The ultimate guide to tub and shower cleaning

The ultimate guide to tub and shower cleaning

The Ultimate Guide for Tub & Shower Cleaning

Your tub or shower gets heavy use in your bathroom. These are also the areas in your bathroom that have a high moisture issue. Because of this, they are prone to getting dirty or moldy quickly. Knowing the proper method for cleaning your tub and shower will help your bathroom look and feel clean. The MaidPro cleaning professionals have used their expertise to create the ultimate guide to tub and shower cleaning.

Understanding Different Tub & Shower Materials

There are a variety of materials that tubs and showers are made out of. The materials in your bathroom will impact how you approach cleaning. Before you start cleaning, the first step is to determine the materials that are in your bathroom.

Porcelain Enameled Steel

Porcelain enameled steel tubs are common because they are affordable, durable, and easy to clean. Be wary of chips in the enamel that expose the steel, as this is where rust will eventually develop. Do not use white vinegar, scouring powder, or anything abrasive, or you will damage the finish. If you want to go the extra mile, use a microfiber cloth to wipe the outside with lemon oil. This will give it a shine and fresh scent.


An acrylic tub is made from a vacuum form sheet of acrylic. These tubs are popular because they are lightweight, affordable, and have a broad range of design options. Use a gentle soap to clean the tub's surface. Allow the tub to dry, and then use car wax to protect the tub and make it gleam. Routine periodic waxing helps prevent water spots and soap scum from sticking to the tub.


A fiberglass tub is made from multiple layers of alternating polyester resin, fiberglass reinforcements, and a surface coat. They are not as durable as other tub materials, so you will need to be careful when cleaning. The surface is easily cracked or scratched. The best approach for cleaning a fiberglass tub is to use a paste made from baking soda, dish soap, and hot water. Let the paste sit on the tub's surface for at least 30 minutes. You may need to scrub stubborn grime vigorously. Rinse and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Regular waxing with fiberglass boat wax can protect your tub's surface so that it does not fade as quickly. It also creates a water repellent finish that prevents water spots.

Enameled Cast Iron

Tubs made from cast iron with an enameled finish are expensive and heavy. However, they are extremely durable, helping them last for decades. Avoid using harsh modern chemicals on this type of tub. The classic baking soda and water cleaning solution are all you need to keep your tub looking beautiful. The wrong type of chemical could discolor the enamel. If your tub has stains, use trisodium phosphate cleaner (TSP) with hot water. Gently rub the stain with the mixture until the stain is gone.

Cast Polymers

A modern tub material that has become more popular in recent years is cast polymer tubs that use marble, granite, onyx, or another stone. These tubs use stone particles that get molded together with polymeric material or resin. While these tubs are beautiful, they have a delicate surface that is easily scratched. Use a microfiber cloth and gentle soap to clean your tub.

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

The durability of ceramic and porcelain tile is impressive, making it a popular option for finishing showers. However, cleaning tile can be tricky because there is the smooth tile and the rough grout lines. For routine cleaning, a commercial tile cleaner should be sufficient. Scrub soap scum and grime with a soft bristle brush. For the grout, you may need something stronger. There are grout-specific cleaners that you can use. You may also want to give the grout extra mildew or mold cleaning. The rough texture and porous nature of grout make it the perfect place for mildew and mold to grow.


Many shower stalls have a fiberglass or acrylic liner that creates a single covering over the walls and floor. These are popular because they are affordable to install, and cleaning them is low maintenance. Avoid anything abrasive, as this will dull or scratch the finish. Use an all-purpose cleaner or a homemade vinegar and dish soap cleaning solution.


A stone shower looks elegant but can have specific cleaning requirements based on the type of stone. Common stones used in showers include marble, granite, and travertine. Do not use tile cleaner on natural stone. Avoid anything acidic, such as vinegar or lemon juice. The safe approach is to use a cleaner specifically designed for the stone in your shower. A second option is to use dish soap and water. Then, dry and buff the stone with a microfiber cloth. You will also need to protect the stone with a sealer one to two times a year.


