If you’ve purchased a walk-in tub, you’ll want to ensure it remains in working order for years to come. This guide explains the best way to care for a walk-in tub, including how to clean and maintain it, as well as the products to avoid using so you don’t damage the surface or mechanicals.
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The Best Cleaning Supplies for Walk-In Tubs
If your tub was just installed, start with the cleaner samples provided by the manufacturer before buying your own cleaners to have on hand. Most walk-in tubs are made of fiberglass with acrylic and gel coat—both surfaces can scratch easily, so you must use a nonabrasive fiberglass cleaner on both surfaces.
Never expose an acrylic tub to water temperatures exceeding 167 degrees Fahrenheit, which can soften the acrylic and cause it to lose shape. Check your water temperature at the water heater before filling your walk-in tub for cleaning.
For everyday cleaning and maintenance, make sure you have a few micro cloths, soft sponges, or brushes on hand to use with the recommended surface cleaners below.
From Our Expert: Consider who and how you will clean the tub if you have mobility concerns. Tubs need to be regularly cleaned to maintain their beneficial qualities. It’s difficult to maintain that schedule if there are mobility issues that reduce your ability to complete the task. Self-clean features are a great added benefit, but they’re not meant to be your only form of tub maintenance.Dawn Heiderscheidt, OTR/L, ECHM, CAPS
Approved Surface Cleaners
A good non-scratch cleaner, gentle spray cleaner or, a simple vinegar and water solution is perfect for cleaning a walk-in tub’s interior and exterior surfaces. It’s best not to use a cleanser that polishes since this could make surfaces slick while bathing.
- Mild liquid dishwasher soaps or Soft Scrub
- A spray bottle filled with equal parts vinegar and water. For example, two cups of vinegar mixed with two cups of water.
- Weiman Tub, Tile and Fiberglass Cleaner
- Foaming kitchen and bathroom cleaners like Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner or Kaboom Foam-Tastic
- Non-toxic tub cleaners, like Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner or Simple Green
- Septic-safe walk-in tub jet and pump system cleaners, like Tub Jet Clean, Oh Yuk Jetted Tub System Cleaner, or Sunny and Honey’s Jetted Tub Miracle
- Long-handled cleaning rod with a non-abrasive to access hard-to-reach areas
Cleaning Products to Avoid
- Cleaners mixed with bleach. This combination can be dangerous, and harsh chemicals can damage the surface of your tub.
- Abrasive scrubbers, like metal or wire brushes
- Oil-based cleaners that are slick and can leave a residue. These cleaners can be a fall hazard.
Cleaning Your Walk-In Tub After Installation
Before using your walk-in tub for the first time, it’s best to remove any dust and residue that may be on the tub surface from the installation. Use a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, then spray down the tub’s exterior. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth after you spray, then use the shower sprayer to rinse and buff dry with a microfiber or other soft cloth.
To clean the tub’s interior, grab your vinegar solution, cleaning cloth and a dry towel or cloth. Spray down the interior surfaces, and then wipe with a damp cloth and buff dry. Take care to dry the tub floor thoroughly to avoid slipping. (In fact, it’s generally safest to sit on the tub’s seat while cleaning.) Step out of the tub and use the shower wand to give your walk-in tub a good rinsing.
If you have a walk-in tub with whirlpool or air jets, consider flushing the pump and pipes before using it.
- Fill the tub with hot water until the water is two to three inches above the jets.
- Add a bit of one of the jet system cleaners mentioned above.
- Turn off the air controls and run the jets for 10 minutes.
- Drain the tub.
- Rinse any residue from the sides and floor.
- Fill the tub again with cool water.
- Run the jets (without air) for 15 minutes.
- Drain the water, then rinse the sides and floor again.
Light Cleaning After Each Use
At minimum, remember to wipe down and rinse your walk-in tub after each use to prevent buildup and rid the walls and floor of any slippery soap, oils, bath salts, or shampoo residue. For daily cleaning, turn the water to warm and use the shower wand to rinse the interior of the tub and its fixtures thoroughly.
Spray the interior well with vinegar and water or a spray bathtub cleaner, then rinse again. Remember to visually inspect key parts and features for signs of mold or mildew and clean them weekly to prevent a buildup of bacteria.
- The seat
- Door seals
- Faucet and showerhead
- Floor mats, and other spaces
Be detailed in your inspections, as bacteria can harm people with open scratches and potentially infect people with diabetes and slow-healing wounds.
It’s also a good idea to open a bathroom window after you bathe or turn on the exhaust fan. This can help circulate the air and stop bacteria from growing in moist, humid environments
Monthly Deep Cleaning
If your walk-in tub has a water or air jet system, you’ll need to flush the pipes, jets, and motor monthly. Never run the jets when the tub is dry.
Here is the best way to deep clean a walk-in tub:
- Fill the tub to seat height or a few inches above the highest jets
- Put on rubber gloves and safety glasses to avoid injury from splashing
- Add a half-cup of bleach to the tub
- Once the water is above the jets, turn on the water and/or air jets, and run the system for 15 minutes. Turn off the system and let it sit for five minutes.
- Drain the tub
- Refill it with clean water
- Run the jets with the clean water for 15 minutes to rinse the tub
- Drain the tub for a second time, and wipe down the tub
Important: Some publications recommend mixing a couple tablespoons of dish soap with bleach during deep clearing. We do not recommend mixing bleach with any household cleaner, as the combination could produce dangerous and harmful fumes. When in doubt, use your walk-in tub manufacturer’s recommended deep cleaning product.
Self Cleaning Walk-In Tubs
Some walk-in tubs come with self-cleaning features and technologies that help to keep the tub clean and promote good hygiene.
- Automatic purge systems clear lines of mold in tubs equipped with air jets
- Ozone whirlpool sanitation systems remove viruses, bacteria, manganese, iron and hydrogen sulfide
- Medical-grade ultraviolet (UV) light to help clear bacteria, viruses, mold, algae, and yeasts
While these features are helpful, we recommend that you do not rely solely on these features for cleanliness and plan to perform regular cleaning as well.
Walk-In Tub Maintenance
As with any household system or product, it’s critical to inspect your walk-in tub for damage regularly. Walk-in tubs are durable, but their parts and fixtures require occasional maintenance and repair. Check for leaks around the faucets or showerhead hose and look for loose handles, trouble with the door hinges, seals, and more. Repair this damage immediately to ensure your tub is safe to use.
Most dealers include a service warranty with purchase, so contact your manufacturer if you notice any damage. Before your warranty runs out, you might consider asking about supplemental warranties or extension options.
And before tackling any repairs, read your warranty’s fine print to ensure you follow the proper repair and maintenance protocols. For example, many contracts stipulate that customers must perform regular maintenance and only hire a licensed contractor who partners with the dealer in order for the company to cover some or all of the repair bill.
Proper cleaning techniques are not something most people think about beyond wiping the interior of the walk-in tub down, but it’s important to keep all working parts clean and free of bacteria, mildew, and mold. These walk-in tub cleaning and maintenance tips will ensure your tub stays clean and effective for longer.