How to Remove Soap Scum
Find out how to remove stubborn soap scum from all your bathroom surfaces—and stop it from coming back.
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Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the never-ending battle with soap scum! The white, chalky film appears everywhere you use soap—and in a bathroom, that can prove to be a challenge.
We’re diving deep into the soapy sludge to help you get rid of soap scum efficiently, and practice methods that prevent it from coming back.
Here’s our full guide on how to clean your bathroom.
What Causes Soap Scum?
The name soap scum is pretty self-explanatory: It’s scum caused by soap. But why does something we use to clean our bodies wreak such havoc on our bathroom surfaces? The problem is not actually caused by the soap, but by minerals in your water (especially if you have hard water).
Calcium and magnesium combine with soap residue to create a sticky mixture that bonds to glass, shower walls, fiberglass tubs and faucets. To make it worse, dead skin, body oils and dirt are also added to the mix. The result: soap scum. When not properly cleaned, it can build up in layers of gunk and become thick and difficult to remove. That’s why you should tackle soap scum as soon as it appears.
How to Remove Soap Scum
Glass Shower Doors
Vinegar has a high acidic content which is effective at eating away hard water minerals and soap residue. In a spray bottle, combine 2 cups of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap (the dish soap helps the mixture stick to the glass and adds extra cleaning power). Spray the mixture on the shower glass. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to do its thing. Then, scrub the glass with a sponge, and rinse thoroughly. Use a squeegee to dry and get a clear finish.
Read our guide on how to clean a glass shower door.
If there is a thick layer of soap scum on your tile walls, gently scrape it off with a plastic scraper tool. This helps get rid of most of the build-up, so you can tackle the base layer of scum and make your tile shine.
After scraping, spray on a soap scum removing product; our favorite is Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Grime Fighter. The foam sticks to tile walls to penetrate soap scum while also killing viruses and bacteria. Scrub with a sponge, then rinse. For a porcelain tub, you can add salt to the mixture for extra scrubbing power
You can use the same product in the bathtub that you used in the shower. For another homemade solution, though, grab the baking soda. The gentle abrasive power of baking soda is no match for soap scum.
Mix enough water with about 1/3 cup of baking soda to make a thick paste. Use a sponge or microfiber cloth to rub the paste on the bathtub. Let it sit a few minutes, then rinse. If you have a porcelain tub, you can add salt to the mixture for extra scrubbing power (don’t use salt on a fiberglass tub because it can scratch the surface).
How to Prevent Soap Scum
- Consider switching to liquid soap or shower gel, which don’t cause as much soap scum as bar soap.
- About once a month, apply a water-repellent like Rain-X to your glass shower doors. Rain-X causes water to bead and slide off the glass, preventing soap scum stains.
- For a long term solution to soap scum, install a water softener and get rid of those hard water minerals that contribute to soap scum.
Best Soap Scum Removers
- Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Grime Fighter penetrates soap scum and disinfects at the same time.
- Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser is mildly abrasive and contains oxalic acid to cut through soap scum.
- Rejuvenate Soap Scum Remover is a miracle worker! Spray it on your shower doors, tile and fixtures; wait three minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.