How To Get A Shiny Clean Bathtub

Cleaning the bathtub. It’s a chore, as it seems to require a lot of scrubbing and leaning over and generally contorting yourself into a few strange positions. While cleaning the bathtub will never be totally painless, there are some tricks you can use to make it easier to clean and to keep it shiny for much longer.

Before you start to clean, you need to know what type of finish your tub has. Most tub finishes are porcelain, enamel, acrylic or fiberglass. If the finish looks like plastic, it’s one of the latter two. If your tub is made from a more unusual material, such as stone or copper, check with your tub’s manufacturer for cleaning instructions.

Cleanser Choices

There are a lot of cleansers on the market along with popular homemade solutions. A paste made by combining equal parts baking soda and water is fine for any type of tub and works especially well on soap scum.

Beyond that, the tub’s finish makes a difference in what you use. You have more options for a porcelain finish, which is by far the toughest surface, including a vinegar-based solution. Try to use as few nasty chemical products as possible. A mixture of warm vinegar and a bit of Dawn and a scrub pad does a pretty good job on tub soap scum. Microfiber rags and water can work on a tub that is not too scummy.

If you opt for a commercial cleanser, your first step is to read the label carefully, as even some seemingly gentle lotion-like cleansers can be abrasive. For porcelain and enamel finishes, a cleanser that includes a mildly abrasive component is fine. Acrylic tubs scratch easily; you should only use something that is completely nonabrasive on them.

Stain Treatments


Here’s where acrylic finishes come out ahead, as the finish itself repels stains. If you do have a stain on an acrylic or a fiberglass surface, treat it with ½ to ⅔ cup of clear dishwashing liquid mixed with 2 cups of hot water. If that isn’t strong enough, try a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide or baking soda and water, but test in a low-visibility area first. There are also those who swear by using an inexpensive plain white toothpaste, no brightening agents or added features, on stains.


Enamel finishes are also more delicate, and bleach will stain them. Instead, try the same solutions as for an acrylic finish, mentioned above.


For porcelain tubs, bleach has been a go-to stain remover for years, but eventually it can wear down the finish. Instead, start with a baking soda and water solution. A dishwashing liquid solution works well for soap scum. If the stain is caused by hard water, mix vinegar and water and spray it on the stain. For rust stains, you may need to use a commercial rust remover.

If none of these work on a porcelain finish, the next step would be a pumice stone, Magic Eraser or commercial stain remover. Start with the least abrasive options to save wear and tear on the finishes. And some stains, especially on older tubs whose finish has become worn or damaged, may never come out. In that case, reglazing may be an option.

Caution: Never mix bleach and ammonia.

Tub Cleaning Techniques

Once you’ve decided on a cleanser, it’s time to face the tub. Start by clearing everything off the edges so you have a clean slate.

Next, treat any stains. Then apply your chosen cleanser, spreading the paste in a circular motion or spraying the cleanser on the entire surface, starting from the rim of the tub, working along the sides and finishing at the bottom.

The next step is easy. Let the cleanser and stain treatment soak for at least 30 minutes. Most of us make the mistake of applying the cleanser and any stain treatment and then cleaning immediately, rather than giving them time to work. Which means we put too much elbow grease into it. 

Once the cleanser has had time to work, scrub the sides and bottom of the tub, starting from the top and working your way down. For the least abrasive approach, choose a soft cloth or microfiber cloth. Other options include a soft-bristled scrub brush or one of the longer-handled shower and tub scrubbers that are designed to save you some back strain.

If you have an acrylic tub, use a cloth or scrubber that’s made from nylon, which won’t scratch the surface. Researchers have found that even paper towels can scratch a plastic finish. An old toothbrush is handy for cleaning around drains and other tight surfaces.

The next step is to rinse the tub thoroughly, either by spraying with the shower nozzle or rinsing with a bucket of clean water. This practice is often overlooked but essential. Leaving a cleanser on for an hour is fine, leaving it on for a week can permanently harm the tub’s finish. Clean the shower doors to remove any overspray from the cleanser.

