How do I clean my tub that has been stained with latex paint?
November 2, 2005 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Hypothetically, if you painted a wall with bright red latex paint, and then washed your brushes in a white acrylic bathtub, and then didn't really wash the tub for a week, and then tried to wash it and found that the tub had been stained pink, how would you clean the tub?

And, just to make it interesting, let's assume that this is a brand new house that you just bought and are very excited about.

A brisk scrubbing with ajax didn't seem to help much, even after the Ajax was left to sit for an hour.
posted by dty1 to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
generally paint doesn't like bathtubs, I've found it to come off with a stiff brush (the ones with the long stiff bristles) and a lot of elbow grease! Maybe even a scratch pad. So it was acrylic paint not oil right? They make acrylic paint remover which you could use too if you don't like the work. I wouldn't recommend acetone...
posted by aussicht at 4:53 PM on November 2, 2005

Hypothetically. :)

I suspect Ajax is nowhere near powerful enough. You need something that absolutely eats away the top layer of acrylic if you're going to get rid of it. Keep in mind you (er, and your hypothetical subject, I mean) have stained it, not just covered it. I'm not precisely sure what will do this, but there are certainly chemicals for it. Most them require well-ventilated rooms.

Then you'll have to repaint/reglaze the surface.
posted by symphonik at 4:55 PM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: I had a similar problem when someone took a "Tea" bath. I was really darkly stained. (And I was angry about it.)

So I filled the tub with hot water and added a half-gallon of bleach. It worked! No scrubbing or anything. I hope that helps.
posted by snsranch at 4:55 PM on November 2, 2005

I think bathtub refinishing/reglazing might be your only option.
posted by necessitas at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: Thank goodness this is entirely hyptothetical.

I would use bleach too. I do a lot of screenprinting and use my bathtub to wash away ink. The (black, red, blue, etc) ink sometimes stains the white acrylic of the tub, but the bleach always takes care of it. I've never noticed any ill effects from the bleach on the surface of the tub.

But I'm renting a cheap apartment.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2005

Provided you are in the US (or they sell such a thing in other places), Soft Scrub with Bleach works wonders. Apply it thickly and let sit for 20-30 minutes before scrubbing with a sponge.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:31 PM on November 2, 2005

For future reference, I gave up washing brushes in my ceramic sink for the stainless steel kitchen sink.
posted by artifarce at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2005

yup--bleach and water 1/2 and 1/2, or if that doesn't work, 3/4 to 1/4. open the windows and run a fan.
posted by amberglow at 6:28 PM on November 2, 2005

If the above don't work, there's always the possibility that a coat of white acrylic might. But I'd go with the bleach first... Just keep the fan on.
posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on November 2, 2005

Wasn't the issue of pink in a bathtub solved in a Cat In the Hat book? Sorry, it just begged to be said.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:37 PM on November 2, 2005

Have you tried nail polish remover?
posted by konolia at 6:46 PM on November 2, 2005

Before you try reglazing or anything extreme, go to the hardware store and pick up a container of Trisodium Phosphate, aka TSP.

When we bought our house, our enameled iron tub was...vile. There's no other way to describe it. Paint splatters and rust streaks were really the least of the problem.

A good thorough TSPing later, it looks almost as good as new, which is saying quite a bit for an 80 year old tub that has never been resurfaced.

It's a cheap fix that will probably do the job.
posted by padraigin at 6:50 PM on November 2, 2005

Does paint thinner eat acrylic?
posted by mikeh at 8:51 PM on November 2, 2005

I have a roomate who will often dye her hair a bright red, and it invariably leaves pink spots all over the bathtub, the counters, the floor, the anything. Everytime, though, some diluted bleach + hot water gets it out just fine.

However! My mom once used some abrasive on a tub we had at the house, and it ate away a layer of porcelain, leaving the tub randomly sharp, like, if you rubbed your elbow against it you'd come away cut, but if you sat on it you were ok. So I'd advise you to try bleach before anything stronger.
posted by nile_red at 9:01 PM on November 2, 2005

If nothing else works, give the Mr Clean Magic Erasers a shot. I learned about them through AskMe, and, while they scare me a little, they really are magical.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:46 PM on November 2, 2005

I am convinced that Mr. Clean erasers have to be made out of ground-up kittens, because nothing that works that well can possibly be anything but evil.
posted by padraigin at 10:06 PM on November 2, 2005

You know not to mix bleach with other cleansers (including vinegar) right?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:25 PM on November 2, 2005

If I read that correctly, you say the tub is acrylic and you used Ajax cleanser. For starters, I believe that Ajax is an abrasive cleanser, and will scratch the surface of acrylic (plastic) tubs and dull them. I use Comet liquid spray cleaner to clean our acrylic tub and shower.

But, back to your problem at hand, I'd rinse the tub thoroghly with plain water, then try the bleach suggestion. If you're fortunate enough to get the stains out, you might be able to rub out the scratches with a car wax made for acrylic paints.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:33 AM on November 3, 2005

Simply repeat the process which turned it pink using white acrylic paint.

....or use bleach.
posted by alexst at 4:54 AM on November 3, 2005

(Another vote for trying the Magic Eraser. It got black permanent Sharpie marker off a red leather couch.)
posted by cass at 9:10 AM on November 3, 2005

Please please please... test anything you're thinking of using in a small area.
posted by wryly at 11:03 AM on November 3, 2005

Response by poster: Whoohoo! Success! My friend has this "hypothetical" reply to all of your suggestions...

First, I filled the tub with three inches of warm water and poured a gallon of bleach into the tub. I let it sit for two hours. After I drained the tub and turned the shower on, I saw some of the color being washed away, but not all of it. I then used the better part of a can of non-scratching Comet with bleach with more warm water and a plastic scrub brush. I used a lot of Comet-- it was almost a paste. After about fifteen minutes of vigorous scrubbing, I let the paste sit in place for about 30 minutes.

When I rinsed the cleaner from the tub, I found nothing but white underneath.

Thanks to everyone for the help! You're all invited over for a bath.
posted by dty1 at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2005

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