There’s nothing like a nice long soak to help you relax. At least until you start noticing rust stains around the faucets, and begin thinking about the stubborn ring of discoloration circling the tub you’re soaking in. A less than perfectly clean bathtub can take a lot of the joy out of a long hot soak. Bathtubs, unfortunately, aren’t easy to clean either.  Fortunately, bathtub cleaning hacks can reduce the needs for both harsh cleaners and hours of hard scrubbing.

In the following excerpt from the book Household Magic by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen the authors share some of their favorite bathtub cleaning hacks, and other ways to keep your bathroom looking its best.


Bathing began as part of a magical and religious ritual. Then, thanks to the ancient Romans’ regard for physical cleanliness, luxurious public baths were built and became the rage. By 300 AD, there were more than 900 bath houses in Rome. Gradually, people realized the health implications of public bathing and, what started as a social event soon shifted to a person al experience in the privacy of a person’s home.

Today, it seems as though we’ve come full circle. While a shower is for getting clean, a bath is a magical, relaxing indulgence…it’s almost a religious experience. But whatever the reason for using your bath, here are ways to make it the best it can be…

Cleaning the Tub

◆ The best time to clean the tub is right after someone has taken a shower or bath, and the room is warm and humid. Get rid of the grime before it has a chance to cake on.

◆ When cleaning the tub, kneel on a couple of sponges or shoulder pads. Your knees will be glad you did.

◆ Try this for an easy cleanser—sprinkle baking soda around the tub, then wet a washcloth with distilled white vinegar and scrub, then rinse.

If you do this once or twice a week, chances are there will be no need to scrub. It will be more like “just wipe it down.” Plus, it’s great that you are not using harmful chemicals or drain-clogging cleansers. And your bathtub is so clean!

Bathtub Rings

To prevent bathtub rings, do not use any bath preparations (such as gels, bubble bath, salts, pearls, etc.) that contain oils.

But what if you don’t use them, and you still have a ring around the tub? Then, as you’re filling the bath, add ½ cup of baking soda to the running water. After the bath, let out the water, and there should be no ring around the tub.

As a bonus, the baking soda soothes, softens and conditions skin.

Remove a Ring with Hose!

If you forgot to add the baking soda and the bathtub still has a ring, get a pair of old, clean pantyhose, cut off a leg, scrunch it up and use it to rub off the ring.

Chlorinated-Water Stains

◆ Put a few paper towels on the water stains, then pour distilled white vinegar on the towels. Let it stay that way for at least 30 minutes, until the towels are almost dry and the stains are gone.

◆ If the stains are stubborn and the vinegar alone doesn’t make them disappear, sprinkle baking soda on the stains and wipe them away with the moist paper towels.


◆ Cover the discolored spots with lemon juice —enough to cover the spots—and let it stay there for about 30 minutes. Then sprinkle about one tablespoon of baking soda on a wet washcloth and scrub the discolored spots.

◆ If you’re still seeing spots, take one table spoon of cream of tartar and add a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide—just enough to make a paste. With an old toothbrush, rub the paste into the discolored spots and then let it dry. When it’s dry, rinse it clean.

Rust Stains

◆ Does the can of shaving cream leave a rust ring in the bathtub or on the sink? Paint the bottom rim—the part that touches the sink or tub and leaves the ring—with colorless nail polish. Let it dry thoroughly and then give it a second coat.

◆ Mix one teaspoon of table salt or cream of tartar with 1⁄4 teaspoon of lemon juice to make a paste. Put the paste on a soft cloth and rub the rust stain away. (Then be sure to paint colorless nail polish on the bottom of the can that caused the rust ring.)

Cleaning Bathtub Mats

If you have a rubber or vinyl bathtub mat, throw it in the washing machine with a load of towels. The agitating towels will scrub the mat clean.

CAUTION: Do not put a rubber or vinyl bathmat in the dryer.

Removing Nonslip Bathtub Appliqués

◆ Put one cup of distilled white vinegar in a pan and heat it up. Once the vinegar is hot, soak a sponge or cloth in it, then use tongs to plop it on top of the appliqué. When it cools to room temperature, take it off…the sponge or cloth and the appliqué.

CAUTION: Although distilled white vinegar should be safe for all shiny surfaces, check with the manufacturer before you use it—especially if you have a new bathtub that’s made of fiberglass, Plexiglass or any other modern material.

◆ Cover the appliqué with a piece of aluminum foil. Then zap it with a hair dryer set on hot. The idea is for the heat to melt the glue that’s causing the appliqué to stick. After one or two minutes, you should be able to peel it off.

◆ Dunk a straight-edged razor blade (it may help to use a blade holder) in liquid dish deter gent and very carefully scrape off the appliqué. Keep re-dunking as you progress.

If some of the appliqué adhesive remains on the bottom of the tub, use nail polish remover to clean it off.

Cleaning Whirlpool Tubs

It’s important to prevent soap scum and anything else that might build up and clog the jets of the whirlpool. Once or twice a year, pour one gallon of distilled white vinegar into the water and run the whirlpool.

For additional food tips and other advice for your home, purchase Household Magic from

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