Guide To Cleaning A Porcelain Tub


Anyone who owns a porcelain tub would tell you that the worst part of having one is cleaning it. Whether you’re talking about a vintage claw-foot tub that’s made of cast iron and coated with porcelain or a new model for which you’ve been the only owner, porcelain tubs need regular upkeep to keep it looking good. When you find an old one, it’s not uncommon for it to have dingy, dirty marks from years of use. When you buy a new one, it won’t be long before you see some signs of damage. 

  • If you’ve got a porcelain tub that you want to clean, what should you do? 
  • What materials should be avoided, and which are the best for getting your tub clean? 
 To help answer these questions, here’s a look at the basics of porcelain tubs and what you need to know to care for them.

The Appeal and Frustration of Old Porcelain Tubs

If you’re the kind of person who loves vintage charm, you probably love porcelain tubs. Made of cast iron and covered with porcelain enamel, porcelain tubs are beautiful and luxurious. What’s more, they’re designed to be durable. However, over enough time and use, they tend to chip, crack and dull. In fact, if you use the wrong products on the tub, you can wind up damaging it even faster. This is why understanding the proper materials and methods for cleaning is so important.

Materials to Avoid

When it comes to porcelain enamel, abrasive cleaners and materials can ding or chip the surface, making it even worse through the cleaning process. To avoid increased damage, here are a few materials to avoid: 

  • Scouring powder 
  • White vinegar 
  • Steel wool

Materials to Gather

You know what materials to avoid, but what materials should you use? When you buy or rent a home or otherwise inherit an old porcelain tub, you need a few key materials to take care of it properly. About once a month you will need to gather the following materials to deep-clean your tub: 

  • Warm water 
  • A bucket 
  • ¼ cup ammonia 
  • ¼ cup baking soda 
  • A cloth or non-abrasive nylon sponge for scrubbing 
  • For tough stains: Salt and the juice of half a lemon

How to Deep-Clean the Tub

Fill a bucket with warm water and add ammonia and baking soda to the liquid. Soak a cloth or sponge in the mixture and use it to scrub the tub — focusing especially on stained spots. Keep dipping the sponge, scrubbing and repeating until the tub is clean. Afterward, rinse it well with warm water and use a clean rag to wipe the tub clean.

What to Do About Tough Stains

If you have any tough-to-remove stains on the tub, cover them with salt and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top. Or, you can try two parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide set on a stain for about 30 minutes. Use a clean cloth or sponge to scrub the salt mixture into the stain and remove it. If this doesn’t work, leave the salt mixture on the stain for about an hour and retry with a little more lemon juice.

Strategy for Weekly Upkeep

Once your bathtub is sufficiently cleaned, all you need to do is gently clean it on a regular basis to keep it in good shape. Ideally, you’ll want to give it a scrub once a week or so. Here’s what to do: 

  • Mix a gallon of hot water with a few tablespoons of dishwashing soap. 
  • Use a cloth or sponge to scrub the tub’s entire surface. 
  • Rinse well and repeat a week later. You may also want to polish your tub with a little lemon essential oil, rubbed all over with a soft cloth.

What to Do About Stubborn Stains That Won’t Clean

If proper cleaning and upkeep do not resolve your bathtub’s stains and damage, another option is to call in professional help. Through a re-glazing service, you may be able to see your cast-iron fixture looking like new again.

Where to Find a Quality Bathtub

If you’re in the market for a new porcelain bathtub or other bathroom fixture, Modern Bathroom is your online resource. We’re proud to offer factory-direct prices that save customers up to 70 percent off retail costs on bathroom products of all kinds. What’s more, we offer free shipping and a low-price guarantee. If you buy from us, we’ll refund 110 percent of the difference when you find a lower price on that product anywhere else within 30 days. Shop our website to learn more!

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