Finally, dry the tub thoroughly with a soft cloth, microfiber works very well, so it shines. This step doesn’t take long and is key for a polished look.

Preventive Practices

Perhaps the most important step in having a clean tub is what you do after you’ve cleaned to minimize future problems, especially the ever-present soap scum. All the experts agree that wiping down the tub and drying after each use go a long way towards keeping it looking good — and keeping your cleaning time to a minimum. Another suggestion is, once clean, switch to a bath gel. It is the talc in bar soap that creates the scum. If you don’t want to make that switch, use a hard soap intead.


Design Your Perfect Shower

A spacious, spa-like shower is at the top of many people’s bathroom wish lists. But getting the design of your shower right isn’t always easy. For help designing your ideal space, here are some tips to create an efficient layout and bring in stylish details.

Start With Location And Size

Where would you like your shower to stand? A corner is the most common spot, but the center of a room or a separate enclosed area like a water closet might be best for your layout or lifestyle.

Keep in mind that moving or adding plumbing costs money, sometimes a lot of money. So if that’s not in your budget, try to keep your updated shower in the same location as your previous one.

If you’re wondering how much space you’ll need, consider that the most popular shower widths are 32, 36 and 60 inches. Shower dimensions can be as small as 32 by 32 inches, but most people prefer a shower that’s at least 36 by 48 inches. Shower ceiling heights typically fall between 84 and 120 inches, depending on the space and the design.

You’ll also want to consider the dimensions of other elements in your bathroom before deciding on your shower size. For example, the size of your planned vanity might require a reduced shower space, so you might want to consider going for a smaller vanity to get a larger shower.

Another thing to consider is increasing the size of your bathroom to get the shower size you want. Talk with a design pro about opportunities to steal space from an adjacent closet or bedroom or even whether relocating the bathroom to another room in the house is the best move.

If you have the room, consider placing a freestanding tub within your shower. This wet-room concept creates a beautiful spa-like environment and an attractive visual statement.

Layout, size and plumbing conditions make a wet room difficult to create in some bathrooms, so working with a professional maybe crucial to getting it right.

There can be some drawbacks to a wet-room arrangement. A freestanding bathtub will probably get splashed whenever you use the shower, so you may need to do a quick wipe-down of the tub. Plus, freestanding tubs often cost more than alcove tubs because they’re more complex and have additional design features.

Curbed Or Curbless

Shower curbs serve as the threshold between the floor of the shower and the bathroom floor. They keep water in the shower, and they sometimes serve as a base for mounting shower doors and panels.

Curbless showers, on the other hand, feature a continuous transition between the bathroom floor and the shower floor, making them safer to use — no potentially hazardous step over a curb. This also makes them wheelchair-accessible.

Curbless showers offer a minimalist, elegant aesthetic and can help create a bright and airy feel, which is especially appealing in a small room.

To achieve proper drainage in a curbless shower, you’ll need to lower the shower floor below the bathroom floor to create a slope to the drain. That means that switching to curbless can sometimes be tricky in an existing bathroom if you’re not raising the level of the flooring in the entire space. Again, talking to a professional about what’s possible — and practical — in your space maybe something you want to look into.

The recommended minimum slope for a curbless shower is about 4%, or a half-inch drop per every 12 inches from the shower walls to the drain.


Consider A Shower-Tub Combo

A space-saving shower-tub combo allows for the option of a quick shower or a relaxing soak. It’s also a good choice for resale value if you don’t have a tub elsewhere in your home, as a future buyer might want one.

You can upgrade the visual aesthetic of a shower-tub combo by incorporating higher-end fixtures and materials, such as adding tile to the walls or a stylish material to the apron front. 

Showcase Shower Doors

A glass enclosure will make your bathroom feel light and airy and will allow accent tile in the shower to become a focal point. Hinged shower swing doors are the most popular option. They can open outward to a 90-degree angle, providing a safe, wide and open entry, or they can swing inward, or both.

