How to Clean Your Bathtub Without Breaking Your Back

How to Clean Your Bathtub Without Breaking Your Back

Ah! For a relaxing soak in a hot tub! The ultimate pampering on a chilly autumn day or a snowy winter one. But there are practical considerations when buying, then eventually maintaining a bathtub: How to keep it spic and span without too much strain. Below are our tips and hints, first, for choosing the type of tub that is best for your bathroom space, and second, for how to make it stay sparkling clean through years of use. (*this post contains affiliate links)

Some Questions to Consider When Buying a Bathtub

What causes the tub to get dirty?

  • Dirt residue and soap scum, combined with hard water build-up make the tub harder to clean over time.
  • Traces of bath salts and oils used while soaking in a tub often remain, providing spots for dirt and other residue to cling to.
  • The use of coarse scouring detergents and cleaners will strip away the protective sheen of the surface, especially if it’s a porcelain tub.
  • The constant wear and tear of daily use will eventually corrode or scratch the tub surface, allowing dirt to accumulate.
  • Hasty or “lazy” tub cleaning habits, often due to the size, depth, or position of the bathtub, will obviously allow dirt to continually build up.

Are certain types of bathtubs harder to clean than others?

Let’s put it this way. It’s not so much about the characteristics of the tub itself (size, shape, depth, placement, etc.), but your own ability and “dedication” to keep your chosen type of tub clean (reach, agility, available time, degree of “OC cleanliness”)! See Kohler for more tips like these!

So let’s survey the available type of tubs to help you assess, “Is this the type of bathtub I can realistically keep clean?” Come take a look!

Angular, rectangular or square, freestanding tubs

Note that these tubs have defined interior corners and either sloping or straight sides. They also tend to be deeper for a fully-immersed soak. And because they are freestanding, you would need to reach around them on all sides to clean the exterior as well.

Think about it: Would these pose cleaning challenges for you?

1 – MAYKKE Alsen 60″ Modern Rectangular Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub – from Amazon

MAYKKE Alsen 60" Modern Rectangular Acrylic Freestanding Tub

2 – B-0004 67″ x 32″ Freestanding Soaking Bathtub – available from Wayfair


Vintage-style freestanding tubs

Another type of freestanding tub are those vintage-style ones made of enameled cast iron and with feet, sometimes with an ornate design. These are lovely, and lend a definite charm to a bathroom. But, aside from having to reach all around them, you would also have to clean underneath.

Think about it: Do you love the stylish look so much, you’d gladly take on the extra cleaning?

Iron Works Historic Freestanding Oval Bath – from Kohler

Are some kinds of tubs easier to clean?

In general, bathtubs with surfaces made of acrylic are easier to maintain than those made of cast iron, porcelain, stone, and fiberglass. Also, tubs that have a rounded shape, for example oval, save you on having to clean interior “nooks and crannies.” And finally, tubs with a depth of 32” or less do help save you from too much back strain! Here are some examples:

WOODBRIDGE 59″ Modern Oval Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub – available at Amazon

WOODBRIDGE 59" Modern Oval Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub

VANITY ART – 71″ x 34″ Freestanding Soaking Bathtub (VA6807) – available at Wayfair

VANITY ART - 71" x 34" Freestanding Soaking Bathtub (VA6807)

Built-in Bathtubs

Another option, especially if you live in an apartment or condo with tight bathroom space, would be a built-in tub—sometimes called a drop-in or alcove bathtub.

You would only have one exterior side to keep clean! Plus these tubs tend to be shallower than freestanding ones. Here are some examples:

FINE FIXTURES Drop-In Bathtub 32″ x 48″ Soaking Bathtub – available from All Modern

FINE FIXTURES Drop-In Bathtub 32" x 48" Soaking Bathtub

KINGSTON BRASS – Aqua Eden 60″ x 31″ Alcove Soaking Bathtub – available at All Modern

KINGSTON BRASS - Aqua Eden 60" x 31" Alcove Soaking Bathtub

AMERICAN STANDARD Evolution 72″ x 36″ Deep Soaking Bathtub – available at Wayfair


FINE FIXTURES BT104L-BT Alcove 30″ x 60″ Bathtub – available at Wayfair

BT104L-BT Alcove 30" x 60" Bathtub

What are the best cleaning supplies to use?

  • Mix your own homemade cleaning solution using baking soda. There are handy recipes for this on the web.
  • Combine vinegar and hot water to make a household cleaning agent, again following an online recipe from a reliable source.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (available from Amazon) removes dirt, soap scum, and other debris from household surfaces.
  • Never use bleach in an attempt to whiten your bathtub surface. It is corrosive.
  • Avoid coarse scouring detergent that will scratch and wear away the protective finish.
  • You can also try power scrubbers that aid in the scrubbing effort. However, do remember that these cleaning devices have batteries that need recharging and parts, which can be expensive to replace in the long run.

How can you prevent your tub from getting dirty in the first place?

  • Drain the used bath water immediately, especially if you have soaked with bath salts and oils. Don’t let it sit in the tub.
  • Do a thorough rinse of the bathtub interior with fresh water immediately after use. Allowing the dirt to “settle in” only makes cleaning that much harder!
  • Don’t use any of the corrosive or abrasive cleaning supplies warned against above. These will create a rough surface or even crevices where dirt can accumulate.
  • If little kids use your tub, too, keep them from bringing in toys or other objects that could scratch the surface. (The same goes for pets with sharp claws or nails who may climb in!)
  • Invest in cleaning supplies and solutions that are designed precisely to make bathtub cleaning easier and more thorough.
  • You may even indulge in a professional cleaning service a couple of times a year to ensure a truly spotless and germ-free tub!

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