Our beauty routines can often lead to bathtub disasters: I colored my hair at home for years, so I know from personal experience what that can do to a tub! Speaking of personal experience, here's another one I've been unfortunate to have: LUSH Bath Bombs stain like the damn dickens. Someone bought me a gift box of those suckers and I nearly went into orbit the first time I used one and ended up scrubbing away an orange ring-around-the-tub after my relaxing bath. Sort of defeats the purpose of the relaxing bath, ya know?
As ticked off as I was about those bath bombs, at least I knew exactly what to do about the mess they left behind. And, after reading this week's column, you will, too. So, let's get to it!
Understanding Your Tub
Before we can talk about how to clean a tub after an industrial beauty accident, you need to know what kind of tub you have. In the case of stain removal, the material of your bathtub dictates what you can use to clean it.
The three primary types of tubs are: enameled metal (the metal is usually steel or cast iron), porcelain, and acrylic. But, how to tell the difference? Acrylic is pretty easy: If it looks plasticky, it's an acrylic tub. If not, a simple test can help you to determine whether your tub is made of enamel or porcelain: Put a magnet on it. If it sticks, the tub is enameled metal. If not, it's porcelain.
Removing Stains From Porcelain Tubs
If you have a porcelain tub, there's a little $5 product you'll be glad to know about: a pumice scouring stick. You can find these babies at any hardware or home improvement store. To use one, wet the stick and scour any staining. Pretty easy stuff! And, it's worth keeping a pumice stick around if you're a person who regularly colors your hair at home.
If you're feeling like you want a hands-off approach (and who wouldn't) to cleaning your bathtub, here's an idea: Begin filling the tub up with very hot water. When it's about a quarter of the way filled, add a scoop of OxiClean and allow the tub to continue filling up almost to the top before shutting off the water. Let the Oxi solution hang around for about 30-60 minutes, then drain the water and give the tub a quick once-over with a sponge or rag. The Oxi will have done most of the work for you!
If your tub is an enameled metal deal, it will need gentler handling because enamel is more sensitive than porcelain, the poor dear. That means no pumice sticks and no highly acidic cleaners like lemon juice or vinegar. Abrasive powders or cream cleansers, like Comet or Soft Scrub, can be used but you should test them out on a small area of the tub to ensure they won't cause scratching and not overuse them. Cream cleansers will be gentler than powdered ones, so when in doubt, stick with those.
So, that's what to avoid, but what should you employ in service of cleaning your enameled tub? Hydrogen peroxide! It is safe on the enamel is a great (and cheap!) stain remover. You can also use that quick and easy OxiClean method I described for cleaning porcelain tubs.
Removing Stains From Acrylic Tubs
Acrylic tubs are the most sensitive of the bunch. They're highly susceptible to scratching, fading and cracking. Because of that, you should avoid abrasive powders and scouring pads. Cream cleansers are fine, and for really tough stains you should feel free to apply a product like Soft Scrub. Allow it to sit for about a half an hour before giving it a good scrub and rinse.
Simple Green is a great product that is safe and super effective for general cleaning and stain removal. Plus, it really is green! Magic Erasers are another good choice for removing stubborn stains from acrylic tubs.
What To Do About Greasy, Oily Build-up
I mentioned that the impetus for this tub triage instructional was a post about using olive oil as part of your beauty routine. Go ahead and do it! Especially because I'm gonna tell you how to clean up after your gorgeous self. To state the utterly obvious, the use of olive oil in the shower will result in an oily build-up in your tub. To combat that, ammonia is a great choice. Dish soap is another one.
There are a few things to know before you work with ammonia. The first is that you must always wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. The second is that a little bit goes a long way —dilute a tablespoon to a quarter cup of ammonia in two liters of water for best results. The third and most important thing to know about ammonia is that you must never, ever mix it with bleach or any products that contain bleach.
Given all that, you may decide that ammonia isn't the right choice for you. Dish soap will work to cut through grease in your bathtub the same way it works to remove grease from your dishes. Stick with a brand like Dawn or Palmolive for the best results.
Now that your tubs are cleaner than they've ever been, treat yourself to a bubblebath! Just be careful with those bath bombs.