How to Clean a Bathtub in 8 Easy Steps

A neat white bathroom with bathtub

Design: Mindy Gayer Design Co.; Photographer: Vanessa Lentine

You'd think that, because your bathtub is a place you clean yourself, it should stay relatively clean compared to other areas of your home (and other areas of your bathroom). But hard water deposits, body oils, soap scum, mildew, and even mold can easily build up in a tub over time, which means you should prioritize cleaning yours on a regular basis. After all, who wants to soak or shower in a dirty tub?

Luckily, if you stay on top of your maintenance cleaning, this chore shouldn't take too much time or elbow grease. Here's what you need to know about how to clean your bathtub, step by step, according to two professional house cleaners who do it all the time.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bathtub?

According to Irina Nikiforova, how often to clean the bathtub depends on a few factors, such as what type of tub you have and how you use it.

Meet the Expert

  • Irina Nikiforova is a professional housecleaner and owner of the California-based cleaning company Rocket Maids LA.
  • Zeynep Mehmetoglu is a professional housecleaner and owner of Maid Bright, a home-cleaning service in the Washington, D.C. area.

For example, if you have a standalone bathtub you regularly bathe in, aim to clean it after each use (especially if you use bath bombs or bubbles that could leave colored residue on the tub's surface). Even if you don't use bath products, she says warm water can exfoliate the skin, leaving residue in the tub after you soak. If you're not using your bathtub on the regular, she says you can get away with dusting it about once a week.

Bathtubs and shower combos are a different story. If you use the tub for showering only, Nikiforova suggests cleaning it once every week or two. "If you leave it uncleaned for too long, soap scum and hard water stains will accumulate there and it will take longer to clean and more elbow grease will be needed," she says.

A white bathtub in a white bathroom

Katherine Carter Design

Things You'll Need:

  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Clean microfiber cloth
  • Clean sponge
  • A tub and tile cleaner (optional)
  • Magic Eraser (optional)

If your tub is mildly to moderately dirty, Zeynep Mehmetoglu suggests following the below steps to clean your tub. If your tub is extra dirty or you haven't cleaned it in a long time, then she says it'll work better to use a dedicated tub and tile product, which is more effective at working on tough mildew and buildup. In that case, follow steps 5-8 after applying the cleaner (and make sure to follow the instructions on the product label).

Step 1: Empty the Tub

Before you get to cleaning, Mehmetoglu recommends removing any bath toys, loofahs, bath mats, and toiletries from the bathtub, They'll only get in the way of a thorough cleaning job, and you don't want any cleaning products to end up on them—especially if you have kids who may put toys in their mouths.

Step 2: Put on Gloves

Cleaning gloves will protect your hands from potentially harsh cleaning products as you scrub the dirt and grime away from the tub. Plus, you may just want to avoid getting all that dirt and grime on your hands.

Step 3: Add Baking Soda

Next, generously sprinkle the shower tiles, bathtub, faucets, and showerhead with a layer of baking soda.

Step 4: Fill Your Bucket

While the baking soda sits on the bath's surface, fill your bucket with hot water and a few drops of your go-to dish soap.

Step 5: Scrub the Tub

Immerse your sponge in the soapy water, then scrub all parts of the tub in circular motions. The baking soda, Mehmetoglu says, will help to whiten the tub and get rid of soap scum. Plus, it'll help deodorize the tub if there are any lingering odors. While any sponge will do, Mehmetoglu has a favorite tool. "The Scrub Daddy sponge uses the least amount of water and will not scratch your bathtub," she says.

Step 6: Rinse Away Products

After cleaning the tub fully, rinse it out with hot water, ensuring all the baking soda and soap residue are gone from nooks and crannies.

Step 7: Dry the Tub

Next, dry the tub with a clean microfiber cloth, taking care to polish the faucets and showerheads. Once everything's dry and polished, you can put your toiletries and bath accessories back in!

Step 8: Wash the Shower Curtain

If you have a shower curtain, make sure to clean that, too—your bathtub won't stay clean for long if your curtain and liner are dirty. You can simply throw the fabric part in the wash with your other laundry, stain treating it beforehand if needed. The plastic liner can go in the washing machine, too. Just make sure to use cool water and add a few bath towels to prevent excessive wrinkling.

To remove pesky soap scum when you're not up for a deep clean, Nikiforova suggests wiping down problem areas with an all-purpose cleaner using a Magic Eraser.

How to Keep a Tub Cleaner, Longer

Staying on top of your tub's cleanliness is a great way to space out your deep cleans. Mehmetoglu suggests thoroughly rinsing out the tub every time you shower or bathe. A daily shower spray can help reduce soap scum buildup, and if your tub has a glass door, you may want to use a squeegee to remove extra water each time you shower.

Nikiforova says reconsidering products you use for bathing can also help keep your tub clean over time. Bath oils, for example, will add extra work for you, and colored bath bombs can stain the bathtub as well. If you don't want to give up your favorite bath product, just remember rinsing (and potentially, wiping) the tub after a bath is especially important.