How to Remove Oil Stains from a Fibreglass Bathtub
Fibreglass Bathtubs Stain Easily
What? Why, then, would you get a bathtub made out of it? Fibreglass is actually a great material for bathtubs because it's lightweight and can be moulded into any shape. It also has a nice glossy finish that makes it look like ceramic.
However, what manufacturers don't tell you (besides in the fine print) is that fibreglass can stain easily.
Don't Try This at Home
These are all the options I used to try and erase (or at least fade) the oil stains in my acrylic bathtub. I highly recommend that you avoid these methods.
Bleach: You are literally throwing money down the drain. The bleach will not even make the stains look fainter, so don't waste your time.
Hair Colour Stripper: Yes, I tried this too. It doesn't work. The chemicals, in theory, should have enough bleaching power. Because they are used on hair, however, they need to protect the skin and not cause irritation. This makes it not as powerful as it could be.
Epoxy Paint: If you fancy breathing in toxic fumes for days, by all means, go ahead and paint over the stains with epoxy paint. Both you and your neighbours will probably need to move out while you wait for the smelly paint to dry. The application can also be tricky—you don't want to have an uneven finish where you can see each brushstroke. Paint rollers are advised for this, but you should use a paint sprayer if you want an even better finish. If you really want to go down this route, get professionals to do this and book yourself into a hotel for a couple of days. A respirator has to be worn during spray painting to prevent inhaling toxic fumes, and the paint takes a minimum of 24 hours to dry. If you think you want to try this solution, you need to prepare the surface first with sandpaper and a coat of primer.
Fabric Brightener: I tried this in the hope that it would at least mask the stains. There was no difference whatsoever. That's the price you pay for believing the adverts that the brightener will make fabric whiter than white. Then again, the clue is in the name: “fabric”.
Peroxide: I was really excited when I read that hydrogen peroxide (strong solution) can literally erase all types of stains. I ran to my local pharmacist and diligently doused my fibreglass bathtub with peroxide. I tried the first time—nothing. Then, I drenched some kitchen towels with peroxide and left them on the stains overnight. Still nothing.
Baking Powder Mixed With Vinegar: Does it work? No. But it's quite entertaining to see the fizzing action of the baking powder when you combine it with vinegar. This mixture is also supposed to be good to remove limescale—I found this was not the case for my bathtub and fittings.
- Magic Eraser Sponge: Have you ever tried those "magic erasers" advertised on TV? They are white sponges that promise to clean stubborn stains like burnt food on cookers. Well, I tried them to clean my bathtub, and nope, they didn't erase the stains. Next! (However, I am quite happy using magic erasers in the kitchen, they work rather well).
Remove Essential Oils Stains From a Fibreglass Tub!
While relaxing in a hot bath with essential oils is lovely, it may not be as relaxing when you're spending time and money trying to erase oil stains. Then, I had an epiphany: would nail file blocks, which are not as abrasive as normal nail files, remove the stains?
- If you're careful not to apply too much pressure and are very patient and persistent, you can scrub off even old stains slowly but surely.
- Nail file blocks are very cheap, and you can get them in any health and beauty store.
- A word of warning: some of the glossy finish will look scratched in the process. In low lighting, no one will notice the difference. The actual fibreglass will not be damaged, but it will simply become slightly opaque where you have buffed it.
You will need to tackle each stain one by one.
- Spend a few minutes buffing the stain.
- Move on to the next one when you see that the first stain has faded.
- Nail file blocks wear out, so you can trim off the tops with a cutter and use the abrasive surface until you can no longer hold the block because it has become too small.
It will take you days to complete the project, but if you have had these oil stains in your bathtub for years (like I did), what are a few days in comparison?
Let Me Know How It Goes
I'd love to know two things:
- if you have had any joy removing stains from your bathtub.
- if you have tried using a nail file block.
Also, if you have any tips or discovered an alternative way of cleaning a bathtub, please add your suggestions in the comments. Thanks!
Questions & Answers
Do you think that essential oils can stain porcelain too? I had my porcelain tub refinished, and after a few months spots began to appear, and every week there were more and more. We do not use hair dye, no chemical spills (no chemicals used). The refinisher returned and got them out, but I don't want them to come back. An essential oil is the only thing I can think of that could have stained the tub.
Yes, it could be that essential oils could be causing the staining. I definitely wouldn't use anything abrasive for porcelain. Hydrogen peroxide may help.