between deep cleanings.” Try Grove Collaborative’s Daily Shower Cleaning Concentrate for an option both plastic saving and display-worthy. When it is time for a deeper clean, an abrasive cleanser, like a baking soda paste or Mrs. Meyers cream cleaner, along with a good brush, can reduce the amount of elbow grease needed as well.