How to clean bottom of 2004 Kohler tub?

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Spbphil, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Spbphil

    Spbphil New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    I had a top-of-the-line (but otherwise ordinary white) Kohler cast-iron enameled bathtub installed in 2004 as part of a complete bathroom remodel in a small apartment attached to my home.

    This tub bottom has some sort of special surface pattern (slightly rubberized, by its feel) that is clearly intended to be "non-skid."

    I instructed my tenant (nice, responsible, I should add, though perhaps not the world's best cleaner) to clean it only with a mild soap and gentle sponge.

    Now the pattern on the tub bottom is rather discolored or just somewhat worn off--I can't quite tell which. The area on the tub end nearest the drain is perfect, the part in the middle of the tub is yellowish in places, sort of streaked in others.

    A cleaning lady who came after the tenant left tried a number of cleaning products and it made no difference in this discolored pattern at all.

    QUESTION: Any idea if the appearance of the tub bottom can be improved? Is this sort of wear "normal"?

    I have another tenant who moved in yesterday, but I can take and add a photo on Monday when I go into the apt with a handyman to do some other repairs.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Those non-skid finishes are hard to keep clean. You could try bleach or OxyClean. You might also call Kohler for suggestions.
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  4. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Jun 12, 2006
    I would definitely try bleach. Fill the tub slightly until it just covers the bottom with water and dump in a 1/2 gallon of bleach or more.

    If that doesn't work, try "Iron-Out"--After you drain all the bleach.
  5. Spbphil

    Spbphil New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    Thanks for the quick replies!

    The cleaning lady and I briefly put some bleach on it, but I was afraid of doing some (more) damage. Perhaps the tenant may have rubbed off part of the skid-resistant surface? I'm now suspecting that the problem is not that the skid-resistant surface is dirty, but that the whiter part of the coating has been rubbed off and a darker underlayer is now visible in places. (Bummer!)

    I checked the Kohler site after writing my query, and here's what it says:

    Kohler Cast Iron
    * Rinse thoroughly and use a soft cloth to wipe the
    product dry after each use.
    * In the rare occurrence of stubborn stains, use
    abrasive cleaners sparingly, but not on Safeguard slip-resistant surface.
    * Use a soft nylon brush on the bath bottom’s Safeguard surface.
    * Do not use steel wool, wire brushes or abrasive
    sponge pads.

    Under "Products to Consider" appears only item for the skid-resistant surface:
    "Safeguard® Slip-Resistant Surface:
    RogIII Tub and Tile Cleaner
    (Not sold commercially. Call 1-800-470-8337 to order.)"



    1. I'd like to (at least) make The Problem less visible, so I will try bleach if there is some real hope that this will change the color of the skid-resistant surface. (Or should I order the special RogIII mentioned on the Kohler site? But is it likely to make a difference if the problem is that the skid-resistant surface is worn off?)

    2. I'd also like to know if this situation is rather typical wear, or if I should be p*ssed off at my now-former tenant. I'm not typically a Blamer, and maybe this sort of wear is not so unusual? (Not that I can do anything, really--that bathtub is going to be there for the next 50 years. Now if she had damaged a stove..., that I could replace.)

    PS I was just looking at the Iron-Out product on their website: It says it's for iron and rust removal, which I don't have. I'm now thinking that the discoloration is actually the underlayer of the slip-resistant surface, in which case I may be stuck with the present appearance.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2007
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If the slip-resistant surface is applied after the tub was fired, then you may be able to remove all of it. That would leave you with the enameled surface, in theory anyways, like the rest of the tub. Time to talk with Kohler to see what they recommend.
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Nov 12, 2005
    Unless you told the tennant exactly what to do, info from the Kohler site, they may have thought they were doing what you wanted.

    There is another product called Zud that you may want to try, it has worked numerous times on stains other wise not removable.
  8. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    Bleach is not good

    I dont know if the bleach would be wise...

    it can literally discolor the whole tub
    if it is left in there for a long time....

    perhaps a little ----Muratic Acid???

    just dillute it to half strength bit then use a rag and apply it only to the exact sopt and see what it does...???

    works great on toilet bowls...
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Muriatic acid is great for china lavatories and toilet bowls. It will murder a cast iron glazed finish.
  10. Spbphil

    Spbphil New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    Thanks and update

    Thanks for the reassurance and ideas. The Kohler site says

    Safeguard® Slip-Resistant Surface:
    RogIII Tub and Tile Cleaner
    (Not sold commercially.)
    $39 plus tax and shipping


    I Googled and phoned the one supplier of this cleaner, but had to leave a message. A few days later I got a call from Debbie (1-800-470-8337) who says the surface will probably clean up OK, that this discoloration is not unusual, and that the cleaner kit costs $39. I'll order one and give it a try.
  11. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    I recently installed the Kohler Villager and the same thing happened to me. I was stepping in and out of the tub and the bottom of the tub discolored. I too was pissed. I unfortunetly tried muratic acid and it only helped a little. So that isn't advisable. I can't say that I saw much damage so I hope this isn't going to cause me problems in the future.

