If you’ve recently noticed bathtub discoloration and are concerned it could indicate a serious problem, you’ve come to the right place. Some of the most common causes of discolored bathtubs are listed below.

Bathtub Discoloration

Soap Scum

Soap scum is a tacky, filmy substance that requires elbow grease to remove. Soap scum causes light gray discoloration. Soap scum needs soap and hard water to form. A water softener may eliminate soap scum. You can also use a liquid product (like a body wash) instead of soap in the shower. If the scum problem is mild, scrub it weekly with borax.

Hard Water

The deposits left by hard water are referred to as limescale. These limescale deposits can accumulate over time, resulting in a raised texture and an unusual color. While the limescale in the bathtub is unsightly, it is usually removable with special cleaners and elbow grease.

Hard water can also cause rust-colored orange or brown stains in fixtures. These stains are caused by the iron content in hard water; the iron rusts, giving the color a rusty appearance. Typically, these stains can also be eliminated, possibly with the use of vinegar.

In contrast, the limescale deposits in your pipes may be more difficult to remove. Hard water can build up to the point where your pipes can no longer carry as much water as they once did. To avoid this problem, talk to your plumber about installing a water softener, especially if your hard water is certainly extreme and deposits build up quickly.

Effective Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are more likely to discolor your fixtures by eroding the finish. For instance, chemicals like lye (sodium hydroxide) can be sufficiently corrosive to harm, discolor, or corrode the chrome plating on the handle as well as other components.

Damage from drain cleaners is less likely to discolor the bathtub’s body. However, it can corrode shiny chrome plating until the tub fittings need to be replaced. This is why plumbers don’t recommend chemical drain cleaners. Plumbers can unclog slow or clogged drains.

Other cleaners that can cause chrome damage and discoloration include:

  • acid-containing cleaners
  • abrasive cleaners
  • chlorine bleach

Steel wool or similar scouring pads should also be avoided as they may scratch the soft chrome metal.

Mildew Spot

If you only use your bathtub for showers, you may not notice mildew growing on the side of the tub at first. This area of the tub, hidden from view by the shower curtain liner, may have high humidity, making it an ideal environment for mildew.

Fortunately, many bathroom cleaners can remove mildew stains. Bleach-based cleaners, for example, can help to kill mildew while you scrub the stains away. (Just don’t get the bleach on any of the tub’s chrome fittings.)

Some stains and discolorations are just cosmetic, while others can affect your plumbing. Water softeners eliminate rust stains, mineral deposits, and soap scum.

Contact Sacramento Repipe today if you need help determining the cause of a discoloration problem or if you suspect your bathtub problems are related to a larger plumbing issue. Our team is always eager to provide the best solution for your unique plumbing concerns. 

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