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topic 8229p2

Removing stains from bath tubs

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A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2018

February 16, 2013

Q. Hi. My daughter has poured neat disinfectant onto an old bath at her rental causing brown stains; the active ingredient is benzylalkonium chloride. Will hydrogen peroxide take it off do you think?

Susan Kane
- Newcastle NSW Australia

June 30, 2013

Q. My acrylic/fiberglass (don't know which one) bathtub is next to a window (with the shade always closed). I had candles and flower candle rings around the top of the tub. I removed the candles/rings and those areas are white and the remainder of the tub has turned yellowish (not evenly). Would this situation be alleviated by the use of hydrogen peroxide to make my tub white again?

Linda Rhodes
- Murrieta, California, USA

July 16, 2013

I've still not seen a response to my question. Will Ted respond to it?

Linda Rhodes [returning]
- Murrieta, California, USA

July 16, 2013

A. Hi Linda. This is a public forum where we share camaraderie and post people's questions & answers. I have no experience in this area, so I only respond if nobody else replies, out of courtesy to you for posting here.

I claim no expertise in tubs, but my belief is that the top layer of resin or coating on the tub has yellowed with time and/or with this minimal exposure to sunlight. I strongly doubt that peroxide will accomplish anything ... Sorry to transmit bad news.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

September 14, 2013

Q. HELP , I have used drops of essential oils in my acrylic bath when bathing my granddaughter, and I have just rinsed the bath with water to clean it. As it is our second bathroom it isn't used very often and I have just looked at it and the oils have dried in a yellow staining on the bath sides. Obviously as the water has drained, the oil has stuck to the surface; you can feel it is raised so isn't so much of staining but actual dried residue. Any ideas how to soften it to remove it any ideas welcome :)

Leigh Haupt
- Perth Western Australia

January 7, 2014

Q. I spilt iodine on what I believe is acrylic plastic? I made the mistake of trying to remove it with ammonia which set it rather than remove it ... Is there any way to remove it? Or is all lost .... :( ?

Many thanks,

Lindy Berg
- Bedford, Massachusetts

June 21, 2014

Q. Hi this looks really promising, better than spending £400 to have it re-enameled. What strength hydrogen peroxide should I buy. Thanks

Jill B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]

affil. link
3% Hydrogen Peroxide

June 2014

A. Hi Jill. I see no advantage in using an overly strong and unnecessarily dangerous concentration. I'd just go with the 3% drugstore strength. =>


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

July 1, 2014

Q. Since taking up residence here three years ago, I have been battling the rust (?) brown stains/film on both tubs and surrounds, but the same "blight" is in the commodes, inside the refrigerator by the lights, pieces and parts of almost every electrical outlet, lightbulbs (including fluorescents), sockets, with few exceptions, almost anything electrical. STRANGELY, where water sits in the back of the tank, no stain, but when I siphoned it out for cleaning, it started to stain as well. I will work on the stains for hours, swapping out product, going back to baking soda & peroxide, sometimes Glass Stove cleaner, sometimes it works if I don't RUB, when I rub it's like I'm sealing it back into the finishes; and sometimes, I'll just be wiping it down dejectedly and there's an incredibly clean spot under part of my labor. What the?? Now I'm trying again, with a paintbrush and patience. I just don't get the chemical reaction that's doing all of this damage...any thoughts? This is the first community I've discovered who doesn't think rust is rust and nothing else happens :(

Christine Hay
- Mandeville, Louisiana USA

July 16, 2014


L. johnson
- Muskegon Michigan

July 19, 2014

thumbs up signThanks for this helpful information. My kitchen sink was clogged and my husband used something that made our bathtub look stained. I tried several solutions, but the stains would not come off. Then I used Hydrogen Peroxide and the stains instantly disappeared.

Carla McClure
- Hickman, Kentucky USA

!! Dennis -- write a book already! We're waiting on more wisdom!

Tj Ones
- Fresco, Texas

September 20, 2014

thumbs up signI had ugly brown stains in my tub from removing mildew grout stains with bleach in a spray bottle. Just spray bleach on the mildew and within minutes the mildew dies leaving nice grout again. Unfortunately, the dead mildew dripped into the tub leaving ugly brown stains. Tried spraying on Hydrogen Peroxide and the brown stains simply disappeared -- incredible.

