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Baking Soda, Bleach, and Vinegar: Which is the best for a clean bathtub in 2024

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.

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 cleaning, 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’s 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 dirty surface then add warm water. The mixture should begin to bubble and wait about two to three minutes, then begin scrubbing. If you have tough stains, combine your baking soda with either vinegar or ammonia. Your showerhead is a different story. To clean your showerhead, remove it from your shower by turning it counterclockwise. If you cannot remove your showerhead, a clear plastic bag will help.

Head to your sink and grab a large-sized bowl, then combine 3 cups of white vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda.  Place the showerhead into the bowl and let it sit for an hour. If your showerhead is extremely dirty, let it sit a bit longer. Scrub and rinse before reinstalling the showerhead.

If you cannot remove your showerhead, 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.

Easy to follow Steps:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on every dirty surface
  2. Add warm water and let the mixture bubble
  3. After 2-3 minutes, begin scrubbing the mixture
  4. For tough stains, combine baking soda with vinegar or ammonia.
  5. To clean your shower head, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and baking soda
  6. Fasten the bag to your showerhead and let it sit overnight
  7. For drain cleaning, you can apply equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar to clean

Facts about Cleaning with Baking Soda

  • Baking soda is affordable and non-toxic, meaning it is safe to use on most surfaces making it highly versatile
  • Will work on a wide variety of surfaces and materials without fear of harming or damaging them long-term
  • Will also leave a very noticeable clean film behind after. The baking soda stain smudge may 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 it
  • Baking soda will only work on mild scum or mildew build-up, any larger dirt build-up will require a different cleaner
  • It’s considered a mild abrasive substance, so it is advisable to mix it with either vinegar or ammonia solutions to lessen any damage to your bathtub due to over-scrubbing
  • 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
  • Will corrode or damage the enamel finish on bathtubs over time

Baking Soda and Common Bathtub Materials:

Here is how baking soda affects 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.

Easy to Follow Steps

  1. Mix with warm water and begin scrubbing
  2. If the stain persists, mix it with baking soda and let it sit before vigorously scrubbing
  3. To clean your shower head, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and baking soda
  4. Fasten the bag to your showerhead and let it sit overnight
  5. For drains, dump equal parts of baking soda and vinegar in the 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

  • Non-toxic and easy to use
  • Good versus soap scum build up
  • 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.
  • 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.

Easy to follow Steps

  1. Wear protective gloves, eyewear, and a face mask before cleaning
  2. Clear out any toiletries
  3. Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area 
  5. Dip a sponge and begin scrubbing
  6. You can repeat this with your showerhead
  7. After cleaning, drain your bathtub and wash every surface the bleach touched with warm water. To clean your drain, pour about ¼ cup in your drain. Be advised that repeated use of bleach will lead to long-term damage on your drain.

Facts about cleaning with bleach

  • Cleans much quicker and more efficiently than both baking soda and vinegar combined.
  • All stains will come off with little to no effort physically.
  • Strong disinfectant
  • Removes strong odors
  • Highly effective at cleaning and whitening any bathtub it is compatible with
  • 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. If mixed with other cleaning products such as ammonia, it will create a toxic gas.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How to Clean A Bathtub

We will explain the steps required to clean your bathtub to ensure its health and longevity.

 Before you begin cleaning your tub, you will need the following tools:

  • Toilet brush/bowl cleaner
  • Tube and tile Cleaner
  • All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Clean Rags
  • Sponge
  • Broom
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Stiff Brush
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Grout Brush

2. Empty The Tub

  • Before beginning, you need to empty the tub. This is to prevent your toiletries, loofahs, and other bathing products from being contaminated by cleaning products. It is easier to clean the area when it is clear. Next, wipe down all the items that have been removed and set them aside in a separate area.

3. Clean Around the Tub

  • Start using a tile cleaner and grout brush, work from top to bottom, and spray down the walls with your all-purpose cleaner. Wipe down walls thoroughly with cleaner and ensure that the area is properly ventilated. Next, you want to clean the outside of your bathtub so that all the contaminants and grime drip downwards and can be cleaned later. This gives you more freedom to focus on your walls and clean as you see fit.