Modern bathroom design trends praise the use of glass for the shower. While glass looks beautiful when it is clean, keeping it that way can be a serious challenge. Use a glass cleaner to remove the soap scum and grime. Do not use anything that could scratch the glass. The biggest challenge will be achieving a streak-free finish. A 50/59 solution of water and vinegar and a microfiber cloth can get that perfectly clear finish after cleaning.

Essential Cleaning Tools and Supplies

If you want to have a high-quality clean, you need to have the right tools. Gather your cleaning supplies before you start. This will let you complete your entire cleaning in one sitting without stopping and buying supplies.

  • Tile/stone/glass cleaner

  • Stain remover

  • Disinfecting spray

  • Baking soda

  • White vinegar

  • Dish soap

  • Microfiber towels

  • Squeegee

  • Soft bristle brush

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Don't try to rush the cleaning process or skip steps. This will result in an incomplete job. If you want to enjoy a clean tub and shower, follow this step-by-step process for cleaning.

1. Prep and Rinse

Before you start cleaning, you must remove all the items in and around your tub and shower. This includes mats, bottles, razors, soap, poofs, and toys. Removing these items may uncover problems and areas that you need to clean. It will also make cleaning easier because you will not have to work around them. Remove any long hair on the floor or collected around the drain.

The next step is to give the entire tub or shower a rinse. You can use clean water to do this. The goal is to remove any loose debris or dirt that will easily wash away. Then, open a window or turn on the bathroom fan to increase the ventilation in the bathroom. This increases air circulation, which makes it safer to use cleaning chemicals and helps your bathroom dry faster.

2. Apply Cleaning Solution

Whether you choose commercial or natural cleaners, spray your tub and shower with it. Allow it to sit and soak. This gives the cleaning solution time to soak into the grime, making cleaning easier.

3. Wipe or Scrub

After soaking, use a soft bristle brush to scrub or a microfiber cloth to wipe the surfaces down. You can use a plastic scrubber or scraper if you need more scrubbing power. Do not use anything metal, as it will cause damage. Old toothbrushes are good because they get into tight corners.

4. Address Problem Areas

If your tub or shower has any problem areas or issues, this is the time to address them. Perhaps you have mold or mildew spots that need extra scrubbing. You could have hard water or rust stains that need removing.

5. Clean the Hardware

Now that you have cleaned the surfaces, your next step is to clean the hardware. Use a soft brush and surface-safe cleaner to clean the hardware. Dry and buff with a microfiber cloth to prevent water spots.

Do not forget to clean the drain. Use your fingers or pliers to pull collected hair out of the drain. Pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Close the drain plug and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes. Finish the drain by pouring a boiling pot of water down the drain. Do not forget to clean the drain plug and around it. This is a common source of unpleasant smell as it is a moisture collection spot.

6. Clean the Shower Head

As you shower, minerals and salts in the water deposit onto the shower head. This restricts the water flow. Clean your shower head by pouring vinegar into a ziplock bag. Place it over the shower head so that it is sitting in the vinegar. Secure it with a rubber band. Let it soak for about an hour. You may need to soak it for longer if the mineral buildup is especially bad.

Once it has soaked, remove the bag and let the shower run to flush it. If your shower head needs more intense cleaning, you may need to remove it from the pipe. This will make cleaning it easier. Use a toothbrush and toothpicks to clean out each of the holes where the water comes out.

7. Shower Curtains and Liners

If your shower has a curtain and liner, check the tag to see if they are machine washable. If so, remove the rings or hooks and wash them. If they are not, follow the care instructions to clean them without damaging them.

8. Dry

When your tub or shower is completely clean, the final step is to dry everything. This will prevent mildew from coming back or water spots from forming. Start with a squeegee that will remove the water. Then, finish with a microfiber cloth to remove the remaining moisture and buff the surfaces.

