How To Remove Stains From Acrylic Bathtub: 4 Simple Ways

Acrylic tubs are much more popular than their fiberglass and ceramic counterparts. The material feels warmer to the touch; it is more durable than fiberglass and rarely fades. However, acrylic is porous and is relatively easy to stain. From yellow spots caused by hard water to mold or rust stains, how to make your tub like new again?

You can remove most stains from an acrylic bathtub with white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or lemon juice, and salt. If your tub is stained with essential oils, you can use sea salt and cornmeal or arrowroot. If you want to use a cleaning product, stick to mild soap.

How To Get Stains Out Of Acrylic Tub

A stained acrylic bathtub doesn’t look flattering. If you don’t want it to ruin your bathroom’s appearance, you have to find ways to get rid of the stains. Check out the methods below to find the most suitable for you.

Yellow: Vinegar

Yellow stains on acrylic tubs are frequent and annoying. Hard water is the main culprit and considering that most homes in the USA have hard water, you shouldn’t be too surprised that you have to deal with them.

Tannins in water could be another cause. Tannins usually form due to rotten organic matter found in your water source and are more likely to appear in homes using well water. The chances of your tub getting stained are even higher if you don’t use a whole-house water filter.

Excess iron in water can also cause yellow stains sometimes, although most stains caused by iron have the color of rust.

No matter what causes the yellow stains, you can remove them with white vinegar. 

Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and apply the substance all over your tub. Wait for 10-15 minutes, then scrub the tub with a soft sponge or brush. Repeat if necessary until you’ve removed all stains.

If you’re dealing with particularly stubborn stains, sprinkle the bathtub with baking soda and spray vinegar all over it. Wait until the bubbling stops, then scrub with a soft brush. Rinse with clean water when you’re done.

Red and Black: Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

Red and black stains on a tub are caused by fungi and bacteria. The former – generally mold and mildew – create unsightly black stains. However, sulfur bacteria could be another culprit. Red stains that look slimy are generally the result of Serratia Marcescens, a microorganism responsible for pinkish-red or orange stains in bathrooms.

Another possible cause for reddish stains is a high level of iron in the water. No matter what causes these stains, you can remove them with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Before you start, know that this method should only be used sporadically on acrylic tubs because it could scratch the surface. For this reason, you shouldn’t scrub the stains either. Here’s how to clean them.

  1. Mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide to form a paste.
  2. Apply the paste on the stains and wait for about an hour.
  3. Wipe the paste with a soft cloth and rinse with abundant clean water. Repeat if necessary.

Because mold, mildew, and bacteria are hard to remove permanently, you should also disinfect the tub after you’ve cleaned it. Use vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or a sanitizing cleaning product (acrylic-compatible) for the purpose.

Essential Oil: Corn Flour/Arrowroot and Sea Salt

Bathtubs aren’t used only for cleaning our bodies. You may also like to soak in water or enjoy a relaxing bath now and then.

Most relaxing baths involve some sort of aromatherapy, but those essential oils could leave nasty stains. Luckily, getting rid of them isn’t hard.

To remove an oil stain, you need something to absorb the oil. Corn flour or arrowroot works perfectly for the purpose, and so does sea salt.

Sprinkle the stain with cornmeal or arrowroot and sea salt. Both the cornmeal and the sea salt will absorb the excess liquid and grease. Wait for about 15-30 minutes, then scrub gently with a soft brush. Don’t be harsh because the salt could scratch your tub.

Wipe the excess with a soft cloth and rinse with water. If the stain is still there, make a paste by adding a few tablespoons of hot water to the cornflour. Apply the paste, wait for about half an hour, scrub gently, and rinse. The stain should be gone.

Rust: Lemon Juice and Salt

Rust is one of the most stubborn stains in an acrylic bathtub. It can be the result of old, decaying pipes or too much iron in the water. You can try the methods above to get rid of them, but if nothing works, a salt and lemon juice paste might help.

In a cup or bowl, squeeze the juice from two lemons and blend with a tablespoon of salt. Mix well until the salt dissolves. 

Apply this solution over the affected area with a brush and wait for 20-30 minutes. Scrub the stain with a soft brush and rinse with water. Repeat if necessary.

Because the acrylic material doesn’t pair well with abrasive products, you should make sure that the salt is fully dissolved before scrubbing. If you can still feel the salt grains, skip scrubbing. Wipe the area with a soft cloth and rinse.

Bathtub Stains Won’t Come Out? (Try this)

If you’ve tried everything above, but your tub is still stained, you can try this DIY method before turning to chemical cleaners. Here’s how to do it.

1. Gather the necessary supplies

This DIY method involves a deep cleaning of your acrylic tub and should work on all kinds of stains – comprising the stubborn ones. You’ll need: 

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Soft brush
  • Paper towels or washable cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Glass bowl
  • Microwave
  • Rubber gloves

2. Heat the vinegar 

Fill about a quarter cup with white vinegar and microwave it for up to 90 seconds on max power. Keep an eye on the vinegar as you’re microwaving it, and stop the process when you notice steam coming out of the cup – the vinegar should be warm, not boiling.

Alternatively, pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and heat it on the stove until warm.

