Soap scum build up on a tub can be very difficult to remove. This is a guide about removing soap scum build up from a plastic tub.
How do you clean built up shower soap scum?
By Kim from Cedar Rapids, IA
April 10, 2011
I do housecleaning as a part time business and feel I can't tell my clients to use liquid soap or a squeegie to make my job easier. I'm trying to find a solution for one of my clients' messy shower screens. I'm only asked to clean it every 6 weeks or so. I like the sound of the white vinegar method so might try that, together with the shampoo and Magic Eraser. I'd never heard of fabric softener sheets, apparently they are banned in Australia because of some dangerous content in them.
By david 1
I have a black acrylic tub. It has a thick buildup of soap scum. Can any one or has anyone had this problem? Please help.
December 11, 2013
The Bucko Soap Scum cleaner works really well. You spray, leave it sit for a while, and then just wipe it off without need to scrub it. Give it a try! www.thebucko.com
I have a plastic tub in my mobile home and it has so much soap scum on the sides of it. I tried to clean it with Tilex, but it caused my tub to get a crack in it. I clean my tub every day and still the soap scum is there. What will work on removing soap scum from a plastic tub without cracking it or scratching it? I would appreciate any input you could offer. I tried bleach and a green scratch pad, but it scratches the tub and the bleach is just too strong to be around.
March 19, 20121 found this helpful
Since our tub is old and has light scratches anyway, I cleaned it well with Soft Scrub and a kitchen scrubby. Then applied a light coating of car wax, to the interior sides only.
When I take a bath, I put a little bit of Dawn dish liquid, and this has helped so much, as well as stopping using bar soap in the tub. Now I just use either bubble bath, or shower gel type products.
I found using Avon's original Skin So Soft works wonderfully. Apply it on the tub, with extra on the scum spots. Allow to set about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, use a scrubby of some kind (even old bath scrubbies) rinse, and, wah lah, scum is gone!
I said in my last request it took all day to clean part of the bathroom. Well, I still have soap scum on the tub. I have scrubbed it 3 times. One time after soaking it in hot water with white vinegar. After a bit I then added baking soda. It fizzed lots but the scum will not budge. Any ideas other than ammonia.
Sandy from Baltimore
I have been scrubbing all morning, but I have finally finished. I used Goo Gone and an old toothbrush to get all the black soap scum and mineral build up off of the bottom of my shower. (The stuff that is in the groves of the slip resistant showers) It took a while, but I am going to try using lemon oil to keep it clean. It took all morning, but it is clean. I'm happy! (03/05/2007)
I have tried every kind of product, you can name, for soap scum in my bathtub. None of them worked. Of course, the last thing, and probably the least expensive thing, I used on my fiberglass tub, was Comet Bath Spray. I had the WORST soap scum build up. It looked black and dirty. After using the Comet Bath Spray.. it looked like a brand new tub! Easy and not expensive. Hope this helps everyone out there!!! (03/06/2007)
|Calgon Takes It Away! The easiest way to remove soap scum in a tub or shower: Purchase a box of Calgon water softener powder (in the detergent section of most supermarkets). Apply a small amount to a wet cloth. Rub on, rinse off. Scum is gone. Works so well and is so mild you can do this while taking a shower without hurting your skin at all.|
|Wipe Down the Walls||11/15/2004|
|After years of scrubbing, it dawned on me one day that it didn't make sense that a shower/tub, where I spent time to get clean, would get "dirty". I finally got everyone in the house to agree to use their towel to wipe down the walls and tub after use. I have not cleaned the shower/tub yet.|
|When the tub/shower is new, wax it with car wax. Then once a year after that the tub/shower will be easy to keep clean. The layer of wax will keep it shiny too! Be careful not to wax the bottom of the tub. You'll slip!|
|To remove soap scum and mildew from shower doors, I tried everything, even Kaboom. Nothing worked until I used this, spray door with any advertised cleaner, clean with a piece of Brillo pad, wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel and eureka - it's clean and shining. It makes it an easy job.|
|By Frances Merrill|
|I've heard that after you clean the shower door and get it to your specifications, if baby oil was lightly applied to the glass, soap scum would just come right off the very next time you cleaned it. Has any one tried this?!|
|By Melissa W.|
|Don't Use Soap||05/05/2005|
|The best way to avoid soap scum is not to use soap!|
I recently switched to those liquid body wash products, which I believe are detergent rather than soap, and now there's no soap scum anywhere and my shower is almost self-cleaning. These products come in great scents and make lots of rich suds. I'll never go back....
