How to Clean a Reglazed or Refinished Bathtub

refinished bathtub

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $10

Now that you have a newly refinished bathtub, how do you clean the new sleek and shiny paint or commercial coating? Reglazed coatings need to be cleaned frequently with mild cleaners and soft sponges. That way, you won't end up back with the pitted and discolored tub that you probably just refinished. At the same time, you want a cleaning method that will actually work. Using a liquid non-abrasive solution on a regular basis is usually recommended by most tub refinishers.

Why Liquid Non-Abrasives Work Best

Whether you're the owner of a DIY-finished or professionally finished tub, it's best to use only soft liquid cleansers to clean and maintain the coating. The reason is that a refinished tub coating is layers of specialized paint that can be nicked or scratched without care, so it's best to stick to non-abrasive cleaners. However, for non-abrasive cleaners to work effectively, you will need to clean the tub frequently before soap scum or hard water deposits develop.

Stick to a strict cleaning schedule and non-abrasive cleansers will work fine on a reglazed or refinished tub. Waiting too long to clean means that you may need to resort to cleaning methods that might damage your tub.

Most refinishing companies and DIY tub coating manufacturers seem to agree on a few commercial cleaners that are safe to use on refinished tubs, including:

  • Scrubbing Bubbles
  • Formula 409 (without bleach)
  • Lysol Basin Tub and Tile Cleaner

Use Dish Soap in a Pinch

You can safely use gentle liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, Palmolive, or Ajax (Ajax dish soap, not cleaning powder) to clean a refinished tub.

Avoid These Cleaning Methods for Reglazed Tubs

Though it could be tempting at times, steer clear from cleaning your new glossy finish with the following techniques.

Do Not Use Abrasives

Abrasives include harsh or gritty cleaners as well as rough sponges, like Scotch-Brite pads, steel wool soap pads, or sponges with an abrasive layer on one side. Most tub refinishers and tub coating manufacturers also warn against any products containing bleach or ammonia. Avoid using these common cleansers when cleaning a reglazed tub:

  • Powdered cleansers. This includes products like Ajax or Comet: Both products are abrasive and contain bleach.
  • Bar Keepers Friend: Since this product does not contain bleach, it's often advertised as a more gentle way to clean than using Ajax or Comet. But the abrasives still can scratch the tub.
  • Ammonia: Or any cleaners containing ammonia.
  • Bleach: Straight household bleach or cleaners boosted with bleach should not be used on refinished tubs.
  • Abrasive cream cleansers: Some of these products even contain the word "soft" in their name, but they still aren't soft enough for refinished tubs.

Do Not Steam Clean

A household steam cleaner with a scrubbing attachment may seem like a good way to get rid of all that dirt and soap gunk without using abrasives. Unfortunately, steam doesn't get the job done when it comes to reglazed tub finishes, and it could quickly damage the finish, especially if it gets underneath the coating or through any cracks.

Do Not Power Wash

Power washing old or original tile in a tub and shower can be done but it's not common and you should never attempt it on a reglazed surface. The action is simply too powerful for the coating to withstand. Power washing a reglazed surface could easily lead to peeling or other damage to the coating. It would also void the warranty on a professional refinishing job.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Bucket or container for rinse water

Materials

  • Non-abrasive cleaner
  • Sponge, microfiber cloth, or soft-bristle nylon brush
  • Soft towel or rag

Instructions

safe items for cleaning a refinished tub
The Spruce / Autumn Wood 

Instructions

  1. Rinse the Tub

    Rinse the tub with warm water to remove hair and excess soap residue. Fill a container like a kitchen measuring cup or a plastic bowl with water and use it to rinse all areas of the tub.

  2. Apply the Cleaner

    Liberally apply the cleaner of your choice to all surfaces of the tub. Spread or spray the cleaner all around to give it a chance to work on every area of the tub. If you're using dish soap, pour some onto the surface and spread it with a sponge.

  3. Let the Cleaner Sit

    Leave the cleaner in place for about 5 minutes. This helps to cut through remaining soap residue and oils. It also gives a disinfectant cleaner time to disinfect. (Wiping it off too quickly doesn't allow the cleaner to disinfect properly.)

  4. Scrub Without Abrasives

    Scrub the entire tub surface with a standard cellulose sponge (without any scouring material on either side of the sponge) or a microfiber cloth. If the tub has a non-slip surface, you can scrub this area with a soft, nylon-bristle brush.

  5. Rinse Again

    Thoroughly rinse the tub, leaving no traces of cleaner. This is especially important when using dish soap, which can be dangerously slippery if left on a tub surface. Also, any cleaner can damage a tub's finish if it's allowed to dry on the surface.

  6. Dry the Tub

    Wipe the tub dry with a soft towel or cloth to remove water droplets. Then buff the finish to a like-new shine. You don't need to buff the surface after every cleaning, but it's an easy way to restore the shine.

Tips for Maintaining a Reglazed or Refinished Bathtub

To maintain the coating, refrain from adding a bath mat or appliques with suction cups to your tub's surface. The suction cups could damage the coating and void your warranty. If you choose a non-slip bathmat without suction cups, only use it when in the bathtub, remove it from the tub after use, and hang it up to let it dry.

Though few homeowners love cleaning their bathtub, regular cleaning once a week or depending on the frequency of use is the single best way to keep your tub clean without damaging it. By cleaning regularly, you're cleaning just a minimal amount of grime. Thus, softer methods using non-abrasives work well. If you wait until the tub is visibly dark and dirty, it's difficult to use these gentle methods.