New enamel bathroom tubs are some of the most durable of all, but they are also expensive. The last thing you want to do is damage one through improper cleaning methods.
Antique bathtubs made of porcelain enamel can also present challenges when it comes to cleaning them. They are particularly prone to damage from bleach, abrasive cleansers, and drain opening chemicals.
Simplest Method for Every Day
Here is a method for everyday cleaning of an enamel bathtub. When you are still in the tub and your water is running out, take a wet washcloth and apply a little bit of cheap shampoo to it.
Rub it onto the ring around the tub, let it set a moment, and then rinse it off, scrubbing a bit with the washcloth. This will work really well if you have a microfiber cloth to use.
The reason for shampoo is that it is designed to cut through human oils, and that is primarily what causes the bathtub ring in the first place. If you do have a microfiber cleaning cloth, you can skip the shampoo or other cleanser, and simply use “elbow grease.” Microfiber is designed to safely scrub and clean without soap, although it is safe to use it with soap, too.
In any housekeeping effort, it always helps to do a little every day. A tub that has been neglected for a couple of weeks is going to take more scrubbing and maybe will need a stronger cleanser. But what if you have an antique porcelain enamel bathroom tub that has been stained for a long time? What can you do then?
Removing Old Stains
Hydrogen peroxide is recommended as being safer than bleach for removing old rust stains. You can mix it with baking soda into a slurry and apply it like a paste on the stain.
Alternatively, you can just make a paste of baking soda with water. Let it sit for a while, then scrub gently and rinse.
When scrubbing any bathtub, be careful about abrasives because they can scratch. Use the lightest weight of scrubbing pad that you think might work and make sure it is wet when you scrub. Water cushions the effect of the abrasive and also softens any grime making it easier to remove.
Be extremely careful with scouring powders. Though they are probably what Grandma used to clean her tub, they cause minute scratches that dull the shiny finish of the tub and catch grime in the future. They also leave a gritty residue if you do not get them rinsed away well.
Sometimes a very tough stain will require some abrasive cleanser. Try to use the finest textured powdered cleanser you can and keep it wet as you scrub.
Bleach Has its Fans
Some people feel like a room isn’t clean unless it smells like bleach. This is a personal preference, though, because others have found it to actually cause staining in older porcelain enamel tubs. Try hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach and see if it won’t do the job just as well.
Acids, like vinegar or muriatric acid, also have advocates. If an enamel bathroom tub is subjected to acid routinely, however, it can break down the surface coating. It is much harsher on the enamel than simple soap and water.