Cleaning the bathroom is no fun. Perhaps most dreaded of all is the task of cleaning the bathtub. Straining over the bathtub’s edge to access those hard-to-reach areas while trying to scrub can be awkward and leave you with an aching back and sore knees. But when you match the right cleaning product with the right job, cleaning can be less strenuous and time-consuming.
Keeping your bathtub clean is necessary because an unclean tub can harbor mold, bacteria, and other minerals that are unsightly (and unhealthy). So, while cleaning the tub does require effort, the best bathtub cleaners can make your weekend scrubbing efforts more efficient. Here are some of the best bathtub cleaners available according to product type.
- BEST FOR MOLD AND MILDEW: RMR-86 Instant Mold and Mildew Stain Remover Spray
- BEST FOR RUST STAINS: CLR Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover
- BEST FOR DRAINS: Green Gobbler Ultimate Main Drain Opener
- BEST NATURAL: Better Life Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Zep Foaming Shower Tub and Tile Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bathtub Cleaner
Browsing the cleaning product aisle at the grocery store can quickly become an overwhelming experience: After only a few minutes, all the options begin to look alike. The following list is the result of research into the various kinds of cleaners to help consumers find the best bathtub cleaner for their bathroom. Consider these factors before buying a cleaner.
Bathtubs are manufactured from various products, including porcelain, acrylic, fiberglass, cast iron, and stone resin. Each of these surfaces is susceptible to scratches, so take that into consideration when choosing a bathtub cleaner. Most bathtub cleaners include the product’s tub type compatibility on the label. Also consider the various accessories, like bathroom caddies, in the tub area and the type of cleaning product recommended for them as well. Choosing the right cleaning tools not only helps with efficiency but also can minimize damage to the tub’s surface.
When choosing the best bathtub cleaner, also consider the type of cleaning project. Looking for a daily spray to keep the already-clean bathtub fresh and mildew-free? Or is the tub a little older and needs some extra TLC after a season of neglect? While multipurpose cleaners may tackle most needs, cleaners are formulated specifically to address the more intensive issues, such as hard water stains, black mold, and clogged drains.
Bathtub cleaners come in a variety of forms:
- Liquid cleaners are, as the name suggests, suspended in a liquid. Less abrasive than powder cleaners, some liquid cleaners come in concentrated forms and require mixing with water before use.
- Powder cleaners, which contain particles with abrasive properties to aid in scrubbing, can dissolve various oils, films, and stains.
- Gel cleaners offer a splash-free alternative to liquid cleaners, so the cleaner lands exactly where it’s needed. Moreover, gel cleaners cling to the surface for longer penetration.
- Foam cleaners, which generally come in the form of a spray, either aerosol or a pump, can cover a large surface area.
- Scouring pads, which are often made from steel wool, sometimes contain a cleaning agent that aids in scrubbing and polishing.
Hard Water vs. Soft Water
The levels of calcium and magnesium in water determine its hardness. When these minerals are high, the water is considered hard. Signs of hard water include low water pressure, mineral stains on surfaces and clothing, and water spots on dishes after they’ve run through the dishwasher. Signs of soft (natural) water are a strong soap lather and strong water pressure. Hard water can leave stains on bathtubs that are difficult to remove, but products are made specifically to address this type of stain.
Organic vs. Chemical
Commercial cleaning products comprise chemicals that disinfect and deodorize, but many of these products contain harsh chemicals with warning labels to avoid contact with skin and eyes and use in well-ventilated areas. These chemicals often are labeled as combustible and corrosive. When rinsed down the drains into the water supply, they pose a threat to the environment. Organic cleaning products, on the other hand, are nontoxic and environmentally friendly, and they often are equally as effective as chemical cleaning agents.
When using cleaning products, more isn’t better. In some cases, high concentrations of cleaning chemicals can cause damage to the surfaces being cleaned and cause respiratory issues. Some cleaning products are available in a concentrate, which means they must be mixed with water.
While many cleaning solutions on the market are multipurpose—suitable for cleaning not only the bathroom, but also the kitchen or even the car—some people still prefer a product dedicated to one particular area, such as the bathtub.
Also, consider a product’s abrasive or non-abrasive qualities. Abrasive cleaners help reduce the amount of scrubbing required to clean a surface, but the abrasive particles may damage the surface with scratches and even remove the surface’s coating. Non-abrasive cleaners are good options for large areas that don’t require excessive scrubbing, such as a floor or countertop.
Our Top Picks
Here’s an overview of some of the best bathtub cleaners on the market. This list of top performers takes into account all the considerations mentioned previously as well as brand reputation and product quality.
