Old vintage or antique claw foot tubs are made from solid cast iron with a porcelain coating. In order to keep the tub looking its best, routine cleaning and maintenance should be performed on a regular basis. Unsightly stains and scratches can take away from the beauty of a claw foot tub and are due to improper care and maintenance. To prevent stains and build up of soap scum, it is recommended that at least once a month you fill the tub with water and one cup of bleach and allow it to soak for at least thirty minutes. For scratch free spot cleaning or any remaining residue, use a liquid soap or cleaner that is non-abrasive with a soft cloth, such as terry cloth. The type of cloth and cleanser that you use is key to preventing scratches. Even tiny scratches that are unseen can cause problems in the near future, since porcelain wear is what causes stains to start appearing and scratches can embed stains making them tough to remove.
Extreme stains, such as rust stains, can be cleaned by using one part water and one part muriatic acid. This trick requires special care, for example you want to pour the acid into the water and never the other way around. Also, you will need baking soda to apply to the solution once five minutes have passed to neutralize the acid. Then it will be safe to clean the solution away and take away the rust stain. Note this treatment is for porcelain coated tubs only.
Vintage looking claw foot tubs that are from a more modern era have the look of an antique claw foot tub, but are made from lighter materials such as acrylic. Modern materials, while not made of iron and porcelain, are still somewhat resilient. However, it is still advisable to clean these types of tubs with care. While acrylic is fairly sturdy, you want to prevent using anything that will stain or damage the acrylic finish. Basically, any type of solvent or cleaner that will damage plastic may cause damage to an acrylic surface. For example, if you are painting a bathroom and splatter paint on the tub, using paint thinner will damage the surface. Clean any paint immediately before it dries and better yet, cover the tub with a drop cloth or, if possible, move the tub into an adjoining room or hallway. Never clean paint brushes or paint equipment in a bath tub.
As with antique tubs, modern acrylic tubs should be cleaned by using non-abrasive cleansers and cloths. Avoid using any types of solvents or cleaners that include acetone, as it is likely to mar the finish. Also, be sure to avoid using pot scrubbers or modern day sponges with the abrasive backing or abrasive mesh. Using a soft terry cloth along with liquid cleansers would be recommended. There are also some cleansers on the market, such as Arm & Hammer’s Clean Shower or The Works Tub & Shower cleaner, that are made especially for acrylic and other plastic surfaces.
Regardless of the type of vintage looking tub, either antique or modern, regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your tub in the best possible condition. This will provide many years of enjoyment and use of your tub and keep it in the best presentable condition.