Care & Maintenance of Cast-Iron Bathtubs

A cast-iron bathtub can be the bane of your bathroom cleaning experience or the focal point of your retro home décor, depending on how well the tub has been cared for. Cast-iron bathtubs finished with a porcelain enamel coating can last for decades, but are eyesores if they have been cleaned with less-than-suitable products or are chipped or scoured down to bare iron. Proper care of your cast-iron bathtub-whether an antique or a recent purchase--can give years of service while retaining its elegant surface.

1 Rinse the tub and dry it with a soft towel after each use to remove excess soap and prevent water spots.

2 Mix a solution of 2 tbsp. of grease-cutting dishwashing liquid and 1 gallon of hot water. Once a week clean the tub with this solution. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth, scrub down the tub, rinse with plain water and dry with a towel.

 3 Add 3 tbsp. of trisodium phosphate (TSP) to 1 gallon of hot water. Once a month, clean the inside of the tub with this solution, following the same procedure as in step 2. The TSP will cut through dirt and soap scum.

4 Avoid using abrasive cleansers, steel wool or acidic solutions such as white vinegar and lemon. These will scratch the enamel, and dirt will accumulate in the scratches, making the tub look dirty all the time.

5 Remove stains and other marks from the tub surface as soon as you notice them. Waiting could make removal impossible. Try using a mild cleaner such as dishwashing liquid and water to remove stains. If that doesn't work, use a cleaner such as Ajax, Bon-Ami or Zud to remove stains. These cleaners should be used sparingly. Used repeatedly, they will irreparably damage the porcelain enamel surface.

6 Fix leaky faucets immediately. Dripping water can leave a stain and wear away the enamel surface of the tub.