Mold is no friend to people who suffer from allergies, autoimmune diseases, or respiratory infections, so it must be tackled early on to keep it from spreading to and penetrating various bathroom surfaces. But if mold is already present, this spray can remove the stains and odors that black mold and mildew leave between bathroom tiles, on grout, and on shower doors. No mixing is necessary, and because no scrubbing is required, the product can access and work in hard-to-reach areas. Stains dissolve within 15 seconds. This stain remover is safe for use on typical bathroom surfaces, but it also can be used on wood, vinyl, drywall, and concrete.
This multipurpose cleaner from CLR targets rust, calcium, lime, and soap scum to leave behind a streak-free shine. It’s safe for use on plastic, ceramic tile, glass, stainless steel, metal fixtures, shower doors, fiberglass, toilet bowls, and sinks. Being EPA-certified, this cleaner is a safe alternative to chemicals that contain phosphates, ammonia, or bleach. Simply mix equal amounts of the CLR formula and warm water, apply the solution directly to affected surfaces for no longer than two minutes, then wipe and rinse with cold water.
From Green Gobbler, this high-density formula liquifies tough drain clogs in pipes and main lines by changing the pH level to melt away obstructions. It dissolves a variety of clogs, including those caused by hair, grease, soap buildup, tissues, and baby wipes. Although it’s industrial strength, it’s noncorrosive and gentle on pipes and septic systems. It’s safe for bathrooms and toilets, kitchen sinks and disposals, and floor drains. And users won’t have to worry about strong odors, lingering toxic fumes, or harmful skin irritation.
Those who prefer natural products for cleaning may like this tub and tile cleaner from Better Life. It’s nontoxic, so it’s safe for kids, pets, and the environment. The blend of tea tree and eucalyptus oils dissolves soap scum and mineral stains left behind by hard water. The Better Life product also removes mold, mildew, and rust stains. Because the plant-derived solution doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, it’s safe for use on ceramic, porcelain, stainless, steel, fiberglass, and acrylic surfaces. Simply spray, scrub, and rinse. For extra shine, dry the surface with a soft cloth.
Zep’s formula has the strength to match the toughest bathtub cleaning jobs without hours of tiresome scrubbing. Simply spray the cleaner on the tub surface and let it sit for two to three minutes, so the acidic foaming formula can penetrate stains. Then use a damp sponge to wipe away the grime, and rinse with water to remove the residue for a sparkling shine. This tub cleaner can handle soap scum, mineral deposits, and other stains. It’s safe to use on acrylic, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain, laminate, and other surfaces. Perhaps best of all, the product imparts a fresh morning rain scent, leaving the bathroom smelling as clean as it looks.
Bar Keepers Friend helps get rid of pesky stains, but it’s also gentle enough to use on porcelain, fiberglass, and tile. This powdered cleanser not only cleans hard water spots and mildew, but it also polishes. Use it to scrub away lime and other mineral deposits from faucets and knobs. Note that this product isn’t just for the bathroom. Rather, it’s a multipurpose cleaner able to used in the kitchen, in the garage, and even on the grill or patio furniture.
FAQs About Bathtub Cleaners
Don’t dread cleaning the bathtub! Instead, learn the tricks and tools to keep cleaning the tub a breeze.
Q. Which is the strongest cleaner for bathtubs?
Abrasive, acidic cleaners are the strongest when disinfecting and removing stains. The abrasive particles break down buildup, while an acidic pH melts away the deposits. But beware—the stronger the cleaner, the more likely it is to damage your tub’s surface if not used properly.
Q. Are bathtub cleaners toxic?
Most chemicals are toxic to some degree, and some bathroom cleaners with chemicals can become dangerous when mixed together, especially combinations like bleach and ammonia, which can cause toxic fumes and burn your skin. Adequate ventilation and gloves are recommended while using cleaning products.
Q. How do you deep clean a bathtub?
Deep cleaning a bathtub doesn’t have to be hard. If necessary, scrape the buildup with a tub brush before applying the cleaning solution.
Q. What’s the safest bathtub cleaner?
All-natural cleaning products are the safest because they’re free from toxic chemicals and irritants. A product like Better Life Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner can work wonders on the toughest bathroom jobs but remain safe to use.
Q. Can you use a toilet bowl cleaner on a bathtub?
When in a pinch, yes, you can use toilet bowl cleaner on porcelain bathtub surfaces. However, experts recommend diluting the cleaner with water before use. A toilet bowl cleaner that includes lactic acid rather than hydrochloric acid is less likely to cause damage to the tub’s surface.