Old bathtub needs sparkles, please


Old bathtub asking for help. I’m crummy and my “maid” just can’t get me lookin clean. I’d even like to be sparkly! Can anyone help me please?


Have you looked on line?

There’s some guy on public TV who cleans all sorts of things w/ amonia, vinegar and other common items. —KCT


Every once in awhile, when there is build up on something, I use a product called BAM. It is in a purple spray bottle and you can get it at Walmart. It is probably really toxic, but it gets your bathroom stuff sparkly with minimal effort. I usually try to use white vinegar and water, but we have hard water and sometimes you have to resort to the nerve-damaging chemicals!:hypno:


What kind of bathtub is it? Old fashioned Comet seems to do a marvelous job for 99 cents but it scratches some surfaces.


Comet won’t even touch it. Even when I crawl inside the tub to work harder.

The house was built in 1964, and I’d imagine the tub was original at that time.

I’ll try the BAM, thank you guys for anwsering.


My house is a 1964 vintage and we were going to have the tub resurfaced, until we found out the cost!! I used that Oxy stuff that is for laundry–just sprinkled it around and used a wet sponge and the gritty powder scrubbed and the bleach whitened it up. We couldn’t believe how good it looked. Cheap too. Then I used this stuff called Gel Gloss (in cleaning section of store) on the tub except for on the bottom of course. It’s kind of like car wax and put a nice sheen back on the surface.


Try a med./fine grade of steel wool. It is time consuming but that is about all that really works on old tubs.


Thanks so much, everyone–
I’ll let you know which method worked.


20 mule team Borax might work as well–it cleans everything

Those magic erasers might work to get the crud off, too.



Well, I don’t know about Minnesota… Here in Alabama it was pretty cheap to replace the tub… much cheaper than resurfacing it. Of course we did all the labor ourselves… about $275 for the tub… Then comes the fixtures…


You know, pyropam, we were considering that too. To get a refinishing kit to fix the tub costs abt $175 and we have to crawl in there and do it ourselves, plus they say the fumes are deadly so you need really good ventilation. Having lung disease, that is not inviting to me.
Did you say you put in the tub yourselves? How difficult was it?


Jennifer, I have magic erasers in the house. I’ll try that! Thanks.


There are businesses that specialize in having old tubs “re-porcelanized.” We had this done in a former residence that was about 50 years old. The tub was surrounded by tile and it would have meant gutting the bathroom to put in a new tub. The re-do worked beautifully–I think they sand off a layer and add several “coats” of material that appears to be just like the original porcelain. They re-grout/seal everything and it is as if you have a brand new tub–and for not a ton of $$. See attached page for details and then a contractor in your locale. Good luckbeautifulfinishes.com/bathtub_refinishing.html


Island oak, the before and after is amazing! My tub isn’t even that bad! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: you’re right abt all the extra work and expense–ours in set in tile and cement, i think :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: and dh can’t do it anymore. I’m in the Pac NW too–in spokane–where are you located?
Thanks for your help.


Try painting it yourself with special bathtub paint. Seriously! Because if it doesn’t sparkle when clean, its probably scratched, and every time you have to clean it you will have to scrub, scrub, scrub, and it won’t even stay clean long.

I had a tub like that for years and waited till my husband said we could “afford” to get it refinished, and we never could, so I was stuck with a lengthy cleaning job on a regular basis. Also the cleaning products are bad for you to breathe! I used to scrub and scrub and scrub, with harsh cleansers and scrub brushes, then after much scrubbing I’d fill the tub and add a* lot* of bleach and let that soak (also not good to breathe, though I’d open the window ieven in winter) - all this to achieve a uniform white color (vs. the gray), but then it never shone. Unless I gave it a light coating of mineral oil - just for looks! Not so good, though, becasue it makes it slippery.

Then I saw my friends painted tub, and it looked great! I thought it wold look painted, but it didn’t. (She did it because her tub was Harvest Gold). She used a very fine natural bristled brush, and the paint Home Depot sells to do this, and the brush strokes don’t show. For cleaning, she used to use Soft Scrub, but now, like me, she does not want the fumes, and she uses what I use - a damp Microfiber cloth (just the cloth and water are enough for most cleaning) and with a natural cleaner like Orange Kleen for those times its dirtier. The paint holds up, and it keeps its shine. Its* much* easier to keep it cleaned with a mild cleaner because the surface is good, than to scrub hard and often with harsh cleansers because the shiney surface is worn down.

