An expert explains what causes them and offers advice for getting rid of these nuisances once and for all.

white bathroom with black accents and honeycomb tiles

It's frustrating, but common—over time, streaks appear down the sides of your bathtub or on your shower surround. These marks, which are caused by a compound of various oils, soaps, and build up, can be unsightly and keep your tub from looking clean. Fortunately, Jenna Arkin, the Vice President of Innovation at ECOS, has some advice that can help you remove them from your tub for good.

Reasons and Removal

"Natural body oils and soils that have been washed away from the skin with soap" are the culprits behind those streaks, explains Arkin. Ceramic tubs are especially prone to these unsightly marks; they attract soap molecules, which can easily get stuck to your tub, our pro notes. To remove them, Arkin suggests using a product that has a gentle scrubbing action and will form "a scrubbing layer" that can pick up stuck-on stains, ensuring that they rinse away down the drain. For stubborn spots, a little elbow grease—and a more abrasive tool, like a scrub brush—may do the trick.


Along with oils and soap scum, hard water stains also contribute to streaks; they can accumulate into difficult-to-remove grime over several days. To prevent these tougher streaks from forming in the first place, Arkin suggests regularly spraying down your tub with a rinse-free cleaner. For the best results, she suggests doing this while your tub and surround are still wet. "After bathing or showering, spray down all wet surfaces before you leave. The cleaner will break down stuck-on soils so they rinse down the drain," she says. "On shower doors that are prone to water spotting, spray the cleaner and use a squeegee to ensure all water spots are removed from the surface."

It's an extra step to your bathing routine, but one that comes in handy in the long run. "The best cleaning tricks are ones that save time and are easy to incorporate into your regular routines," notes Arkin. Not only will this make it easier the next time you give your tub a good scrub, but it will keep your bath looking cleaner for longer.

Slippery When Wet

When removing streaks, be mindful of the products you use—it's especially important to use water-based cleansers when treating and cleaning your bathroom, since they are less likely to leave surfaces sticky and create a slipping hazard, adds Arkin (who says that skipping oil-based products is a must in this area). Water-based cleansers will be labeled as such, or simply have a W on the label. The same goes for solvent-based cleaners, which may be marked with the letter S.


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