Acrylic is one of the most popular materials for bathtubs. It’s sleek, easily moldable, and quite affordable. What’s not to love? Acrylic tubs come in all shapes and sizes, too. So, you’ll see it being used for everything from upscale soakers to traditional alcove fixtures.
If you have an acrylic bathtub in your home, the first thing you need to do is find the best acrylic tub cleaner! Despite the material’s versatility, it’s not immune to damage. Turns out, that glossy surface is very easy to mar up if you don’t have the right cleaning products on hand.
I learned that the hard way in my first home. After only a couple of years of ownership, my once sleek tub turned into a dull shell of its former self! Luckily, I know better now.
In this guide, I’m going to help you find the best acrylic tub cleaner. Specialized cleaners can be used to retain that sophisticated finish and keep your tub in good shape for years to come.
What is Acrylic?
The best way to learn how to keep your tub in prime condition is to understand the material it’s made of. Acrylic is a thermosetting plastic. It’s created by combining several compounds, resulting in many different types of materials with unique properties. For bathtubs, manufacturers utilize sheets.
Sometimes referred to as “Plexiglass or Lucite,” acrylic sheets are very strong. The material is stiff and non-porous, making it an excellent choice for bathroom fixtures. To create that signature tub shape, manufacturers will heat the acrylic sheets to temperatures between 275 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, it becomes soft and pliable. Vacuum forming techniques are then used to create a durable mold. Oftentimes, fiberglass is used to provide some structural integrity to the tub.
The great thing about acrylic is that it can last a very long time with proper care. After the forming process, the acrylic takes on a smooth and glossy finish. Not only does the finish feel nice on the skin, but it also attributes to the material’s heat-retaining properties. Plus, it helps dirt and grime slide off.
The downside of acrylic is that the finish is susceptible to damage. Harsh cleaning solvents are notorious for marring up the surface of acrylic tubs. Using powerful chemical cleaners often results in cracking and visible scratches. The solvent disrupts the acrylic on a molecular level. Essentially, it dissolves those important polymer chains that make up the material, resulting in physical damage and overall degradation of quality.
All types of harsh solvents should be avoided when cleaning your tub. This includes anything with ammonia, acetone, carbon tetrachloride, and more.
Common Acrylic Tub Cleaning Issues
If you don’t utilize the right cleaning techniques, you’re bound to experience several issues with your bathtub like I did. While the material is widely adopted in homes across the world, it’s not without its issues. Here are some of the most common problems people encounter with their acrylic tubs due to improper maintenance.
When you use a harsh solvent, be prepared to deal with hazing. This issue causes very fine scratches to the surface of the acrylic. Basically, the solvents have eaten through the glossy texture and created a rough surface. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to hazing.
The best way to avoid the problem is to use an approved cleaner that’s free of damaging solvents. This includes bleach. Check with your tub manufacturer and take a look at our recommended products below.
Another common problem is visible scratches. This is often a result of using abrasive cleaning products. While a textured sponge or cleaning pad is great for getting rid of tough stains on dishes, it can do far more damage on acrylic. Even something as gentle as a bristle brush can do harm.
Always stick with soft cloths when cleaning your tub. Also, avoid any cleaning products that have abrasive ingredients.
Discoloration can be caused by many things. Some of the most common causes are tobacco smoke and oil residue. In most cases, this yellowing doesn’t affect acrylic that’s in good condition. However, issues start to pop up when the yellowing substance can get beyond the smooth barrier of the acrylic.
Usually, homeowners will encounter yellowing after the smooth glossy finish has worn off due to bad cleaning methods.
Cracks and Chipping
As we mentioned earlier, solvents can lead to cracking. This might not happen immediately. The first sign of damage is that hazy finish we went over earlier. It’s when you continue to use those solvent cleaners that cracking occurs.
Cracks and chips will usually appear at points of stress on the tub. This includes the perimeter where your surround meets the tub. Depending on the design of your fixture, you may also see it on lips, edges, and the lowest point of the tub.
Soap Scum and Water Stains
Soap scum and mineral stains are never fun to deal with. They’re often a byproduct of having hard water. If you’re unable to tackle hard water just yet, you’re going to have to be proactive about avoiding these cosmetic issues.
Leaving soap scum and hard water stains untouched can lead to permanent damage to the finish of your acrylic tub. You can use natural acidic cleaners to dissolve the stain before it has a chance to degrade the quality of your bathtub.
How to Choose the Best Acrylic Tub Cleaner
Now that you understand more about acrylic and what you shouldn’t do to keep your tub clean, let’s get into the properties of a good acrylic cleaner. Acrylic tub cleaners are specially formulated to work with the unique needs of the material. They’re safe and non-damaging, which will protect your investment long-term. Here are some things to look for when shopping for cleaners.
