How to Clean Cast Iron Tubs

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Cast iron bathtubs are durable and stylish, and they retain heat far better than their fiberglass or steel counterparts. Abrasive cleaners can scratch or damage the enamel, so the best way to clean a cast iron tub is to fill it with water and use a mild dishwashing detergent and follow up with a Magic Eraser or cast-iron-specific cleaning agent for any remaining stains. Here's how to clean a cast-iron tub:

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1. Give Your Tub a Soak

The first step to cleaning your cast-iron tub is to fill it with warm water, add 1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent, and let it soak for about half an hour. Before you set the 30-minute timer, swirl the dishwashing detergent with your hand or a soft cloth to ensure it disperses evenly. Once your timer dings, pull the plug and allow the bathtub to fully drain.

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2. Wipe It All Down

Once your tub is empty (and likely already looking shinier), use a soft cloth to gently wipe away any detergent or soap residue that remains. It's important to note that you shouldn't ever use a coarse sponge or scrub with force as you clean. Using force with a coarse sponge can scratch the tub enamel and cause costly damage.

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3. Break Out the Magic Eraser

If you still see dirt or hard-to-remove residue after you wipe your tub dry with a soft cleaning cloth, it's time to break out the Magic Eraser. Run your Magic Eraser under the faucet until it's damp but not dripping wet and then gently work it back and forth across any marks or residue. Areas that are particularly prone to collecting loose dirt include the sections around the drain, faucet, and knobs.

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4. Give It a Final Rinse and Dry

Once your tub is clean and shiny, give it a final rinse to ensure you've washed away any cleaning products. Turn off the faucet completely and wipe it dry to avoid puddling before its next use.

5. Use a Cast-Iron Specific Cleaning Agent

While gently soaking your tub with detergent, wiping away any residue with a soft cloth, and following up with a Magic Eraser are likely to get most tubs clean, you might find yourself with more serious marks or staining from things like hair dye or a tie-dye project gone wrong. If you find yourself staring down a stained cast iron tub even after following these steps, it's time to try a specialty cast-iron tub cleaner.

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The product will come with detailed instructions, but most involve wetting the stained area, applying the cast iron tub cleaner, and then scrubbing or wiping it away with a soft cleaning cloth. When you're shopping for tub cleaner, be sure to choose a product that is specially designed for cast-iron tubs, as even the best fiberglass tub cleaner likely won't get the job done.

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