The Best Bathtub Stain Remover Methods (Acrylic or Porcelain)

Find out how to clean an acrylic or porcelain tub from the most persistent stains. We break down the best bathtub stain remover methods used by the pros.

Your bathroom should be a peaceful space. A dirty bathtub filled with stains is anything but peaceful, though. Not only is it unsightly, but who knows what unseen germs lurk on the surface? 

This article breaks down the best bathtub stain remover methods used by the pros at Homeaglow. Find out how to clean an acrylic or porcelain tub from the most persistent stains.

Know your bathtub stain remover options

Before we begin, you need to know which stain remover supplies to get and which to avoid based on your bathtub type.

Stain remover methods for bathtubs depend on two things: the type of mineral that caused the stain and whether the tub is constructed of porcelain or acrylic. 

Stain removers for porcelain vs acrylic tubs

For example, if you have an acrylic bathtub, a simple solution of warm water, dish soap, and a soft sponge is enough to do the trick. In contrast, a porcelain tub might require lemon and salt or a paste of cream tartar for tougher stains. 

Additionally, porcelain tubs require special care—abrasive cleaning agents chip at the surface, while scouring powder, white vinegar, and steel wool can harm a porcelain bathtub's finish. On the other hand, a mixture of white vinegar and hot water has no adverse effect on acrylic tubs. 

All of this is to say it's important to think carefully about the type of stain remover you choose based on your bathtub.


Common bathtub stains

Identifying the type of stain in your bathtub can also help you choose the right method for removing it. Here are some common stains you might find in a bathtub. 

Hard water stains: White or light-colored. Caused by mineral deposits in the water.

Rust stains: Typically reddish-brown or orange in color. Caused by mineral deposits in the water or metal objects left in the tub.

Iron stains: Typically appear as brown or reddish-brown discoloration on the tub's surface. Caused by iron deposits in the water.

Soap scum stains: White or grayish film that can build up on the tub's surface. Caused by the combination of soap and hard water.

How to remove hard water bathtub stains

If you have hard water at home, you might have noticed a whitish or light-colored stain in your bathtub. The bad news is that hard water stains are stubborn to remove. The good news is that there are several methods to remove these stubborn stains. 

If one method doesn’t work for your particular stain, move on to the next.

What stain remover supplies you’ll need

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Borax
  • A spray bottle
  • A scrub brush or sponge
  • A soft cloth

Steps for cleaning

Step 1: Create a vinegar and water solution 

Mix one part white vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle.

Step 2: Spray the solution on the stain

Liberally spray the solution over the hard water stain and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Scrub the stain

Use a scrub brush or sponge to scrub the stain vigorously. The vinegar solution should loosen the mineral deposits and make it easier to remove the stain.

Step 4: Rinse the tub

Rinse the bathtub with clean water to remove the vinegar solution.

Step 5: Apply baking soda for persistent stains

If the stains remain after using the vinegar and water solution, you can use a baking soda paste.

  • Mix baking soda with just enough water to make a paste
  • Apply the paste to the stubborn stain 
  • Let sit for 15 minutes
  • Use a scrub brush or sponge to scrub the baking soda paste into the stain
  • Rinse the bathtub with water to remove the baking soda paste.

Step 5: Use lemon juice or borax for added cleaning power

If the hard water stain is still there after using both methods, apply lemon juice or borax to the remaining stain and let it sit for a few minutes. 

Next, use your scrub brush or sponge to thoroughly scrub the lemon juice or borax into the stain. Finally, rinse the bathtub with water to remove leftover cleaning products. 

Repeat these steps until the hard water stain is completely removed.

How to remove bathtub rust stains

Rust stains are a common problem in households with older plumbing or metal fixtures. Luckily, with the right supplies and a little elbow grease, you can remove those unsightly stains and restore your bathtub to its former glory.

The salt in this cleaning method acts as a mild abrasive, and the lemon juice helps dissolve the rust.

What stain remover supplies you’ll need

  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Microfiber cloth

Steps for cleaning

  • Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the rust stain
  • Sprinkle salt over the lemon juice 
  • Let the mixture sit for a few hours 
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the stained area 
  • Rinse with warm water and dry it with a microfiber cloth

How to remove bathtub iron stains

For iron stains, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar (aka potassium bitartrate) works wonders. Hydrogen peroxide removes iron stains and other stubborn stains in the shower. Plus, it’s safer for the environment than harsh cleaning agents.

Remember to use rubber gloves if you have delicate skin or an allergy to any of the supplies listed below.

What stain remover supplies you’ll need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cream of tartar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Microfiber cloth or soft sponge
  • Water

Steps for cleaning

  • Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar into a thick paste
  • Apply the paste to the iron stains using your microfiber cloth or soft sponge
  • Allow the paste to sit on the bathtub stains for 10-15 minutes
  • Using your cloth or sponge, scrub the paste into the stains vigorously
  • Rinse with water and repeat the process if the stains are still visible
  • Wash the area with liquid dish soap and water to remove any residue.

How to remove bathtub soap scum stains

Soap scum is an ugly and disgusting stain. However, you can get rid of it in twenty minutes using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. 

What stain remover supplies you’ll need

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Steps for cleaning

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the soap scum stains in your bathtub
  • Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it on the baking soda until it fizzes
  • Let the mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes
  • Use a sponge or scrub brush to scrub the tub’s surface 
  • Rinse the bathtub with water using a spray bottle or a bucket
  • Dry the surface of the bathtub with a microfiber cloth

Remember that using baking soda and vinegar together creates a chemical reaction that can be abrasive to certain surfaces like enamel, porcelain, and fiberglass. It’s best to use another method if you have any of these bathtubs.

Keep your bathtub stain-free

With a little effort and applying the methods in this article, you can keep your bathtub stain-free and look new.

Need help keeping on top of your house cleaning tasks? With Homeaglow, you can easily book an affordable, top-rated cleaner in your area. Read reviews, compare your options, and schedule online in minutes.

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