4 No-Fail Strategies for Removing Soap Scum From Your Bathroom

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated December 14, 2021
Woman cleans her deep bathtub with a cloth
Photo: SolStock / E+ / Getty Images

Banish soap scum from your bathroom for good

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With every steamy shower, you're adding a new layer of soap scum to your tiles. You may not notice the first time, or even the fifth, but eventually your shower tiles will be caked with a hard-to-fight milky white substance. 

And soap scum isn't exclusive to the shower—you'll also find it on bathtubs, shower doors, sinks, and mirrors. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to safely and easily remove soap scum and leave your bathroom surfaces sparkling.

Difficulty: 1/5

Time: 30 minutes

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Lemon juice

  • White vinegar

  • Lime-A-Way

  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

  • Sponge or cloth

  • Paper towels

What Is Soap Scum?

Soap scum is difficult to clean partly because it's hard to define. It's a mixture of mildew, mineral deposits, hard water, soap talc, and body oils. 

Some cleaners only tackle one element, leaving a filmy residue and an easy base for soap scum to build upon. Cleaners with a high acid concentration, like vinegar or lemon, cut right through soap scum's high fat content, cleaning the surface more thoroughly.

Soap Scum Removal Strategies

If you’re struggling with soap scum, here are some strategies for banishing it from your bathroom.

1. Lemon Juice

Spray lemon juice liberally on the soap scum and let it sit for about a minute before scrubbing. The acid will break up any scum and make it easier to wipe away—just rub with an abrasive sponge and the film should come right off. Lemons also have plenty of other uses in the home, like cleaning glass and copper and removing ants.

2. White Vinegar

Vinegar is a simple and inexpensive acidic cleanser that you can use in numerous ways, including on soap scum. 

Dip paper towels into white vinegar and stick them to the shower walls. Let them sit for 30 minutes. The vinegar should break up the scum so you can use a brush to scrub it away.

3. Lime-A-Way

If you’d rather use an over-the-counter soap scum cleaner, we recommend Lime-A-Way. Like lemon juice and vinegar, this cleaner has a high acid content, making it more effective at fighting soap scum. 

To use Lime-A-Way, you can apply it directly to the soap scum or use a damp sponge or cloth. Then wipe away the soap scum and rinse the area with cold, clean water.

4. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

“Another great product that’s useful in removing soap scum is Mr. Clean Magic Eraser,” says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “Simply wet the sponge with warm water, rub the area with it, and dry with a clean cloth. If a residue is left behind, you may spray it with lemon juice, white vinegar, or a glass cleaner."

How to Prevent Soap Scum

Clean bathtub with open window above
Photo: alexandre zveiger / Adobe Stock

Once it's gone, there are a few steps you can take to keep soap scum away. Remember, regular maintenance is the best way to tackle soap scum. If you quickly wipe down your tile walls after each shower, you'll save yourself hours of time tackling soap scum! Some strategies for preventing soap scum include:

  • Switch from bar soap: Liquid gel cleanser is less likely to create soap scum than bar soap.

  • Always pull the shower curtain closed: Mildew grows quickly in the dark moist folds of your curtain.

  • Wash your shower curtain liner: You can wash your shower curtain liner in the washing machine with a mild detergent. Even vinyl and synthetic liners can be machine-washed.

  • Open your bathroom windows and doors: Opening windows and doors can help to decrease moisture levels and increase air circulation.

After you’ve tackled the soap scum in your bathroom and taken steps to prevent it from happening in the future, there are a few other tricks you can use to keep your bathroom spotless with minimal effort. For instance, you can clean your bathroom’s grout with a mixture of water, vinegar, and baking soda. Tackling bathroom cleaning can also be easier if you break it up into small daily tasks, like wiping down your shower and sink after use and giving your floors a quick sweep.

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