There is only one way to never see soap scum in a bathroom; don't allow anyone to use soap and water! Soap scum happens when the fatty ingredients in bar soap react with minerals in water and cling to surfaces. If you must rely on a hard water source, there will be more soap scum; and when it is allowed to build up and harden, removing it can be difficult.
Let's learn how to remove soap scum from every bathroom surface, from glass shower doors, to fiberglass tubs/showers, to natural stone... and ceramic tile, to metal bathroom fixtures and shower curtains.
01 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Glass Shower Doors
There are plenty of commercial cleaners that promise to remove soap scum from glass shower enclosures. Most of them do a good job if used weekly or more often. The key is to follow product directions and give the cleaner time to work before wiping or rinsing away.
If you would prefer to make your own cleaner, just head to the pantry for some baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into a small plastic bowl and add about 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar, or just enough... to form a thick paste. The mixture will fizz and when it stops, dip a microfiber cloth or sponge into the paste and apply to the glass doors. Let the paste remain on the glass enclosure for at least 15 minutes. Then wipe down the surfaces with a microfiber cloth and plain water. Rinse very well and dry completely to prevent spotting.
If the soap scum is particularly heavy, make the baking soda and vinegar paste as directed: In a separate bowl, pour out 1/2 to 1 cup of table salt. After dipping your sponge or cleaning cloth in the baking soda mixture, dip it in the table salt and begin cleaning. The table salt will add a bit more abrasiveness to the mixture, which will help to cut through the build up.
For daily cleaning, mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of water and one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle. After a shower, spray the solution on the glass and allow to work for several minutes and then rinse with hot water. Dry the glass completely.
One of the toughest parts of a shower stall to clean is the tracks of sliding glass doors. You can use a commercial cleaner or your homemade mixture and an old toothbrush to reach all the tight spaces. Again, give the cleaner plenty of time to work and then rinse with plain water and dry well with a cloth or paper towel wrapped around the toothbrush to absorb all the moisture.
02 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Fiberglass Shower Enclosures
Fiberglass tubs and showers are a durable and cost-effective addition to bathrooms. However, fiberglass finishes can quickly become dull due to soap scum, and fiberglass can not stand up to harsh cleaners and abrasive scouring pads.
There are commercial cleaners made especially for fiberglass enclosures, or you can use homemade cleaning solutions.
For weekly cleaning, make a paste of baking soda and white distilled vinegar (1 cup baking soda to 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar). When it stops... foaming, spread the paste on the floor and walls of the enclosure with a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth. Allow to work for 10 minutes and then rinse away. Dry the surfaces completely with a soft towel.
If you have missed a few cleanings and the soap scum is heavy, mix a tablespoon or more of hydrogen peroxide into the baking soda/vinegar paste. Spread the mixture on the fiberglass enclosure and let it work for 15-30 minutes. Rinse well.
For tough stains left by bath products sitting on a shelf or floor, grab some borax from the laundry room and add a bit of lemon juice to form a paste. Spread the mixture on the stain and allow to work for 15 minutes before wiping away with a microfiber cloth. Rinse well and buff dry.
03 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Metal Shower and Sink Fixtures
Soap scum and water spots show up very clearly on metal shower heads and faucet handles. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning, but here are some tips on how to remove soap scum and mineral build-up:
Remove Soap Scum From Chrome and Stainless Steel Fixtures
Undiluted distilled white vinegar is best to cut through soap scum and mineral deposits on these protected metal finishes. For crusty showerheads, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and attach the bag over the fixture... using a rubber band with the shower head completely submerged in the vinegar. Allow the vinegar to work for at least one hour and then remove the bag. Rinse the surfaces with plain water and dry with a soft cloth or towel.
Remove Soap Scum From Oil-Rubbed and Brass Fixtures
Because these finishes tend to change color over time, dilute the distilled vinegar with an equal amount of water. To remove tough spots, mix a paste of baking soda and distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. Use a non-abrasive cloth or sponge to apply the mixture. Let it dry and then rinse and buff with a soft, dry cloth.
For fixtures with oil-rubbed bronze or brass finishes, it is often recommended that you use only water for cleaning. This is especially true of fixtures with "living finishes" that are intended to change over time. Refer to the manufacturer's care instructions since cleansers can damage a specialty surface. And if in doubt, always test a cleaning product on an inconspicuous part of the fixture so that any damage to the finish is hard to spot.
04 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Ceramic Tile
Glazed ceramic tile and porcelain tubs are hard finishes that make removing soap scum easier than other finishes. You can use commercial soap scum removers or a homemade version of baking soda and distilled white vinegar.
If you have discovered really heavy soap scum, you can actually use a wet pumice stone to carefully remove the buildup. NEVER use the stone when it is dry or excessive scratching can occur and NEVER use a pumice stone on a fiberglass tub or shower.
Wet the pumice stone and the... tile or porcelain surface. Gently–very gently–rub the wet stone over the soap scum. Work in a small area and as the scum is transferred to the stone, rinse the stone in plain water and scrub the stone with a stiff-bristled brush. Move to the next area. Finish by wiping down the tub with distilled white vinegar to remove the final traces of soap scum and then rinse with plain water and dry with a soft cloth.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Natural Stone Tiles
Natural stone lends a luxurious spa feel to a bath. But depending on the stone and how it is sealed, water spotting and soap scum can be a problem.
Most commercial market shelf soap scum removers should not be used on natural stone. They can be abrasive, damage finishes and leave the stone looking dull and chalky.
Instead, opt for a natural stone cleaner. Follow product instructions for dilution and cleaning. You will have the most success if the cleaner is used weekly to prevent excessive buildup... of soap scum.
06 of 06
How to Remove Soap Scum From Fabric and Plastic Shower Curtains
Soap scum can cling to plastic shower liners and even fabric shower curtains. It's distilled white vinegar to the rescue again. Just remove the curtains from any curtain rings or rods and get to work.
For plastic liners and shower curtains, use equal amounts distilled white vinegar and plain water. In a bathtub, large plastic container or washing machine drum, mix enough of the solution to completely cover the submerged plastic curtain. Allow to soak for at least eight hours (overnight is... better). Toss into the washer with a few towels and wash on a warm water cycle. Hang to drip dry. NEVER place a plastic shower curtain in a clothes dryer.
For fabric curtains, follow the washing instructions on the tag but add in 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the washer drum at the beginning of the cycle. This will help cut through any soap scum build-up. Hang to drip dry or toss in a tumble dryer for a few minutes to remove wrinkles. Do not overdry. Remove while still slightly damp and hang to dry.