|Fabric Softener Sheets||06/27/2005|
|I found a cheap and easy way the clean shower doors. You get a used fabric softener and wet it, wipe the shower doors and the soap and grim come off with ease. I do it all the time and it works great|
|I will try it...||01/17/2006|
|I will try this, my tub looks awful. i am not able to get down and scrub the tub anymore so I am looking for a way to remove the soap scum without all the scrubbing.|
To remove soap scum from the bathtub, I get a washcloth and rub it with a bar of soap and scrub the tub. I do this after someone has gotten a bath and it really seems to work for my family of six.
By Jill from Shavertown, PA
I just tried Fantastic Total Bathroom Orange Action on my acrylic bathtub. I sprayed it on, waited a few moments and tried wiping. My heart sank; it didn't work at all. I sprayed again and then let it sit while I watched a tv program. I came back in the first commercial, wiped with a soft cloth, and the soap scum was gone. Clearly the key is giving the product time to work. (07/30/2006)
Calgon does indeed take it away. I had been looking for a product that would remove the soap scum from my son's shower for years. I had tried various products with no success, even the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser which I happen to love. Then I read about using Calgon. The funny thing is that I use Calgon in my bath water all the time and my tub still looks like new. Yet it never dawned on me that it would work wonders on shower soap scum. Thanks Calgon and Kathy. (10/22/2006)
A lot of advice about soap scum is about preventing it from forming in the first place. We moved into a house which was in immaculate, move-in condition except for the fiberglass shower stall. The build up of scum was impressive, giving meaning to "sticky shower scum." The previous owners were elderly and probably unable to clean it properly.
We tried all the tricks and products mentioned above with little success. Then I read about the fabric softner sheets and they work! I wrapped one around a sponge to make it easier to handle and scrubbed away.
The floor is another issue. There is a slip-resistant surface glued on it and the little grooves are full of soap scum. I saturated a towel in vinegar, spread it out and left it to soak. The jury is still out on this one. (10/30/2006)
Have you ever had trouble cleaning scum off of your bathroom tiles or shower doors? Well, I've got a great tip that's sure to help. Use your leftover fabric softener sheets to rub them off. You barely have to scrub at all. I think the secret to it is the quilted design. Anyway, now you can enjoy cleaning soap/bathroom scum with ease.
By Jessamyn from Honolulu, HI
Editor's Note: Read more ideas below.
Comet powder with a drop or two of Dawn liquid dishwashing soap works, so does the spray Comet cleaner. Let it sit, but don't let it dry and scrub with the rough side of a two sided sponge. Here is the trick, after you get it clean, wax the walls not the floor with automotive wax. My favorite is RainX wet wax. As well as using RainX windshield treatment on any glass. (09/02/2007)
I just moved in with a room mate. There was a room mate before me, who never cleaned. The walls of the bath tub were black and thick (plastic tub). I tried cleaning it several times before this, but I put half a bottle of Lime Away all over the tub, with the drain closed. And every 5 minutes I would go and smear the stuff in the tub around. Let it set, did this like three times. Then I took a green non-scratch 3mm pad and scrubbed while I had the hot water running and it all smeared off. I went in the bathroom the next morning and it was blinding. This also works very well for the grooves at the bottom of the tub. A must try. (11/23/2007)
Use Lime Away first and scrub with a sponge. Let it sit wet. Rinse then use a wet sponge with a fresh fabric softener sheet wrapped around it. Scrub a bit lightly to spread the softener. Soak a few minutes, then get a "plastic" putty knife (any hardware store has them) and gently scrape and it comes right off. Wax tub sides after its spotless or apply Rain-X. (11/24/2007)
I use SOS pads on the side of the tubs where the soap scum ring is and it works wonderfully, I usually spray it with Comet first and immediately use the SOS pads and it comes off great. The bottom of my tub has the no slip finish with the little grooves and I am having a really hard time finding something to clean that. (01/02/2008)
