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How to Remove Soap Scum from Every Bathroom Surface: 6 Quick Methods

removing soap scum on metal faucet

Soap scum in your bathroom can be unsightly. Not only that but it can be gross, reduce the time you want to spend in the space, and most importantly, be notoriously hard to remove. Typically, soap scum is caused by a multitude of things including dirt, skin cells, leftover soap residue, and minerals from your water.

Though many people have found some interesting ways to rid their bathroom of this white, scaly mess, there are a few tried and true ways that you can say goodbye to it for good. We are going to share the 5 top ways below, plus give you some tips on how to prevent the stains from reappearing later on.

If you are tired of not wanting any company to use the bathroom, and you miss that precious hot bath at the end of the week, keep reading below so you can watch all of your stubborn troubles go down the drain.

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5 Ways to Remove Soap Scum from Your Bathroom

Soap scum is a universal offender. It will stick to almost all the surfaces in your bathroom from glass, fiberglass, metal, and even your shower curtain. Though it’s unproven, we firmly believe that if you stood still long enough, the irritating stain would grow right on you. Nevertheless, we have devised five ways of removing it based on the surface it is on.

1. Cleaning Fiberglass

Many bathrooms have fiberglass, and the porous material can be very difficult to clean. One option you have is to purchase a specific fiberglass/soap scum cleaner. Unfortunately, in our experience, these products need to be used consistently from the time the fiberglass was new. Otherwise, they will not help in this dilemma.

The next option is more helpful, and it involves making a DIY cleaner.

  • Step One: First, mix equal parts of distilled vinegar and warm water into a bucket. You can also add a few drops of dish detergent to help get rid of some of the greasier stains.
  • Step Two: Once mixed, add it to an empty spray bottle and liberally apply it to the fiberglass.
  • Step Three: Let sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Step Four: Scrub off with a bristle brush. Don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease here, as the stains can be hard to remove.

If this concoction doesn’t work, we have yet another DIY cleaner that can be applied to tough spots.

  • Step One: In a bowl, combine a cup of baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar. Allow the mixture to bubble and settle.
  • Step Two: Once it has settled you will have a paste. Apply it to the stubborn stains.
  • Step Three: Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Step Four: Clean off with a sponge.

2. Removing Soap Scum from Tile

soap scum on bathroom floor
Image By: paphawin-laiyong, Shutterstock

Ceramic tile is a popular bathroom surface. Normally, you would think the shiny, smooth surface would be easier to clean. Unfortunately, when it comes to soap scum, it sticks just as vehemently as any other surface. Thankfully, there is something you can do.

The answer to this stain riddle is a pumice stone. They are excellent for removing soap scum and other stains including hard water from your tiled walls and counters. The most important thing to remember, however, is to get the pumice stone wet. Using it dry can scratch and even break the tile if you are not careful.

Wet the pumice stone with warm water and scrub any visible stains. Make sure you periodically re-wet it as you work. There is also no need for a cleaner, but you can use the water, vinegar, detergent option above if you like. Be firm, yet gentle. Dropping the stone or pushing down with too much force can cause cracks. Even pressure is essential.

Side Note: Do not use a pumice stone on fiberglass as it will cause a worse issue than what you are already facing.

3. Cleaning Glass Surfaces

soap scum on bathroom door
Image Credit: tete_escape, Shutterstock

There are many glass surfaces in your bathroom. You can have glass countertops, shower doors, and even mirrors. Unfortunately, all of these areas are susceptible to soap scum. Nevertheless, there is a way to refresh your glass and make it look brand new.

  • Step One: In a bowl, add a cup of baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar. Allow it to bubble and settle.
  • Step Two: Add half a cup of salt to the mixture.
  • Step Three: Apply the mixture to the glass surface.
  • Step Four: Allow the paste to sit for 5 minutes. Do not allow the paste to dry.
  • Step Five: Use a soft bristle brush or a sponge to work the mixture into the stains. Remove the paste with a sponge or towel.

In this case, the salt acts as a natural exfoliant for the glass and helps remove the soap scum. Be careful to only use a soft bristle brush, otherwise, you could end up with scratches. Also, don’t let the paste sit too long. It will not be as effective if it dries down.