9. Replace Items

Now that your shower is clean, you can return all of your personal items. Check bottles and cans to identify the culprit of a stain or ring left. Avoid placing that item directly on your tub or shower to prevent the stain from happening again.

Special Considerations and Problem-Solving

Do not wait to clean your tub or shower tile if you notice a stain on it. The longer a stain sits, the harder it will be to clean. If it is safe for use on your tub's surface, use a baking soda and vinegar combo. Let the baking soda sit on the stain for ten minutes. Then, use a spray bottle to lightly spray the baking soda until it fizzes. Let it sit for another 20 minutes. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the tub clean. The stain should be removed.

  • Mold or Mildew - If you struggle with mold in your tub or shower, use a white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide mixture. Allow the mixture to sit on the affected area, then rinse clean.
  • Hard Water Stains - For hard water stains, mix a 50/50 blend of water and vinegar. Spray the hard water stains and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Then wipe clean. You may need to repeat the process until the entire stain is removed.
  • Rust Stains - Rust stains can be especially problematic. If a metal can or another object leaves a rust stain, you need to clean it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will become harder to clean as it gets set into the tub or shower material. If it is safe for the material, use a paste of lemon juice and baking soda to remove the rust stain. However, if the stain is especially large or old, you may need something stronger, such as a commercial rust cleaner. Look for one that contains oxalic acid. Check the label to confirm that it is safe for your tub or shower material before use.

Post-Cleaning Inspection

There are a lot of nooks and crevices around the bathtub and shower area. Because of this, it can be easy to miss a spot accidentally. Doing a post-cleaning inspection is a must to catch any area you missed while cleaning.

Commonly missed areas to look out for are the showerhead and plug holes. Both of these can collect a small amount of standing water that can create a musty or moldy smell.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning

Do not use harsh or abrasive scrubbing tools. This includes scrub pads, steel wool, or metal scrapers. This can scratch the surface of your tub, dulling the finish and increasing the risk of staining. Similarly, avoid harsh cleaning products and chemicals. These can also dull your tub and shower's surface.

If you have stubborn mold, mildew, or stains, leave your cleaning product on the area long enough for it to work. In many cases, you do not need a harsher chemical cleaner. Just have the patience to let your cleaning product work.

Do not only clean the areas that look dirty. While this is a good place to start, it leaves the majority of your tub and shower untouched. For an effective cleaning, you need to clean all of the surfaces.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

Adopting a light maintenance routine in between cleanings can make deep cleanings easier. Focus on removing what mildew and mold like the most, the standing moisture. Use a squeegee to wipe down your shower after every shower. This removes the excess water, helping to prevent water spots, soap scum buildup, and mildew. Apply a water repellent product to the glass surfaces. This helps repel water from the glass surfaces to prevent water spots.

Cleaning Schedule

Consistency is key when maintaining your tub and shower. A regular schedule will help you keep your tub and shower clean and ready for your next bath or shower. An example cleaning routine would look like this:

  • Daily: Use a squeegee to remove excess water from the sides and floor of your shower or tub.
  • Weekly: Wash the sides and floor of your shower and tub. If you have a suction cup non-slip mat, pick it up, clean it, and underneath it. Use a microfiber cloth to dry and buff.
  • Monthly: Do a deeper cleaning of your tub and shower. Focus on problem areas and any presence of mold or mildew. Clean the hardware, drain, and shower head.

Trust the MaidPro Professionals

Let the professional cleaners at MaidPro do the heavy scrubbing for you. While you could clean your tub and shower yourself, you do not have to. Trust the professional cleaners at MaidPro to keep your tub and shower looking beautiful. We can work with you to create a schedule that fits your needs, from weekly to monthly. Our cleaners will evaluate your bathroom to address any unique needs.

Request a free estimate for in-home cleaning with the MaidPro professional cleaners.

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