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How to Deal with Bathtub Stains that Won’t Come Out

How to Deal with Bathtub Stains that Won’t Come Out

A stained bathtub is never a welcomed sight, especially if you want to soak in the tub after a long, hard day. And while you can rinse the tub and reassure yourself that it is clean, you are better off removing the stubborn yellow stains and soaking in your tub in peace.

Keep reading to learn how to remove stains from your bathtub.

How to remove brown stains in an enamel bathtub

Start with a gentle cleanser to protect the enamel bathtub material from damage. Then, try your usual dish soap and warm water to see if you can scrub away the stain. Don’t use a scratchy cleaning tool, as this can cause little scratches in the finish.

There are many ways to get rid of brown stains from your enamel bathtub;

Diluted White Vinegar

White vinegar is a powerful cleaner that removes stains on almost any surface. But since we are talking about enamel surfaces, you should dilute them first.

Cleaning steps;

  • Mix white vinegar and clean water in equal parts
  • Then dip a sponge, microfiber cloth, or any other soft cloth into the diluted vinegar solution
  • Rub the stain with the damp cloth and allow the solution to dissolve the brown stain for about 15 minutes
  • Rinse off the vinegar with warm water and leave the tub to dry

Diluted Bleach Solution

Bleach can be corrosive. So, you shouldn’t pour it directly onto your enamel bathtub surface. Instead, you should dilute and use it to wipe the stain off.

Cleaning steps;

  • Mix 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to make a dilute bleach solution
  • Apply the solution to the stains and wait for about 15 minutes for the bleach to dissolve the stain
  • Lightly scrub the paint stain off using a soft cloth or sponge
  • Rinse off the stain with warm water and leave the tub to dry

Castile Soap + Essential Oils

How about you make your own home multi-purpose bath cleaner? All it takes are castile soap, baking soda, and essential oils.

The two make the perfect cleaner for different types of bathtub stains, and you can also use them to clean the sink and other surfaces spotless.

Cleaning steps;

  • Mix essential oils, baking soda, and Castile liquid soap in a spray bottle in equal parts
  • Spray the mixture on the stain and leave it to act for about 15 minutes
  • Gently rub the brown stain off using a soft cloth or sponge
  • Rinse it off with warm water

Remember, essential oils have disinfectant properties, whereas castile soap and baking soda are natural cleaners.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda

If you don’t have castile soap and essential oils, you can substitute them with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is powerful against stubborn stains and enjoys disinfectant properties.

It’s just that it’s more effective when used with baking soda or tartar cream.

Cleaning steps;

  • Mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda at a ratio of 1:2
  • Apply the paste to the stain and allow it to act for 30-60 minutes
  • Use a sponge, soft brush, or microfiber towel to rub the stain off
  • Rinse the tub with warm water and allow it to dry

Salt + Lemon Juice

Using common salt and lemon juice, you can restore your tub to its original spotless self. The two combine well to make the best tub stain remover that doesn’t rust your tub.

Cleaning steps;

  • First, cover the brown stains with salt
  • Then squeeze lemon on top for the juice to cover the salt
  • Use a sponge or microfiber cloth to scrub the mixture
  • If the stain doesn’t go away, reapply the paste mixture and give it 30-60 minutes to act
  • Rinse off the tub with warm water and wipe it dry

Commercial Cleaners

If you don’t want to go through the hustle of making a home cleaner, you can buy a ready-to-apply option and use it to clean your discolored tub.

Ensure you go for a biodegradable, easy-to-apply, and non-toxic option like Bio-Clean Hard Water Stain Remover. This commercial cleaner removes stubborn stains and rust on a variety of surfaces.

How to clean plastic bathtub stains

To remove plastic bathtub stains, use the products;


For cleaning your plastic bathtub, rubbing alcohol is the best you can use.

