September 15, 2017

How to Clean Your Bathroom – Specifically Bathtubs in the U.S.

It’s funny what living abroad does to you. It can make you forget very ordinary things you used to do without even thinking about it before you lived outside your own country. For me, one of the things living in India made me forget was how to clean the bathtub. Hence, I heard myself asking my family and friends….

“How do I clean my bathtub?” 

I am sure my American family and friends found this question coming from me very strange. After a silence and stunned looks, I said, “See for the last six years in India, we did not have a bathtub, nor did we even clean the bathroom because we had a maid.” (Maids are more common in India, and more affordable, as well.) 

The advice I got from them was very useful. I was able to easily scrub off the soap scum, and the tub was so shiny I could almost see my reflection in it. So, I decided I should share this with my readers (Although I know this is off the normal topics of this blog, it is important to know to live a comfortable life in the U.S.). I know many may find this useful, because of the more than 1,500 IT professionals we have readied for life in the U.S., many enjoyed the lively discussions we would have about the differences in public restrooms and bathrooms especially between the U.S. and India. It’s one thing to know how to use the space safely and comfortably, but once living in it for sometime, we also need to know how to clean it.

So, while I am no cleaning expert, I am going to share the few tips I learned, applied and found some success with in cleaning the bathtub for the first time (after a long time) in the U.S.

A Good Shower Curtain
Bathroom in model apartment
in the U.S. with a double layered
shower curtain.
In India, it’s not [as] common to hang a shower curtain in the open bathroom. But, in the U.S. a shower curtain is necessary to keep water inside the tub. Unlike Indian bathrooms, there are no drains on the floor, so if water gets on the floor, it needs to be mopped up. It can also ruin or damage the floor and cause leaks. This can turn into a costly proposition to fix. So, one way of keeping water off the floor is having a good shower curtain (along with a few bath mats on the floor to step on when getting out of the shower).

Things I like to look for in a shower curtain 
  • Double layered
    I always liked to get shower curtain with an inner and outer portion. Though they are more expensive, this is double protection from keeping water inside the tub, and off the floor. This can be done by buying a shower curtain and a liner separately or a shower curtain that already has the two stitched together. That being said, a shower curtain needs to be hung on a rod above a bathtub. When renting the place, assure there is a curtain rod above the bathtub. If it is not there, the landlord must typically provide it. 
  • Machine Washable 
    Hookless shower curtain hanging
    on bathtub rod.

    Going to buy a cheap curtain at the dollar store will be ok for a few days or weeks, but these curtains are hard to keep clean in my opinion and probably look as cheap as they cost. Also they can’t typically be washed in a machine. Going for a fabric, double layered one makes life easy when it comes to cleaning (much easier and quicker to get soap scum off than by scrubbing by hand). They can typically be washed in a washing machine on gentle setting with cool water. To dry it, I just hang it back up in the bathroom, rather than drying it in the dryer. 
  • Hookless
    I love the newer hookless shower curtains. Maybe I never noticed these six years ago, but these hookless curtains really make life easy. You don’t need to buy hooks or fiddle with taking off the hooks or putting them back on when washing the curtain. 

Of course, when adding up all these features in a shower curtain- double layer (with a liner) and being hookless and hopefully good looking, the price tag does increase to $40-$60 depending on the length. I will recommend the one we purchased (Authentic Journeys is not receiving any revenue from these brands or retailers.) Check out the Hookless shower curtains from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I am very happy with the one we got. Very easy to put up, take down, and wash. Here’s a video on how it goes up. 


Keeping the Bathtub/Shower Clean on a Daily Basis 
Daily, after bathing, I will tidy up the bathtub because hair and other debris does land in the tub somehow. So, if our bathtub had a detachable shower head with a spray on it, I’d use that. However, it doesn’t, so I use an old yogurt cup to fill with water, and throw it over various parts of the tub to rinse it off. I also pick up the soap and shampoo bottles to clean or rinse around and under them, as hair and other debris get stuck there. After rinsing it with water, I spray as shower spray, like the one pictured to the right. This you can get cheaply at the Dollar Store or Big Lots. I spray this all over the inside of the tub area- not just the tub, but the tub walls, etc. I just spray it and let it sit there, I do not wipe it off.

Once a Week Cleaning 
Where I was really getting stuck was trying to figure out how to get the soap scum off. It was building up around the drain and also along where a water line may be when some water builds up as we are showering. I also did not want to buy harsh chemicals because if and when possible I prefer to be more ‘green.’ I also did not know which scrubber to use.

I got some good advice – a more natural cleaning solution for the tub. I mixed some vinegar, dish soap, and baking soda together to make a paste. I then rubbed this on with a scrubber and scrubbed it a bit. After scrubbing it on, I let it sit there for 5 or 10 minutes, then I rinsed it off. Oh my! It was like a new tub. It was so easy, and so safe! Hardly any chemicals. (This works wonderfully inside the sink, also!) 

The best part is while before I start cleaning the tub and tidying up the bathroom, I put the shower curtain in the wash. By the time I am done with this process (including cleaning the toilet), the curtain is cleaned and ready to be put back up. And, the cleaning is done. 

To see someone do this in action, see the video below. (No, Americans don't dress up and put on so much make up to clean their house! I am sure she's doing this to look pretty for the camera!)


This of course is not the only way to clean a tub, but it turned out to be easy, quick and a method I want to continue with. What other ideas or tips do you have for cleaning a bathtub? 


Bonus: Pictures of bathrooms in India and the U.S. 


Bathroom in an apartment in the U.S.

Bathroom in a house in India.
Note: no shower curtain, has a water sprayer next to the toilet.

Another bathroom in a house in Kerala, India.
No shower curtain or rod, equipped with a water sprayer.
Neither bathroom shows the water geyser, though that is in many Indian bathrooms.

Other tips for daily life in the U.S. 
How to order fast food in a drive through 
How to write a check (India vs. the U.S.) 
Coins and money in the U.S. 

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