What's the best heavy-duty bathtub cleaner?
October 19, 2004 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I have to use a disgusting bathtub. I refuse to use it without cleaning it first. But the task looks daunting. What's the best heavy-duty bathtub cleaner? I'd also be grateful for any cleaning tips.
posted by grumblebee to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Equal parts salt and baking soda made into a paste and used as a mild abrasive cleaner. Non-toxic for the hands or nose.
posted by Mahogne at 5:36 AM on October 19, 2004

Comet, or its generic equivalent. It's cheap ($0.50 or so a can), slightly abrasive, and bleachtastic. Did a hell of a job on my nasty bathtub and badly-stained kitchen sink.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:15 AM on October 19, 2004

There's this stuff called Barkeeper's Friend that is a slight abraisive that doesn't score the porcelain (like Comet, but better). Lemme see if I can find a linky... Here you go. The stuff works wonders on just about anything.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:20 AM on October 19, 2004

If the tub's really disgusting, The Works. It's diluted hydrochloric acid, so ventilate the area, wear gloves and a mask, but you spray it on and walk away for a few minutes. When you come back, all you have to do is wipe the surfaces down with a sponge, and rinse.

I'm really serious about the ventilation, though.
posted by headspace at 6:25 AM on October 19, 2004

Also you'll do yourself a favor if you deal with the bathtub ring problem before you start in on the stains and whatnot. The soap scum can really crud up a sponge and it's pretty easy to get off using the descumifyers that you can get pretty much anyplace, including the dollar stores. Anything that promises to deal with "soap scum" is probably okay, I haven't noticed a difference between high end and low end brands. You spray the stuff on, wait five or ten minutes, and then you can mostly wipe off scum + scumifyer with a sponge. I don't know how it works and I'm sure it's toxic as hell [as headspace says] but it beats being on your hands and knees for 30 minutes with cleansers. You can save cleanser-time for dealing with the really nasty stains.
posted by jessamyn at 6:27 AM on October 19, 2004

Also, some heavy-duty toilet bowl cleaner works wonders. The thick, coating kind helps loosen just about anything from the tub walls. Gloves, mask, and vent, of course.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:41 AM on October 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of the scrubbing bubbles from Lysol. Works great cutting through that gray/brown scuzz.
posted by monkeyman at 6:42 AM on October 19, 2004

Also do yourself a favor and make sure the drain is free of hair/grode-clogs before you start. It would be a shame to do all that work just to have the mucky water stop up and re-deposit all the dirt.
posted by contessa at 6:52 AM on October 19, 2004

Those new mr clean magic erasers are great -- they made my bathtub look new.
posted by sugarfish at 7:01 AM on October 19, 2004

Yeah, I think I managed to whip up some chlorine gas while cleaning the tub in an old, ill-ventilated apartment once. You probably want to avoid that.
posted by blueshammer at 7:11 AM on October 19, 2004

Open the window wide. Fill tub with hot water, 1 cup detergent and 4 cups bleach. Leave for an hour or so. Drain and scrub with abrasive bleach-y cleanser, like Ajax. Make a paste of Ajax and water and leave on. Scrub again in an hour.

Keep the window open wide and the door closed, as bleach is bad to inhale. Never mix bleach and ammonia, as this creates chlorine gas, and can kill you.

Bleach does such a good job of killing cooties that you'll be happier about using the tub.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on October 19, 2004

What's the stain? I had a big tub, probably from the 1920's or 30's that had rust all over it from years of NYC pipe sediment. I eventually went "nuclear," and bought an abrasive disk for a drill and blasted the stuff off.

If it's rust, DON'T USE BLEACH CLEANSERS (OR BLEACH)--IT WILL BECOME WORSE. Rust comes off with Zud.

Also, BonAmi is good for tubs, in my experience.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2004

IMO you'd do well to get one of the generic scum-cleaning products (Scrub-free, Tilex, etc) and a good scrubbing brush. Spray liberally, lightly scrub, rinse, repeat.

It's worked well on the atrociously filthy tubs in our new house. Takes several applications, mind you, but they're getting clean without much work at all.

You can finish up using Gel Gloss and a lambswoll buffing mitt.

If it's a water stain, try CLR, Lime-Away, or suchlike.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2004

As a last resort, try Trisodium Phosphate.
posted by padraigin at 10:32 AM on October 19, 2004

I'm in favor of the following method: Buy a bucket of OxyClean or another peroxide-bleach product. Make a bunch of it into a thick paste and spread all over. Go away for a while. Then scrub with a brush and rinse. Repeat at least twice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2004

Bug and Tar remover from the auto supply store. It's not eco-friendly, it's not tub-friendly but if the tub is as bad as it sounds...
posted by m@ at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2004

I know this one!

I had a scummy bathtub and tried them all - the scrubbing bubbles, the comet, the bleach stuff, tilex for soap scum and tilex for mildew - nothing worked. But then, like a fucking miracle, I tried CLR and wow. Sparkly white again with almost no effort at all.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2004

It depends on how scummy your bathtub is. I use Scrubbing Bubbles and Tilex (a de-lime preparation) pretty regularly, and I try to avoid Ajax (my abrasive cleaner of choice) because it scratches porcelain. Incidentally, once you get your tub clean, adopt this regimen weekly or so and your tub won't cruft up.

Your tub may be beyond chemicals, though, in which case you'll need the abrasive.

Bear in mind whatever you do, don't mix the chemicals - rinse with water between using different ones. (Some are strong acid, some are strong base, and some will liberate noxious things like HCl gas, Cl2 gas, NH3 gas; a few will even react so vigorously that the heat and bubbling will splash stuff into your delicate eye.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:28 PM on October 20, 2004

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