Cleaning a Stained Bathtub

I'm in the process of moving into an old historic home and boy, does it need work! The porcelain bathtub was disgusting, years worth of stains. For three days, I tried every "soap scum, mildew remover, etc." you could think of. Nothing worked (cue freak out) until I came across two lifesaving products.


  1. Pumie Pumice Scouring Stick from Lowe's. $2.83 each. I used 4=$11.32. This is safe on porcelain, not enamel. Just wet the stick and scrub. It immediately started really removing stains. Once I ran out, I didn't feel like getting back in car so thought I would give the next product a try.

  2. Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser, $2.50, local grocery store, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, etc. This stuff is amazing! I let it sit for a few minutes and scrubbed and it took everything nasty right off. I will never use another cleaning product! It's cheap and can also be used on so much more than just the bathroom.

So, including some scrub brushes from Dollar Tree, I spent around $16 and it looks like I bought a new tub! (The pink bottle in corner is just a cleaner I already had to wipe down tile.) I was so thrilled with outcome, I wanted to share with everyone! Hope this helps!

P.S. I forgot to take a legit "before pic". This before pic is right after I had started using the pumice stick. You can tell where it's been used on the right of pic.

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I don't like to use chemicals that have an odor. I found using a laundry soap powder works great! Fill the tub with hot water. Leave it in for about 10-15 minutes. Then drain.

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20 Questions

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May 19, 2020

What are the best home remedies to clean a dirty, water stained, rusty tub?


May 19, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

Make a thick paste with Baking Soda and water, apply and clean with this solution and no harmful fumes or chemicals!

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May 22, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

Be sure you try a spot test area before doing any of these suggestions.

The must recommended solution is to use Baking soda and white vinegar and then scrubbing with a cloth.
Next is to use lemon and salt and leave on for an hour.

Some people report good results using Barkeepers Friend.

Here are some links that have full instructions for several methods.

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May 30, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've had great luck cleaning deposits with a pumice stone

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July 25, 2019

I have several blue streaks in my bathtub that suddenly appeared. Any suggestions on how to get rid of them and the cause?

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July 31, 2011

What can I use to get rid of those horrible dark (I guess mildew and soap scum) stains in my tub?

By Ronnie S.


August 1, 20110 found this helpful

Wet down the tub well and use scouring powder such as Comet, a plastic mesh scouring pad and some elbow grease.

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August 1, 20110 found this helpful

A cleaner like Mr. Clean and an abrasive sponge like the ones made by Vileda should also work. Wet the tub, put in the stopper. Pour in about 1/2 cup of Mr Clean (you would need less if the tub wasn't so dirty), Sponge it around all over the tub, let sit for about 5-10 mins, then scrub with your abrasive sponge. If you have a heavy build up, there isn't any really easy way except a good cleaner and elbow grease.

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

You want to avoid anything with bleach if your stains are from mold, even the purpose made products that claim to be specific for cleaning mold from tile. Bleach and mold react to form a gas that over time can cause serious health problems:

Vinegar is much safer, and works every bit as well removing mold. Works not only on bathroom tiles but everywhere you have mold-kitchen, garage, porch and patio.

But those stains could also be from hard/mineral-laden water. Try the vinegar (mix at one-to-one parts). If that doesn't remove the staining, you might have stains from the water. There are products to address that (CLR, etc) but if the staining is from the water in the first place, you will always have to use those products to keep the tub stain free.

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

I feel the need to add something else here. Frugalsunnie has a very, very good point and I NEVER use anything that contains chlorine bleach anymore because I am one of those who have lung damage because of having used it. In saying that, it was my mistake to not mention to you that you should not use comet with bleach. The company does sell it without the bleach. Also, Frugalsunnie is referring to chlorinated bleach. Non chlorine bleach is safe and is usually on the same store shelf right next to chlorine bleach :-)

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June 16, 2015

I always have consoled myself that the ring was not from me, but from the soaking of basket weave reeds in the tub. Whether that is true or not I have no idea. Is that a possibility? I would not mind getting rid of it if anyone has a suggestion. It has been there for years and I have scrubbed it as though it were a regular ring, but to no avail.


November 5, 20170 found this helpful

Have you tried Purple Power? It is a cleaner that can be bought through Walmart it is a really great cleaner, I used to clean apartment bathrooms for a living getting them ready for new tenants and I've come across some pretty dirty tubs but none that Purple Power would not clean.

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November 5, 20170 found this helpful

Barkeepers Friend abs a magic eraser will work well

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February 9, 2015

How do I remove stains left behind by drain cleaners such as Draino or Liquid Fire?

By Buck R. from Danville, IL

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I was dyeing my hair with Kool Aid and when I washed it out it staned my bathtub. How do I get it out; it's dark red.

By geka atencio

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June 18, 2011

How can I get stains out of an old bathroom tub? It may or may not be made out of porcelain.

By Alan from Ludlow, KY


June 19, 20110 found this helpful

Chances are, if it's stained badly, then more than likely it's porcelain and the glass finish has been scoured off. Never use an abrasive scouring powder to clean porcelain not even Bon Ami. Porcelain has a glass finish, would you use a scouring powder to clean your mirrors or windows? Of course not. Do a web search for 'Cleaning damaged porcelain', there are lots of recommendations, if your tub is an antique, you may have to seek professional services if it's worth it.

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June 21, 20110 found this helpful

Our upstairs tub in a huge old porcelain tub. I had an ugly rust stain running down the front of it that was there when we purchased our home. One day I was cleaning the toilet with toilet cleaner liquid I purchased from the Dollar Tree store. I was amazed at how it cleaned up the rust stain in the bowl. I decided to try it on the tub, I figured it couldn't make it any worse. To my surprised it removed the stain instantly. You may want to try a tiny bit with a q-tip of something to make sure it won't damage it.

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July 29, 2015

I live in a manufactured home. How do I clean it so it doesn't have yellow stains?


November 6, 20170 found this helpful

You can use a combination of cream of tartar and lemon.

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November 21, 2010

I have a beige colored tub. I used Kaboom cleaner on it and unfortunately there are now purplish stains in the corners of my tub. I had those plastic shower caddies in those corners. Even though I rinsed the tub I am wondering if the cleaner caused these stains. Is there any way to get rid of the stains without ruining the tub?

By Ronnie from Lowell, IN


November 27, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know whether or not the cleaner caused the purple stain, but I do know some people say Pantene Pro-V can cause purple bathtub stains, so I guess other things could cause it, too.

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What is the best way to remove bath tub stains?

By Melissa from Lake Charles, LA


June 19, 20100 found this helpful
Greased Lightening can be purchased from either Dollar General or Family Dollar. It's does a great job in removing mold, mildew, soap scum, stains, etc. A 40-oz. bottle cost $3.00. You can even print off a $1.00 coupon on the coupon websites.
Be sure to follow the instructions by wearing rubber gloves and having good ventilation.

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November 13, 2013

My boyfriend and I are renovating a really old house. The lady who lived there before us was there for 7 years. She was a chain smoker, had arthritis, and had several baths a day! As far as we can tell the tub had never been cleaned. This residue has formed into a thick, hard yellow/green surface. I have tried several methods including CLR, Comet, and other cleaning products and no luck. Is there anything I can do?

By Rikia

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June 6, 2012

How do I get white Jif cleaner stains out of my bath?

By Judi G

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October 25, 2011

Rust stains can get on your tub either from old plumbing or from metal objects left sitting around the edge. These stains can be removed from your tub by using the proper cleaning products. This is a page about removing rust stains from a bathtub.

Someone scrubbing a bathtub.

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