I have had a horrible time keeping my tub clean. After trying many things on this site I found that many of them work great, but I read somewhere to use WD-40. This works better than anything I have tried before. Simply spray it on and wipe it off. No scrubbing. Give it a try. I would advise using something else for the bottom though as WD-40 is slippery. (02/02/2008)
After scrubbing our shower walls on and off for most of the day, my husband walked in with a drywall finishing knife. He sprayed Grease Lighting on the shower walls and then scraped the walls with the finishing knife. It worked great. The whole job was finished in about 10 minutes. Then we applied wax to the walls to prevent the problem. Just be careful to hold the finishing knife flat against the walls to prevent scratching. (03/16/2008)
I moved into a house with years of soap scum buildup, and, after trying dozens of tips from this site and others plus trying every commercial cleaner I could find, nothing worked. The only way I finally solved the problem was to get a putty knife and scrape off the soap scum. (04/11/2008)
That worked. Thanks. The baking soda paste and Magic Eraser did the trick with very little scrubbing. The Eraser alone did not do it, only the combo. (07/07/2008)
By Cleaning Challenged
Hair conditioner (can you believe it) left on for hours will clean the bottom of really grubby fiberglass shower perfectly. Found this out by accident when a plastic bottle of pink hair conditioner broke and spilled all over the base of my shower. Hours later I wiped it away and the fiberglass shower base was spotless, shiny clean, and not the least bit slippery. (08/31/2008)
Okay, guess what works. Easy off Fume Free Max. It also says Lemon scent. I read it some where, went out and got some, tried it and it worked great. Spray it on and let it set, depending on how bad the scum is. Mine was pretty bad, so I left it on for about 20 minutes and took a sponge to it with the scrubby side and it came right off. Try it. (10/03/2008)
By Renee M.
In my case, my bathtub was a perfect storm of grunge caused by living in an area with extremely hard water, and bathing in Ivory soap "every day". I had to use a combination technique to combat both the scum buildup and the calcium deposits:
By Happier Housewife
I would not touch dryer sheets. They are very toxic. (02/01/2009)
I use vinegar in a spray bottle. It works for most cleaning jobs around the house. Good luck. (02/01/2009)
By K W
Although it may be a hassle to do, I use a squeegee (just about) every time I finish showering, while I'm still in there, after the water is turned off. It really prevents a build up of mold and mildew, ever a challenge here in Florida. I find it prevents most build up, and makes it much easier to clean. I try to avoid toxic chemicals, when possible. Vinegar and baking soda work, when the buildup hasn't gotten out of hand. My challenge is the tracks for the sliding glass shower doors. (03/22/2009)
How do I clean soap scum from a tub, once and for all? Commercial products don't work.
By krs2009 from Fargo, ND
I too use the Magic Eraser and it works wonders. I don't use soap or cleaner on the eraser, but just plain water. Once I get the sticky soap scum off, I use soap on the eraser to make the tub shine. I don't have to use muscle to clean either. I have looked for years for the best cleaner and solution, and this is the best so far. (09/08/2009)
I keep a squeegee in a hanging basket in the shower. After every shower I squeegee the tub surround. This keeps me from having to scrub the surround. For the bathtub itself, a once a week cleaning with a non-abrasive cleanser works well. I also make sure that after my shower I close the curtain liner so it's spread out until it dries and that prevents mildew on the liner. (09/09/2009)
This sounds crazy, but it works. Before I started cleaning the tub, I took one of those gadgets that holds a straight edge razor blade and lightly scraped the "gump" off. This makes the job a whole lot easier. The stuff just falls in the tub and I vacuum it up with the vacuum attachment from the dry tub. I learned this online somewhere. Now we never use bar soap. It's more expensive, but it doesn't form the scum like the bars do. I buy inexpensive liquids. (09/09/2009)
I live in a rental and have never been able to properly clean off a residue from shower tiles and shower screen. It is a whitish colour and is either soap buildup or mineral deposits.