Painting it yourself will save you a bundle of money and I don’t think the difference between having it professionally sprayed would be worth it (because it would be hardly discernable).

And here’s a copper tub you can’t afford:



Bathtub paint is very toxic… I looked into it when I got a fancy bath salt and soap set for Christmas last year and it came in a glass jar and I accidentally dropped it. It made an ugly black enamel crack in the tub. I felt devastated because such a small nick ruins the whole quality of the tub and we were hoping to sell our house a few months later.

You can definitely check out the Bathtub paint at your local hardware store and see for yourself…

We ended up finding an enamel spray paint in the same colour as the tub and sprayed a few layers on to cover the dent! Hah! It works like a charm, but you can still see it if you look closely.


In’s & Out’s of tubs & bathrooms:

1 - live with it. After 35+ years of who know’s what chemicals & abrasives that have been used on the original tub, the hard gloss porcelain finish is probably GONE. What you have left is porous raw porcelain… none of the glazing left. You can use whatever “wonder-product” out there, but it’s only a band-aid on a terminal patient.
(We “lived with it” for 12 years in our house. If you look near the drain you’ll see the porcelain is totally worn away down to the raw cast iron)
The whole bathroom - typical ‘50s, 5’x8’ bathroom.

2 - Re-finish the existing tub. Again, a larger band-aid on a still terminal patient. You are just re-coating/covering a problem. We looked into this, and nix’d it. The warranty/guarantee (even by professionals) is usually less than 5 years. It is literally just a paint-job, nothing else. It will scratch, and if you drop something hard into the tub, it will chip… (ask my neighbor!)

3 - Do a “tub-insert”. There are companies that make new acrylic/fiberglass tub “lay-ins”. They are precision molded new tubs that fit inside/over/on to your existing tub. Bathfitters. They claim 1-day installs, but are expensive. We also nix’d this due to $$$$. It’s not a “band-aid”, but more like an implant or “hip replacement”… the old stuff is still there, but new is permanently replacing the old. Popular with “house-flippers”.

4 - Bite the Bullet! Get a grenade, pull the pin & toss.


I stripped the room out to the studs - the only thing that survived was the floor tile (it was in stable condition, and would serve as a good substrate for new tile). New wallboard, new tile, new whirlpool tub, new commode, custom cabinets, custom “Corian” countertop, all new fixtures. Took 5 months of weekends & evenings. With the exception of the cabinetry, countertop & paint all work was done by me. My wife did the paint-job.



There’s about $5500 in materials here… the tub & toilet are $2300 of that, cabinets $1100, countertop $1000, tile, fixtures & others make up the balance… (the “bathfitters” solution was in the $3200 area, and that didn’t address the cabinets & countertops).

A good quality new acrylic or fiberglass “standard” tub is around $500. For new cast iron add another $500 minimum. A matching “surround” or wall-liner is another $500. Labor is the kicker.

FYI - when a home is built, the bathtub is the very 1st thing installed in the bathroom! It goes in even before the wallboard is on. Everything else in the room “traps/interlocks” around the dang tub… walls, flooring, everything. With that said be forewarned that if you remove the tub, you WILL be repairing/replacing walls, tile, or flooring. You’ll probably not want to re-use your existing faucets/etc., so factor another $300 for those… plus a plumber’s time.

Like I said, we lived with “the bathroom from H*ll” (my wife’s words) for 12 years. A modest investment of around $5500 and a ton of my time netted us a $17K bathroom. We’re very fortunate that I’ve got the skills to tackle a project of this magnitude, and that we had a 2nd bathroom to use during the project.

I hope that this info helps… we’re the “Jay2’s”, and we’re bathroom remodeling survivors…


Wow great job!! I thought it was really hard to get a tub out and put a new one in… Especially if you want one of those tubs that goes all the way up the wall like a show stall…


I consulted a few plumber buddies of mine, and they all came to a unanimous conclusion…
“There’s only one way to remove an old cast-iron tub, in pieces!”

They recommended disconnecting the drain/plumbing, then getting an old blanket and a 20lb. sledgehammer! Lay the blanket over the tub (to contain the “shrapnel”), put on some safety goggles & gloves, and start whacking away.

The tub will break up into managable sized hunks that can be carried out. I took the chunks to our local scrap metal recycler - 385 pounds worth!


Oh my goodness. That sounds more difficult than I thought. Did you at least have fun demo-ing the tub?

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