Last year I found a functioning clawfoot bathtub at a resale shop for $50. I bought it and drug it home thinking I would have the bathtub professionally refinished and that would be the end of it. When the contractor finished with the tub he gave me a long list of what I should and shouldn't do now that it was restored. I went from thinking I got a great deal to wondering what I had gotten myself in to. Fortunately, through some trial and error, I've found an easy system for keeping my clawfoot looking great. Here is what I do.
Protect the surface
Clawfoot tubs, especially refinished ones, have a delicate surface layer that easily scratches. To keep that from happening as often, I hung a shower caddie over the shower head and store all of my bottles, soap, and razors above the bathtub. It sounds a little obsessive but I started doing this after a metal bottle of shaving cream scratched the surface.
For these bathtubs, bathtub mats are also a hazard. The suction cups on the bottom of the mats will wear off the finish of the tub.
Prevent dirt and grime scratches
Dirt and grime left on a regular bathtub throughout the week won't do much, but they can cause small scratch marks on a clawfoot tub. To prevent this from happening, I wipe the edges of my bathtub off with a soft, clean towel after I shower or bath. It only takes a few seconds a day and it has prevented quite a few scratches.
Clean with the right products
Thankfully, the contractor that refinished my clawfoot tub warned me about abrasive cleaning products ahead of time. The abrasive cleaners and scrub brushes that you're used to using on a bathtub will put large scratches in the surface of a clawfoot tub. Instead, use a mild cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and water and a towel to clean. I do this once a week and my surface isn't showing any signs of wear.
Protect the feet
I intentionally left the feet of my clawfoot tub in their original condition. The paint is cracking and some of the metal underneath shows through, which fits in with the old and worn look of my house. It looks great, but it is hard to maintain. To keep from hurting the remaining paint, I mop the area around my tub by hand. Otherwise, the mop rubs against the feet and takes off some of the paint.
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