You’ll want to consider how the door swing affects available floor space and other elements, such as the toilet, towel bars etcetera. Shower doors are typically made at a minimum of 22 inches wide and a maximum of 36 inches wide.

Also think about the metal finish of your shower door hinges and hardware. This finish can match other finishes in the room, such as faucets and light fixtures, or contrast with them for a mixed-metals look.

If you know a swing door won’t work, go for a sliding door. But keep in mind that sliding doors are known to be difficult to clean because the track and components can accumulate buildup.

You can also opt for no door at all. A fixed panel of glass creates a modern look that’s easy to clean. These panels can be framed in metal or frameless.

Most shower glass is fabricated at ⅜ inch or 10mm thick so it’s durable, safe and long-lasting. Standard openings range from 22 to 26 inches depending on the shower size. 

Set Up Seating

A shower bench is a functional addition. Not only is it a place to sit and shave legs, but it can also help people with balance, strength or endurance difficulties. It also provides a surface to place products on. Or it can just be a spot to take a moment and let the hot water wash over you.

A shower bench seat should be 17 to 19 inches high and 15 inches deep and must not infringe on the interior size of the shower. That means that if your shower size is the minimum 32 by 32 inches, the bench should not take away from those dimensions.

In terms of materials, a slab finish, at least for the top of the bench is the best. This could be marble or quartz, for example. Usually, match the bench slab top to your vanity countertop for design continuity. Tiling the top of your bench, isn’t the beat because the grout lines can be uncomfortable to sit on.

Include A Niche

A niche to store shower products is always a good idea. Consider placement, orientation and size. Take inventory of your most-used products to ensure your niche is the right size.

The most common shower niche placement is at chest to eye level when standing. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. You can use wall tiles as a guide, so the niche can fit in nicely without disturbing the pattern.

Remember, it’s not really the height at which you position the shower niche that’s most important but the proportions of the niche itself. There’s no standard shape or size for a shower niche, which means you can customize it in any way you see fit. Just keep in mind that the niche will have to sit between the wall studs, or the wall studs will need to be customized to accommodate the niche, both of which will add costs to your shower.

An affordable alternative to the wall niche is a shower ledge. These provide flexibility for what you place on top because there aren’t any height restrictions, and you can specify the length to span the width or length of your shower.

Choose The Right Fixtures

What would your shower be without the plumbing parts? As you probably know, there’s a vast array of options to consider when it comes to shower heads and controls. You’ll want to look at the style, functionality and finish. 

There are two options for shower heads: ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted. Wall-mounted shower heads are typically installed at 80 inches above the finished floor. Ceiling-mounted, or rain-style, shower heads are generally more expensive and require additional plumbing. Some people love rain-style shower heads for the soothing patter of water; others feel the pressure isn’t always strong enough to wash hair products out. Some people like having both options.

What most people agree on is that a handheld sprayer is vital. These are great for rinsing shaved legs, spraying down the shower enclosure or washing pets.

Body jets are another option. These sprayers can be installed on one or multiple walls and at various heights for a crisscross water massage.

For the ultimate indulgence, go for a steam generator. This allows you to seal off your shower and fill it with steam to create your own spa-like steam room.

You’ll need a way to circulate the air in the shower after you use the steam function to dry the space out. Powerful vent fans and pivoting panels will get the job done.

The placement of your fixtures is another important consideration. An ideal location is at the entrance to the shower, opposite the shower head, so you don’t get a blast of cold water when reaching in to turn on the water. This arrangement can cost more because of the labor involved and the extra lengths of plumbing pieces needed.

Add Technology

High-tech upgrades to your shower can let you use a phone app or other control hub to set and control the water temperature, pressure, spray and options for heated floors or lighting. There are voice-activated options so you can sync your shower experience with your Alexa or other device. There are shower heads with waterproof speakers. Ionized shower heads. Essential-oil-infused shower heads, and so much more. If you’re a tech-y person, this is an area you’ll want to spend a lot of time looking into.

