Easy fixes for your bathtub

Bathrooms are built from tough materials designed to take punishment and repel grime. Making a habit of rinsing the bath or shower immediately after use will slow down the buildup of dirt and soap scum.

Easy fixes for your bathtub

Bath stained: remove the stains without scratching

Stains in enamel, porcelain, plastic or ceramic bathtubs can be difficult to remove without harsh abrasives, which risk damaging the surface.

  • Remove water stains with a 50:50 solution of water and white vinegar. Soak a paper towel in the solution and lay it on the stain overnight to maximize contact between the two.
  • To treat a rust stain, cover it in table salt then place the cut side of half a lemon on top. Leave overnight while the chemical reaction draws the stain into the salt. Alternatively, wet the rust stain and rub gently with a wet pumice stone. Don't try this latter method on a plastic bath, as it will scratch the surface.

A trail of lime on the bathtub: rub or dissolve it away

Lime — the residue of minerals left behind as water dries — is a common problem in hard-water areas. Rock-hard deposits often form down the side of a bath beneath a dripping tap. These lime trails can be removed, but be prepared to carry out a few treatments before you solve the problem completely.

  • If you have an enamel bathtub, rub the lime with 0000-grade steel wool dipped in denatured alcohol. Be sure to remove all traces of the steel wool afterwards, or the steel fibres could cause rust stains.
  • Soak a paper towel in white vinegar and place it over the stain; leave it to work overnight.

Scratched bathtub: sand and polish to a shining finish

You can polish out light scratches on enamel, plastic and fiberglass baths, sinks and shower trays.

  • Rub the area with 1500-grit wet-and-dry paper — use it wet. Then gently polish with a cloth that has been dabbed in a little cutting compound. These products (such as T-Cut) are designed primarily to remove scratches from car bodies, but work equally well on bathroom fittings.
  • Deeper scratches, cracks and chips in baths and showers made from plastic, resin, enamel or porcelain can be repaired, but require special fillers (available from DIY stores) and resins rather than household adhesives.

The grout around tiles is grimy: mix your own grout cleaner

The quickest way to brighten up a tired old bathroom is to freshen the grout, which typically becomes discoloured long before the tiles themselves start to age.

  • In a plastic cup, mix one-quarter thick bleach to three-quarters baking soda into a smooth paste.
  • Use an old toothbrush to apply the paste to the stained grout and leave the mixture to work for an hour or so before rinsing it off with a cloth and hot water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves throughout.

Tool of the trade

Bath rubber: Rust, paint or water stains can be removed using a bath rubber — a cheap accessory available from DIY stores and plumber's merchants. Use it as you'd use an eraser when rubbing out pencil on paper — it's quick and chemical-free.

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