How to Clean the tube when you rather be doing something else.
I have never been a tidy dweller. And a dingy, cluttered apartment is not a place where a man such as I prefers to spend his time. So the place gets messier and I dwell there less often. The cycle continues until I am only using the place to crash for six or seven hours before stumbling off to my next shift at Horatio’s Tire’n’Taco.
While I am not necessarily the model of cleanliness, I am at least modestly hygienic, and have always been fond of the over-long hot shower. Apparently, responsible people clean their showers more often than once every couple months. I cleaned my shower less often than I cleaned anything else: precisely never. And my bathtub got gross.
I’ll spare you, the details of what was happening in there, suffice to say that their came a point when I reached the conclusion that baths are not supposed to be carpeted. I realized something had to be done. Sometimes a dish soap and a rag just don’t cut it. To properly clean a bathtub, more must be done.
Just like there are all types of people, there are also all sorts of things that can happen to a bathtub. Here’s a list of a few of the more common problems, and how I now prefer to solve them:
(it should be noted that many of the tips and tricks listed here also apply to the common sink. Unless your sink is made of brass. In which case; kudos on the awesome brass sink.)
1. Soap scum One of the biggest surprises:
In my early-adult life was was finding out that soap actually makes your bath dirty! This may seem obvious to you, but it certainly was not to me. Soap: good. Not-soap: dirty. This was as far as my brain had gotten when I started finding ominous white streaks on the shower glass and strange discolored patches of build-up in the corners. When my brain stopped hurting, I researched the best ways to rid my shower of that dirty, dirty soap.
Try just not using the stuff. I don’t mean go all hippie, I mean upgrade to newer technology. Shower gel: it smells nice, it goes on cool, and it is petroleum-based rather than a saponified oil product, meaning it doesn’t turn into shower stalactites. But if you’re an old fashioned person who likes the slippery inconvenience of solid soaps, then there are other ways to combat soap-scum build up:
Burn it with acid: People have been cleaning their dwellings with vinegar since before there were iPhones. Highly acidic substances will break up the compounds in high-base substances, substances like soap scum. Lemon oil also works, and there are many less primitive acid-based cleansers on the market. Just use an abrasive brush to scrape away the sad, defeated soap-sludge. (beware the material your tub is made of. Steel wool won’t do a darned thing to the 200-year-old clawfoot porcelain bath your great grandmother left you, it saw the Coolidge administration. But the plastic one in the guest bathroom is weak and will be left with unsightly scratches.)
2. Mildew Your bathroom is mildew heaven.
It’s warm, wet, dark most of the time, and is full of shiny flat surfaces. Mildew would have to be simply mad not to grow there. But pervasive as it is, it is not unbeatable.
One of the things you can do is turn your mildew greenhouse into a harsh and foreboding mildew desert. Turning on a fan during and after a shower will reduce the humidity and make the bathroom arid. Leave the light on for a controlled amount of time. The unforgiving blaze of your energy-efficient eco-bulb will teach the impudent mildew infestation that your bathroom is not a land to be settled. Increase the climate intensity enough and your bathroom will be a place where all mildew fear to tread.
If you want immediate annihilation of the mildew scourge, regularly bleaching your bath kills pretty much any living thing that may prove insolent enough to try and make a life for itself there. a half-and-half solution of bleach and water will do the trick. Just avoid cleaning simultaneously with ammonia, as that tends to create deadly poison.
Acid, again! Acid is a horrific thing if you’re small. Even the most advanced mildew society will not survive its onslaught . Vinegar, lemon juice; we’ve been over this.
3. Foreign Matter of Mysterious Origin
We’ve all done bathroom to our bathtub that we’d rather not mention in public. Every now and again stuff just hauls off and happens. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just they way things worked out. And now your bathtub is completely brown/red/black/slimy and you’re parents/children/boss’s family are visiting soon and dear god If they see the mess…
It’s okay. No one is judging. But you do still have a gnarly stain in your tub from that deer/carburetor/solicitor, and that stain must come out. Here’s how to wash away the past and get your bath looking shiny and innocent again:
For porcelain tubs: Porcelain is strong material. It may not sound so tough when you’re talking about a tea set. But if I told you that the ideal way to rid a porcelain tub of stains is to vigorously rub a rock against it, you would be impressed. Well, the ideal way to clean a porcelain tub is to vigorously rub a rock against it; using a stone called pumice, to be precise. Pumice is a very porous igneous rock that is made by volcanoes and sold at your local hardware store. Think of it like a toothbrush for your bath. Apply the cleaner of your choice and just scrub until the very memory of the stain has been ground off into the drain. And like steel wool (also a good choice) be sure that you actually have a porcelain tub, as pumice and other abrasive cleaning tools are NOT the ideal way to clean most things.
Enamel: Remember acid? Yeah, don’t use acid if you have an enamel tub. Acid will turn enamel a sickly yellow/brown color in a matter of seconds. How you ask? Chemistry, my friend. Chemistry. Use only non-bleach cleaners. Clean more often. If you have a large, possibly human-shaped stain in your tub that simply won’t come out, you can try trisodium phosphates. Mix in a tablespoon with a gallon of warm water and pray you don’t get any in your eye.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a relatively soft material that will not stand up to harsh methods of cleaning. Stay away from heavy abrasives; acid, bleach, and pumice, Stick to cleaning it with lighter fare, once a week. It’s also somewhat more resistant to stains, so as long as you maintain some sort of cleaning schedule you should be fine.
Tile: If you have a tile shower, heaven help you. Put on some gloves and goggles, mix up a ¼ bleach solution, and cleanse that grout before it starts growing intelligent life. Then do it again next month. Or be prepared to replace some tile.
As for nastier stuff like rust stains and water marking, the solution will often depend on the nature of the problem. Commercially-sold rust removers are available at your local hardware store, but may do more damage than good if you’re bathtub is old or made of a softer material. On the other hand, it is fashionable in some circles to have homes with that “distressed” look. Just beware of tetanus.
A cleaner bath is a better bath. It smells nicer, it looks nicer, and it makes people like you more. These tip can help you save a “distressed” bathtub, or just keep it looking its sparkly best. If you have any further expertise to share, please do. The battle against grime is never over. Good luck, and happy washing.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Maxwell Arnold is a writer and blogger who manages web content for myuniqueshowercurtains.com. He estimates he has spent somewhere around 1500 hours in the bath. (Do the math, it works out). He feels that this makes him an expert.