Something that a lot of people struggle with when it comes to cleaning is how to properly clean a shower and bathtub. Seriously, we get asked this a lot. And while we do have an older video on how to clean a bathtub, we’ve taken some of your feedback into consideration and created a simple step-by-step procedure on how to do this task. So, I’m going to show you guys how professionals clean bathtubs and I’ll also cover off some of the pitfalls that people fall into (and how to get around them).
Products & Tools
Whenever I tackle a cleaning task, I always categorize things into three different sections: products, tools, and techniques. The products and tools that you’re going to need for this are:
- Tub and tile cleaner (here’s a great DIY tub and tile cleaner)
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Vinegar (double-strength if you have it)
- Non-scratching sponge
- Microfiber cloth
- Cleaning toothbrush.
What Is Soap Scum Anyway?
Soap scum is something that I’ve talked about a lot over the years, but before I started my cleaning company I had no idea what it was. It was, of course, something that I’d heard about on TV commercials, but I was unclear on exactly what it was. After cleaning hundreds of tubs, I can say with certainty that I’m now very clear on what it is! It’s essentially a buildup of soap, dead skin cells, body oils, and hardened minerals from your water, creating a cakey greyish brownish gummy build-up. It becomes sticky and difficult to remove over time, which is why you need abrasion and you really want to pre-treat any surfaces which have soap scum before you start cleaning them.
Step 1: Empty The Tub
Start by removing everything from the shower and the tub—anything that’s sitting in there for a long period of time has the opportunity to grow mold and mildew under it so everything needs to come out before we start cleaning.
Step 2: Tiles
Next up, we’re pre-treating our tiles—we’ll do the tub afterward so that you can stand in the tub, safety first! Dip your sponge into your tub and tile cleaner (or if you’re using a spray follow the same procedure) and work your way from top to bottom, left to right. Let this sit for 5 minutes.
Now, you’re going to scrub the tiles using the scrubby side of the sponge (it should be nice and wet). You’re going to apply pressure and work from top to bottom, left to right. By doing this you really help remove any of the schmutz that’s stuck to your walls including anything stuck in the grout lines. Now, if you need some additional abrasion, you can add a little bit of baking soda to your sponge. This will help get rid of any stubborn soap scum. By the time this work is done everything will be nice and clean. But hold on, we’re not rinsing just yet!
Step 3: The Tub
A quick pro tip here: roll up your bath mat and use that to rest your knees on when you’re working in the tub—trust me, it will save your knees! Using the soft side of the sponge apply the tub and tile product, working from left to right. Once again, you’ll want to let this sit for 5 minutes before any scrubbing starts. Flip over the sponge and use the abrasive side of the sponge to start scrubbing the tub. Now, the product will have done a lot of the work for you, but you still have to give it a little elbow grease if you have significant soap scum build-up. If you need any extra abrasion, again, you can always throw some baking soda into the mix. Oh, and make sure you scrub your chrome!
Step 4: Rinsing & Polishing
Now, we’re going to rinse. I have a detachable shower head that is super helpful for this task. However, if you don’t have one of those just fill up a large container and dump water on your tiles from the very top letting the water run to the bottom. You really want to make sure that you get all the product off so that you get a nice clean smooth finish. Leftover product can attract dirt and debris and start your soap scum build up all over again!
I’ll use a squeegee to remove any residual water (or product) from the walls and tub. If you don’t have a squeegee, seriously—get one! I squeegee my tub after every use and I can tell you that cleaning the shower has become so much easier just by staying on top of this (I also have a DIY daily shower spray that does the same thing). Finally, use a microfiber cloth (I like an extra-plush microfiber cloth for this step) to wipe and polish the tub and chrome surfaces. If you have any water spots left behind you can spot clean with some vinegar. And that’s it!
A Note On Grout
If you happen to have any discolored grout, there’s a really simple way to fix that. You can mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl making a thick paste. Measurements don’t really matter here, just make what you need and ensure it’s nice and pasty. Apply it with a cleaning toothbrush to the grout lines and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will give the product time to do its work—whitening and brightening! When the time is up, simply rinse and wipe clean.
We do get a lot of emails and comments about people who either have physical limitations, chronic pain, or are looking for more ergonomic cleaning solutions instead of having to bend down or crouch. There are a number of cleaning tools available to make these tasks a little bit easier, and for this particular job, you can get an extendable tub and tile scrubber. It makes the cleaning process a little bit easier for sure.