How to Polish a Bathtub

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Keep your bathtub looking new with polish.
Image Credit: John Keeble/Moment/GettyImages

Older bathtubs can be prone to looking dull and dingy, which can have a negative effect on your overall bathroom aesthetic. The top layer of all types of bathtubs can suffer from wear and tear that take the shine off your tub, quite literally. A dull tub can look dirty and dated, making it more uninviting than pleasant and relaxing. Knowing how to polish a bathtub at home can help your tub to look cleaner, brighter and newer.

Cleaning Your Tub

The first step in restoring shine to your bath is making sure it's as clean as possible. Whether you have an acrylic tub or an older, porcelain bath, Signature Hardware suggests using simple dish soap and a nonabrasive cloth as the first stage of cleaning. This will cut through any dirt, grime and grease without causing damage to the tub's surface.

Another great way to clean your bathtub without damaging its surface is to use a natural, homemade tub cleaner. Eager Beaver's recipe for a tub cleaner calls for mixing 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1 tablespoon of baking soda in about a liter of hot water. You could even add a couple of drops of an essential oil of your choice to add a pleasant scent to your bathroom. This mixture can be applied using a spray bottle and then removed using a nonabrasive cloth and some warm water.

Treating Bathtub Stains

Once the surface-level dirt has been treated, you can see if there are any deeper, more stubborn stains on your bathtub. These will need to be treated separately, as a stained tub will never look clean, shiny and new. Luckily, you can treat acrylic and porcelain bathtub stains safely and without causing surface damage, provided you are careful.

The best way to treat staining on a tub is by using a combination of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Remember to wear gloves when using stronger chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, as it can be irritating to the skin. Reader's Digest recommends mixing two parts baking soda to one part hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste. Apply this paste in a targeted manner to any stains remaining in your tub. Allow the mixture to dry out fully, which should take around 30 minutes; then rinse with warm water.

Polishing Your Bathtub

You should only attempt polishing your bathtub once it's clean and free of stains. Otherwise, the effect of the shine will be lost. First, buff the surface of your tub with a soft rag to get it smooth and shiny. For more intense buffing, you can use an electric buffer on its lowest setting, notes Topkote.

Once you've buffed your bathtub, the National Association of Realtors recommends using simple car wax to shine it up. Apply with a soft rag; then buff in small circles to polish and add shine. Wax can also help protect your tub from future damage, which is a nice bonus. Be careful where you apply the wax, though, as it will make the surface of your bath very slippery. Stick to waxing the sides of your tub and never apply wax to the base, as this can be extremely dangerous for those using the bath.

To keep your tub looking as shiny as possible, never let it air-dry. After each use, dry off your tub with a soft cloth to prevent watermarking and mineral deposits. Doing this should also mean you can go longer between bathtub cleanings.


Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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