    I will never purchase another tub with the skid pads. Rather just throw a rubber mat in there if I feel I need it. Which I don't.

  12. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Ever try the 40% strenght of Hydrogen Peroxide?

  13. Spbphil

    Spbphil New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    Thanks for the ideas and sympathy

    I'll be trying the recommended special cleaner later in the summer. I'll report back if it "really" does the job.

    My concluding thought: Why would a company make a bathtub that, in all likelihood, will be used for a half century, and add a feature that is vulnerable to needing special cleaners and treatment. Doesn't make sense to me.
  14. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    I'll give it a shot. I have a large bottle of pure Hydrogen Peroxide that I use to make scent killer for the hunting season.

  15. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Jun 18, 2007
    Plumber, self employed
    Licensed Grump
  16. Theycallmetak

    Theycallmetak New Member

    Dec 9, 2007
    The slip resistant finish on the Villager can't be removed, it's just part of the finish.

    As for cleaning, before you go with the chemicals or heavy abrasives, try a Mr. Clean magic eraser sponge. Coralite makes them too and they're a bit cheaper but the exact same thing. My parents had 2 extended lip Villagers installed and that's how they keep the bottom of the tubs clean.

    The anti slip finish is textured and as such will trap and show more dirt than the smooth walls of the tub. I'm not sure but I think having that feature is required by law now which would explain why they'll sell a "lifetime warranty" tub that gets dirty so easily.

    Good luck and aloha!
  17. MG

    MG New Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    Illinois - Near St. Louis

    From my earlier homebrewing experience days (before I changed to a non-chlorine based sanitizer), you need a mere 1/4-1/2 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water to remove stains and sanitize a surface. A half gallon in the tub w/just enough water to cover is serious overkill - and is also very rough on any gasket it will come in contact with. Mark is also correct in that it can stain.

    It sounds almost like someone used something harsh on that surface and ruined it. We have a Kohler tub with that textured floor and the best stuff so far has been products designed to remove soap scum. I use one of those sponge scrubbers designed for teflon coated cookware and it works great.
  18. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Jun 12, 2006
    Your stains from brewing were organic. It doesn't take much bleach to remove an organic stain. The stains you get on the bottom of a tub tend to be from ground-in dirt, mineral deposits, or having the finished removed, which may be the case here. In many cases, the only remedy is to cover it with a large rubber mat or refinish the tub. Before I did those things, I would try anything, including concentrated bleach, concentrated hydrogen peroxide, or even a bit of muriatic acid. Using a sponge scrubber at this point is like trying to remove paint with a hair blower.
  19. shoman100

    shoman100 New Member

    Jan 7, 2008
    I have a recently installed Villager that started to accumulate grime at the bottom on the non-skid surface.

    For what it's worth, in my case Tilex soap scum cleaner did a pretty good job of cleaning it off.

    Spray it on, let it foam up and sit for a minute or two, then wipe it up with a soft sponge, rinse away.
  20. alex7

    alex7 New Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    Magic sponge

    ok, I have one of those tubs for 9 years now.
    The tub was always sparkling clean but the non-skid area started to look gray after a while.
    I clean the tub at least twice a week so cleaning habits can not be blamed. I would not blame the tennants.
    I tried every possible chemical I could get my hands on (bleach, peroxide etc)and NOTHING works. Do not spend your time and money.

    The only thing that works is the magic sponge like it was suggested above. It works GREAT and it turns the tub to sparkling white again. However it is a lot of work! You have to slowly scrub the non skid area and you will need more than one sponge, maybe 2 or 3. You have to do this periodically (maybe twice a year?) because no matter how clean you keep the tub the non-skid area will eventually get dirty again. I assume if you keep up will be easier to clean. I just discovered the magic sponge few weeks ago so I am not sure how often I need to do it.

    hope this helps!
  21. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Jun 12, 2006
    What the heck is the "magic sponge?"
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