3. Pour dish soap over the tub

Grab a bottle of liquid dish soap and squirt liberally all over the tub. You don’t have to insist over a certain area or spot, but you should use sufficient soap so that you can cover the entire tub in lather once you start scrubbing.

4. Add vinegar over the stains 

Pour the warm vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it all over the tub. Spray a major quantity over the stains.

5. Add baking soda

Sprinkle baking soda all over the tub. You’ll notice that the powder will start to react with the vinegar. Wait until the bubbling stops, sprinkle some more baking soda, and wait for about 15-20 minutes.

6. Scrub the tub

Get the soft brush and start scrubbing your bathtub all over. Try to cover every inch of the surface, but concentrate on the parts that are heavily soiled or stained. Scrub until the entire tub is covered in lather and you’ve removed most of the grime.

Let the tub be covered in the soapy solution and wait for about 30 minutes to an hour. The soap, baking soda, and vinegar will work their magic and remove most stains.

7. Clean the tub

Wipe the tub clean with paper towels or a washable cloth. If you’re using a cloth, rinse it in the sink after each wipe to remove the lather.

Keep wiping until the tub is clean, then rinse it with abundant clean water. The easiest way to do this is with a hand shower if you have a shower over the tub. Alternatively, fill a bucket with water and use it to rinse the soap solution. Refill the bucket and rinse again.

Wipe the tub dry with a microfiber cloth or paper towels and inspect its surface. Hopefully, the stains are gone by now. If they’re still there, try a chemical cleaner formulated for acrylic fixtures.

What Causes Different Colored Stains In Bathtubs?

We mentioned above how to remove stains of different colors from your bathtub, but what’s causing them? Let’s find it out.

Yellow Stains

Yellow stains are the most common in a tub, and they can have various causes. Among the most common, we can mention: 

Hard Water

No matter where you live, your house likely has hard water. In fact, over 80% of American homes have hard water. Depending on the hardness levels and type of minerals it contains, the water can leave a yellowish patina on the acrylic surface. Alongside yellow stains, hard water will also lead to mineral deposits build-up on the faucet and overall plumbing system. That’s why you should consider installing a water softener.

High Levels of Iron in Water

Iron is often associated with rust, but iron in water will rarely look like rust on your fixtures. However, as it deposits, it will leave yellow stains behind.

Oily Bath Products

Whether you’re using essential oils to add fragrance to your water or use bath products containing oils, such as hair conditioner, all these products can leave yellow stains on your acrylic tub. 

Tannins in Water

If your water supply isn’t clean, rotting organic matter can release tannins into the water. These tannins have an orange shade, leaving behind yellow or orange stains. The easiest way to know whether your water source is contaminated is by looking at your tap water. Does it come out yellow or with a rusty orange color? That’s not rust or iron; it’s tannins. 

UV Light

Lastly, exposure to UV light can also lead to discoloration. While this is rare, it can happen if your tub is located right in front of the bathroom window and your bathroom is orientated toward the south.

Green Stains

Green stains are rarer compared to yellow ones, mainly because they are the result of acidic water. However, they could also result from the dissolving of copper or brass.

If you have copper or brass pipes and suddenly notice blue-green stains on your tub or sink, you should check your plumbing system and replace the damaged pipes. If the system is old, the pipes will eventually corrode and cause leaks.

What Cleaners Can Be Used On Acrylic Tubs?

Acrylic tubs have a long lifespan, but their topcoat is relatively easy to scratch. Abrasive cleaning products are a no-no if you have an acrylic tub. So are the harsh cleaning products. So, what can you use? Here’s a list.

White Vinegar

Ideal for removing most stains and sanitizing your tub. White vinegar works well on hard water stains (dissolving the mineral deposits) but also on mold and mildew.

Lemon Juice

Similar to vinegar, lemon juice can help you remove hard water stains and rust stains, especially when mixed with salt. If your tub gets sun exposure, avoid lemon juice, though. When exposed to sunlight, lemon juice could discolor the acrylic surface.

Baking Soda 

While you should never use abrasive products on your tub, you can use baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide. However, don’t abuse this method to prevent scratches.

Dish Liquid

Dish liquid and mild soap can replace most chemical cleaners. The product works particularly well for removing oil stains.

Mild All-Purpose Cleaner 

An all-purpose bathroom cleaner is a good choice if you don’t feel like trying DIY methods. Make sure the product doesn’t contain bleach or ammonia, though. You should use an eco-friendly cleaner.

Related Questions

Do you still have questions? Check out the answers below.

What is an acrylic bathtub?

An acrylic bathtub is a tub made of thin sheets of plastic, often vacuum-formed and reinforced with fiberglass panels for added durability. The finish has a higher aesthetic appeal compared to fiberglass, and the material is more durable. However, the surface is prone to scratches, and it stains easily.

Can you use bleach on acrylic tubs?

No, you should never use bleach on an acrylic bathtub. Bleach is too harsh and can damage the tub’s finish, rendering the surface more porous. If this happens, the tub will get even easier to stain. Moreover, bleach could actually stain your tub in yellow rather than clean it.


Removing stains from an acrylic bathtub requires some elbow grease, but you can complete the task with products you have at home. Hopefully, this guide can help you remove stains of any color from your fixture and make the tub look new again.

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