Cleaning steps;

  • Start by flushing it out with hot water. Then, let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Then, rub or wipe the tub’s surface with rubbing alcohol on a wet paper towel or cotton ball to remove stains or mildew.
  • Wipe gently and slowly and don’t apply pressure or use sharp and hard objects and materials to rub the tub.
  • Make sure to rinse the tub off afterward, so any remaining rubbing alcohol doesn’t dry onto the surface of your tub.


Chlorine isn’t just used to disinfect water. Chlorine could be an effective solution for removing those stains from the bathtub. This is possible because chlorine’s oxidizing effect could eliminate most stains on your plastic bathtub.

To use chlorine to clean a bathtub, you can simply sprinkle chlorine on a bathtub that has stains. Wait 15 minutes for the chlorine to work on the stain. Next, scrub with a brush to loosen the stains, then flush all of them off with water.

Chlorine destroys stains by further dissolving them into smaller particles that will be easier to flush or scrub off. The chemical reaction will continue until the stain is almost entirely gone.

Safety hazard

Chlorine is very harmful if it’s not handled properly. Wear protective gear like masks, hats, gloves, and glasses when cleaning with chlorine.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide produces more oxygen than plain water, which is why it’s often used to unclog drains and toilets. The bubbles produced by hydrogen peroxide also make it more efficient at removing dye stains from bathtubs than using water.

In particular, it could be used to remove mildew from plastic bathtubs. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove wine stains from ceramic bathtubs.

Cleaning steps;

  • Pour a generous amount of peroxide into the bathtub.
  • Let it sit on the surface for 10 minutes. Then, use a scouring brush to scrub off the moldy spots.
  • Flush the area with water after you’re done.
  • You can mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda if you want the best result. By doing this, you can create a paste that you can use to scrub your bathtub.
  • Create a paste by adding three tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide to a bowl.
  • Apply this paste onto the stained area of the tub and leave it for about 10 minutes. Scrub until the stains disappear. Then, rinse it all with water.

Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda has strong de-greasing properties that can be used to clean oil or grease stains. Vinegar is commonly used to clean tubs because its acidic properties soften soap scum, allowing it to be easily brushed away.

Mix baking soda with water to make the paste, then sprinkle it into the bathtub, especially in the stained area. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Then, mix vinegar with water into a spray bottle and spray it on the stained area of your bathtub. Scrub with a brush until the stain is gone. Then, flush it with water to clean it all up.

Lemon water

Lemon remains to be an excellent natural cleaner. The acidic content in lemon water cleans the tub most effectively; also, the anti-bacterial property of lemon juice prevents an unpleasant odor after cleaning.

Spray the lemon water in the tub and leave it there until evening or for a whole night. Then, scrub the stain and mold away. Repeat this procedure until the tub is clean. Finally, flush it with water to eliminate any residue left by the acid in the lemon.

Hand sanitizer

Cleaning your bathtub is easy with hand sanitizer. The active ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol, which easily removes stains on the plastic. First, fill up your bathtub with two inches of hot water, and add one cup of hand sanitizer. Allow the mixture to dissolve. Then, take an old toothbrush (or whatever your preferred brush is), and scrub the sides of your bathtub.

The hand sanitizer will dissolve the mildew stains and get rid of them for good.

Dish soap

Dish soap is another effective cleaning solution for your plastic bathtub. To apply it, mix the dish soap with water and spray it on your bathtub. It’ll foam, so scrub it with a sponge or brush. The bubbles will loosen any dirt and grime.

After that, flush the bathtub with plenty of fresh running water.

Cleaning liquid

Cleaning liquid, or bathroom cleaner, is a very common cleaning agent. This is because there are so many brands available in the market. They can do a wide range of things: removing grease and grime, removing rust, and so on.

Ensure to choose a cleaning liquid made for plastic bathtubs if the chemical in the cleaning liquid is incompatible with plastic.

Mix the cleaner with water and spray it all over the tub. Using a scrubbing brush, scrub the tub until it’s cleaned. After that, flush it with water to remove any stains from the bathtub.

Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

A paste made from sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide can remove tough stains from your bathtub. First, mix baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste, and apply the paste on stubborn stains. Then, use a sponge or a soft-bristled brush to scrub the gentle abrasive into the surface without scratching it.

Let the paste sit until dry, rinse the tub with warm water, or wipe any excess off. Repeat until all stains are gone. As referenced in our blog, you can also use this solution to clean tile and grout.

Use Bleach

Bleach should only be used on white bathtubs, but can make your tub gleam and look pristine again. Use bleach diluted with water for light stains and undiluted for heavy stains. Then, apply the bleach directly on the stains and let it sit until the stain disappears. Make sure to rinse off the bleach before using the tub to prevent skin irritation.

Call a professional cleaner

It can be frustrating to attempt to clean the bathtub yourself. If there are stains, you might not know what can remove them.

The last thing you want to do is cause more damage to the tub by trying to clean it yourself. Instead of doing that, call out a professional cleaning service to handle it for you! They will come to your home and give it a quick, thorough cleaning!

Professional cleaners can help you eliminate the dirt in your bathtub and keep it looking great. In addition, they can bring your bathtub back to its previous condition without causing any damage.

How to get tough stains out of the acrylic tub

Use the cleaning solutions below to remove stains from your acrylic bathtub;

White vinegar and water

White vinegar is a natural cleaner, which is why it’s the go-to item for many people. Although vinegar doesn’t give off a nice smell, it does, however, work wonders when it comes to removing stains.

Items needed

  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Cloth
  • White vinegar

Cleaning steps;

  • Clear your bathtub – remove any shampoo bottles and soaps on the side.
  • Open a window for ventilation.
  • In a clean spray bottle, mix two parts of white vinegar with two parts of warm water.
  • Give the spray bottle a quick shake.
  • Spray the contents of the bottle onto the stained area.
  • Wait 20 minutes.
  • With a damp, warm cloth, wipe the stain down.
  • Continue to do this until the stain has been removed.
  • Wash the bath down with warm water when you’re done.

Alternatively fill your bathtubs with hot water and pour 3-4 cups of white vinegar into the water. Then let it sit like this for a few hours, and finally, they drain the water away.

Bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar, and water

Bicarbonate of soda is also another natural cleaner, and it can remove tough stains in just a few minutes! Pair it with white vinegar; the pair will sizzle and pop, and together they’ll break down the hardest stains in your tub.

Items needed

  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Cloth

Cleaning steps;

  • Remove all the products from your bathtub.
  • In a spray bottle, mix two parts of white vinegar with two parts of warm water.
  • Grab some bicarbonate of soda and place some over the stained area in your bathtub.
  • Spray the white vinegar and water mixture onto the bicarbonate of soda.
  • Wait for the bubbles to appear – the potion is working its magic!
  • You then need to grab a soft toothbrush or cloth and rub at the area until a paste-like consistency forms on the surface.
  • Allow the paste to rest like this for 20 minutes.
  • Wipe away the paste and rub harder at the surface if needed.
  • Rinse the bathtub down when you’re finished.

Bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong chemical that should be used with great care. When using this product, you should ensure that there are no kids and pets around you, always keep a window open and wear protection.

 Note: hydrogen peroxide may damage your acrylic tubs, so if you choose to try this method, you do so at your own risk.

Items needed

  • Bowl
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Cloth
  • Spoon
  • Gloves/eye protection

Cleaning steps;

  • Wear gloves and eye protection
  • In a clean bowl, add one part of hydrogen peroxide to two parts of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Stir the mixture around until you get a paste-like consistency.
  • Move to an unseen part of your bathtub and try this mixture out. If all works out, continue with this method.
  • Spread the mixture you’ve created all over the stained areas in your bathtub.
  • Allow the mixture to rest like this for 30 minutes.
  • Dab the area with a damp, warm cloth to remove the mixture.
  • Rinse the bathtub and repeat the steps above if you do not see the desired results.

