If you own
I’m not just talking about tubs with stains or grime buildup but the entire tub, or the material it is comprised of, actually turns yellow. It can happen to bathtubs made of acrylic, ABS, and fiberglass to a varying degree though ABS tends to turn a deeper yellow than the others.
This article will help you understand what causes mobile home bathtubs to turn yellow and what your best options are to make the tub look new again.
Most manufactured home bathtubs are made of ABS or fiberglass. ABS is the more affordable option which is why it’s used most often. It’s also the material that turns a drab mustard yellow color.
ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a cheap plastic compound that’s easy to manufacture. ABS is also lightweight and stands up well against wear and tear.
What Causes Yellow Bathtubs in Mobile Homes?
ABS bathtubs tend to yellow more than other materials. The yellowing occurs to the entire tub, turning it into a uniform mustard mud yellow. Fortunately, there are several ways to handle the yellow mobile home bathtubs but it’s important to know what causes the yellowing of the tubs before you begin.
Polymers Solutions Incorporated, a materials science research & innovations company, states that UV exposure is always the first suspect whenever a plastic turns yellow over time because the “ultra-violet spectrum of light doesn’t play well with most polymers”. There are light stabilizers that can be added to the plastic during production but it can increases cost significantly.
Retrofixes, a blog about vintage computer and gaming equipment which turns yellow over time as well, claim it isn’t the ABS plastic itself that turns yellow but the bromine added to it. Bromine is added to act as a fire retardant. ABS, or the bromine in it, turn yellow because of the interaction with oxygen and light. The plastic oxidizes and turns into a darker color of itself.
“Over time, those (bromine) chemicals react to the plastic’s basic polymers and turn yellow. Sunlight and Heat accelerate this process.”-Retrofixes
How to Clean a Mobile Home Bathtub
The following cleaning products and recipes will help clean your bathtub. These will work great if the bathtub is just stained and grimy but hasn’t turned yellow due to oxidation.
Many products on the market today have decent whitening properties. Try to avoid using abrasive cleaners like AJAX. Instead look for products that offer a degreaser ingredient, like Purple Power (can be found at your local dollar store or Wal-mart). Spot test all chemicals first.
Recommended Bathtub Cleaners
- Dishwashing detergent: mix an ounce with a gallon of water and scrub with a sponge or plastic scrubbing pad.
- Baking soda: create a paste with water and scrub the tub with a sponge.
- White distilled vinegar: fill a spray bottle with full-strength vinegar; let it stay there for a few minutes, and then scrub it off.
- Acetone: wipe the acetone on the plastic with a soft cloth to remove stains caused by dye, paint or pigments.
- Oven cleaner: let sit for one hour.
- Lime Away
- Hydrogen Peroxide: fill a spray bottle with 3-percent hydrogen peroxide. Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes and then wipe the tub down with a damp sponge. You can repeat these steps until the yellow staining disappears.
Cleaning Fiberglass Bathtubs
If your bathtub is made of fiberglass you can use an
Ameribath, the top supplier for manufactured home fiberglass tub and shower, recommends using a liquid cleaner. Abrasives dull the surface and can leave scratches. If your fiberglass has scratches, automotive white polishing compound applied with a soft cloth may help. Apply as directed.
The manufacturer recommends using turpentine, paint thinner or acetone on stubborn stains if the stains are especially stubborn.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Reverse Yellowed ABS Plastic
Retrofixes, the retro electronics blog mentioned above, shared a method to reverse the yellowing on their favorite vintage computer and gaming systems. Unfortunately, their method doesn’t work as well on mobile home bathtubs because they can’t be completely submerged like smaller electronics but it’s certainly worth a try.
Their reversal process works using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and UV light:
“The process uses peroxide and UV light (either a UVA
To reverse yellowing bathtubs, Retrofixes recommends using the purest hydrogen peroxide gel or cream you can find and then adding sunlight. Hair bleaching products, like the cream peroxide below (40Vol 12%), is the easiest way to find a higher strength than 3% in a cream form.