Is the Tub Supposed to be Orange?

Or, How to Clean Your Tub Without Scrubbing

Some of you may recall that we had an iron filter installed.

In case you’re wondering how bad our iron was, you can peruse this photo of our bathtub.

rust stains in a bathtub

I tried CLR without much success. Soft Scrub seemed to do a little better. No matter what I used, I had to do a lot of scrubbing and it removed much of the staining but not all of it. You may be wondering what the best product is for cleaning rust stains, not only from bathtub but also from sinks and other porcelain fixtures. The answer?

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

But not just any toilet bowl cleaner – it has to have the right ingredients.

Wrong Ingredients

For example, here is before using Clorox T.B.C.

rust stains in a bathtub

And here is after using Clorox T.B.C.

rust stains in a bathtub

Note that those two pictures were taken 4 minutes apart, with no scrubbing. The second picture might not look like I did anything, but the Clorox is almost clear, so it’s hard to see. Look hard, and you can tell on the right side where it is, or bottom middle.

Clorox has the active ingredient of sodium hypochlorite. Do not use anything with sodium hypochlorite as it just ignores rust stains. I’m sure there are no germs on our bathtub after cleaning it with Clorox, but the stains are still there.

Right Ingredients

For example, here is 1 second after using Lysol T.B.C.

rust stains in a bathtub

And here is 2 minutes after using Lysol T.B.C.

rust stains in a bathtub

And here is 6 minutes after using Lysol T.B.C.

rust stains in a bathtub

Note that there was no scrubbing involved in those photos – just squirting on the T.B.C. and letting it sit. Well, not sit – it ran down the side of the tub a bit.

Lysol has the active ingredient of hydrogen chloride. You don’t have to use Lysol-brand T.B.C. – anything with hydrogen chloride should work.


Here is the final product, after some more cleaner and a little bit of scrubbing.

a clean bathtub after removing rust stains

She has wearied Me with toil, Yet her great rust has not gone from her; Let her rust be in the fire!

Ezekiel 24:12

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This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 6:26 pm and has been carefully placed in the Life category.

33 Responses to “Is the Tub Supposed to be Orange?”

  1. phoebe Says:

    What amazing results; I’ll have to remember that. Also…love the verse!

  2. Some Guy Says:

    I was surprised how well it worked. I was given this tip by a home renovation / handyman guy, and figured it was something the internet needed to know.

  3. Ricky Anderson Says:

    More toilet bowl cleaner, down the drain.

  4. Some Guy Says:

    Next time, I’m just buying an orange tub and saving all this hassle.

  5. Mike Grimm Says:

    Greetings! I notice you have a very graphic picture of a bathtub with a typical iron water stain due to high concentrations of dissolved iron in your tab water. I am asking for your permission to use that picture as an illustration of iron staining of fixtures. It will be used in a training module set for small water systems in Alaska (which are available to water systems operators at no charge for the materials. Although I see numerous other websites have used this photo, I would prefer to ask permission first.

    Thank you;
    Michael W. Grimm, P.E.
    The Cadmus Group, Inc.

  6. Some Guy Says:

    Thanks for asking! Yes, go ahead and use the photo or photos that portray what you want.

    I was not aware the photo was so popular. After reading your comment, I found a couple websites that used it. What I found interesting is that they seem not to have read what I wrote, since they mentioned just about every rust-removing method other than the one that worked best for me.

    Side note: the rust stains did not diminish after we installed the iron filter. The main culprit was the old water heater. A crack in the glass caused water to rust the metal housing, and the rust seeped back into the tank, causing very rusty water.

  7. Leigha Says:

    Um… You do realise that the toilet bowl cleaner can and will create prous pits in the material that the tub is made out of? It’s definitely not a good choice to clean your tub with this!!! :/ #chemistrymajor

  8. Some Guy Says:

    Both the toilet and the tub are porcelain. Does this mean that the toilet bowl cleaner is bad for the toilet bowl too?

    Or wait, was it called enamel not porcelain? Maybe you had better clarify what material is bad, rather than leaving us guessing.

  9. Allyssa Says:

    Does your water smell like rotten eggs? cause our water does… and it looks like this in our tub, but worse.

  10. Some Guy Says:

    Our water used to smell like rotten eggs. I would add about a cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water heater tank and that would make the smell go away for a month or two. Then the smell would come back, and I would add more hydrogen peroxide and it would go away again for another month or so. That continued until I turned up the water heater to 140. Haven’t had smelly water since then. If you do that, take care not to scald yourself.

