Cleaning Soap Scum from a Bathtub

Category Bathroom
Removing soap scum on bathtubs is waking nightmare for us all. This is a page about cleaning soap scum from a bathtub.


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When cleaning soap scum from a porcelain bathtub, I sprayed 409 and then went over it lightly with Scotch-Brite stainless steel scrubbing pads. Not sure how long the scum was there from previous owner, but it came off and didn't harm the finish on bathtub.

By JS from WI

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April 8, 2018

How do I remove soap scum from a shower and tub without using harsh chemicals? I have become very sensitive to them.


April 8, 20180 found this helpful
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You can try natural products like equal parts of vinegar and water with some mild dishwash soap.

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April 9, 20181 found this helpful
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Use the Magic Eraser

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April 9, 20180 found this helpful
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We use white vinegar and a bristle brush, squeegee after.

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January 31, 2013

Soap scum build up on a tub can be very difficult to remove. This is a page about removing soap scum build up from a plastic tub.

cleaning a tub

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

May 27, 2010

Does anyone have a GREAT cleaner they swear by for really bad soap scum and hard water stains on bathtubs? I've used Comet, Kaboom (the new one), bleach and some others, I even tried my Scunchi steamer but nothing can cut through this gunk. Help? Thanks!


Peggy from San Antonio, TX


The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Have you tried gumption? Great stuff, cheap, best cleaner I've found for the bathroom. Try using it with a scourer or old toothbrush. (07/30/2006)

By nicedevil

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

My favorite way to clean soap scum is with used dryer sheets. I kid you not, it works great! It works best and with least effort if the surface is dry. (07/31/2006)

By Mary

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Scrub Free, Lemon scent. It works AWESOME!! And it won't hurt your metal shower fixtures. It's under 2 bucks at Walmart, for really really bad build-up you still have to scrub a little. I use a green dish scrubbie, like the same material on the other side of a sponge. Rinse it out as you go. Scrub Free doesn't take your breath away like other cleaners, and it's cheap! Also make sure your tub is draining properly, try unscrewing the drain cover and cleaning any hair and gunk out, now that my tub drains faster we have much less of a problem. (07/31/2006)


By Mary M.

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Scrub Free with a BLUE 3M scratch pad. They will NOT scratch the surfaces. (07/31/2006)

By jodigirl25

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I use liquid dishwasher detergent (Electrosol) with a Scotch Pad type cleaning pad. Rub on, leave for few minutes, and rinse well. It leaves a nice shine and "eats" through scum like magic. (07/31/2006)

By lesley

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I use a product called "The Works" found by all the household cleaners in the grocery store. It works really great on my tub. (07/31/2006)

By Donn

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Hi Debby. I'm in S. A. also, and my company deals with water and water issues. My guess is that you are dealing with calcium residue, and not soap scum. You might try CLR as a "quick-fix", but the real answer lies in individual water treatment. (07/31/2006)


By Doggy

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I have two that I have used with great results. One is Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser and the other is Bar Keeper's Friend. With the Bar Keeper's Friend, you do have to use a scrub brush, but it doesn't take much scrubbing at all. Good luck! (07/31/2006)

By Robin

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I really liked using a mixture of equal parts of water and baking soda. Lots of gunk, and that took it off with only a quick wipe of the cloth! (07/31/2006)

By Coreen Hart

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I found that Lemon Oil works perfectly. It will remove the scum in one swipe. It even states it on the bottle. So the great thing for wood is also a soap scum remover. One draw back, it is slippery, so a quick pass of another cleaner will make it perfect.


Hope this helps! (07/31/2006)

By Tina Brown

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I have tried all of the fixes above with varying amounts of success. Also tried Calgon Bouquet. For me, the best fix has been to not use soap at all and change to a liquid body wash (which isn't soap - I believe it's a form of detergent.) It comes in lots of yummy fragrances and at all price ranges. Use it instead of soap and no soapscum to worry about! (08/01/2006)

By Claudia-MD

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Try this: soak pure white paper towels in straight white vinegar, then stick to the sides of your tub/shower. Leave them there for a few hours or overnight.

My first attempt at this did not remove ALL of the scum, but it DID make a difference - it became "gummy" and I was able to wipe it off with a damp sponge. I should have tried reapplying another vinegar soaked paper towel (don't use prints as the dye may transfer to your tub surround). And since vinegar and baking soda makes such a powerful cleaner, try soaking the paper towels in vinegar and sprinkling with baking soda before applying. It won't hurt anything, and may just be the answer!


