How to Clean and Remove Soap Scum Off Every Bathroom Surface

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It's an unfortunate part of life that doing what is best for your body and your mind, keeping clean becomes the source of a major cleaning problem in your bathroom, especially when it hardens. 

Soap scum. Just saying the words makes us cringe, but there isn't anything we can do about it. It's a part of life that we just have to accept happens. We don't, however, have to live with it because it can be eliminated. 

Here's some advice on how to remove and clean soap scum in your bathroom.

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What is Soap Scum?

That lovely opaque layer of gunk that forms in showers, on shower curtains, sinks, and tubs is not caused by soap at all. Rather, it forms when the fatty acids and other ingredients in a bar of soap combine with the minerals found in hard water, such as calcium and magnesium, and this mixture becomes stuck on surfaces. 

Although we'd prefer not to think about it, soap scum also contains body oils, hair, dead skin, and dirt. Quite a repulsive mixture.

At worst, this white-grey colored scum attracts mold and even algae which then attach themselves to it. If left untouched, this combination can turn an interesting array of colors and begin to give out an unpleasant odor.

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How to Clean Soap Scum From Every Bathroom Surface

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1. Glass Shower Doors

While there is an abundance of commercial cleaning compounds that guarantee they will rid glass shower doors of soap scum the majority of them actually work pretty well. This is if they are used on a weekly basis or more frequently. This is conditional on your following the directions that come with the product and allow the cleaner enough time to do its job before rinsing it away.

If like a lot of people you want to make your own cleaner, it only takes baking soda and distilled white vinegar. All that's required is to take a small plastic bowl and pour in one cup of baking soda, then add 1/4 a cup of distilled white vinegar, or merely enough to create a thick paste. When the mixture stops fizzing, dip a microfiber cloth or sponge into it and rub onto the glass doors. 

Allow the paste to remain there for about 15 mins. Then wipe down the surface with water and a microfiber cloth. Be sure to rinse well and dry totally in order to keep spotting from occurring.

When it comes to your everyday cleaning, simply put one cup of vinegar, one cup of water, and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid into a spray bottle. Once you've taken your shower, spray the mixture onto the glass and let set for several mins, then use hot water and rinse. Wipe totally dry.

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2. Fiberglass Shower Enclosures

Fiberglass showers and tubs are a long lasting and affordable addition to any bathroom. Unfortunately, fiberglass finishes can swiftly turn dull due to the damage inflicted by soap scum, and fiberglass cannot tolerate powerful cleaners and abrasive scouring pads.

There is a solution to this, however. There are many commercial cleaning products made especially for fiberglass enclosures, or you also have the option of making your own.

It's really not difficult. To do your weekly cleaning, create a paste consisting of one cup baking soda and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Allow it to stop foaming, then use a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth to spread the paste on the walls and floor of the enclosure. Give it 10 mins to work, then rinse and dry using a soft towel.

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3. Oil-Rubbed and Brass Fixtures

When it comes to fixtures with an oil-rubbed bronze or brass finish, it is highly advised that you only use water to clean them. This is particularly true concerning fixtures with what is referred to as "living finishes" that are meant to change over time. Carefully read over the manufacturer's care instructions because cleansers can harm a specialty surface. 

Experiencing doubt? Don't worry. Just test a cleaning product on a part of the fixture that won't be very prominent so that in case any damage occurs it will be difficult to notice.

Prefer to battle soap scum with a home derived mixture, merely dilute vinegar by adding an equal amount of water.

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4. Metal Shower and Sink Fixtures

It won't take long for water spots and soap scum to appear on metal shower heads and also faucet handles. Be absolutely certain to always adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for proper cleaning, but below are some suggestions on how best to eliminate soap scum and mineral build-up.

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5. Chrome and Stainless Steel Fixtures  

You will find that undiluted vinegar is ideal to slice through soap scum and mineral deposits on these specially protected metal finishes. For filthy shower heads, just load a plastic bag with vinegar and place it directly over the fixture keeping it in place with a rubber band, and with the shower head entirely covered by the vinegar. 

Give this about one hour to work and then take the bag off. Use water to rinse the surfaces and a soft cloth to dry them.

