Yes, There’s a ‘Right’ Way to Clean Your Bathtub—Here’s How to Do It

Knock out this cleaning task faster and more effectively in a few easy steps

Sharon Brandwein
Written by Sharon Brandwein
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated July 11, 2022
Modern ceramic bathtub
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock


Simple project; big impact.

Time to complete

30 minutes

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What you'll need:


  • Grout brush or toothbrush
  • Non-abrasive sponge


  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Tub and tile cleaner

When you’re trying to get clean or feel relaxed, doing so in a dirty tub can feel a little counterproductive. Bathtubs are the preferred hangout for dirt, grime, and bacteria. And if you’re not careful, mold and mildew may join the party, too. To make matters worse, if you don’t know how to clean a bathtub properly, these offenders will keep returning to the scene of the crime. 

The best way to clean a bathtub is by using the right products and the right process. We’ll walk you through the right way to clean your bathtub and even share some tips to help you keep it that way.

A safety note: When using commercial cleaners in an enclosed space, be sure to keep the windows and doors open for proper ventilation. Remember to never mix store-bought cleaning products (especially those containing bleach) with vinegar. Doing so can create chlorine gas which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. High levels of exposure to chlorine gas can be toxic and even lead to death. 

  1. Prepare Tub for Cleaning

    Before you dig in and get down to cleaning your tub, take a minute to clear your workspace and remove everything from the tub. Not only will this make your task infinitely easier, but it will also give you access to the often-neglected nooks, crannies, and far reaches of your tub. Be sure to remove all toiletries, soaps, and other bath accessories. It’s also not a bad idea to clear out unused items, toss out broken or empty containers, and wipe down the remaining bottles. 

  2. Pre-Rinse Tub

    Next, rinse the tub and wall tiles with warm water to get rid of any loose dirt, debris, and hair.  

  3. Clean the Surrounding Walls

    A white ceramic bathtub
    Photo: brizmaker / Adobe Stock

    You’ll want to work from top to bottom when cleaning your tub. That means you should start with the wall tile and then work your way down to the tub itself. 

    To clean the tile, begin by spraying it with your tub and tile cleaner and then follow up with a non-abrasive sponge. Then, you can use your grout brush or toothbrush to tackle the grout lines. Once the walls are clean, you can wipe them down with a wet rag, or if you have a shower head with a hose, you can use that to rinse the walls.

  4. Clean the Drain

    If you find that your tub is draining slowly, now is a good time to clean it out and get things moving again. To do this, pour one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of white vinegar down the drain (there will be some bubbling, but that’s normal) and let it sit for 15 minutes. When time is up, flush the drain with hot water.  

  5. Scrub the Tub

    Once you’ve tackled the tile and the drain, you can move on to the tub. First, liberally spray the tub and tile cleaner around the tub and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. This step gives the cleaner some time to do the heavy-lifting for you. Once the time is up, use a soft, non-abrasive sponge to scrub the surface of the tub. 

  6. Tackle Stubborn Stains

    You can probably clean every room in your home with baking soda and vinegar, and the bathroom is no exception. If stains remain after you’ve scrubbed the tub, mix enough baking soda and vinegar to form a paste and hit the tough spots again. Once you’ve applied paste where it’s needed, let it sit for about 15 minutes. When the time is up, rinse the paste off straight away. If the stain was especially stubborn, you might consider giving it a once-over with a non-abrasive sponge or a toothbrush. 

  7. Rinse and Wipe Down

    A woman cleaning bathtub
    Photo: Budimir Jevtic / Adobe Stock

    When you’re all done, give the tub a final, thorough rinse. Don’t forget to wipe down the faucet and handles. 

How To Clean Mold In Your Bathtub

When it comes to stubborn stains in the caulk around the tub, mold and mildew are the usual suspects. 

"Many homeowners and professional cleaners subscribe to the idea that caulk cannot be scrubbed to remove mildew, bacteria, and mold and that it has to be replaced," says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. "While that’s true in some instances, you should try this DIY method first, which will likely remove the buildup efficiently and at a low cost."

In this case, you’ll have to give your cleaning paste a little power-up and mix the baking soda with bleach instead of vinegar. Again, mix enough of each to make a paste, apply the paste directly to the mold or mildew, and let it sit for about an hour. That should be plenty of time for the paste to work its magic. This mixture is pretty powerful, so you won’t even need to scrub the area. Keep in mind that it’s bleach, so be sure to rinse it thoroughly. 

Additional Questions about Cleaning a Bathtub

Can I use scouring pads to clean my bathtub? 

It’s best to steer clear of abrasive sponges and commercial cleaning products when cleaning your bathtub. These cleaning materials can scratch the surface of your tub, especially those made from acrylic and fiberglass.

How do I keep my tub clean from day to day? 

To keep soap scum and grime in check, rinse the tub after each use as part of your daily bathroom cleaning routine

What if I don’t want to use a commercial cleaner? 

You can always use a homemade vinegar solution as a natural alternative to commercial cleaning products. 

To make and use a vinegar cleaning solution:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and warm water.

  2. Spray the solution liberally across the tub surface.

  3. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it down with a non-abrasive sponge or cleaning cloth, then rinse with clean water.

If a line of soap scum is still visible, spray it with the vinegar solution. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently scrub the residue away before wiping it down and rinsing again.

How often should I clean my bathtub?

Cleaning your bathtub once per week should be plenty. Keeping up a weekly cleaning schedule will prevent mold or mildew issues, and any cleaning you do will be less labor-intensive. If you can’t find the time to clean your bathtub, you could consider hiring a local residential cleaning service.

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