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Baking Soda, Bleach and Vinegar: Which is the best for a clean bathtub

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Whether you own a fiberglass bathtub or a luxurious copper bathtub, cleaning is an essential part of making you and your household happy. If proper upkeep is not maintained in a bathtub, mildew, mold and soap scum will naturally collect on the surface and edges. This will, of course, result in both health issues as well as rust or deterioration if neglected. Here are some common cleaners, some natural solutions and a few chemical solutions that will keep your bathtub clean.

What is the best way to clean your bathtub?

There are many solutions and cleaners out there, all with varying potencies, toxicities and sizes. Well, which is the best for cleaning your bathtub? Well, ultimately your decision will come down to ease of clean, price, and availability of substances.

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, in addition to helping with your baked goods also doubles as a decent cleaner for your bathtub. How it works is that baking soda reacts with the grease in stains to form glycerol, a common cleansing agent found in soaps. If it is mixed with vinegar it also releases carbon dioxide, creating a weak alkali or acid that eliminates strong smells.

How to clean a bathtub with baking soda

To clean your bathtub, simply sprinkle baking soda on every surface that is dirty then add warm water. The mixture should begin to bubble and after about two to three minutes, begin scrubbing. If you have tough stains, combine your baking soda with either vinegar or ammonia. Your showerhead is a different story. You can scrub it clean with baking soda, but you’ll be left with a gross white film which will be a small hassle to remove. Instead, fill a plastic bag with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, then fasten it to your showerhead and let it sit overnight. A similar solution also applies to your drain. You want to dump half a cup of baking soda down the drain with an equal amount of vinegar.

Facts about Cleaning with Baking Soda

  1. Baking soda is cheap and non-toxic, meaning it is very safe to use on most surfaces making it highly versatile
  2. Will work on a wide variety of surfaces and materials without fear of harming or damaging them long term
  3. Will also leave a very noticeable clean film behind after. And the baking soda stain smudge may in fact be more difficult to remove than the original stain. As such, it is highly recommended that if you have a stone resin or wood bathtub, you should stay away from using baking soda to clean.
  4. Will only work on mild scum or mildew build up, any larger dirt build up will require a different cleaner.
  5. Is considered a mild abrasive substance, so it is advisable to mix it with either vinegar or ammonia solutions to lessen any damages to your bathtub due to over scrubbing
  6. Labor intensive compared to other cleaners-you are looking to get in a good workout if you plan on using simply baking soda and warm water to clean your bathtub, which is the price you pay for a ‘natural’ cleaner.
  7. Will corrode or damage enamel finish on bathtubs over time.

Baking Soda and Common Bathtub Materials:

Here is how baking soda effects these bathtub materials:

Fiberglass: Baking soda friendly
Porcelain: Baking soda friendly
Acrylic: Baking soda friendly
Ceramic: Baking soda friendly
Stone Resin: No baking soda, will leave film and damage finish
Cast Iron: Baking soda friendly
Cultured Marble: Baking soda friendly
Copper: Baking soda friendly
Wood: Baking soda ok-do not scrub too hard or use a steel wool to clean

Baking soda is a decent green alternative compared to harsh chemicals, but you certainly do pay for it in other ways. The chemical reaction is a lot slower compared to other leading cleaners, meaning that you have to supplement most of the cleaning with your own muscle and cleaning pad. If you have nothing else in the house and you are trying to be economical, baking soda is a great choice, otherwise other cleaners might be a bit more efficient.


Another natural cleaner, similar to Baking Soda, vinegar or more specifically, white vinegar, cleans by chemical reaction on account of its higher acidity, making it a good cleaner for accumulated soap scum and mildew. Similar to Baking Soda, it will also require a decent amount of labor to get a surface clean.

How to clean a bathtub with vinegar

To clean your bathtub with vinegar, simply mix it with warm water and begin scrubbing the surface of your problem area. If the stain persists, mix vinegar and baking soda and let sit for a few minutes before vigorously scrubbing. Showerheads are much the same. Grab a plastic bag or simply remove your showerhead and submerge it in a baking soda and vinegar solution over night. Drains are the same as baking soda. You want to dump half a cup of baking soda and around half a cup of vinegar in your drain.

Facts about cleaning with Vinegar

As another natural cleaner, it’s acidity is very useful for removing build up or gunk on tiled surfaces. Anything that has stone or tile surfaces, it also does wonders on

  1. Non-toxic and easy to use
  2. Good versus soap scum build up
  3. Aside from tiled surfaces, if you have a porcelain, marble bathtub or anything with a strong enamel finish, you may want to stay away from vinegar as its acidity will corrode your bathtub that much quicker. You can easily solve this however by diluting your vinegar solution with water.
  4. While stronger than baking soda, will not remove heavy or deeper stains.