That being said, the technology and software changes so rapidly that many homeowners are concerned about the tech becoming obsolete in a few years and the bathrooms becoming dated and therefore not very appealing to a future buyer. Instead, spend your money on nicer materials or fixtures.

Let In The Light

The shower is often designed to be a separate area of your bathroom. In that sense, the shower is its own zone and therefore, in most cases, should have its own dedicated light.

Recessed lighting is the most popular because it can be easily sealed from moisture. Just be sure the fixture you choose is rated for damp locations, meaning it has specialized trim to prevent water from getting inside.

Access Accessories

They might seem like small details, but accessories such as towel hooks, rings and bars can make a world of difference in how your bathroom functions. Install a hook or bar right by the shower entrance — or even better, inside the shower.

Tile grout is the safest spot to anchor these fixtures, but you can also secure hooks and bars through tile. Just be sure you have a skilled professional who uses the right drill bit and pressure so your tile doesn’t crack.

The shower drain is often overlooked as a design accessory. You have two basic options: a standard drain cover or a linear one.

Standard center drain covers are the most common and cost-effective options. There’s plenty of variety in terms of finish, shape and hole pattern, so spend a little time going through what’s available in your price range. You’ll also want to consider how the manufacturer’s finish coordinates with other finishes in your shower and bathroom.

A linear drain, offers a bit more design impact and is especially effective in curbless shower setups.

Tile insert drains can hold a custom piece of cut tile that matches your shower floor, creating a blended look.


Shower Features Pros Love

Here are some must have features you can used to boost your shower’s functionality, versatility and style.

Handheld Shower Head

The most recommended shower feature is a handheld shower head. A combination of a shower head and a handheld sprayer, not only is it great for normal bathing but it makes cleaning a breeze. 

The versatility of a hand shower is hard to beat. Besides the obvious ease of use for rinsing off in the shower, it’s also great for cleaning pets, kids or the shower itself. It’s a useful feature that enhances the function of any type of shower, from a simple shower-tub combo to a large spa-style shower.

To increase the utility of a handheld shower, add one that attaches to a slide bar. Doing so allows you to raise or lower the handheld sprayer, a helpful option for young kids or tall adults.

Handheld sprayers are versatile enough to be utilized as the primary shower head or as an additional feature in larger showers.

Shower Niche

A shower niche makes storing bath products in an easy-to-reach location. Shower niches have been around for quite some time, and if you can put one in they are a necessity. When possible, try to tuck them away so you don’t see all your random shampoo and soap containers.

Make a shower niche as large as possible for maximum impact. A lot of times a niche is only as wide as the space between two studs. An infinity niche, if possible, will go wall to wall and offer a ton of space for products. 

Shower Shelving

For an existing shower that doesn’t have a shower niche, adding a shower shelf is a budget-friendly option that will look better than a wire basket over a shower head or a storage basket on a shower floor.

Instead of adding a built-in niche, simply add a mounted shelf that matches the plumbing. It saves on labor and tile costs and will make a big impact.

Shower Bench

Many design and remodeling pros are creating bathrooms with aging-in-place considerations in mind. As a result, shower benches are a recommended feature.

Adding a bench to showers is becoming a standard practice. Homeowners lifestyles are such that they plan to live in their home for many years; therefore designing spaces that adapt and function for the various stages and phases of life is important.

For showers that are on the smaller side, you can add a floating shower bench. That way you get more floor space to stand and your toes aren’t hitting the front edge of the bench.

Shaving Niche And Ledge

Another shower feature is a built-in shaving niche. Incorporating a shaving niche, for those who don’t want a built-in bench, allows a spot to rest your foot when shaving your legs to reduce the potential for fall and slips.

Adding a small foot ledge for shaving is another option that works well, and it can be installed in an existing shower at a lower cost than a built-in shaving niche. They take up minimal space and use corners wisely. 

Linear Drain

Another shower feature ideal for aging-in-place is a linear drain. Using a linear drain can avoid a shower curb, making it easy to walk straight into a shower without obstruction. It’s perfect for those who are aging in place or thinking about that in the future. It’s also a cleaner look because they help create a more unified look and open up tile options.

