How to Clean a Bathtub Overflow Drain

Updated April 11, 2018

The bathtub overflow drain is susceptible to the same scum, lime and rust stains as other bathroom fixtures due to hard water and soap detergents. Residue and moisture create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so cleaning the overflow drain plate is important, especially if you like to take baths. The best way to clean any kitchen or bathroom fixture is with natural, homemade solutions, as they are nontoxic, inexpensive and accessible. A homemade cleaning solution is also less harsh on the environment, your health and your bathroom, and with a little bit of elbow grease it can go a long way in keeping your overflow drain plate clean.

Mix the lemon juice and baking soda in a container to form a paste.

Wet the toothbrush bristles with a little bit of water and dip the head into the paste.

Rub the paste around the overflow drain plate. Cover the perimeter of the plate with sufficient paste and let it sit for 1 minute.

Scrub the paste with the toothbrush, working on the area around and underneath the drain as well as the surface of the drain plate.

Rinse off the drain with an extendable shower hose, or wipe it down with a damp, clean rag to remove the paste.

Pour vinegar onto a clean rag and wipe the drain down to remove any white residue from the baking soda. Vinegar will add additional cleaning power plus shine.


Use a toothbrush with a tapered head to reach into crevices. Regular bristles, not soft, are recommended. Use protective gloves to keep bacteria out of your fingernails. The natural cleaning agents will not burn skin, but may dry hands. The smell of vinegar can be overwhelming. Use apple vinegar instead of white, or add lemon juice to the vinegar to tone down the odour.


Do not bring your face too close to the drain while scrubbing, as the bristles may cause grime to fly.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • Small container or bowl
  • Old toothbrush
  • Clean towel/rag
  • Vinegar
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About the Author

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.