  11. Judy Says:

    We’ve had this problem since we moved into our old farmhouse. Bleach helps a bit, but I will definitely try this. We have recently had an issue with our dishwasher. The dishes are starting to stain. They look horrible. I wondered about your comment about the water heater. We have a fairly new one (replaced 3 yrs ago) but my concern is that I may have a rupture somewhere in the dishwasher plumbing. Hmmm
    Let me know if you have any thoughts please. Dishwasher cleaner helped the machine but now how do we clean the dishes and keep it from happening again?

  12. Some Guy Says:

    Our water heater was about 20 years old. The plumber was surprised it was still working. The crack in the water heater tank was bad for rust because it is a steel tank. I doubt your dishwasher plumbing uses much steel, so I would expect the problem to be elsewhere. Do you have an iron filter? Do you use rust-fighting salt in your water softener?

    For cleaning rust stains out of a dishwasher (ours is white plastic inside), we found that a Magic Eraser works better than anything else. I don’t know about the dishes though.

  13. Judy Says:

    No filters or water softeners, just a reverse osmosis filter on my sink. Thanks for the suggestions.

  14. Jamie Says:

    You have been so very helpful as have other’s questions and comments! Thank you so much!
    We’re about to move in to an old farmhouse we’re renting and my teenage girls swear they’ll never shower again due to the orange stained shower and bathtub (so dramatic!) Can’t wait to try this today! Thanks again! Have a wonderful holiday and God bless!

  15. David Says:

    Be careful not to get it on chrome fixtures. It cleans them great too, but it will eat the chrome right off them. :)

  16. Sarah Says:

    I realized this is an old post but just had to say THANK YOU!!! I have tried everything on my toilet and tub and this worked like magic.

  17. Sabrina Says:

    Thank you SO much! I have tried so many things and they didn’t work, but this worked like a charm. I really appreciate it!

  18. Teresa Says:

    I found that “Bar Keepers Friend” works excellent.

  19. Some Guy Says:

    Yes, we use that on our stainless steel kitchen sink and it does a good job.

  20. Pam Says:

    I have terrible water and I us to have to do this every couple weeks. Than I had a “Light bulb moment!” After cleaning the tub and the walls I dried it well and sprayed on a coat of spray wax for cars. Now it will last for 4-6mons before I need to clean again!

  21. Jamie Says:

    I JUST did this to our tub and within seconds the stains were gone! We just bought this house and I thought I’d tried everything, with no success, we’d decided to get a new tub. NOT NOW! Thanks so much for this!!!!

  22. Kelly Says:

    It’s a bit less damaging to the chrome if you dilute it in a spray bottle. But I would recommend wearing a mask while you spray it!

  23. Lynn Says:

    Save yourself all the trouble and buy this stuff

    Just squirt it on the stain and watch it disappear…have been using it for over 20 years in our Ohio home. No scrubbing

  24. Some Guy Says:

    There’s not much trouble or scrubbing with my method either. But it’s good to know of an alternative product.

  25. wycoo Says:

    I had this very same problem for years. Our house was just built and never lived in. The problem was not the plumbinThe works tub and tile cleaner hg, but iron in the water. The Works tub and tile was my helper.It comes in a spray bottle and also in a powder to use in laundry. Please read all instructions and have mask and good ventilation it is very strong.

  26. Jennifer P Says:

    Holy moly I just did this I should have take before and after pictures!!! You just saved me tons of money I was gonna hire a professional company to clean my tub!!! Much thanks!

  27. Abby Says:

    The Works T.B.C works within seconds of applying it.

  28. Nicole Huey Says:

    Should,work good in a spray bottle,I used,it from regular bottle squirted it AMAZING

  29. Lana Foster Says:

    I have just bought this house, the water sprinklers smell like rotten eggs and its leaving rust on my house and side walks, I used Lime away it took some off. but when it rains and gets wet it shows up again. HELP in Florida

  30. Misty Says:

    After reading article after article of how to get the yellow/orange stain out and trying every tip, cleaner, soak, and scrub – YOURS WORKED!! Thank you!!!

  31. Happy guy Says:

    My 90 year old aunt left her home to me that was built in 1957. Her tub had not been used in 20 plus years. I came upon this site, wishing I had taken before and after pictures!!! Your trick of TB cleaner did wonders. Thank you for sharing your findings.

  32. As Says:

    I believe your “magic” ingredient is the hydrochloric acid.

  33. Some Guy Says:

    I called it hydrogen chloride, but you’re right, that’s a different name for the same thing – hydrochloric acid.

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