Charles Naftal
- Mineola, New York USA

November 21, 2014

thumbsdownSadly the hydrogen peroxide did not work for my drain opener stains. Don't know what to do...

Dani Lawson
- Tinton Falls, Virginia

December 2014

Hi. The peroxide answer was for porcelainized cast iron tubs, plus wherever else it may be useful.
It is possible that if your tub is fiberglass or acrylic, that the drain cleaner damaged it to where simply removing the rust won't restore its looks :-(


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

December 10, 2014

thumbs up signI used a clog remover containing sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide in a drain in a porcelain on cast iron 100-year old sink and discovered brown stains around the drain area - I very likley was not careful and let the product splash out. The advice to try hydrogen peroxide is fabulous - it started removing the stains immediately and I soaked a paper towel in the hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the stained area for just a few minutes and now the stains are gone. Thank you SO much for the chemistry lesson!

Ardath Weaver
- Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

December 19, 2014

Q. I have lived in our current house for 15 years. We have had the yellowish/brown stains in the old tub the whole time. I assumed it was the enamel wearing through. Now that I see what it is I had hope but none of the suggestions seem to be working for me.
All of the related stories indicate that they were able to fix a problem that they had caused ...soon after they caused it.
Has anyone been able to remove the chlorine tub stains after years and years?

Chuck baber
- Strasburg, Virginia-USA

December 20, 2014

A. Use Liquid Clorox 2 to remove the brown tub left behind from drain openers. It comes in the blue bottle. Make sure it is Clorox "2"
Works great. It's nice and thick, so it coats real nice. I promise this is the trick!

Beth Olson
- Tulsa Oklahoma USA

March 13, 2015

thumbs up signHallelujah to the people who posted about using simply peroxide on removing totally browned tub from using sulfuric acid in drain. I panicked when I saw enamel tub completely stained. Thank you thank you for this site and all of you folks sharing your experiences which saves time and much money. Just call me grateful.

Regina Williams
- jacksonville florida usa

March 23, 2015

Q. I had my tub professionally refinished 6 years ago. The contractor used an acrylic epoxy applied with a sprayer. I have minor red rust hard water stains beginning to show and would like to stay on top of them before they get bad. I was going to try to use the peroxide but I am not sure if this will harm the painted surface. The contractor told me to only clean it with scrubbing bubbles but I think he just wanted to cover his butt. Normally I would use the works, but I am concerned that might damage the surface. Can anyone shed light on what to use without hurting the painted surface?

Jenny Tully
- Cleveland, Ohio USA

June 3, 2015

thumbs up signThe hydrogen peroxide worked like a charm on my bath tub. Thanks a million.

Linda Wright
- Chicago Illinois USA

September 20, 2015

thumbs up signThe hydrogen peroxide worked immediately. I will take the Clorox 2 back since H.P. is cheaper. Thank you sooooooooo much. I am so relieved.

Pat Reese
- Quantico, Virginia

October 3, 2015

thumbs up signThis is amazing! been battling stains on an enamel tub will try the hydrogen peroxide. Pool acid was used once but the stains came back! I am so happy to have found this conversation, surely saved me a light year of scrubbing!

Belle Bends
- Harare Zimbabwe

February 5, 2016

thumbs up signMy tub turned brown from a mixture of cleaning products. After reading some of the suggestions I tried the Hydrogen Peroxide and the brown streaks disappeared. Thanks so much for the helpful advice.

Gloria Harp

March 5, 2016

thumbs up signI used the Clorox cleanser on my porcelain tub. I left it for too long and the cleanser left lines of stains all over the tub. So frustrated 'cause I got no time to figure this out ... the HP works wonders, they are all gone; so glad I found this site instead of trying all kinds of methods.

Star Ferry
- houston Texas

April 17, 2016

thumbs up signUsed peroxide on my tub to remove acid stains, WOW! I put paper towels in the tub and soaked them with peroxide. I left it on overnight and the stains were gone!

