Posted on 11 Comments

Cleaning a Second Hand Bath

I wanted to call this article “a restoration of an old bath”, but decided that was false advertising. In the end, we just gave it a really good scrub. It’s amazing what just cleaning a second hand bath can do for it!

As mentioned in our post on our plans for our retro guest bathroom, we have a few old second hand baths in our yard. We got them from a DIY Aquaponics kit that Small Scale Engineering dismantled on behalf of a customer. We are planning on setting up the set for our own vegetable garden, but cannot do so yet as it requires moving a shed and building a fish pond. So, for the last year, we stored the baths, stacked up out in the sun, while they gathered dust and rain water. They take up too much space for us to store them anywhere indoors.

before cleaning a second hand bath
Lots of dirt to be found in the various baths!

Actually, storing them outside was to our advantage because we could use some of that not-intentionally stored rain water to cast concrete at our social distancing concrete party. Win!

These baths had previously been used to hold stones and plants, so they were quite damaged. Were any of them in a good enough condition to be used in a bathroom once again?

Checking for Damage

The first thing we did was look for the bath in the best condition. We had a few to choose from. Many had quite severe cracks in the fibreglass due to the fact that they were 1) second hand to begin with before 2) stones were thrown in for the growing of plants.

The bath we really wanted to use, was sadly cracked. It had the nicest backrest and had a corrugated section on the bottom of the bath making it a bit safer to use.

But we did find one that had a few scratches but no cracks! We took out the drain fittings to make sure it wasn’t cracked around there and are very happy to report that it was in surprisingly good condition.

Could we get it clean?

Cleaning Out A Second Hand Bath

We were not sure if we would be able to get all the marks out of the bath. Obviously, as it had been used in an outdoor environment for quite some time, the marks were quite severe and orange in colour around the edges, where the water level had been sitting.

A bit of time spent scrubbing out with Handy Andy, and it is looking much better!

cleaning a second hand bath
Much more acceptable!

Kevin has also spent some time polishing the bath with a buffing machine and some good quality car polish. However, there are still a few scratches that cannot be removed. We could not get out all the stains and there are a few light ones left. I am sure we would eventually get the stains out if the bath is used.

buffing a second hand bath
The last step; buffing

Should We Use The Bath – What Do You Think?

We would be very happy to be able to use this bath in our retro bathroom. We would have once again reached our goal of using something second-hand. However, some deeper scratches remain, so we are in two minds.

What do you think? Do you think we should use this bath as a bath? Or should we put it back with the Aquaponics kit and find something else?

Only problem; it’s impossible to take photos of the scratches so we can’t show you the extent of the damage. They are easier to feel than to see.

11 thoughts on “Cleaning a Second Hand Bath

  1. Fibreglass – hell no.

    I would only throw money at cast iron victorian style slipper baths.
    I have one in excellent condition in my garage under a pile of things, waiting for the main house to be built.

    I also have another cast iron in the garden I put out for the bee’s to drink from, both have decent enamel without issues. The good thing about them is that they’re heavy, and made to last.

    1. That’s very cool and will be a real treat once installed. The only problem is that the cold iron makes the water cool down faster so you have to take that into account when running the bath

  2. Ashley, I think you have that the wrong way around.

    Cast iron retains the heat due to mass. – Cast iron bathtubs have the highest heat retention, meaning your bathtub will keep warm for that much longer.

    Fibreglass on the other hand doesn’t retain heat, and the water gets colder faster.

    Cast iron is *substantially* heavier though, so needs extra support if going on a second floor.

    1. Once it had warmed up, yes 😁

  3. The cast iron will absorb heat rather quickly to begin with, so running hotter water initially would be necessary. However, the cast iron will then start returning some of that heat as the water cools down.
    If you want to soak for a longer period, then the cast iron bath will probably allow a longer warm soak than the glass fiber bath will.
    That’s what we experienced when we threw out our cast iron bath. it may also depend upon the thickness of the bath walls. Thicker walls would absorb and store more heat in the iron bath, while thicker walls in the g/fiber bath would insulate better, slowing down heat loss. It’s your choice. Have fun.

    1. Lol. I think affordability and availability is more than question than choice!

  4. It’s about the thermal mass.

    Both will absorb heat from the water, fibreglass doesn’t have much if any, and heat will radiate straight out, so would get colder faster – you’ll be losing heat as you fill in fact.
    I’m not sure of the R rating for a fibreglass bath, but its definitely a great deal less than iron.

    The Cast Iron will store the heat transferred, so will stay hot for longer.

    If fibreglass is the only solution, then my suggestion would be to insulate the heck out it, so that the heat radiation is far reduced. Stuff as much insulation as possible underneath the bath.

    I’d recommend the green plastic stuff (Isotherm), over fibreglass.

  5. Well, the photos may not show every little scratch but it looks pretty close to brand new from where I’m sitting. You did a really good job cleaning it up. If you do decide to go for a new bath instead, I think this will still make a really cool addition to your garden. I’ve never seen baths used as flower/veg beds before but it sounds quirky and fun.

    1. Isn’t it nice to know it will have a use either way? πŸ’š

  6. I think u did a great job.Your bathroom is supposed be be retro so a brand new bath would be out of place anyway.Keep up the good work😊

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it’s a tough decision

What do you think? Let us know!