When using a linear drain, bigger tiles can be used for the shower pan. This means that the same tile can be used for the bathroom floor and inside the shower. Doing this makes the room look more uniform and cohesive.

Steam Shower

Looking for a luxurious, spa-like experience? Add a steam shower; this can boost a shower’s appeal and potentially add some health benefits.

Steam showers help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, help with allergy relief and improve sleep.

Statement Tile

Covering shower walls and floors in statement-making tile is a great way to enhance the appearance of a shower. 

Consider using statement tile to follow the angles and architecture of a shower. Don’t be afraid to make it a focal point. Play with large- and small-scale tile in the same colorway and things will always work well together.


Bathroom Upgrades

If you’re redoing your bathroom, chances are your budget isn’t endless and you need to think carefully about where to spend and where to save. So which upgrades are worth the extra expense and will make a significant difference to the look and functionality of the space? 


Adding a skylight is one of the most effective upgrades you can make to a bathroom. Having natural light streaming in from overhead creates a serene, spa-like atmosphere. It also means you can do away with having a window, which gives you more scope with shower placement.

There are many options available, from solar-powered and electrically operable skylights to ones with tinted glass in various sizes and finishes. What you choose will depend on your roof type and budget.

For a new build, plan the skylight early so it’s factored into the roof shape and orientation. If you’re renovating, you’ll need a builder to assess for obstructions in the roof space.

Also be aware that having constant sun streaming into a bathroom can make it uncomfortably hot, depending on the room’s size and orientation. If this is the case in your bathroom, be sure to invest in some motorized blinds to cut the glare.


Integrated Electrical Outlets

If you have chargeable shavers or electrical toothbrushes or if you plan on using or charging any electrical devices in the bathroom, consider installing electrical outlets inside cabinets or drawers to avoid countertop clutter and messy, dangling power cords.

Power docks aren’t just for custom vanities — you’ll find them in some off-the-shelf vanities too. Just be sure to tell your electrician early on that you want outlets integrated into your vanity or drawers so he or she can plan for them.


Mirrored Cabinet

Upgrading from a regular mirror to a mirrored cabinet will help keep your countertop clear. It’s the perfect spot to house all those small creams, tubes and bottles at a convenient eye level.

Mirrored cabinets do not need to be expensive and can either be partially recessed into the wall or surface-mounted. Just be aware that your choice of installation will affect your lighting options for around the mirror.

Exhaust Fan

Problems with air circulation will bring down even the loveliest of bathrooms. Ensure that you specify an exhaust fan within the design to remove excess moisture and odors, and help prohibit the formation of mold in your bathroom. If you’re concerned about noise, check the labelling and choose an exhaust fan with a lower decibel rating.

Underfloor Heating

Stepping onto a warm bathroom floor is a joy on those cold winter mornings. Be aware that you’ll need to specify it right at the start of the build or remodeling process.


Custom Cabinetry

Custom cabinetry adds so much to a bathroom. Buying something off the shelf means, you can never achieve the perfect fit, look and functionality. Spending a little more for custom cabinetry allows you to achieve a completely tailored look to their bathroom and their individual needs. And again, it needs to be decided upon in the planning stage of your build or renovation to allow for space planning.


Drawer Storage

Upgrading your vanity from a style with doors to one with drawers is worth the extra outlay as it gives you far more functional storage. Drawers are also easier to clean as you don’t have to reach awkwardly into the back of cupboards.


Shower Niche

Dispense with the shower shelf and opt for a niche instead. It provides a neat, practical spot to store shampoos and soap, and it won’t encroach on your standing space in the shower. Plus, a niche creates a far more sophisticated and streamlined look.


