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How to care for a walk-in tub

Tips to clean and maintain your walk-in tub

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Written by Danni White
American Standard Walk-in Baths and Safe Step Walk-in Tubs
woman cleaning a bathtub

Walk-in tubs improve bathroom safety and allow for a more comfortable bathing experience at home. Fortunately, they don’t require much more elbow grease than traditional bathtubs to keep clean and functioning correctly.

It’s a good idea to combine daily, weekly and monthly cleaning regimens to maintain your tub. Otherwise, you risk accumulating slippery buildup from soap and body oil.

This guide includes tips for both daily and deep cleanings, as well as recommendations for cleaning supplies.

Cleaning your walk-in tub daily

To keep your walk-in tub in the best shape, you should lightly clean it after daily use. This doesn't have to be time-consuming — simply wipe down the fixtures and the tub walls with warm water to remove any body oils or soap suds. Use the shower wand if you have one.

You can also use your shower wand to spray down the tub with warm water. This should take no more than five minutes. As an optional final step, you can use a squeegee to remove excess water and prevent water spots.

Generally, you shouldn’t use large amounts of body oils in the shower or tub; they leave a slick buildup. A small amount of Epsom salts should be fine.

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    Cleaning your walk-in tub weekly or monthly

    Residue can start to build up after a few weeks of regular use. Depending on how frequently you use your tub, it may need a deep clean weekly or even just once a month.

    Either way, it’s a good idea to clean the tub with mild soap and a soft cloth on a regular basis. Using harsh chemicals and abrasive sponges can damage the surface of the tub. If you only have strong cleaners on hand, see if you can dilute them with water.

    According to American Standard, every few weeks you should fill the tub with hot water and add in two or three tablespoons of low-foaming detergent (dishwasher granules, for example). Run the jets for 10 minutes, drain the tub completely and fill it with clean water. Run the jets again as a “rinse cycle” and drain.

    Deep cleaning your walk-in tub

    Every month or two, you should give your tub a deeper cleaning to purge its entire system of water scale, soap residue and other buildups.

    Never run jets when the tub is dry.

    According to Safe Step, this is the best way to deep clean a walk-in tub:

    1. Fill the tub to just above the highest whirlpool jet with warm water.
    2. Mix a cup of bleach and a spoonful of automatic dishwashing soap into the water.
    3. Turn your system on and let it run for 15 minutes.
    4. Drain the water.
    5. Refill the tub with warm water.
    6. Let the system run for an additional 15 minutes.
    7. Drain the tub, using the shower wand to rinse off the surface.
    8. Wipe with a clean cloth.

    Multiple cycles of filling, draining, refilling and draining may feel repetitive. However, these steps are important to thoroughly rinse out the plumbing.

    Your tub maker may recommend specific cleaning products or a bleaching schedule. Refer to your owner's manual or consult with your tub’s manufacturer or installer for instructions.

    Cleaning supplies for walk-in tubs

    For daily cleaning, use mild bathroom cleaners without harsh chemicals or abrasive granules. A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar works. If you want extra oomph, foaming formulas can remove soap scum without much scrubbing.

    Harsh chemicals and abrasive sponges can damage the surface of the tub.

    Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the walls of the tub and a soft toothbrush to clean around the jets and drain. You can also use a microfiber cloth to remove some of the residue from surface cleaners. An automotive cleaning compound can be used to restore light scratches and dulled areas, according to American Standard.

    Here’s a good checklist of items to have on hand:

    • Mild household detergents
    • Microfiber cleaning cloths
    • Sponge or squeegee
    • Glass or faucet cleaning fluid

    Cleaning products to avoid

    As a rule of thumb, avoid any cleaning products that can scratch the surface of your tub. This includes wire brushes, abrasive sponges and harsh chemicals. Using these can dull the sheen of your tub and leave behind an unattractive or uncomfortable surface.

    Stay away from any cleaning products that leave a residue. Slick surfaces pose a fall hazard in the home, especially for those with limited mobility.

    Products to stay away from include:

    • Harsh scrubbers, like metal or wire brushes
    • Polishes that could make surfaces slick
    • Aerosols or abrasive products

    What about self-cleaning walk-in tubs?

    Some walk-in tubs include a self-cleaning feature that makes maintenance easier. With these tubs, you simply add the cleaning supplies to the water and let the tub run a self-clean cycle. Some walk-in tubs have ozone systems available that fully disinfect the tub with minimal effort. The ozone reacts with the water, killing harmful bacteria within minutes.

    These newer types of walk-in tubs are more expensive than traditional tubs, but they may be worth it for those with mobility issues or who have difficulty bending over to clean.

    American Standard currently offers an ozone self-cleaning feature. The tub automatically cleans itself about 10 to 15 minutes after the user finishes a bath, according to a reviewer in Mississippi.

    Bottom line

    Cleaning your tub may seem like a chore, but some very minor upkeep can ensure your tub is clean and free of bacteria and dust. Walk-in tubs can be expensive, so protect your investment by using the tips in this guide to keep your walk-in tub clean for years to come.

    How you should clean the tub is just one of the questions to ask a walk-in tub company before you buy. For more, compare top-rated walk-in tub companies and learn more about what to look for.

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