How To Clean Your Bathtub And Tile

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If you’re someone who enjoys a nice, hot bath, then you’ve probably paid attention to the condition of your tub and the surrounding tiles (or you certainly should). If you’re someone who just hops in and out of the shower without lingering, it can be easy to let the grime build up over time until one day, you spot the black gunk in between your shower tiles and are forced to face the facts: Your bathtub is looking pretty disgusting.

In a situation like this, it can be tempting to just close the shower curtain and hope that no one looks back there. But you’re probably going to want to actually clean it. Doing so may seem like a major project, but it’s really not that bad. Here’s how to clean your tub and tile, broken down into steps and various methods.

Heat it up

Before you really get down and dirty, do yourself a favour and preheat your tub. Just running some hot water in the tub will help loosen up the dirt and gummy buildup before you start scrubbing. Consider filling your tub up with approximately four inches of hot water, splashing some around on the tiles and other surfaces and letting it sit. After a few minutes, the surfaces will be warmed up and ready for cleaning.

DIY baking soda and vinegar

Once your tub is nice and warm, it’s time to apply your cleaner of choice. There are a lot of options out there, both store-bought and those you can make yourself. The Old Farmers’ Almanac provides these cleaning instructions using baking soda and vinegar:

Sprinkle baking soda in place of scouring powder in your tub or on the tiles. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse Thoroughly.

To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply full-strength vinegar to a sponge and wipe the area. Next, use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly.

Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn’t leave a film. Use ¼ cup (or more) vinegar to 3.8 litres of water.

To clean grout, put 3 cups baking soda into a medium-size bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.

Grapefruit and salt

Another DIY option is cleaning your tub and tiles with a grapefruit and some salt. As Whitson Gordon previously wrote for Lifehacker: “Just take a medium to large sized grapefruit, cut it in half, sprinkle on some kosher salt, and go to town. Using the grapefruit to scrub your bathtub (fixtures and all) will do a surprisingly good job of cleaning away dirt and grime, and when you’re done all you need to do is rinse it out.” Bonus: it’ll smell great.

Let it sit, then scrub

Once you’ve chosen a cleaning product, apply it all over the tub, shower and tiles, making sure everything is evenly coated. After that, let the cleaner sit for a few minutes to give it a chance to work. Next comes the most strenuous part of the process: scrubbing the area. You can go in with a rag, sponge or cleaning brush, or you could pop a scrubbing disc or brush on the end of your power drill, to cut down on the elbow grease required for the job. Once you’re done, rinse off all the surfaces you just cleaned.

Get the grout

If your grout needs special attention, you can buy a variety of products to target that area. You can also just use lemon juice. Either way, apply the cleaner with an old toothbrush and scrub until the grout is your desired shade.

Use oven cleaner as a last resort

Granted, oven cleaner is basically the polar opposite of making your own environmentally friendly tub and tile cleaner, but it’s good to know that it can serve as a last resort for getting stains and gunk off your tub. If nothing else works, you may want to give it a try, making sure you take all necessary precautions while working with heavy-duty chemicals. (Wear gloves and make sure the room is well-ventilated, for starters.)

Clean as you go with a dish wand

If you’d prefer to clean your tub and tiles as you go, rather than waiting for several months’ (or years’) worth of build-up to accumulate, you may want to put one of those refillable dish wands in your shower. As Alan Henry previously wrote for Lifehacker: “Add a little vinegar and dish soap, or dish soap and a few drops of bleach to the handle and leave it in the corner of your shower.” Better yet, you can repurpose dish wands that have gotten too gross for actual dishes for bathroom use, and you’ll never have feel ashamed about tub cleanliness while you’re bathing again.


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