How to Remove Soap Scum

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Find out how to remove stubborn soap scum from all your bathroom surfaces and stop it from coming back.

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 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.

What Causes Soap Scum?

The name soap scum is 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 isn’t the soap. It’s actually the 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. Add dead skin, body oils and dirt to the mix, and you’ve got a real mess. The longer you let soap scum build up, the thicker it gets and the harder it is to remove. That’s why you should tackle soap scum as soon as it appears.

How to Remove Soap Scum

Glass Shower Doors

In a spray bottle, combine two cups of vinegar and two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap. Vinegar’s high acidic content eats away at hard water minerals and soap residue, while the dish soap adds extra cleaning power while helping the mixture stick to the glass.

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.

Tile

If you’ve got a thick layer of soap scum on your tile walls, gently remove it with a plastic scraper tool. After that, 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 penetrates soap scum while killing viruses and bacteria. Scrub with a sponge, then rinse. For a porcelain tub, add salt to the mixture for extra scrubbing power

Bathtub

The same product you used in the shower works for the tub. For another homemade solution, grab the baking soda. Its gentle abrasive power is no match for soap scum.

Mix enough water with about 1/3 cup of baking soda to make a thick paste. With a sponge or microfiber cloth, rub the paste on the bathtub. Let it sit a few minutes, then rinse. If it’s a porcelain tub, add salt to the mixture for extra scrubbing power. (Don’t use salt on a fiberglass tub; it can scratch the surface).

How to Prevent Soap Scum

  • Consider switching to liquid soap or shower gel, which don’t create 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 makes water bead and slide off the glass, preventing soap scum stains.
  • For a long-term solution, install a water softener to get rid of those hard minerals.

Best Soap Scum Removers

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Erica Young
Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.