Stained shower: how to remove tobacco stains & discoloration from fiberglass shower.


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Old 01-27-07, 09:13 AM
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Stained shower: how to remove tobacco stains & discoloration from fiberglass shower.

Help!
I am trying to restore/clean up a bathroom and a fiberglass shower that has years of tobacco stains and other stains. The painted walls, ceiling and shower basin have come clean, removing years of tobacco and other stains. I've tried, I think, everything--from dutch cleansers (with or without bleach), bleach sprayed directly onto the surfaces, fiberglass cleaners, auto. wheel cleaners. I first sprayed on clorox bleach cleanser and left it on (I didn't think it would react that way--thinking I could come back later and rinse it off easily.) It managed to leave a several spots whiter and created streaks after drying that I now can't get off. I've tried to scoure the surfaces with a scouring pad and Comet cleanser, with an auto. compound paste--nothing is working to get it back to a white or uniform surface. Is it b/c it's a plastic-like resin and therfore is permanently stained or discolored--embedded into the fiberglass?
Any suggestions to get it back to white, removing the streaks and discolorations will be greatly appreciated. Why did some areas get clean, while other areas seem permanently stained?
 

Last edited by zip; 01-27-07 at 09:15 AM. Reason: info. added to Title line
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Old 01-27-07, 10:30 AM
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"Tobacco stains and other stains" on fiberglass? Tobacco stains should have already been removed by your cleaning. These are a brownish yellow oily residue that is usually removed by a harsh detergent or degreaser. The 'other stains' could be discoloration from hard water minerals such as iron.

The use of bleach or cleaners containing bleach can set iron stains. Try BarKeeper's Friend or Zud, both contain oxalic acid for removing rust. These are powdered cleansers that can be applied to wet surface with sponge to make a paste and left to set. They work well on other stains, too. Then, scrub with sponge, scrubbie, or soft brush and a little elbow grease. Repeat if stains appear to lighten. Some report success using CLR (calcium, lime, rust remover) or similar product such as Whink for rust and minerals in showers.

It is best to avoid abrasive cleaners on fiberglass. It is coated with a thin gel coat to seal. Once the gel coat becomes abraded or worn thin, the surface becomes absorbent of stains. This is a common problem on the tub/shower bottom where people tend to scrub harder and harder water minerals literally sandblast the gel coat. Once protective gel coat is removed, the fiberglass substrate absorbs oils, soils, and stains.

"Why did some areas get clean, while other areas seem permanently stained?" The areas that appeared to be cleaner were areas where the cleaner remained wetter for a longer period of time. The streaks are where the areas that had heavier application of cleaner ran down the shower walls. Most people do not give cleaners the time they need to do the job of emulsifying and dissolving surface soil, scum, mineral deposits, and stains.

"I first sprayed on clorox bleach cleanser and left it on (I didn't think it would react that way--thinking I could come back later and rinse it off easily.) It managed to leave a several spots whiter and created streaks after drying that I now can't get off." When applying cleansers to shower walls and allowing them time to set, it is important to repeat applications during this time to keep all the surfaces wet with cleaner. The cleaners tend to dry fairly rapidly on surfaces, so reapplication is necessary to keep all surfaces wet with cleaner and to maintain even application.

There have been recent forum posts where posters reported success removing scum buildup and stains from fiberglass tub/shower units with the no-fume spray oven cleaner. If used, spray on surfaces, taking care not to get on surrounding surfaces, and let set. Repeat application as instructed above to keep surfaces evenly coated with cleaner and give it time to emulsify. Then, scrub with scrubbie or soft brush. Rinse and dry. Make sure you use the 'no fume,' as it is noncaustic.
 
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Old 01-30-07, 06:38 AM
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thanks but still no luck

Thanks for your information and your reccommendations. I think using some of these products mentioned can be very hazardous unless maybe used for its true, intended application (ie., oven cleaner for ovens, greasy BBQ, etc. lime/rust away products for applications other than vertical walls, etc.)

I tried soft liquid-paste Zud with a scouring non-abrasive, plastic pad, Whink (which spattered some on my face after squeezing the product out of the bottle onto the side shower panel--had to call a Poison Control center b/c of the hydrofloric acid contained in the product to dissolve rust and maybe the people applying it too... (if this happens: flush it off with water--see Warnings on label, then crush 10 Tums or calcium carbonate (500mg.) without the added peppermint, fruit flavor, etc.-- the cal. carbonate acts to bind with the floride component, mix it in with a h2o-based jelly, K-Y or similar--apply to the area in question--this will help neutralize the burning sensation, but don't listen to me, call a poison control center, AND always wear: rubber gloves, eye protection and keep it away from you and your face/skin, wearing clothes to cover arms and legs, etc., plus always use in a ventilated area and get fresh air immed. after noticing any funky, chemical-like smell--all of which I did). Plus, another rust stain-remover product like Whink that gave me a nasty head conjestion/respritory feeling plus headache, even with proper ventilation, just like Whink did too. I tried vapor-friendly oven cleaner, mucho elbow grease, tons of h2o spray to keep all surfaces wet.
I am wondering if these fiberglass stain remover products advt. on the web(Davis FSR for example) that are a gel, if left to work longer would do it. I didn't notice any significant change in the fiberglass after using the products you suggested, allowing them time to work and applying enough force and elbow grease to get me a contract playing pro football.

I think I now have the cleanest shower in the land, a super-white basin, but (I think do to some past cleaning, build up, aging, use, the water-soaps-minerals, even maybe the tobacco, etc., that after the heavy spray applications of Chlorox round-up bleach cleaner I tried initially, and then leaving it to dry, may have caused irreversable harm to the fiberglass surfaces, with the gel coat maybe being comprimised--either was already bad or the bleach cleaner nailed it, and thus leaving some areas bleached-out white, other areas a discolored tan-like color, and other areas set-in and permanently streaked. I think I am going to go nuts trying to figure this out. Time to move on and take a class in ceramics...least the stuff is real and non-toxic and easily replacable
 
 

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