Always look at a product’s ingredient list before you commit to it! Heavy-duty cleaners are all the rage these days. While they do great in other areas of the home, they aren’t suited for acrylic. Here are some common solvents you need to avoid:
- Mineral spirits
- Paint or lacquer thinner
Want to rest easy knowing that the cleaning product you choose is safe for your tub? Stick with green cleaners. While the exact ingredients used in green cleaning products vary from brand to brand, they generally contain gentle alternatives to the tough chemicals you find in heavy-duty formulas.
These products are designed to be as gentle as possible. Not only are they safe on your tub, but they’re also better for the environment and good for kids or pets. Best of all, most green products are multi-purpose. You can use the same cleaner on your tub, sink, and floors, which can save you a lot of space and time.
Acidic cleaning products are perfect for getting your tub sparkling clean. There’s a reason why lemon juice and vinegarwere used in the old days. Those ingredients are acidic enough to cut through grease, soap scum, and hard water stains. Yet, they’re gentle on materials like acrylic.
You can find plenty of products with acidic ingredients. Vinegar is usually labeled as “acetic acid.” Meanwhile, lemon-based cleaners contain citric acid. Other acidic ingredients include gluconic acid, hydroxyacetic acid, and levulinic acid.
Products with baking soda are fine, too. Baking soda is slightly abrasive. However, it’s not rough enough to damage acrylic unless you pair it with a scouring pad. The powder can lift stains up and take care of mold just like acids do. If you need something a bit stronger, you can also find cleaners with borax.
Finally, it’s always good to go with a cleaning product that’s easy to use. While this isn’t an absolute necessity, it does make your regular cleaning sessions much easier. Easy-spray bottles that evenly distribute the product are a must. They help you get the job done faster and help you avoid any serious scrubbing.
How to Maintain Your Acrylic Bathtub
Once you have the right products in your arsenal, keeping your acrylic tub in good condition is a cinch. It’s recommended that you clean your bathtub at least once a week. Regular deep cleanings ensure that mold, scum, and other issues do not cause irreparable damage to the finish.
To clean your tub, remove any soap dishes, shampoo bottles, or cleaning accessories. Now, spray the entire surface of the tub with your approved cleaner. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Some cleaning products require you to leave it sitting for a few minutes to work its magic.
After that’s done, you can wipe the entire tub clean. Soft microfiber cloths and regular cleaning sponges work best. As long as the sponge or cloth is soft to the touch, it’s good for your tub.
After you have wiped down the fixture, use a sprayer to rinse the acrylic clean. Make sure that all of the water and cleaner have gone down the drain. Then, you can leave the tub to air dry or use another cloth to remove water manually.
If you have some grime around the perimeter of the tub, you can use a soft toothbrush to lightly scrub it away. Pay close attention to the seams between the tub surround and the acrylic. Be as gentle as possible and use approved cleaners for the surrounding material.
It’s as easy as that!
5 of the Best Cleaning Products for Acrylic Tubs
Oh Yuk Jetted Tub Cleaner
If you have an acrylic tub with jets, this Oh Yuk cleaner may be for you. It’s a soaking cleansing product that’s very easy to use. All you have to do is fill your tub with hot water, add 4 ounces of the cleaner, and run your jet for 15 minutes. During those 15 minutes, the product will work to dissolve any grime that you can’t get rid of by traditional means.
As it works through the jets, it’ll remove scum from the plumbing. You may even see flakes of gunk coming out of your jet. This is a good sign! It means that the cleaner is doing its job.
This formula is laboratory tested for efficiency. The manufacturers have also tested it with all kinds of tub materials. It’s completely safe to use on acrylic. Unlike other harsh products, this will not diminish the quality of the acrylic. It won’t cause any hazing either.
While it does produce some fumes, the formula does not contain any bleach. The strength of the fumes varies based on the size of your tub and how diluted the cleaner is. I recommend turning on your ventilation fan and opening up windows to be on the safe side.
- Soaking cleaner
- Only takes 15 minutes
- Up to 4 cleanings per bottle
- Completely safe for acrylic
- Cleans jacuzzi jets
- Dissolves scum and debris
- Bleach and solvent-free formula
- Fumes can be strong
- Pricier solution
- May take multiple cleanings for stubborn grime
Better Life Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner
This cleaner from Better Life is an excellent product to keep your whole bathroom sparkling clean. It’s a tub and tile cleaner that can be used on virtually any material. This includes acrylic.
The formula is very gentle. It’s a green cleaner that utilizes plant-based ingredients. Eucalyptus and tea tree oil are the stars of the show. Not only are these ingredients very effective at getting rid of grime, but they also have a pleasant scent that will leave your bathroom smelling fresh.