By Leonie from Perth, West AU
Here's what I do. Using Comet or a liquid cleanser (using a lot) I wipe down every inch of the tub/shower and walls. Let it sit for awhile then starting with the tub. I have a scrub brush that I use to scrub off the soap scum. I usually only wipe down the walls with the cleanser. Then I let it sit again. I feel the scrub brush is key when cleaning soap scum. I even use a smaller tile brush to get into the grout lines and along the caulking lines. Finally, I take my shower wiping down everything. Certain soaps seem to leave more of a residue than others so that maybe one thing you could change to help keep the soap scum at bay. Do this often so It won't build up. (12/08/2009)
By Sharon Rose
You can also try white vinegar. A lot of times the whitish stains are actually calcium from your water and vinegar works great to remove calcium. (12/09/2009)
I was told that liquid soap won't leave scum like the bar soap does. The bar soaps have fillers that produce the scum. (12/11/2009)
There is a toilet bowl cleaner called "The Works". In a fit of genius, I tried using it to clean the tub and the sink in my old apartment that had very hard water and tough stains. It ate right through all those old scum and mineral stains. Just be careful and be sure to use gloves because it contains very harsh chemicals. (12/12/2009)
20 Mule Team Borax is the best thing to clean anything with. No odor either. I would make a paste on difficult scum and rinse. Maintain by putting some borax in a spray bottle and fill with warm water. I love this stuff. I find it at K Mart and there are numerous uses for it including scrubbing your face! (12/14/2009)
I used Lime Away in the green bottle. Spray on let sit for about 10 or so minutes then us a metal 1 inch putty knife to remove big soapy areas, like the place were you set your soap bars. I then used a SOS or Brillo pad to remove all the thin layers and streaks of soap scum. This was about 5 years worth of soap scum that was from bar soap that was the same color the tub walls. Keep the drain closed then let all the cleaners do their stuff to get the tub floor sparkling clean! This house is 22 years old and the fiberglass tub looks brand new. I will also be putting RainX on the tub so soap scum cannot build up for months. (12/17/2009)
This is a last ditch effort. When my husband and I bought our house, the shower stalls were literally black. I don't think they had ever been cleaned. So, I put on a mask and cleaned the showers with straight bleach. This is very potent. If you do not have a mask, do not try this. I turned on all our bathroom fans and opened all the windows. I was amazed at how clean it got and has stayed with regular cleaning. (01/06/2010)
How do you clean soap scum off of porcelain tub and fiberglass shower walls?
By Yvonne from KS
They sell soap scum remover in the supermarkets. (11/03/2010)
Any household cleaner such as Mr. Clean should take off soap scum, unless it has been built up for years or if it also involves hard water residue. If you have years of build up from someone never cleaning the shower, you will see various things in the archives, oven cleaner, Kaboom, etc. If you have hard water residue as well you are going to need something acidic like full strength vinegar or CLR.
When you get the shower clean, use a squeegee or towel to dry off the shower after every shower. This will prevent the vast majority of buildup. And prevention is the best thing in this case. (11/03/2010)
I remember reading that clarifying shampoo works. I breaks down all the built up yuck in our hair, it works on the shower walls too. Worth a try. If it doesn't work, you can still use it on your hair at least. (11/04/2010)
For my fiberglass tub surround, this works great:
Wet paper towels with white vinegar and stick them to the shower walls then spray them with more vinegar, let them set for about half an hour. Remove paper towels and scrape off the "melted" hard water and scum with an old credit card. (11/19/2010)
I used a pumice stone (the type you buy for your feet). I wet the shower walls, and the stone. Then rubbed the stone on the soap scum. I was amazed/horrified at how much soap came up in big flakes! It was super easy.
It worked really well on the mold that I couldn't get out of my grout with bleach. Turns out the mold was in the soap scum. The only difficulty was getting in the corners in the shower. I'm going to see if I can find a pumice stone that has better angles than the one I have and use it in the corners. (12/18/2010)
I ran across this post when I was searching for help to clean my horrific tub and shower walls. After trying lots of options, I found that Lysol Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner 4 in 1 works fantasticly! I sprayed it on my "stained" tub, thinking that it was all stain, since nothing scrubbed nor scraped it off, just for the heck of it. It all dissolved or softened quickly, enabling me to bring it up with a pancake flapper, easily. I was impatient, so I did not let it sit for long. A lot of it dissolved, immediately, so I am sure if someone who can't bend over used it and let it sit for a good length of time, that would help the problem. I just had to post this for anyone else that searched, as I did. (01/14/2011)