Chris Novak
- Euclid Ohio

September 29, 2016

!! Magic! Pure and simple magic! I needed a product to get the brown stains out of my porcelain tub after using drain cleaner. Hydrogen Peroxide worked like magic! We used just one little bottle that costs less than $2 and life is good again. Thanks to everyone who posted about the virtues of HP.

Adele Prince
- Thomasville, North Carolina USA

November 18, 2016

thumbs up signMarvelous...It works so fast and so easy: Thank You

Joan Leong
- San Francisco, California USA

February 4, 2017

thumbs up signThanks for the solution of hydrogen peroxide! I was starting to worry after trying to scrub the tub and nothing worked. Thanks for the information!

Amy Morrison
- Charlotte North Carolina

July 26, 2017

Q. Hi, used sulphuric acid industrial strength to unblock my drain unfortunately it has stained my off white bath tub white.

Is there anything that will work to get these white stains back to the baths original off white colour?

Mark kravetz
- London, England

July 2017

Hi Mark. Your tub could be fiberglass, acrylic, enameled steel, porcelain, or maybe another material. I don't think anyone could do more than guess even if they knew what your tub was made of. Letting peroxide sit on it for a couple of hours, then scrubbing with something like Barkeeper's Friend is about all you can try; and still, while it might be "white stains", unfortunately it might also be that the acid bleached the color away permanently.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

July 26, 2017

Q. Thank you for your response. I was using one shot to unblock the drainage hole, but unfortunately spilt it in the bath. My bath is a plastic type material. Would the method you suggested be suitable for the material of my bath or have you got another suggestion for this material to get the colour back to its original off white colour?

Mark kravetz [returning]
- London, England

August 2017

A. Hi again. Acrylic is not resistant to concentrated sulphuric acid, so I suspect that the color has been bleached away. You could try a rubbing compound on a buffing pad in a battery powered drill, but I don't know whether it will help or not.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

affil. link

October 15, 2017

Q. I poured this orange liquid called biodrain down my tub. Now my tub is stained orange. I've tried everything to clean it. Any suggestions on what I can try to remove it?

Adina Steinberg
- Inwood New York USA

October 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Adina. Sadly, two reviewers on Amazon reported the same problem :-(

Please tell us what your tub is made of (to the extent that you know). I'm sure "I've tried everything" was merely rhetorical; but tell what you've actually tried so people can suggest something else -- a reader would look pretty foolish to suggest something, only to have you say "Of course I tried that! Didn't I just finish telling you I tried everything." :-)

A pic would help ... presumably it's not the whole tub but a small ring around the drain? Thanks ... and good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

November 30, 2017

! :-) Just want to chime in with all the other responders who used hydrogen peroxide to clean the brown stains left in their tub after using an acid based drain cleaner. Wow!! It was amazing! Took a paint brush suggested by someone else and simply wiped away the stains. No effort at all. So glad I found this site. We were ready to have the tub resurfaced which would have cost us a ton more than a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Nothing else we had tried had worked. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rose Bowden
- Azle, Texas USA

Cast Iron Tub Smells and Stains for No Traceable Reason

December 19, 2017

Q. Hello, I have a mystery. We had 2 old claw foot tubs and I used the upstairs tub every day for 10 years, cleaned it faithfully and gently. One day I smelled an odor like rotting onions around the tub. The smell rapidly worsened and with it came a brown stain. The stain deepened to the high water point of the tub and the stink worsened.

I tried various cleaners on the stain, dumped massive quantities of baking soda and gallons of vinegar down the drain. All other plumbing in the house was fine. 3 plumbers later nobody knew what was going on. I could scrub the stains away with Ajax, but they came back with the smell within 24 hours. If I thoroughly dried the tub it still came back. Finally we had the tub removed, wrote it off to some unexplained fluke, figured maybe something broke down the enamel and reacted with the steel?

While awaiting the fix; and then the new, acrylic replacement tub, I used the other tub in the house in the guest bath. I have been using it daily now for a month, and the odor has begun in that drain! I have used nothing stronger than Dawn dish detergent and Bon Ami to clean it. Why is this happening to the second tub and only after I started to use it? I have asked myself what changed, and here is one thing that changed a few months ago. We started a low-carb diet a la Dr. Perlmutter's Grain Brain recommendations and I jumped on board with the supplements too. I have been looking up obscure side effects of things like alpha lipoec acid, wondering if my body soaking in that tub is causing some reaction now that I am taking the supplements?

