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Removing Soap Scum from a Plastic Tub

Category Bathroom
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.


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March 14, 2014

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!

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March 16, 20140 found this helpful

My plumber told me never to use Skin So Soft in the bath tub or sink because it binds up with the hair and everything else in the drain and becomes a mess and a drain clogger.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
February 6, 2011

How do you clean built up shower soap scum?

By Kim from Cedar Rapids, IA

Answer Was this helpful? 1
February 8, 20110 found this helpful

I use a generic magic eraser and Lime Away. I keep the eraser in the shower and wipe down the glass doors and trim every day and after my shower I rinse clean. Then once or twice a month I spray it down and wipe again. Good luck with that.

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February 9, 20110 found this helpful

I use plain old Comet and a little elbow grease. Works like a charm on glass and tub!

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April 10, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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November 23, 20160 found this helpful

Comet on a plastic tub? Wouldn't that scratch the plastic?

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0 found this helpful
March 15, 2012

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.



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March 16, 20121 found this helpful

I doubt the tilex caused a crack,however, you want to use a non scratch pad such a 3M, and is so label on the package. available at you grocery store, Target and I suppose Home Depot and Lowes.

You could also get box of Barteners Friend from the same locations. It is a powder to be used with the non scratch pad. It will require a bit of labor to get rid of the scum if there is a large build up.

Once you get the scum off you may want to wipe down the tub with a towel after every use. Then when you do the monthly cleaning of the tub it will be much easier to get rid of the scum.

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March 17, 20120 found this helpful

When you say "plastic tub" do you mean a bathtub? If so, are you sure it's plastic or could it be fiberglass? I've found that Scrubbing Bubbles to be very effective on soap scum. After spraying on the cleaner, let it sit for about 10 minutes and use a sponge to scrub. You may want to change the type of soap you are using, or whatever product is causing a daily buildup. The Tilex didn't cause the crack in the tub.

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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.

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January 27, 20160 found this helpful

I LOVE that idea of wax and a lil dawn!!!! Thank you for sharing!!! 

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0 found this helpful
September 2, 2008

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.


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September 5, 20080 found this helpful

Avoid scratchy cleansers. I'd be leery of Comex or Ajax. The scratches will only encourage more gunk to stick and you'll have scratches. I use baking soda and water. It takes a little elbow grease at first, but it looks great and if you do it regularly, it doesn't take as long. And I don't poison the earth or my lungs when I do it. AND baking soda is very cheap. I just buy a fresh box to use in baking, and use the leftovers of the old box for cleaning.

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September 17, 20080 found this helpful

I believe that if you use a mixture of baking soda AND white vinegar it will come clean w/o scrubbing. I've never actually cleaned (or even seen) an "acrylic" tub before, but I have used this solution on acrylic faucet handles to clean them of the soap/hand oil/dirt gunk.

I also use an "after" product; a polish and (albeit temporary) sealant called Gel Gloss. It comes as a spray or a pourable creme. It is in a hot pink can (white cap) w/blue & white lettering, and available @ Home Depot (and other of this type) stores.

For me, this is a "must have" product for keeping all kinds of surfaces polished/sealed between cleanings, especially those that come into contact w/water on a daily basis, such as sinks, tubs, etc. I wouldn't be w/o it in my business!

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May 20, 20110 found this helpful

Hello David,

Make a paste of white vinegar and baking soda, thick enough so it will stick to where you want to clean, let it sit while you do something else( half an hour or so). You will find that the soap scum comes off quite easily.



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December 11, 20130 found this helpful

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!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

November 15, 20040 found this helpful

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.

By Kathy

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.
By Sandy
Car Wax 01/12/2005
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!
By connie
Brillo 03/28/2005
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
Baby Oil 03/29/2005
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....

By Claudia
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
By stephanie
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.
By Tina

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December 13, 20160 found this helpful

Buy a bottle of vinegar, put in spray bottle , spray the walls or sides, take a clean dry rag after it sat on the area for 3 min.Wipe the area off, rinse it. will be free on scum then use motorcycle spray wax on WALLS only, not the floor!

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February 6, 20110 found this helpful

How do you clean soap scum off of porcelain tub and fiberglass shower walls?

By Yvonne from KS


Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

They sell soap scum remover in the supermarkets. (11/03/2010)

By Lilac

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By louel53

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By Beth

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By sbdifalco

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By sunstsorm

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By AlsoSurprised

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November 1, 20100 found this helpful

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


Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By CraftCycler

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By Karenhope

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By jj007

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By susanbratton

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By Annabananna22

Removing Soap Scum from a Bath Tub or Shower

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)

By SSelden

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December 7, 20090 found this helpful

How do I clean soap scum from a tub, once and for all? Commercial products don't work.

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April 18, 20070 found this helpful

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.

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November 4, 20060 found this helpful

To remove soap scum from the bathtub, I get a washcloth and rub it with a bar of soap and scrub the tub.

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