Soap scum is an insoluble curd that is formed from the combination of hard water elements (calcium and magnesium) and soap. It’s commonly found in the bathrooms, tubs, shower walls, shower doors, and sinks of homes with untreated water. The amount of buildup that occurs depends on a few factors, such as the level of water hardness, frequency of bathroom use and frequency of cleanup. The longer one waits to clean soap scum, the harder it becomes to clean it. . . literally it becomes harder and harder with time so it’s harder to clean up. Not only is it unsightly, it “has been reported to constitute a rich microbial biofilm, containing potentially pathogenic bacteria” (that’s the wikipedia description so of course it’s true). In other words, it contains germs that can make you sick. Here are 3 Ways To Make Soap Scum Disappear:
DIY Soap Scum Cleaning Solution
A 1:1 combination of dawn jet blue dish soap and heated vinegar is plastered all over Pinterest and blogs as the best home-made solution for cleaning soap scum. Here are some specific instructions when using a 32-ounce spray bottle:
- Pour 1 cup of Dawn blue dish soap into the 32-ounce spray bottle
- Microwave 1 cup of white vinegar until warm (varies by microwave, does not have to be hot, you could skip this step if fumes are an issue.)
- Mix vinegar with dawn blue dish soap in the spray bottle
- Spray affected areas
- Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (longer if you want, even overnight)
- Rinse with water
If you are using a 16-ounce bottle instead of a 32-ounce, then you’ll half the “recipe” with 1/2 cup of Dawn and 1/2 cup of vinegar. The vinegar can produce fumes so keep the area ventilated. Others have tried using baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on affected areas, wet the baking soda with spray or shower, leave for 10 minutes, scrub for 5 minutes, rinse away with the shower. Mrs Clean also offers borax, ammonia and a pumice stone as additional options.
Commercial Soap Scum Cleaning Solutions
There are plenty of testimonials out there that indicate the above DIY solutions work. But if you want additional options then there are certainly commercial products available.
- Dow Scrubbing Bubbles – This one is recommended by Bob Vila who also recommends trying the homemade options first.
- Scrub Free Soap Scum Remover
- Comet Spray OR Comet Powder
- CLR – The name stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust which are all major contaminants in water, so one would expect that the product is supposed to work, but it wasn’t suggested by any of the resources we saw.
- EdFred Shower Stall & Tile Cleaner (featured image credit)
- Easy Off Oven Cleaner (not made for soap scum but some say it works)
- WD-40 (again, not made for it, but might work)
- Magic Eraser (not made for it, might work)
Since you’re working so hard to remove the soap scum you might want to consider ways to prevent future formation of soap scum and lessen the burden down the road. These options are listed here because they’re a good hybrid of both DIY and commercial solutions, and it leads up to the best way to prevent soap scum and make it disappear for good . . .
- After cleaning, spray shower glass and door with Rain-X
- Use liquid soap instead of bar soap
- Sponge or squeegee dry the shower after use, don’t leave it wet
- OR our favorite option . . . treat the hard water!
Remove Soap Scum For Good By Treating The Hard Water!
It’s amazing how many cleaning blogs and home blogs and DIY blogs there are about removing soap scum and very few of them actually mention the very best way to prevent it, which is to treat the hard water (except Bob Vila; he mentioned it. Thanks Bob!).
If soap scum is formed by calcium and magnesium mixing with soap, then remove the dad gum calcium and magnesium from the water! The soap scum is only an indication of what is happening everywhere else the water goes. Aren’t you also worried about drinking water, your food, your skin, your hair, your pluming, and all your water-using appliances? Wouldn’t you like to save time and money by preventing the soap scum in the first place? Treating the water with a quality water softener means you don’t have to clean it nearly as often or nearly as hard and you can save up to 75% on soap products, as well as benefit from savings in other areas (such as having a more efficient water heater).
The leap from $5-$10 for making a home-made solution to getting a water softener may seem like a big one. However, home water treatment can potentially save your household $12,910 over 10 years. If it improves the quality of life AND saves money, then why not do it? You’ll get rid of soap scum, prevent the arduous repetitive cleaning AND save money.