What is soap scum and what causes it?
Soap scum – the bathroom dirt that is hard to get rid of and keeps coming back. What exactly is soap scum? It is not just soap – it is a combination of water, minerals, soap talc and body oils. It happens when your wet soap interacts with the minerals in your tap water. This creates a thick, stubborn film that sticks to all surfaces in your bathroom. Here is how to remove it from various places, as well as some tips on how to prevent it from coming back.
- Glass Shower Door
- Fiberglass Shower Enclosures
- Metal shower and sink fixtures
- Ceramic Tiles
- Natural Stone
- Fabric and plastic shower curtains
There are various commercial products that offer efficiency against soap scum buildup. When using those, it is important to follow instructions and let them sit for a while. However, make sure you give the product time to properly work.
If you want to make your own natural product, all you need is baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Mix those two products in a bowl and create a thick paste. The solution will fizz and when it stops, apply it to your glass door with a microfibre cloth. Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse well with water. Dry the surface right after to prevent spotting.
Fiberglass tubs and showers are a common, durable addition to bathrooms. However, they easily become dull and worn-out due to soap scum buildup. Fiberglass is not to be treated with harsh products or abrasives. If you want to clean your fiberglass, you can either use a commercial cleaner or make your own.
It is best to use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. Mix it well and apply to your fiberglass. Leave on for about 20 minutes, then rinse well and dry. For stains left by product bottles sitting on there for a while, grab some borax from the laundry room and mix it with some lemon juice. Apply this paste, then wipe and rinse it in 15 minutes
Soap scum and hard water stains show up very well on metal fixtures. Here is how to remove them efficiently:
-Chrome – Distilled white vinegar works best against soap scum. Use a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture. Apply it all over, then rinse and wipe to remove all stains. Use undiluted vinegar to prevent corrosion. This mixture (with more vinegar) also works for crusty showerheads. All you have to do is put it in a plastic bag and tie it with your showerhead inside. After an hour, you can rinse it and enjoy a clean fixture.
-Oiled rubbed or brass- As gentle as they are, these types of fixtures are best cleaned with just water. However, if there are more serious stains or a lot of buildup, you may use vinegar and water mixture or add a bit of soda. Rub with a soft cloth, rinse well and dry. If you are too busy, you can always hire a cleaning company to do it instead of you.
The hard nature of ceramic tiles and objects, makes it easier to remove soap scum. They are smooth and not easily damaged.If your ceramic surfaces are not enameled, you can actually use a wet pumice stone to remove the thick layer of soap scum. Make sure to never use it dry, since excessive scratching might damage the surface. Wet both the stone and the ceramic surface, then rub in very small circles and very gently. As you rub, soap scum will transfer to the stone so make sure to rinse it and scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush.
If your ceramics are enameled, do not use a pumice stone but a soda and vinegar mixture instead.
Natural stone tiles give a sophisticated, luxurious feel to any bathroom. However, they are not soap scum-proof and it is actually quite visible on them. What is more, they are gentle and most commercial cleaning products are not suitable to use. They may harm the surface of your natural stone tiles and leave them looking dull and chalky. If you are looking for ways to clean your natural stone, go for a natural stone cleaner. It is best to treat your natural stone with a gentle cleaner every week to maintain its good condition and reduce the need for harsh scrubbing.
As we mentioned earlier, soap scum sticks to most bathroom surfaces, including your shower curtains. It does not matter if they are fabric or plastic, soap scum stains will be visible. When it is time to get them cleaned, place your plastic shower curtains in a large container and cover it with vinegar and water mixture. Leave it overnight, then wash it in your washing machine. Same goes for fabric curtains but you do not need to soak them in. Just add vinegar to the washer drum.
In order to reduce the amounts of soap scum in your bathroom you can:
- use water softener systems in order to reduce the amount of minerals in your tap water
- switch to liquid body washes instead of soap bars – they contain less fat and talc
In conclusion, soap scum is annoying to get rid of and will eventually come back soon after. Vinegar is your best weapon against it so do not be afraid to use it. Also, cleaning your bathroom weekly, will reduce the amount of soap scum build up and will make it easier to clean.