I am reading lots of posts about sulphuric acid down the drain doing damage, how about a person taking alpha lipoec acid and soaking in the tub. I have stopped taking the supplements and I am now dousing the drain with hydrogen peroxide. I really hope it works. Wendy

wendy t [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Potsdam, New York, USA

January 13, 2018

A. I had stained my heavy old-fashioned bath tub by pouring sulphuric acid down the drain to remove a clog; the fumes made dark brown stripes on the sides and bottom of the white enamel tub. I was searching on the internet for the solution and on one forum I stumbled upon the answer where this guy was talking about 100% oxalic acid stain remover, so I tried it, and it works perfectly, I managed to remove all the stains. Cheers!

Jessie Connor
- Sydney, NSW, Australia

March 18, 2018

Q. I have a question: removed shower doors, hard water residue left; so I poured soda & vinegar. It removed some not all of the residue and also etched the sides of tub;(

How do I buff out the etching and remove the residue safely.

Rose Vasquez
- Fresno, California

April 9, 2018

thumbs up sign Thank you SO MUCH for this info. I thought I had destroyed my 1936 enameled cast iron sink after using Drano to unclog it. There were brown stains everywhere and I thought it was rust, and permanent damage. I almost cried! The peroxide worked in 30 seconds. THANK YOU!! Nowhere else on the web have I seen this tip.

Amy Smith
- brooklyn, New York, USA

May 27, 2018

Q. I tried the hydrogen peroxide on my very old porcelain over cast iron tub. It created darker rust spots on the bottom of the tub, the same reaction I get if using comet.
Usually oxyclean removes those, but not this time. I'm at a loss as to what to try next. Comet cleans but brings more rust. Hydrogen peroxide didn't clean and brought out tiny rust stains.
Has anyone tried Bar Keepers Friend? It says it has oxalic acid in it and not sure what that will do.
The tub is about 90 years old and is original to the home. I want to clean it up as best I can, but not looking to invest in resurfacing. Anyone have any ideas?

Roselle Schachter
- Rockville Centre, New York, USA

May 2018

A. Hi Roselle. Hydrogen peroxide is very good at dissolving rust, and Comet and Barkeeper's Friend abrasive cleaners can be good at removing rust. What might be different in your case is that the porcelain coating is by now so old and thin that it is porous; water, peroxide, bleach, etc., appear to be getting through and contacting the underlying cast iron, which naturally rusts when exposed to any of these.

If you don't want to invest in resurfacing, but the existing surface is not watertight and allows moisture to get to the underlying iron, you're going to have rust. Your only solution short of resurfacing is to try to somehow make the porcelain less porous. Wax has very limited power but is better than nothing. A paint which is very close in color might get sucked into those pores so that even after you scrub off most of the paint with your abrasive cleanser, you might be lucky enough to have blocked up those pores. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

June 23, 2018

Q. My plumber used a very strong, industrial-grade solution to unclog the drain of my fiberglass bathtub. Now a large area around the drain is yellow-brown and also the texture has been altered. Can anything be done to clear it? Would hydrogen peroxide help?

Haris Achilleos
- Limassol, Limassol, Cyprus

June 2018

A. Hi Haris. Hydrogen peroxide may remove some of the rust coloration but, sorry, it will not repair the texture which has been damaged.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

August 6, 2018

thumbs up sign  Dennis M., Thank you so much. My wife discovered a little brown stain tried to clean it and it became worse. I saw your answer and applied the Hydrogen Peroxide and the stain disappeared; thanks a million.

Enuel Caraballo
- Amsterdam, New York

November 25, 2018

Hi, this is Dennis M, who originally posted the Hydrogen Peroxide fix for Sulfuric Acid fume stains on bathtubs. I am so glad this tip has helped so many people fix their stain problem. I want to give credit to my wife, Debbie, who came in while I was scrubbing the tub I had ruined with acid fumes--and poured Hydrogen Peroxide on the stain--removing it instantly!! So glad so many people have benefited from this trick!

Dennis Mostyn
(now in) Portland, Oregon

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