How to Clean Bathtub Stains

These tips on how to clean a stained tub will get it looking great again.

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Stubborn stains in your bathtub are eyesores, typically caused by mineral deposits left behind from hard water. The color of the stain will depend on what's in your water. No matter what's causing the stains, here's how to get rid of them.

Tools Required

  • Eraser/melamine sponge
  • Sponge
  • Spray Bottle

Materials Required

  • Baking soda
  • Dry abrasive cleaner
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • White vinegar

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

Types of Stains

stainsAleksey Boyko/Shutterstock

Removing stains from a tub will depend on two factors: type of mineral causing the stain and the material the tub is made from. Porcelain is the most popular type of bathtub surface and is more forgiving. You can use any of the methods described below to remove common bathtub stains on porcelain. If you have an acrylic tub, do not use abrasive cleaners because they can damage the surface. Here are the best bathtub cleaners.

Common stain colors caused by mineral deposits and more:

  • Reddish-brown = iron
  • Rust-colored and blue-green stains = low pH/acidic water
  • Black = sulfur bacteria
  • Yellow = accumulation of human oils
Step 2

For Yellow Stains, Use Vinegar

Vinegar Family Handyman

Getting your bathtub clean doesn’t have to require a bunch of cleaning products. For yellow stains and soap scum, vinegar will do the trick. This is the preferred bathtub stain remover, to use on the delicate surface of an acrylic tub.

Step 3


tub sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Fill a spray bottle with vinegar. Apply the vinegar liberally over the stained area. Wait about 20 minutes, then wipe away the stain with a sponge. Rinse with warm water.

Step 4

For Red or Black Stains, Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

vinegar baking soda cleaning suppliesShutterstock/JPC-PROD

Use the brightening power of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to remove tough red or black stains. Do not use this method on an acrylic tub—it may scratch the surface. Mix two parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide to form a paste.

Step 5

Apply the Paste

cleaningBudimir Jevtic/Shutterstock

Spread the paste over the stained area and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Then, scrub with a sponge or nylon brush to remove the stain. Rinse the tub with warm, clean water.

Step 6

For Rust-Colored and Blue-Green Stains, Use Abrasive Cleanser

sponges Olga Popova/Shutterstock

For super-stubborn rust-colored and blue-green stains, you will have to use an abrasive cleanser and eraser/melamine sponge (shown here). However, do not use this method on an acrylic bathtub—it will scratch the surface. If you have an acrylic tub, use the vinegar cleaning method only.

Step 7

Apply the Paste


Make a paste of equal parts cleanser powder and water. Apply the paste to the stained area and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Moisten the eraser sponge with hot water and scrub. Then, rinse clean with hot water.

Step 8

Regular Cleaning

Spray anaken2012/Shutterstock

The best way to keep bathtub stains at bay is regular cleaning and by using a daily shower spray. Make a DIY version with one part white vinegar and three parts water. Spray the mixture liberally over the surface of a clean tub or shower after each use, to prevent soap scum build-up and stains.