A shower is a place of cleanliness. The day’s grease and grime are washed away by a thorough, satisfactory shower. Nothing is more discouraging, however, than a shower whose appearance doesn’t reflect the cleanliness it provides. If your shower is plagued with tough soap scum that just won’t quit, you may want to consider the following tips for keeping your shower clean and tidy.

The Culprit:

Understanding the best methods for removing shower scum requires a brief understanding of what causes it. Soap scum is caused by the paraffin wax that is used as a base for many bar soaps. This wax is not water soluble and, as suds are splashed up against the shower walls and doors, it hardens and sticks, forming an unappealing and dingy haze or scum. Liquid body washes do not contain paraffin and, if soap scum is particularly bothersome, you may want to consider switching your chosen lather source.


If you are dead set on keeping that treasured bar of soap, you can still slow down the accumulation of soap scum on your shower doors and walls. Keep a small squeegee in the shower. Most home improvement retail stores sell small, inexpensive squeegees that are specifically made for small shower spaces. Some include suction cups on the handle for easy storage and accessibility. After each shower, thoroughly squeegee the moisture off of the walls and doors in steady, vertical strokes. Shake excess water from the squeegee and wipe all surfaces to remove clinging moisture. This will reduce the accumulation of soap scum and allow more time between cleanings.


One method for removing stubborn soap scum is the use of a variety of cleansing oils. Baby oil or orange oil will work the best. Apply the oil liberally over the scummy surface and, using a soft cleaning pad, rub the oil over the surface in a tight, circular pattern. To remove the oil (and the soap scum) from the shower surface, apply a mixture of one part vinegar to one part warm water with a clean washcloth.

Glass Cleaner:

While traditional glass cleaners are often not strong enough to remove thick soap scum, specially formulated glass cleaners for oven or fireplace doors will usually do the trick. These glass cleaners are typically the consistency of toothpaste. Scrub the cleaner over the scummy surface and wipe away with a clean, moist washcloth.

Windshield Treatment:

Many automotive stores carry a solution that is meant to be applied to vehicle windshields. This chemical prevents water from accumulating on glass surfaces and causes it, instead, to bead up and run off without the use of windshield wipers. For tough recurring soap scum problems, you can try applying this to glass shower doors and walls. The water (with paraffin) will not adhere to the walls, greatly reducing a soap scum presence.

Scrubbing Pads:

If you are struggling with heavy-duty soap scum buildup that requires a great deal of elbow grease, be sure to purchase copper scrubbing pads. The copper scrubbing pads will not scratch glass surfaces as steel wool pads will. Maintaining scratch-free shower surfaces is essential in keeping your shower looking its best.

Other Problems:

If you have tried all these methods and still cannot get rid of the white, hazy buildup, your problem may be bigger than soap scum. In areas that produce especially hard water, sediments such as lime can accumulate on surfaces and create a dirty-looking atmosphere. For these stains, try a cleaner that is specifically formulated to remove and prevent hard water stains. These cleaners can be found at most home improvement retail stores.

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