How To Age Proof Your Bathroom

If you’re planning to stay in your house for the rest of your life, consider renovating your bathroom with accessibility in mind. Along with kitchens, bathrooms are one of the spaces homeowners use the most. They also happen to be wet zones. Reducing slip hazards and ensuring adequate lighting and maximum comfort are vital when creating an age-proof bathing space. Universal design features also make a bathroom more accessible for people of any age with a disability or an injury. Here are some ideas that will help make your bathroom safe and easy to use for decades to come.

Include a Shower Bench

A safe place to sit in the shower is vital for an age-proof bathroom design. Decreasing the amount of time you stand in the shower not only eases the strain on your body, it also reduces the chances of slipping and falling. Be sure to install or buy a bench that is large enough to comfortably sit and bathe on.

Your bench may be built-in or free-standing. If space is limited in the shower, consider a bench seat that can flip up when not in use. Waterproof seat cushions can help soften a hard surface.

Install a Handheld Shower Head

Handheld shower heads are easily adjustable for height and, when placed adjacent to your shower bench, enable you to wash up while seated.

Add Grab Bars in the Shower

Sturdy grab bars provide something for you to hold on to as you’re entering and exiting the shower or sitting down on a shower bench or seat. Install one on the outside of your shower and on each of your interior walls so you can safely navigate the space.

Increase the Height of Your Vanity

The standard vanity height is 31½ inches, not including your countertop. This isn’t high enough for some homeowners. Raising the cabinet height to 34½ inches, this will reach standard kitchen counter height, including a 1½ inch countertop, can prevent you from having to hunch over as you’re washing up.

There are two exceptions to increasing the vanity height. If you’re more comfortable with the standard vanity height, don’t increase it. Or if you want to make your vanity wheelchair-accessible, choose a counter height of 34 inches maximum.

Buy a Comfort-Height Toilet

Most toilets are less than 16 inches high. Comfort-height toilets are 17 to 19 inches high, which can make sitting and standing much easier. This can reduce the strain on your back and knees.

Think Twice About Glass

Few things open up a bathroom like glass walls and doors. But keep in mind that shower glass requires upkeep. You need to squeegee it regularly to avoid streak marks. This may make it less convenient for a bathroom designed for aging in place. There are heavy-duty types of shower glass that reduce maintenance, but expect to pay more for it.

Ensure That the Space Is Well-Lit

The better your bathroom lighting is, the less strain on your eyes. You also don’t want to miss any wet spots that can be hidden by shadows. Good lighting comes in many forms, including recessed lighting, vanity lighting, lamps and natural light. You may even consider placing lighting inside an enclosed shower.

Choose Porcelain Wall and Floor Tile

Porcelain can last a lifetime, so chances are you won’t have to replace it as you get older. It’s also perhaps the easiest surface to clean. Water and a rag normally do the trick.

If you’re concerned about grout, look for porcelain tile with a rectified edge. Finely cut edges allow for thin grout joints, as little as 1/16 inch in some styles. You can purchase a presealed grout as well.

Look for Textured Flooring

No matter which kind of flooring you decide to put in your bathroom, choose one that has high slip resistance. A slick tile can increase the likelihood of an injury from a fall. You can spot a floor with good slip resistance by looking for grooves or feeling for texture. Generally speaking, the more textured a floor is, the higher its slip resistance.

There are ways to measure a floor’s slip resistance. Tile, for example, is rated by measuring the coefficient of friction. A flooring material’s slip resistance can normally be found on the manufacturer’s website.

Go With a Curbless Shower Entry

A curbless shower entrance minimizes your risk of tripping over a step as you enter the shower. It’s also a wheelchair-accessible feature.

If you forgo a shower step, your shower floor will need to be properly sloped to allow water to drain correctly. If you do include a step, don’t make it large and bulky.

Consider the Lip Around Your Tub

Pay attention to the width of the lip on a bathtub. When you have to step over a wide tub surround, the gap between your legs gets larger, which can impair balance and increase the chances of falling. A narrower edge can be better for getting into the tub.

Alternately, some prefer a surround that includes an area wide enough to sit down on so they can sit on the edge and swing their legs over into the tub. This is easiest to do if there is a grab bar installed to provide support.

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.