4. Clean The Bathtub Drain

  • Pour a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a half-cup of white distilled vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then flush with hot water. This should clear up any clogs in your bathtub drain. 

5. Apply Cleaner To The Inside Of The Tub

  • Apply an all-purpose cleaner to the interior of the tub. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes to power through the grim and wipe it down. If there is still grime on your tub, repeat the process and rinse the area thoroughly when you are finished. 

6. Eliminate Soap Scum

  • Using an old toothbrush, scrub the corners where the tub meets the wall and thoroughly remove any soap scum build-up that has accrued. Be patient and remember that this step will take some time. 

7. Scrub Stains Away

  • Stains will eventually form on your bathtub. Using a scrub brush and cleanser, patiently work on removing any stains that might have formed. Rinse thoroughly when you are finished. 

8. Wipe Everything Down

  • Explain why the reader should wipe everything down at the very end of cleaning the tub
  • Dry out the bathtub by wiping it down with rags or a clean towel and ensure that no water spots or residue remain in the tub. 

How To Clean A Bathtub With Jets

  • If your bathtub has jets, you can utilize the water flow system to easily clean your tub. 
  • Fill the tub until the jets are covered with hot water
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid and white vinegar. If your tub is filthy, you can use bleach, but this should only be used in emergencies
  • Run the jets for 15 minutes
  • Empty the tub and refill it, then run the jets for 10 minutes. 
  • Drain the tub
  • Rinse well.

How Often Should You Clean A Bathtub?

  • In general, you should disinfect and lightly clean your bathroom weekly. In addition, deep cleaning your bathroom should be done monthly to prevent any build-up.

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.

13 Tips to Keep Your Bathtub Clean

Keeping your bathtub clean and well-maintained doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you follow some simple tips for regular upkeep. Here are some tips to help you maintain a clean bathtub:

  1. Wipe it down after each use: After every bath or shower, take a minute to wipe down the bathtub’s surfaces with a squeegee, a microfiber cloth, or a towel. This helps remove soap scum, water spots, and prevents mineral buildup.
  2. Use a daily shower spray: Consider using a daily shower spray or a homemade solution of equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz the tub after every use to prevent soap scum and mildew from forming.
  3. Install a bathtub mat or non-slip stickers: Using a non-slip mat or adhesive non-slip stickers on the tub floor can help prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime in the crevices.
  4. Unclog drains regularly: Use a drain strainer or hair catcher to keep your bathtub drain-free from hair and debris. Clean it out regularly to prevent clogs.
  5. Use mild cleaning products: When you do clean your bathtub, use mild, non-abrasive cleaning products to avoid damaging the surface. Baking soda and white vinegar are effective and safe options.
  6. Avoid abrasive scrubbing: Avoid using abrasive scrubbers or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the tub’s finish. Opt for soft cloths or sponges instead.
  7. Rinse thoroughly: After cleaning your bathtub with any cleaning product, rinse it thoroughly with hot water to remove any residue.
  8. Keep bath toys clean: If you have children who use bath toys, clean and dry them regularly to prevent mold or mildew growth.
  9. Address mold and mildew promptly: If you notice mold or mildew forming in the corners or grout lines, tackle it immediately with a mold and mildew cleaner. Regularly inspect and clean any areas prone to moisture buildup.
  10. Ventilation is key: Ensure your bathroom is well-ventilated during and after showers or baths. Use an exhaust fan or open a window to allow moisture to escape, preventing mold and mildew growth.
  11. Regular deep cleaning: Schedule a deep cleaning of your bathtub and bathroom periodically, even if it looks clean. This helps prevent deep-seated stains and grime buildup.
  12. Recaulk when necessary: Over time, the caulk around the bathtub can deteriorate, allowing water to seep in, leading to mold and mildew growth. Replace or repair caulking as needed.
  13. Be cautious with bath products: Some bath products, like bath oils and bath bombs, can leave behind residue or stains. Use them sparingly, or rinse the tub thoroughly after use.
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Sonya henson
Sonya henson
4 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.

4 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?

Stone Resin bathtubs starting at $2,940

Free material samples and tub templates

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