If I remember correctly, scrubbing the tub (and the entire main bathroom, for that matter) was one of the first things I did the day I got the keys to the place. That and eradicating a trail of ants from the kitchen counter from a sticky sweet mess left behind, as well as a load of laundry for a proud first-time owner of a laundry centre.
But for some reason, no matter how much I scrubbed with my trusty scouring powder with bleach, there were patches of darker shades of beige throughout that didn’t seem to want to come off. Technically, I knew it was clean, but it looked stained.
I don’t know much about the previous owners and occupants, but for a fifteen-year-old house, there were some signs of premature aging. There were some pieces in the house showing more wear and tear than my first apartment that was twice that age, including chips in the enamel of a sink, knife marks on the kitchen counter and some carpeting that absorbed the fallout of a kitty cat with an unfortunate bladder issue.
In the months that followed, whenever I had a few minutes, I was back at the tub, trying to clean it with the same tenacity as the Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. I tried every product on the market and had to hold myself back from using anything deliberately abrasive, in my frustration for the stains that would not come out.
I tried heat, I tried cold, I tried humidity, I tried chemical-based commercial cleaners but still, nothing got those pesky stains out.
In those first years, I was always concerned about having visitors over for fear of them looking at the tub and judging my skills in housekeeping. Even though I knew for a fact that after all those chemicals, cleaners and rinses, you could practically eat off the floor of my tub, the staining remained.
On a few occasions when having a friend or family member staying the night, I recall handing them their linens and reassuring them that the tub was indeed clean, it was just stained. For someone who takes housecleaning seriously, with a tub that always looked dirty, it made the whole house feel grimy.
A few years ago, I was watching some home renovation show in which someone mentioned reglazing a tub. I did a quick search online and thought that maybe this was the answer to restore the old tub to its original glory… Food for thought.
About a month ago, I had called a plumber to come and do some preventative maintenance work on some taps and hoses. While he was there, I was going to ask the plumber for ideas or advice about reglazing, but before I did, I thought I would give the stain removal one last shot.
I took to the web for any other home-made remedies I may have originally missed, just stopping short of witches spells and demolition.
This time, I tried different combinations of products available in my kitchen pantry and medicine cabinet, but still the stains wouldn’t budge until… (cue the sound of angels singing) Borax paste!
The recipe calls for a bit of regular household borax (a product I always kept in the aforementioned laundry centre) and mixed well with just enough water to achieve a paste with the consistency of pancake batter. Apply the “paste” to the stain and leave there for 15 to 20 minutes. Close the bathroom door to keep the pets away, as borax can be dangerous to the little ones.
When I returned, I grabbed the rag and started scrubbing, only to find the stain melting away. With a bit more light scrubbing, the stain was gone! I repeated this process in four corners of the tub, focusing on the stains in different areas. I couldn’t believe it but after this exercise, my tub sparkled and looked as good as new.
I didn’t realize how the stained appearance influenced my choice between showers and baths, but I cannot tell you how many luxurious baths I have taken since, wriggling around in a tub that is stain-free and feels 100% squeaky clean.
Of course the tub is more slippery than ever too, so the anti-slip rubber mat is getting used for every shower now.
I still don’t know what those stains were or why they were clinging to the walls of my tub, but I am so glad that they are finally out. Now, not only does the tub look clean but it stays clean, as regular touch-ups are effortless.
I don’t know if this is the same for the readers, but whenever I do a successful repair that adds to my enjoyment of the house, it just makes me fall in love with this house all over again. The sparkling tub was no exception.
The fact that I took an old grimy tub and made it look like it was just delivered and installed, for the cost of a couple of cups of borax, not only added to the satisfaction of a job well done, but heightened my joy of home ownership.
Time to celebrate with another luxurious soak in my “good-as-new” tub!
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