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6. Ceramic Tiles

With porcelain tubs and glazed ceramic tiles, their hard finishes make eliminating soap scum a lot simpler than other finishes. It's okay if you want to use store bought soap scum removers or a homemade mixture of white vinegar and baking soda.

If you are dealing with an extremely heavy buildup of soap scum, you can use a wet pumice stone to gently remove it. Do not make the mistake of using the stone if it is dry. There is a reason it must be wet. This is because severe scratching can take place. Furthermore, never use a pumice stone on a tub or shower that is made of fiberglass. That would be a huge error.

Begin by wetting both the tile or porcelain surface and the pumice stone. Carefully, very gently, rub the wet stone over the area affected by soap scum. Work in a small area and move on gradually. When the soap scum gathered on the stone, use water to rinse the stone and scrub it with a brush with stiff bristles. 

When you are done, wipe the tub down with vinegar to eliminate remaining traces of soap scum, then use plain water to rinse, and dry using a soft cloth.

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7. Natural Stone Tiles

If you want to bring an opulent feeling to your bath, then natural stone is the way to go. However, there is a problem involved. Depending on the type of stone and the manner in which it is sealed, water spotting and soap scum buildup can become an issue.

It would be a mistake to use most store bought soap scum removers on natural stone. They are known for being abrasive, and can harm the finish, leaving the stone with a chalky, dull appearance.

Choose a natural stone cleaner instead. Be sure that you strictly follow the instructions on the product for proper dilution and cleaning. It is best to use the cleaner on a weekly basis to keep excessive buildup of soap scum from taking place.

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8. Shower Curtains

When it comes to how to clean soap scum from shower curtains and plastic liners, all it takes is a mixture equal parts vinegar and plain water. Using a large plastic container, or in the bathtub, make enough of the solution to entirely cover the plastic curtain. 

Let it soak for 8 hours, and overnight if you can manage it. Put the curtain into the washer and wash using your normal laundry detergent and warm water. Allow to drip dry.

When dealing with curtains made of fabric, adhere to the instructions on the tag as to how it should be washed, but add one cup of vinegar at the start of the washing cycle. Doing this will cut through any buildup of soap scum. Allow to drip dry or throw in a dryer for a few minutes to get rid of wrinkles. Be careful not to overdry and remove from the dryer while it is still damp and hang to finish drying.

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How to Create Your Own Homemade Soap Scum Cleaner

If you should prefer DIY cleaners, here are some recipes:

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Vinegar and baking soda

  1. Take a small bowl and put a cup of baking soda into it.
  2. Then add enough white vinegar to create a paste.
  3. When the mixture ceases to fizz, take a sponge and apply it to your tub and shower. Let it set for around 15 mins.
  4. Use a non-scratch sponge for wiping the surfaces off, rinse completely with plain water, then dry.

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Dish detergent and vinegar

  1. Place equal amounts of water and vinegar into a spray bottle, then add one tablespoon of dish washing soap.
  2. Spray the mixture onto the soap scum, and let it sit for 15 mins.
  3. Then use a scrub brush with soft bristles to scrub it.
  4. Finally rinse it off with hot water before drying it well.
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How to Prevent Soap Scum

Here are some suggestions that can aid you in handling buildup by keeping soap scum from forming to begin with:

  1. Replace bar soap with liquid soap - It's the fatty acids and talc in bar soap that lead to soap scum, so if you change over to using a liquid soap or shower gel, you will notice a big decrease in soap scum.
  2. Keep your tub and shower dry - Sponge or towel dry your shower and tub every time you use them. This is a good idea because you'll simply be eliminating a large amount of the particles that make soap scum which are left behind after a shower or bath, so your level of buildup will greatly decrease.
  3. Soften the water - Since soap scum loves hard water, one method of stopping it in its tracks is to install a water softener, which will eliminate those minerals in your water that react with soap to create soap scum.
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Say Goodbye to Soap Scum

While the chore of removing soap scum from bathroom surfaces is not a fun undertaking, we have tried to provide you with some suggestions for how to remove and clean soap scum in your bathroom. 

As with any other household chore, the bottom line is that you must put some time and effort into the process in order to make it effective, no matter which way you choose to go. However, this article has given you some great ways to save time and energy while doing this unappealing household task.

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