How to Clean a Dirty Bathtub Without Scrubbing? Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

A bathtub is one of the most used fixtures in any home, meaning it can quickly become dirty from soap scum, mildew, mold, and general grime that accumulates over time. While scrubbing is often thought of as the best way to clean a tub, it can be time-consuming and require a lot of elbow grease. Fortunately, there are methods to get your bathtub sparkling clean without having to scrub!

Why Clean Your Bathtub Regularly?

Keeping your bathtub clean should be part of your regular bathroom hygiene routine. Here are some key reasons to clean it regularly:

  • Prevents Buildup of Dirt, Soap Scum & Mildew – With repeated use, residue from soap, shampoo, dirt, and oil from your body will stick to the tub’s surface. This creates a breeding ground for mildew and mold.
  • Keeps Bathtub Looking New – A clean, shiny bathtub can make the whole bathroom look brighter and newer. Letting soap scum build up will make it appear dingy and outdated.
  • Improves Hygiene – When dirt, mildew, and dead skin cells are allowed to linger in the tub, it becomes a haven for germs and bacteria. Thorough cleaning kills germs and prevents anyone from getting sick.
  • Makes Bathing More Enjoyable – Who wants to soak in a tub that has leftover dirt and hair from past baths? A sparkling clean tub makes bath time much more pleasant.

Cleaning a bathtub without scrubbing requires just a few simple supplies:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Old towel
  • Grout brush

Why Baking Soda and Vinegar?

When baking soda and vinegar combine, a chemical reaction occurs that produces carbon dioxide gas. This natural reaction helps lift dirt and grime off the bathtub’s surface. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive, while the vinegar cuts through soap scum. Together, they make an effective cleaning solution for tubs. Both ingredients are also very affordable!

Adding Dish Soap

Adding a small amount of dish soap to the baking soda and vinegar mixture helps the solution be more effective. Dish soap is formulated to cut through grease, so it will help lift body oils and residue from the tub’s surface.

Spray Bottle Uses

Filling a spray bottle with the cleaning solution allows you to evenly coat the tub’s surface with it. Look for a spray bottle that has a focused stream setting to help aim the solution directly at dirty spots.

How to Clean a Dirty Bathtub Without Scrubbing?

Follow these steps to easily clean your bathtub without any strenuous scrubbing required:

Prep the Tub

Before getting started, you’ll want to fully clear and dry the tub. Remove any bathmats, shower curtains, shampoo bottles, or other items. This gives you full access to the tub’s surfaces and prevents dripping water from diluting the cleaner. Wipe down the tub first with an old towel to remove any pooled water.

Apply Baking Soda

Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda evenly over the bottom of the tub and along the sides. Focus especially on dirtier areas, like around the drain. About 1/4 cup should suffice for a standard bathtub. Spread the baking soda around with a damp cloth.

Spray Vinegar Solution

Fill your spray bottle with a 1:1 mix of distilled white vinegar and warm water. Add several drops of dish soap. Shake well. Liberally spray the vinegar solution all over the baking soda in the tub. Be sure to completely saturate the tub’s surface.

Let the solution sit for 5-10 minutes. This gives the chemical reaction time to work. Any fizzing and bubbling action helps lift dirt and soap scum off the surface.

Scrub With Dish Soap

After letting it sit, use a soft sponge or an old rag to gently scrub the bathtub in circular motions. Focus on any areas with stuck-on gunk or noticeable stains. The baking soda will work as a gentle abrasive, while the vinegar solution keeps the surface wet.

You can also use a plastic grout brush to get into the tub’s corners and crevices. Apply more vinegar solution and let it sit again if needed.

Rinse Thoroughly

Once the tub looks clean, thoroughly rinse it with warm water. You want to rinse away any excess vinegar and ensure there is no baking soda residue left behind. Rinsing also washes away the lifted grime so it doesn’t re-stick to the tub.

Dry and Replace

After rinsing, wipe down the tub with a clean towel to dry. Make sure to dry all surfaces, including the tub bottom. Once fully dry, replace your shower curtain, bathmats, and other accessories.

Leaving the tub dry prevents water spots or new mildew from forming. Replacing items in the tub last means you won’t have to clean them again if they drip.

Tips for Regular Bathtub Upkeep

To prevent heavy-duty scrubbing in the future, follow these tips:

  • Quick Wipe Downs – After each bath or shower, use a squeegee or towel to wipe down the tub. This prevents soap scum or mildew from accumulating.
  • Weekly Cleanings – Spray tub surfaces with a mix of dish soap, vinegar, and water weekly. Let sit 5 minutes before rinsing clean. This maintenance helps prevent heavy grime buildup.
  • Monthly Deep Cleans – Do a thorough bathtub cleaning using the baking soda and vinegar method monthly. This removes any lingering dirt or soap scum.
Cleaning ScheduleWhat to UseTime Needed
After Each UseSqueegee or Dry Towel1 minute
WeeklyDish Soap, Vinegar & Water5 minutes
MonthlyBaking Soda & Vinegar20 minutes

A clean bathtub doesn’t require hours of scrubbing on your hands and knees. By using common household ingredients like baking soda and vinegar, you can dissolve away dirt and grime buildup without strenuous scrubbing. Follow these steps and cleaning tips, and you’ll have a sparkling clean tub in no time!


How long should I let the baking soda and vinegar sit?

Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes before gently scrubbing and rinsing. This gives the chemical reaction time to lift grime from the surface.

Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar?

Yes, lemon juice can be substituted for a natural cleaning solution. Use the same 1:1 ratio with water.

What ratio of baking soda to vinegar should be used?

A 1:1 ratio works best. Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar or water and vinegar solution.

What kind of vinegar is best for cleaning a tub?

Distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar work best. Avoid darker varieties, as they may stain the tub.

Should I rinse the tub with hot or cold water?

Rinsing with warm water is ideal. Hot water may cause baking soda residue to stick, while cold water is less effective at rinsing.

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