4. Removing Stains from Metal Fixtures

soap scum on metal faucet
Image Credit: SutidaS, Shutterstock

Metal fixtures can be one of the hardest areas to remove stains. This is especially true if the soap scum has a lot of minerals from hard water. Although it can be one of the harder areas to clean, the trick for removing the stains is the easiest.

For all silver fixtures (aluminum, cast iron, steel, etc) straight vinegar is the best way to go. You should stick with white distilled vinegar if possible. Add some of the pungent liquid to a rag or towel, and buff away at the stains. This is more or less the same way you would polish silver. In this case, though, the vinegar will help lift the soap scum from the surface of the metal.

Keep in mind, this is a good trick if you have silver fixtures or other surfaces. Unfortunately, you do not want to use vinegar on bronze faucets or other bronze areas. The vinegar will strip down the bronze and make it very dull. If you have this type of metal in your bathroom, the best thing to use is water. You can also look for a specific bronze cleaning product.

5. Soap Scum on Your Shower Curtain

Materials such as cotton and polyester can be harder to navigate when it comes to removing stains caused by soap scum. If you happen to have a white shower curtain, our suggestion is to bleach it. For the most part, however, shower curtains usually have multiple colors, patterns, or scenes.

If you are in the latter group, you don’t need to throw your current curtain away. We have a solution for you, as well.

  • Step One: Fill a bucket with tepid water. There should be enough water so you can submerge your entire shower curtain without having to push it down too much.
  • Step Two: Add vinegar. You should add a cup and a half of vinegar per gallon of water. Again, white distilled is best; especially as brown vinegar can stain lighter colors.
  • Step Three: This is optional, but you can also mix in a little laundry detergent. Only use about a teaspoon per gallon of water. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Step Four: Submerge the shower curtain in the bucket. Again, make sure that you have enough liquid (and a big enough bucket) that you can easily lower it in. You should not have to push it down.
  • Step Five: Allow the shower curtain to sit in the mixture overnight.
  • Step Six: Remove from mixture and rinse with cold water until any lingering vinegar smell is gone. You can hang dry in your shower. Note: Allow the curtain to fully dry before using the shower. Hang elsewhere if need be.

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How to Avoid Soap Scum Stains

Although these five simple DIY hacks are bound to get your bathroom back to its pristine condition, you don’t want to be repeating the same steps month after month. Once you have removed all of the stains from your surfaces, fixtures, floors, and shower curtains, the next best thing to do is devise a plan to prevent soap scum from building up again.

  • Use Cleaners: As we mentioned, many cleaners on the market will help prevent the build-up of these stains. You need to use them consistently, however. Get into the habit of spraying your bathroom down with one of these products weekly to keep the worst of the soap scum at bay.
  • Water Treatment Systems: One of the culprits of soap scum is hard water. Like soap scum, the white, scaly, stains you often see around your fixtures and drains are from hard water. This happens when there are too many minerals in your municipal water. Unfortunately, it is not something you can fix without a water softening system. Thankfully, though, they come in a variety of sizes. For example, you can have a whole house water softener system installed, or they have much smaller ones that attach to your faucets. Not only will these systems help with stains but they can also help your water taste better, look clearer, allow your soap to lather better, and get your laundry cleaner…to name just a few.
  • Use a Squeegee: Another good habit to get into is using a squeegee after each shower. Soap scum relies on water to form the stains. Essentially, they are a build-up of dirt, minerals, soap residue, and many other things in leftover water. Taking the time to squeegee your shower, tub, counters, and mirrors will do wonders. Also, ventilation systems help along with wiping down your metal fixtures.
  • Liquid Soap: An interesting fact that many people are unaware of is that bar soap is the main cause of soap scum. A quick and easy way to eliminate the stains is by switching to a liquid body and hand wash.

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No one wants to look at the ugly stains in their bathroom from soap scum. Be that as it may, many people are at a loss as to how to remove them without having to give their powder rooms a facelift. We hope that these tips have helped you find easy, DIY, and natural ways to remove the spots that have plagued your home. Using these tricks as directed and making use of the preventative tips will have your space looking fresher than ever.

Featured Image Credit: Ivan Semenovych, Shutterstock


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