Specialized cleaners

If creating your cleaning solution isn’t for you, then you can buy a specialized cleaning product to do the job. There are multiple products available today, but you must make sure that you purchase a cleaner suitable for acrylic bathtubs. Failing to choose the correct cleaner may result in you damaging your tub, which could be costly to repair.

Remember that while some products work well for some people, it doesn’t always mean they will work for everyone. For example, every stain is unique, and how old the stain is impacts how well a cleaner will work.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Cramer Acrylic Shower Tray and Bath Cleaner – This cleaner can clean away general dirt caused by soaps and limescale in acrylic tubs. It’s very easy to use. You spray it onto a surface, wipe it down and rinse any excess product. Furthermore, it’s also eco-friendly and has a nice odor, so it’ll smell a little nicer than white vinegar!  

Mellerud – Acrylic Clean and Care – If you’re looking for a longer-lasting product, then Mellerud’s Acrylic Clean and Care are ideal! This item can also clean away oil, limescale, and soapy residues from bathtubs. And again, it’s very easy to use.

Note: Always follow the instructions on the packaging to use the product of your choice correctly.

Pro tips for cleaning Acrylic Bathtubs

These are the dos and don’ts of cleaning acrylic bathtubs;

  • Use soft tools and pads to clean your bathtub’s stains, as this will prevent the tub from becoming scratched and damaged.
  • Using neutral and homemade remedies to clean your stains is a safe option. Products like white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda are fairly harmless to use around the house.
  • Keep air flowing around you when you’re cleaning. Open all the windows and doors.
  • Test products before you use them.
  • Wear old clothes when you clean the stains, as some items can damage and discolor your clothes.
  • Rinse your bathtub down several times when you’re done cleaning it. This will remove any excess product, it’ll also put an end to any dangerous chemicals that you’ve used, and any slippery substances will be washed away.
  • Clean all the stained crevices too.
  • Avoid using tough scourers to clean your bathtub because these pads will mark the surface.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean your bathtub’s stains if you have a septic tank. Not all products are suitable, so you should check before cleaning.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean your stains away because this could damage the bathtub.

How to Remove Tough Stains from Fiberglass bathtubs

This method can remove mildew, stains, and soap scum, or if you need a good weekly cleaning. This method can quickly and easily wipe it all out.

Items needed

  • Vinegar and baking soda
  • Baking soda
  • Dawn dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Borax
  • Lemon juice
  • Commercial rust remover (CLR, etc.)
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Old toothbrush/soft bristle brush
  • Cup

Cleaning steps

  • Wet the entire tub. (So, the baking soda sticks.)
  • Sprinkle the tub with baking soda.
  • Let that sit for a minute while creating a 1:1 solution of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the baking soda with the mixture.
  • Get the baking soda good and saturated.
  • After it stops fizzing, spread the mixture over every area of the tub using circular motions with a cloth.
  • Allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Of course, it takes longer if the stains are built up.
  • Scrub a bit more to remove any loose junk.
  • Fill a cup with water and rinse the tub.

How to remove tough stains from a fiberglass tub with textured bottom

If you have tough stains on the textured bottom of your tub, don’t despair. There is a quick fix for that.

  • Create a thick paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Add a few drops of Dawn dish soap.
  • Spread the paste onto the bottom of the tub.
  • Let it sit for 30 or so minutes.
  • Use a bristle brush or toothbrush and scrub in circular motions.
  • The dirtier the texture is, the more elbow grease you need to add.
  • Use the cup to rinse.

How to remove Hard Water Stains from Fiberglass Tub

Hard water stains on the sides of your tub and bottom can be difficult to clean. However, they are far from impossible. For hard water stains, grab a lemon or two and some borax.

  • Wet the tub.
  • Sprinkle the hard water stains with borax.
  • Cut the lemons in half.
  • Rub the lemon over the borax.
  • Let it sit for an hour or two.
  • Rinse with water.
  • If any stain remains, sprinkle baking soda on a wet toothbrush.
  • Add a drop of Dawn and scrub.