Best of all, it’s non-toxic. There are no harsh chemical solvents or strong fumes to worry about. If you have kids or pets in your home, you can rest easy knowing that they will not get sick when you use it.
While the cleaner has natural ingredients, it still foams up nicely. The foaming formula makes it easy to lightly scrub the surface of your tub to take care of most stains.
- Multi-purpose cleaner
- No harsh solvents
- Plant-based formula
- Safe for acrylic
- Fresh natural scent
- Foaming agents
- Easy-to-use spray bottle
- Might not be effective on caked-on stains
- Not tough enough for silicone caulking
Zep Foaming Shower Tub and Tile Cleaner
Looking to get rid of hard water stains and limescale? Check out this cleaner from Zep. It’s a foaming product that gets to work the moment you spray it onto your tub. The acidic ingredients can dissolve stains in only a few minutes. You don’t even have to scrub in most cases.
In fact, the formula is specifically designed to give you a scrub-free experience. Just spray the cleaner on your tub and let it sit for a few minutes. It’s a relatively thick cleaner. So, you can spray it onto the sides of your tub without having to worry about it sliding down before it does its job.
The product is completely bleach-free and doesn’t contain harmful solvents. It’s safe to use on acrylic. It does produce some fumes. However, it’s not as harsh thanks to the “morning rain” scent.
- Acid-based formula
- Doesn’t require scrubbing
- Safe for acrylic
- Dissolves hard water stains
- Sticks to surfaces
- Easy-to-use spray bottle
- May produce some fumes
- Might require multiple cleanings for tough stains
Rejuvenate Scrub-Free Soap Scum Remover
This affordable cleaning product from Rejuvenate takes all the hard work out of cleaning. While it can take care of biofilm and bacteria, it’s specifically designed to handle soap scum. The non-toxic ingredients work to dissolve scum in minutes.
Thanks to the gentle ingredients, this cleaner has the Greenguard seal of approval. Basically, this means that it has very low chemical emissions. It doesn’t produce strong fumes like harsher options. Instead, it has a mild scent that’s pleasant and fresh.
There is no scrubbing required for light soap scum stains. The solution sticks onto virtually any surface around your tub. After 2 to 3 minutes of soaking, you can simply rinse the grime away. The cleaner also produces a streak-free finish, so you don’t have to worry about unsightly lines. It’ll leave your acrylic tub looking glossy and good as new.
- Doesn’t contain any abrasives
- Safe to use on acrylic
- Greenguard Gold Certified
- Streak-free finish
- Sticks to vertical surfaces
- Easy-to-use spray bottle
- Can be used on many surfaces
- Mild scent
- Not great for heavy jobs
- Tough biofilm may require multiple applications
The Bucko Soap Scum and Grime Cleaner
Don’t let the simple packaging of this cleaner fool you. The Bucko cleaning solution is perfectly capable of helping you maintain your tub with regular use. It is not made to deal with tough caked-on grime. Rather, this cleaning product is best used for weekly cleanings on a tub that doesn’t have any major issues.
It’s gently on acrylic. However, that’s not all you can use it for. The product works great on glass, ceramic tile, chrome fixtures, and so much more.
The ingredient list is relatively simple. It only has a handful of ingredients. There aren’t any dangerous chemicals or bleach. Thus, you don’t have to worry about any major fumes. It has a light lemon fragrance and nothing more.
The great thing about this product is that it’s very easy to use. There’s no need for any scrubbing. Just spray the solution, let it sit, and wipe it off. If you have stubborn yellow stains, you can leave the cleaner on a bit longer to ensure that it has plenty of time to dissolve the grime.
- Commercial strength
- Free of harsh chemicals
- Multi-purpose cleaner
- Safe for acrylic fixtures
- Scrub-free formula
- Fresh lemon fragrance
- Easy-to-use spray bottle
- Higher price tag
- Not made for tough stains
When it comes to keeping acrylic tubs clean and shiny, gentler options are always best. Despite acrylic’s durability, standard cleaners for ceramic, porcelain, marble, or cast iron are far too harsh for the material. A gentler cleaner can get the job done just as well without marring that beautiful finish.
Out of all of our top picks, we recommend giving the Better Life Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner a shot. The plant-based formula is quite effective at removing stains. While the other products from Ok Yuk or Zep can get the job done well, the fumes they produce are very noticeable.
The Better Life cleaner has a scent, too. However, it’s all-natural. The fragrance is pleasant and completely safe for your family. Plus, it just has a great formula that’s free of chemical solvents, bleach, and anything else that could harm your bathtub. It checks off all the boxes and takes care of stains safely. For these reasons, you can’t go wrong with the Better Life cleaner.