Avoid scratching or staining your acrylic tub by opting for delicate solutions and soft cleaning tools
As you wind down for the day and draw a relaxing bath, the last thing you want to find is a ring of soap scum and rust around the edge of your tub. Just like porcelain or cast iron, acrylic tubs collect mineral deposits and mildew when constantly exposed to water. Luckily, cleaning these stains is relatively simple, but you'll need to take extra care not to damage the delicate acrylic material.
Difficulty score: 2/5
Time needed to clean an acrylic bathtub: 15-30 minutes
Soft cleaning cloth or sponge
Mild soap or white vinegar and baking soda
Refillable spray bottle
Dry microfiber towel
1. Inspect Your Tub
Always start off by 100% confirming that you have an acrylic tub. Fiberglass, porcelain, and cast iron are the other common materials and often require a different approach to cleaning.
Acrylic is a durable and sturdy plastic, but is much lighter and often more affordable than other bathtub options. Acrylic tubs also come in a wider range of colors, so if you have a pale blue bathtub that pairs with your slate-gray tiles, there's a solid chance it's acrylic.
When in doubt, always look to your manufacturer's manual for specific advice. While the cleaning tips below apply to nearly all acrylic tubs, each company typically includes a list of cleaning brands and solutions to avoid.
2. Choose Your Cleaning Solution
The number-one rule when it comes to cleaning acrylic tubs is to avoid caustic and corrosive solvents. These include:
Cleaners in aerosol cans
You can find plenty of acrylic-safe cleaners at the store, including bleach-free Clorox® wipes, and in some cases, a Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser. However, if you're unsure about your specific tub's requirements, stick to the cleaners that specifically note they are safe on acrylic surfaces.
Avoid any problems by opting for mild soap or natural cleaning mixtures, such as:
Cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide
White vinegar and baking soda
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
Borax and water
Safety note: Never—and we mean never—mix household cleaning supplies as this can create harmful fumes. You should also avoid mixing natural products with cleaning solutions, such as vinegar and bleach.
3. Pick Your Cleaning Tools
The brush, towel, or sponge you use to clean your acrylic tub is just as important as the solution. Opt for a soft and delicate option that will not scratch the acrylic material of your tub. While this means the process may take a bit longer, you'll protect the longevity of your tub's beauty in the process.
The best cleaning materials for an acrylic tub include:
Terry cloth towel
Soft dish sponge
Soft bristle brush
Be sure to avoid:
Hard bristle brushes
4. Treat the Stains
To fully protect the finish of your acrylic tub, you'll want to coax the stains off the tub instead of forcing them. Pretreat your tub with natural pantry items or acrylic-safe all-purpose cleaners to get started.
While wearing gloves, apply one of the following mixtures to remove stains:
White Vinegar and Water
Sprinkle a thin layer of baking powder on your tub and spray the tub with a solution of one-part white vinegar and one-part water. Let the solution bubble and foam for 15 minutes before lightly scrubbing.
Borax and Water
Mix several tablespoons of Borax with water to create a paste. Leave the solution on the stains to sit for about 20 minutes.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Cream of Tartar
Add a teaspoon of cream of tartar to a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide to create a paste. Like the Borax and water, add the mixture to trouble areas and let sit for 15 minutes.
The acidity in lemons and other citrus fruits can also fight soap scum and water lines, though it may not work effectively for tough stains. That being said, your bathroom will smell a bit brighter than when using vinegar.
You have a few options here. Consider spraying undiluted lemon juice on your stains and let it sit for 15 minute before scrubbing. You can also stretch your solution further but cutting it with water or mixing:
One part lemon juice
One part white vinegar
And one part water
After applying these solutions, go enjoy a cup of coffee as the cleaners set and break down mold, mildew, and stubborn rust stains.
5. Get Scrubbin
Now that your solution has had the chance to break down the stains, use your soft cloth, sponge, or brush to lightly remove stains. Don't be afraid to use some elbow grease if you have a very soft cloth.
If you're using dish soap, shampoo, or an acrylic-safe all-purpose cleaner, there's no need to wait to start the scrubbing process unless otherwise noted on the bottle.
6. Dry it Off
The often-overlooked cleaning step is the drying process. Use a dust-free microfiber cloth to dry off the area and show off the clean acrylic tub beneath.
7. Keep it Clean
Wash your tub with a soft antibacterial soap at least once a week to fight build-up. Your manufacturer may also include specific tips for keeping your particular tub shiny and new between cleans.
DIY vs. Professional Bathtub Cleaning
Let's address the big question: is it worth cleaning tough stains off your bathtub yourself? You'll save a good deal of money taking the DIY approach with this one, as house cleaning costs run between $25 to $90 an hour.
On top of this, natural and simple cleaning materials are best for the job, meaning they are cheaper as well. If you opt for the vinegar and baking soda approach, pull off the whole project for around $10 to $15.
As a relatively easy DIY cleaning project, you end up with a clean bathtub in just about a half an hour—and even have a break in the middle. Keeping up with these stains makes them easier to erase and helps you put off bathtub replacement or new liner installation that much longer.