Winning the fight against tub stains

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

My friend Sara and her family recently moved into a home in Kaneohe. Sara, a self-proclaimed “townie,” swore long ago that she would never leave the comforts and conveniences of town life. However, the amount of space (and yard) available just a short drive from town, paired with an even shorter commute to her job in Kailua, turned out to be too much to pass up.


Sara and her husband have taken up projects around the home and are finding ways to make it their own. They’ve installed a new roof, unpacked their things and began decorating. While the move and the projects have had their stresses, the one thing that has bothered Sara the most has been the stains in the guest bathtub.

She tried seemingly every type of cleaner and cleaning tool, but the stains just wouldn’t come out. If you are facing a similar problem, consider some of these ideas:

• Add vinegar. White vinegar is my go-to cure-all. Spray a mix of one part vinegar and one part warm water directly onto the stains. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Scrub with a gentle material like a sponge or cloth, and rinse.

• Make a paste. If the vinegar mixture alone does not work, try making a paste first. Mix baking soda and mild dish soap until it forms a paste. Place the mixture onto the stains and let it sit from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the severity of the stain. Then, spray with the vinegar solution. Allow it to sit for an additional 15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

• Try an old standby. My aunties swear by Bar Keeper’s Friend. The product, which has been around since the 1800s, can be used on tubs made of fiberglass, porcelain, acrylic, enamel-coated cast iron, solid-surface materials, cultured marble and ceramic tile, according to the manufacturers.

• Refinish. For older tubs, stains can be so set in that it makes more sense to refinish or replace. While many retailers sell do-it-yourself refinishing kits, I would suggest hiring a professional instead. Ask your local plumber for a referral, if needed. Get estimates and compare those to the cost of replacing the tub entirely.

As always, make sure to search your tub material to see what types of chemicals, scrubbers, or other cleaners you should or should not use. If you’re unsure, err on the safe side. Always make sure to test a small, inconspicuous spot before moving on to larger areas.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefi xisinhawaii@gmail.com.