If your bathtub has lost its luster and become scratched and dull from wear and tear or use of abrasive cleaners, you can restore it to its original glossy finish with a simple application of a liquid polishing compound. Before you start polishing, there are some things you need to know about proper bathtub care so you can avoid this sort of damage in the future or the task of completely refinishing your tub.
Use polishing compound on a bathtub surface that's dull or scratched. Avoid using abrasive steel wool pads or powders that may dull the surface further. Clean the tub thoroughly before applying polishing compound.
Cleaning Materials to Avoid
Abrasive steel wool pads with cleanser included, such as S.O.S. or Brillo pads, and abrasive powders, like Ajax and Comet, should be avoided when cleaning your bathtub, advises Ask the Builder. Although the abrasive, scouring nature of these cleaning products may sound like the right tool for the job, they will actually make cleaning your tub more difficult in the long run. These cleaning products actually create tiny scratches, which dull the surface and trap dirt, forcing you to have to scrub even harder, creating more scratches.
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Prepping the Bathtub for Polishing
Before you polish your tub, you need to give it a thorough cleaning. Any kind of spray or gel formulated for cleaning bathtubs or bathrooms, in general, will work. Alternatively, you can just use a mild detergent, such as dish soap, to clean the tub. Avoid abrasive scrubbers and go for a soft-bristled scrub brush or sponge. Rinse the soapy water down the drain when you are finished. Bob Vila recommends a household method of just using a half solution of white vinegar to warm water, spraying it on and letting it stand for 15 minutes.
If the tub has a lot of scratches, you may need to sand down the entire tub using a very fine paper, about 2,000 grit wet or dry, recommends TopKote. Keep the sandpaper wet and sand just the dull areas of the tub.
You should never attempt to polish a wet surface. Once you've got the tub clean, dry the surface as much as you can with a towel then leave it to air-dry. Wrap plastic bags around the fixtures, the shower head and tub faucet to prevent drips. Pull the shower curtain away from the tub to make sure no moisture gets trapped inside the tub. Allow the tub to air-dry for at least an hour.
Polishing Your Bathtub
With the tub all clean and dry, you can finally apply your polishing compound to buff out those unsightly scratches. If you have a shower-tub combo unit, you can use automotive wax to buff out scratches on the shower wall — though you should never use this on the tub floor.
Follow the instructions on the packaging of your polishing compound for specific application instructions. If you have particularly deep scratches in the surface, use 600-grit or higher sandpaper to wet-sand them out, wipe up any dust and then use the polishing compound.