Vinegar and Common Bathtub Materials

Fiberglass: Vinegar friendly
Porcelain: Vinegar friendly, diluted only
Acrylic: Vinegar friendly
Ceramic: Vinegar friendly
Stone Resin: No Vinegar, acidic solutions will damage the finish
Cast Iron: Vinegar friendly, diluted only
Cultured Marble: Vinegar friendly, diluted only
Copper: Vinegar friendly, diluted only
Wood: Vinegar friendly, diluted only, no steel wool and do not scrub too hard

Another natural cleaner, vinegar is useful for cleaning your bathtub if you are shying away from any harsh chemicals. Although it is stronger than baking soda, it shares very similar negatives to it as well. Unless your bathtub is made from stone resin, stone tiles or metal, you actually may want to stay away from both baking soda or vinegar, as the heavy scrubbing from both substances will eventually damage the enamel coating on your bathtub.


Moving out of natural safe cleaners, we have bleach. A highly toxic, strong corrosive substance.

How to clean a bathtub with Bleach

First and foremost, clear out your bathroom of all loofahs, brushes, carpets and rugs before you apply the bleach to your bathtub as it is quite toxic. Now, add about 118 milliliters of bleach to about a gallon of water. Wear protective gloves, eyewear and a face mask, then dip a sponge and begin scrubbing. Also, you want to be in a well ventilated area and please do not mix bleach with any other household cleaners.
You are going to repeat this method for your showerhead as well, scrubbing it clean with the same sponge that you used to clean your bathtub. Afterwards, drain your bathtub and wash every surface off with warm water. To clean your drain, simply pour roughly the same amount, about one fourth of a cup in your drain. Though, keep in mind, repeating use of bleach on your drain will lead to long term damages over time.

Facts about cleaning with bleach

  1. Cleans much quicker and more efficiently than both baking soda and vinegar combined.
  2. All stains will come off with little to no effort physically.
  3. Strong disinfectant
  4. Removes strong odors
  5. Is highly effective at cleaning and whitening any bathtub it is compatible with
  6. Highly toxic, and if not handled properly, you may hospitalize yourself and those around you. The gas it emits can damage your eyes, lungs and stomach lining if exposed in an area without proper ventilation or protection. Also, if mixed with other cleaning products such as ammonia, it will create a toxic gas.
  7. Invariably, there are some materials that bleach can easily damage-if your bathtub has any traces of iron in it, stay away from bleach as it will create red streaks all along the surface of your bathtub that will be difficult to remove. Also, if your bathtub has an acrylic or enamel coating, it is highly recommended you stay away from bleach as well, as it will invariably lead to further corrosive damage down the road.


Bleach and Common Bathtub Materials:

Fiberglass: Bleach friendly
Porcelain: Bleach friendly, white porcelain only! Any other porcelain will discolor.
Acrylic: No bleach, will damage the coating
Ceramic: Bleach friendly
Stone Resin: Bleach friendly
Cast Iron: No bleach, will leave red streaks along your bathtub
Cultured Marble: Bleach friendly, diluted with water only! Do not use concentrated bleach with cultured marble or it will damage the material
Copper: No bleach, most metallic substances will stain in the presence of bleach
Wood: No bleach, will corrode and eat through your wooden bathtub

Bleach is a highly effective cleaner. It is also very toxic and hazardous if not used properly. Many would advise using bleach as there are plenty of alternatives, but for ease of access and speed of cutting through nearly all grime and gunk, bleach is unmatched compared to more natural solutions. Just be safe and well-equipped while using it otherwise you may have other issues than a dirty bathtub. There are also other cleaning products such as Comet or Ajax which contain bleach, but are overly less potent than concentrated bleach which might be more suitable for your cleaning situation and be much safer to handle.

In closing, whether you prefer the natural cleaners to the more heavy chemical side, you have many options today. If you prefer weekly maintenance, natural solutions such as vinegar, lemon and baking soda can do the trick, though if you wait for months without upkeep, bleach can be quite an effective way to restoring your bathtub and bathroom to a more liveable state.

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Sonya henson
Sonya henson
2 years ago

The vinegar,water and a little Dawn ,and baking soda work wonderful on a fiberglass tub. Also vinegar and water work great on some stains.vingar also works on the yellow stuff that builds up in toilets.

2 years ago

WTH? Who wrote this, first you state…”As such, it is highly recommended that if you have a fiberglass or acrylic bathtub, you should stay away from using baking soda to clean!”

Then go on to list:
Fiberglass: Baking soda friendly
Porcelain: Baking soda friendly
Acrylic: Baking soda friendly..
Uhm…was your intent to confuse or deceive people or do you always talk out of both sides?

2 years ago

It’s been fixed thank you 🙂

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