Good luck


By Sandra

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I agree with Mary: Used Dryer Sheets. I wasn't a believer until I tried it. I like to spray with vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes or so, then clean with my used dryer sheet. My 9 year old daughter has started cleaning the tub and it works GREAT! No chemicals to breathe and you are saving money at the same time! (08/01/2006)

By Jennifer

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Once I spilled a bottle of shampoo that is a shampoo/conditioner combo in the tub. Completely by accident, I discovered that it just ate away any soap scum that I had. I think the shampoo was Pert. Not the cheapest way to go, but an option, just the same. (08/01/2006)

By Jacquelyn Valentine

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

First off, are you sure it is hard water and soap scum? if you have an old tub, the finish may be worn and it looks bad. Minerals and soap do get in the "grain" of the tub and it is almost impossible to get out. You can get stuff at the hardware store to restore the finish if that is what the problem is. If it really is soap and minerals, I'd hit it with Lime Away first and do the upkeep with straight vinegar. Good luck. (08/01/2006)

By Carla

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

IF and ONLY if you have a bathroom ceiling exhaust fan, Easy Off Oven Cleaner is the ONLY thing some remodelers say they use for the hardest scum in tubs. Turn on the fan, apply fast and leave quickly, shutting the door for about 6 hours. When you return the odor should be gone and you can wipe tub first with paper towels, then rinse off with the shower nozzle. Secret: Don't let it accumulate to avoid using such harsh chemicals. Also, don't dare breathe it!
You could get chemical pneumonia! It's as potent as pure bleach to the lungs! It worked for us. (08/13/2006)

By Lynda

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I use a degreaser spray called AWESOME diluted with water and one of the net back scrubbers with a long plastic handle to match the bathroom and swipe around the tub walls easily and it holds enough water to aid in rinsing the cleaner/grime off in a few sweeps and dries quickly.

AWESOME is safe for plumbing and septic system too. (09/17/2007)

By Lorelei

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

If you have ventilation in your bathroom, I use bowl cleaner on my tub every once in a while when its really bad or I just moved to a new place. Cleans it quickly with no scrubbing. (12/14/2007)

By Angela

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I just got done cleaning out the bottom of my vinyl shower with Goo Gone. Worked great. I got tar out that had been tracked in after a roofing job. Just ate it away like magic. I had used Awesome, Spic and Span good ol' fashioned scrubbing, first my teen son's, then mine. Tilex, bleach, toilet bowel cleaner, nothing worked! But Goo Gone got it out great. Now looking for a great calcium residue cleaner for the glass shower doors. (05/27/2008)

By Jen

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

If you don't believe it, try it. Thanks to these posts, I tried half of them and found a cleaner that was better than all the products in my bathroom. I couldn't find the kind of shampoo I wanted, so I tried baby shampoo. I rubbed it around with a prickly stay in place plastic round curler (I bought a pack at the grocery store years ago) and it was the best bathroom cleaner I have ever used for the tile in my shower. WHO KNEW? (06/23/2008)

By MAGIC - J's Baby Shampoo andStay in place Curler

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

There is a product called Soap Scum Remover Magic. I think the company also makes Goo Gone. We had a new white tile shower put into our home and with 3 kids and me and my husband. Well, it was pretty disgusting after a very short period, despite using regular cleaning products. I bought some of this stuff at either Linens-n-Things or Bed, Bath and Beyond as a last resort. It is fantastic! The white hextile on the floor, and the white subway tile on the walls and grout looks like new! A little pricey ($12.00), but you don't need to use much and compared to Tilex, Lysol, Comet, Ajax, it is so much more effective! So, I can justify the price by using less when I clean.


By MJ Cleveland

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Arm and Hammer Scrub Free actually works as advertised. I have used em all, and used and used. Scrub Free is the only one that works the first time with minimal scrubbing! (08/22/2008)


The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Bounce Dryer Sheets and Mr. Clean eraser pads worked great at removing soap scum. Best advice is to wipe down shower/tub after use with damp cloth. Only takes little time and prevents soap scum build up. (09/03/2008)

By Judy G. from Va.

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I just used baking soda and water. I made it into a paste and rubbed on with a paper towel. Then I poured about a cup of white vinegar down the tub drain. It worked great!(10/03/2008)

By Janel

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

I have been cleaning houses since 86 one thing I found that works best on soap scum is what I call witch's brew it is a mixture of equal parts orange scented Pine Sol (must be Pine Sol no substitutes), Simple Green and water in a spray bottle. It smells like tutti-frutti gum

I just spray it on the tile the curtain or door and the tub. Let sit for a couple minutes than I take a plastic bristle broom and scrub it all down then rinse. At home after I take my shower, I just give everything a light mist and when I take my next shower, I wipe it down. If you have a lime build up, use white vinegar or Lime Away. You may need to alternate the witch's brew and Lime Away to get through the different layers. I have even used a single edge razor blade, the soap is been so thick.

The witch's brew can be used virtually on anything except for mirrors and windows it does an excellent job on plastics, the grimy arms and headrest on upholstered couches and chairs and feces - animal or human.

I have convinced all my clients to install the scrubbing bubbles tub and tile cleaner, I think it's never scrub. I do not do tubs anymore, I may find a spot here and there but that's it. I also recommend the Ka-boom never scrub for the toilet.

By Babette

The Best Cleaner for Soap Scum

Don't use Goo Gone on jetted tubs! It worked great in taking off the soap scum but it also took off the caulk from around the jets. (06/02/2009)

By Nicole

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September 7, 2009

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!

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