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How to Clean or Refinish an Old Porcelain Bath Tub

John Smith

It's kind of a no-win situation with a porcelain bathtub. Although you want it to be as clean as possible, the more you clean it, the more it will lose its luster because of the chemicals in the cleansing agents. When you add in natural wear and tear, the tub eventually will have an old and dirty appearance.

Instead of going the expensive route of buying and installing a new tub, you can buy some time by a thorough cleaning. When that no longer works, you can refinish your tub with relative ease.


  1. Spray an all-purpose bathtub cleaner on the surface of your tub. Let the cleanser soak into the dirt and grime for 10 minutes. Wipe down your tub with a sponge or cloth.

  2. Remove particularly tough stains with a sponge saturated in chlorine or hydrogen peroxide bleach.

  3. Scrub in the corners where the tub meets the walls, using a small brush.

  4. Remove any rings around the tub with a scrub brush and cleanser.

  5. Rinse your tub with water. Allow it to dry.


  1. Scrape off any chipped or flaking paint on the bathtub's surface with steel wool. Smooth over the areas where you removed paint, using fine-grit sandpaper.

  2. Apply epoxy to the areas you sanded, following the product label directions.

  3. Apply a polyester filler to any areas where paint is missing, following the label instructions. Allow the filler to dry. Sand over the filler until the surface is smooth to the touch.

  4. Remove any dirt or debris from your tub with a brush and vacuum. Scrub the surface of the bathtub with warm water and a sponge.

  5. Rinse out your bathtub with water. Allow time for the tub to dry.

  6. Spray or brush on a coat of porcelain paint primer, depending on the product you purchased. Follow the label directions for application and drying time.

  7. Spray a thin coat of porcelain paint onto the tub surface, using long, even passes. Allow the paint to dry for an hour. Apply another coat of paint.

  8. Seal your tub with a porcelain sealer, following the label directions.

  9. Allow the tub to remain untouched for at least 48 hours.

  10. Tip

    You can also attack soap scum and dirt with warm water and baking soda. Matching the paint with the exact color of your tub can be difficult. Test various colors on a small part of the tub first.


    Use painter's tape to mark off any areas you don't want to come into contact with the paint. Avoid breathing any fumes from the paint. Wear rubber gloves and a painter's mask.