How to Remove Rust Stains from a Fiberglass Tub

If borax, lemon, and white vinegar aren’t working to eliminate the hard water and rust, you need to look for a commercial rust remover. These come by several names, but any rust and limescale remover is safe for fiberglass works.

You will need a packet of detergent powder with borax

Cleaning steps;

  • Add the recommended amount of the commercial cleaner to the tub, per the instructions.
  • Allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time.
  • Rinse and dry.

Note: It’s important to wear gloves before using commercial rust removers as they can hurt the skin.

How to Clean Mold and Bathmat Stains from Fiberglass Tub

To get rid of mold or bathmat stains, you need a bit of baking soda and vinegar.

  • Create a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Smear the paste on the mold.
  • Soak a towel in straight vinegar.
  • Put the towel over the paste.
  • Allow it to sit for at least an hour.
  • Scrub until all the mold or bathmat stains are gone.
  • Rinse with water.
  • Wipe with a cloth.

Homemade Soap Scum Remover

Add 12 ounces of your favorite liquid de-greasing dishwashing detergent and 12 ounces of white distilled vinegar to a 1-quart spray bottle. Spray the tub, surround it with the homemade soap-scum product, and let it sit for up to an hour before rinsing and wiping clean. You can also use this solution to shine the tub after stain removal.

DIY bathtub scrub

To make a homemade soft scrub to remove black spots, grease, or scuff marks from fiberglass tubs, combine 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of liquid grease-cutting dish detergent, and 5 to 10 drops of lavender oil — or your favorite fragrance — in a bowl. Add the essential oil to the ingredients after thoroughly mixing the baking soda and dish detergent. Dip a sponge in the solution and apply it to the marks in the tub until they are gone. Rinse and wipe dry.

Check this too: How Do You Clean a Badly Stained Bathtub?

Best Commercial Cleaner for Fiberglass Tubs

If home remedies aren’t your thing, you can turn to commercial cleaners to remove black stains on bathtubs. However, you want to ensure you choose a cleaner designed for fiberglass tubs. Because you don’t want to be so abrasive that it damages the fiberglass. A few cleaners to try for fiberglass include:

  • Soft Scrub – states it’s safe for fiberglass cleaning
  • Bar Keeper’s Friend – safe for porcelain, tile, and fiberglass
  • Weinman Tub, Tile, and Fiberglass Cleaner – designed specifically for fiberglass

Note: While these cleaners are designed specifically for fiberglass, you want to watch using them on damaged tubs. You also want to ensure you follow the directions fully and wear appropriate protective gear like gloves.

Prevention and General Cleaning Don’ts for Fiberglass

There are a few things to prevent soap scum and rust from forming. Additionally, a few cleaners should be avoided. Below are maintenance tips for cleaning an old stained bathtub;

  • After showering or bathing, wipe down the tub with your towel. This can help to avoid rust and soap scum build-up, especially for those with hard water.
  • Always wear the proper protective equipment–like gloves and old clothes–when using chemicals for cleaning.
  • Watch out when using steel wool or abrasive cleaners to avoid scratching fiberglass.
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide on any colored fiberglass since it can fade it.
  • Make sure to rinse chemicals well.

How to Prevent Bathtub Stains

Here are tips you can use to prevent bathtub discoloration in the first place:

  • Clean your tub at least once a week. It’s also a good idea to clean your bathtub after using bath bubbles or oil-based products, as these can build up and cause stains.
  • Make sure you don’t have iron or tannins in your water. If you do, use a filter.
  • Dry your bathtub thoroughly after each use so that water — specifically hard water — isn’t sitting on the surface. It can also prevent mold and mildew.
  • Don’t use the wrong cleaners for your tub type. This can leave nasty and hard-to-remove stains.
  • Use natural soaps, shampoos, or bars to prevent soap scum build-up.