Q. I have a dirty-looking area on bottom of my acrylic bathtub and am sure it is from my hard water. The tub is just now being used daily. I know I cannot use regular products like CLR or Lime-A-Way. I have tried ammonia, vinegar, baking soda and a mixture of all three — no luck. Any suggestions?
A. Many homeowners with hard water struggle to make their bathtubs shine. For those with acrylic tubs, it’s more complicated.
Acrylic is a popular material because manufacturers can mold it into unique shapes, which proves especially handy for large, freestanding soaker tubs. It can provide the classic look of a clawfoot tub without the weight of cast iron. Bathtub refinishing companies also create tub liners with acrylic or use it in spray form to coat an old tub.
Although many forms exist, acrylic bathtubs share one common quirk: Homeowners must be very careful about how they clean them. Using the wrong product can damage the surface, making it dull — and possibly void your acrylic bathtub’s warranty.
The products you can use to clean an acrylic tub vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. This makes dealing with tough stains and residue that much more difficult.
When cleaning an acrylic tub, never use cleaning products in aerosol cans or solvents, including acetone. Since they scratch easily, abrasive scrubbing pads and wire brushes are out of the question. Although chlorine bleach is not an option, manufacturers stand divided about the use of powdered oxygen bleach.
Many bathtub cleaners say whether they’re safe for use on acrylic tubs on the package. Also, bathtub manufacturers and refinishing companies list which products are safe for their products online and in the care section of the product’s instructions.
Typically, green cleaning products are safe, as well as many multipurpose cleaners. Some companies recommend a 50/50 vinegar-water solution only for tough stains, but others advise against it.
For tough stains, try cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it over the rough area until the hard water deposits loosen. Rinse with water, and then wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth.
Clean your tub once a week to prevent tough stains from developing. Almost all manufacturers and refinishing companies recommend scrubbing the tub with antibacterial dish soap and a soft sponge.
Keep lit cigarettes far away from your acrylic tub. Tobacco smoke can permanently discolor acrylic surfaces.
When in doubt about cleaning or maintaining your acrylic bathtub, contact the installation contractor or the manufacturer.