Here are instructions for how to clean and remove soap scum from hard surfaces around your home, especially in the bathroom.
Soap scum is something that insidiously covers the hard surfaces of your bathtub and shower, with time, and then seems to stay there.
It looks and feels gross on the tiles, or other bathroom surfaces, but when you try to clean and remove it using your normal cleaners it doesn't seem to make a dent.
I'll explain to you, below, why most cleaners can't touch soap scum, and what you can do to clean it from your bathroom surfaces once and for all.
Before you can figure out how to clean or remove something, you've got to know what it is, and that includes soap scum.
This often grayish film, that covers bathtubs and shower walls, is actually "insoluable precipitates." That's really a fancy way of saying that this film is a combination of soap and the minerals and salts often found in hard water.
You can get soap scum build up from many different types of products that contain soaps, including bar or liquid soap, as well as body washes, shampoos and more.
Since soap scum is an insoluable precipitate that means it is inorganic. The fact that it is inorganic explains, in a nutshell, why most cleaning products won't remove it.
Most cleaning products have an alkaline pH which typically work better to clean organic dirt. However, alkaline products are not very effective in removing and cleaning inorganic dirt and grime.
Instead, for soap scum you want to use, where it's safe for the surface, an acidic cleaning product.
(You can learn more about how the pH of the cleaner affects what it will clean in this article here on the site.)
Many products that call themselves a soap scum remover or cleaner, or those saying they'll remove hard water scale, will work well for cleaning soap scum.
You can check out my round up of soap scum cleaner reviews here, if you're looking for a good commercially available product. You'll notice that all of these products in the round up are at least slightly acidic in nature, be design.
You do need to be careful with any type of acidic cleaner though, because with prolonged exposure or a low enough pH (meaning it is a stronger acid), the acids within the product can dull or even etch tiles or glass.
That means with any acidic product you use you need to carefully follow the directions, giving the cleaner time to work properly, but not leaving it on longer, or using it in higher concentrations than those recommended, so you don't cause damage to the surface you're trying to clean.
Further, many bathrooms use stones, such as marble, limestone or granite within the shower or sink area. These stones can also become covered in soap scum, but acidic cleaning products would harm them.
Therefore, in those types of situations you need to ask a professional, such as the installer of the stone, for a recommended soap scum remover or descaler that is safe for your type of stone.
You can also check out these stone cleaner reviews here for ideas of what would work.
You don't have to buy a product to remove soap scum from your bathroom surfaces (unless you find it more convenient). However, if you want to, you can make your own soap scum remover.
The most effective recipes are acidic in nature, as explained above, plus they're combined with something that helps gently scrub away the scum film once the acidic cleaner loosens it.
Lemon oil, the kind you'd use on furniture (as shown below), not the essential oil, is great at loosening soap scum buildup.
Apply the lemon oil to the shower tiles or glass shower door and let it sit for a few minutes, allowing it to begin to dissolve the inorganic film. Then, use a plastic non-scratching scrubber to help you remove the oil, plus the soap scum, from the surface.
Depending on how thick the layer of soap scum is in the bathroom you may need to do this a few times to remove it all.
Similarly, you can also use a citric acid based Kool-Aid flavor, such as lemon or orange, as a base for making a good soap scum remover, especially on glass shower doors.
You can see such a recipe here, in my article rounding up quite a few homemade shower cleaner recipes.
Once you spend a lot of time trying to remove layers and layers of soap scum from your bathroom surfaces the more you'll want to prevent it from forming, from now on.
The key is to clean your shower or other bathroom surfaces that are getting a build up of soap scum more regularly, with something that contains an acid. Many people like to use a homemade shower and tub cleaner composed of vinegar and dish soap for this purpose.
Cleaning up the soap scum film regularly keeps it from getting too thick and built-up, because the thicker the build up the harder it is to remove.
In addition, if you have extremely hard water, you can also help prevent soap scum formation by wiping down your shower or tub to remove both water and soapy residue, regularly, after each use.
To do this you can either use a towel destined for the wash, drying the walls and floor of the tub or shower after you get out, or you can use a squeegee.
Now that you know how to clean soap scum from hard surfaces, you can check out more tips for how to clean anything here.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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