How to Clean Soap Scum and Tips to Prevent Buildup

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Glass doors or walls in the bathroom combine both form and function. They act as a solid partition between the wet and dry portions of the room without blocking the light and making the overall space feel too restricting. A common feature in most modern bathrooms, glass shower enclosures can also easily be the bane of your existence because of their susceptibility to soap scum. It’s a stubborn residue that can be annoying, but luckily, it’s not a mystery! In this article, we share brilliant hacks straight from our finest cleaners from Milwaukee on how to clean soap scum effectively and slow down the buildup. 

What is soap scum, and what causes it?

Soap scum is that white, thin layer that builds up on different surfaces, mainly glass shower enclosures, bathtubs, sinks, and in rare cases, even laundry in areas with hard water. When you wash using hard water, its high mineral concentration, primarily of magnesium and calcium, reacts with the soap’s fatty acids (like stearic acid) and actively forms a chalky substance, otherwise known as soap scum (calcium or magnesium stearate).

The best cleaning hacks to get rid of soap scum

Soap scum shouldn’t be a cause for panic because it is harmless and no rocket science to clean. But a bathroom with no signs of it is actually a reflection of how well-maintained your home is. Here are some bathroom cleaning tips our cleaning professionals swear by.

  • Vinegar and water spray – Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle for everyday cleaning. Apply liberally to the soap scum. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to let the solution “cure” properly before scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely. Use this eco-friendly cleaning solution to remove soap scum or hard water stains on glass shower enclosures and metal or chrome faucets. 
  • Baking soda paste – For tougher soap scum problem, usually when the buildup has turned grayish or greenish in color, create a paste by combining baking soda with a little water. Apply the paste directly to the affected area, let it sit for 30 minutes, and scrub with a non-abrasive sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Baking soda paste is a perfect solution for cleaning soap scum and deep-seated grime on ceramic tiles and the grout in between. 
  • Dish soap – Aside from cutting grease, dish soap is another straightforward solution to tackling soap scum. Mix a few drops with the vinegar solution and clean the surface with a soft sponge. The blue Dawn Original dishwashing liquid is a particular favorite on shower doors.
  • Citric Acid – If you’re dealing with seriously gross soap scum buildup, the kind that seems to be stuck on the surface, you need something stronger, like citric acid powder. Add one tablespoon per cup of hot water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply to the affected areas. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub with a non-abrasive sponge, rinse, and then dry completely. Don’t forget to wear hand gloves and a face mask to prevent skin or nasal irritation. 

How to prevent soap scum buildup

Aside from leaving a good impression on potentially unannounced visitors, going the extra mile to solve the issue of soap scum in your home also gives you bragging rights and self-satisfaction, knowing your place looks pristine and will be easier to maintain in the long run. 

So, how do you do it? Follow these steps.

  • Switch to liquid soap – If you live in an area with hard water, stop using bar soap. Liquid soap is less prone to reacting with minerals and leaves less residue behind, making your bathroom cleaning routine a breeze.
  • Use a squeegee – After every shower, clean the glass enclosure with a squeegee to remove excess water, minimize moisture, and prevent soap scum from adhering to the surface.
  • Optimize ventilation– Open a window or turn on the exhaust fan to ensure proper ventilation in your bathroom and reduce moisture buildup, which is a major contributor to soap scum. 
  • Wipe surfaces dry – After cleaning your bathroom, wipe down shower walls, faucets, and soap dishes with a damp microfiber cloth, followed by a dry one or a paper towel. This quick wipe-down prevents soap scum from building up.
  • Deep clean your shower head – To prevent hard water mineral deposits, thoroughly clean your showerhead regularly. Check out our guide on how to Clean Your Shower Head Like a Pro
  • Invest in a water softener – If you want to take it to the next level, you can also get a whole-house water treatment system that tackles hard water head-on. Although admittedly costly, taking this step goes beyond preventing soap scum buildup; it also effectively addresses common hard water issues, such as skin irritation, laundry stains, and limescale buildup that can be damaging to your plumbing and appliances. 

Effortless home upkeep? Let BetterCleans do it for you!

Keep soap scum and other nasties at bay with a regular cleaning from the best maid services in Milwaukee. We’ll take care of all the mess and transform your house into a spotless space you’d love to come home to. Book a clean today!

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