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How to: Re-caulk a Shower or Tub; The Joy of a Clean Bathroom

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Bathroom Caulk, DIY


You will need:

  • caulk removal (spray - I used Contractor's Solvent),

  • caulk removal tool (preferably metal),

  • new caulk for bathroom surfaces,

  • caulk gun,

  • popsical stick or caulk smoother (you can use a gloved finger),

  • painter’s tape for neat lines, and

  • caulk cap for caulk tube (unless you use the whole tube).

Do you know the joy of having a truly clean bathroom? Of knowing every last inch is actually dust-free, smudge-free, mold-free, and (close to) germ-free?

If you've started keeping up with a regular cleaning schedule (like the one posted here), then maybe you've achieved this near-nirvana state of cleanliness in your whole homestead. But let's be real - there's probably at least one spot that is not quite [near-] perfectly clean just yet. For us, that was the caulk around the bathtub in the bathroom we've taken over while we [ridiculously slowly] remodel our master bath.

Dirty Caulk, DIY Caulk

Uh, yuck. Embarrassing to show this, but it's honest.

So one day, I couldn't stand the grimy caulk, polka-dotted with both black and pink mold, despite my best efforts at scrubbing it out, and I ran over to the local hardware store to pick up supplies. Below is a best practice for redoing bathroom caulk that I arrived at after a few youtube videos, some trials and errors, and my own ideas.

REMOVE & WASH ALL LINENS... and the shower liner (if you have one)

Shower Curtain, Shower Liner

Start by removing the plastic shower liner (if you have one), outer shower curtain, and all used towels and rags from the bathroom and immediately start the washing machine.

To deep clean your plastic shower liner (Don’t toss this in the trash! It’s very simple to clean it up and keep it cleaner for a long time…), make sure to scrub off any visible mold or mildew with a bristle brush before putting it into your washing machine. Wash it separately from everything else using a half a tablespoon of homemade washing detergent, a couple of drops of bleach, and about a half a cup of salt. The detergent cleans it up, the bleach kills any mold or mildew, and the salt will help prevent mold, mildew, and soap scum buildup in the future.

The shower liner comes out of the washer super clean, and I hung mine outside to dry on the line. (Do NOT put it in your dryer, for heaven’s sake, unless you’d like a melted molten blob of plastic to scrape out of your dryer.) If you do not have a line outside for drying, you can always hang the shower liner back up in your shower to dry, once you've finished the cleaning and caulking process.

If you have a glass door, instead of a shower liner, clean the glass thoroughly with your all-purpose cleaner (vinegar works very well at cleaning glass), and let it dry completely.

SUPPLIES (see top)

While the liner is washing, run out and grab caulk removal supplies from your local hardware if you haven't already.


Caulk Removal, Contractor's Solvent

The METAL caulk-remover is key here. I started with a plastic one that promptly broke.

Follow the instructions on the Contractor's Solvent, spraying evenly along the caulk to be removed, and let it sit for as long as you can wait (the solvent says it starts working immediately, but the longer you wait, the more it allows the solvent to break the bond between the caulk and the surface caulked. I could only for about 20 minutes before I had to get in there and start scraping). Then, methodically scrape out the caulk with the metal tool and wipe away the gunk with an old rag that you can toss in the garbage (there is a fair amount of gunk, so the rag gets trashed).

Caulk Removal Tool


Scrub Brush, Scrubbing

Mix up a solution of about 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and scrub along the caulk line with a bristle brush to both clean off the extra gunk and kill any mold or mildew that might be left behind. You want a clean surface on which your new caulk will be applied. Let all surfaces dry thoroughly before you get back in there and start caulking.


Anchoring Painter's Tape, Painter's Tape

Anchor a piece of painter's tape beyond the edge of where you will be caulking,

Painter's Tape, DIY Caulk

unroll the painter's tape a good stretch (about 2 feet at a time),


and tack down the tape in even, strait lines just above and below the area you will caulk (don't forget around the soap dish, if you have one).


Now you get to caulk.

Snip off the end of the caulk tube's point (normally the caulk gun has a snipper, but a tough scissors works fine, too), and load the caulk tube into your caulk gun.

Caulk Gun, DIY Caulk

Line up the snipped off point of the caulk tube in between your lines of painter's tape and GENTLY squeeze the trigger of the gun. As soon as caulk starts coming out of the tip, you need to move steadily, but not too quickly.

Caulking the Tub, DIY Caulk

Drag the caulk gun at an even pace with an even pressure on the trigger (you'll have to resqueeze the trigger from time to time, much like a glue gun) down the length of your taped areas in as few strokes as possible (one long, even go is the best).

Caulk Smoother, DIY Caulk

Immediately go back with a caulk smoother, and with a medium pressure (you want contact with your painter's tape and the caulk smoother so that you get smooth surfaces when finished), glide along the wet caulk with another rag or paper towel at the ready to wipe extra caulk off of your tool. Be careful to keep all wet caulk between the tape lines. You'll also want to do this in as few strokes as possible, for a nice, smooth finished line.

Caulked Tub, DIY Caulk

Tape Removal, DIY Caulk

Once you've caulked all areas and the caulk is still wet, carefully pull off all of the painter's tape, and toss it in the trash.

Caulk Cap, DIY Caulk

If you did not use the entire tube of caulk, cap it off with a cap to save for a later use.

Fresh Caulking, DIY Caulk
Fresh Caulking, DIY Caulk

All done! To be safe, wait 24 hours before using any water in or around the shower/tub, but now you have beautiful, crisp, clean caulking around your bathtub (or shower)!

Keep it clean by keeping up with the cleaning schedule, and if you notice any dark or pink spots forming, immediately wipe it down with vinegar or a diluted solution of bleach.

#howto #DIY #bathroom #cleaning #caulk #deepclean #homeimprovement #homestead #caulking #caulkremoval

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