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How to Easily Remove Soap Scum From Your Bathroom

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

How to Easily Remove Soap Scum From Your Bathroom

What is Soap Scum?

Soap scum is the chalky, filmy residue that builds up on bathroom surfaces over time. It forms when soap combined with mineral deposits in water are left to dry on surfaces like tile, grout, bathtubs, and shower doors.

Soap scum has a cloudy, whitish appearance and feels gritty to the touch. It builds up gradually as we bathe and the soapy water drips and evaporates. Soap scum often sticks strongly to surfaces and can be frustrating to remove.

With regular cleaning, however, removing soap scum doesn’t have to be a daunting chore. There are several effective methods and commercial products available that can help banish soap scum and restore your bathroom’s surfaces to a like-new shine.

What Causes Soap Scum Buildup?

There are two main culprits that create the dreaded soap scum that coats bathroom surfaces:

  • Hard water – Water that contains high amounts of mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium. As hard water evaporates, it leaves behind a noticeable white residue.

  • Soap products – Most bar and liquid soaps contain fat or fatty acids that react with the minerals in water. As the soapy water dries, these ingredients combine to form the insoluble soap scum deposit.

Areas with hard water tend to experience heavy soap scum buildup. Using soaps that contain moisturizing ingredients like oils and fatty acids also increases soap scum formation.

The bathtub, shower walls, shower doors, faucets, sinks, and tile grout lines are typical problem areas where soapy water accumulates and dries. Soap scum sticks easily to these surfaces, allowing layers to build up over time.

How to Remove Existing Soap Scum

If your bathroom already suffers from built-up soap scum, don’t worry – it can be removed. Here are some simple, DIY methods to banish soap scum:


White vinegar is a natural and safe cleaning agent that works wonders for dissolving soap scum.

To use it:

  • Spray full-strength white vinegar directly onto soap scum deposits.

  • Let the vinegar soak for several minutes to allow it to break down the scum.

  • Scrub with a soft brush or sponge.

  • Rinse well with clean water.

Vinegar’s high acidity helps dissolve soap scum with ease. It’s inexpensive, non-toxic, and works on most bathroom surfaces.

Baking Soda

For a gentle abrasive scrub, mix baking soda with water to form a paste.

  • Apply the paste to soap scum and let it sit briefly.

  • Scrub with a soft brush or sponge.

  • Rinse thoroughly.

The grainy texture of baking soda combined with its alkaline properties help remove stuck-on soap scum without damaging surfaces.

Dish Soap

Good old dish soap isn’t just for dishes! The degreasing formula found in dish soap like Dawn can break up soap scum quickly.

  • Squirt a small amount of dish soap directly onto affected areas.

  • Let it set for 2-3 minutes.

  • Scrub with a damp sponge or scrub brush.

  • Rinse well.

The surfactants in dish soap cling to greasy soap scum residue, allowing it to be rinsed away easily.

Commercial Cleaners

For heavy soap scum deposits, a commercial cleaner formulated specifically for soap scum removal often works best. Look for a product that contains ingredients like:

  • Oxalic acid – An acidic compound that dissolves soap scum.

  • Surfactants – Help lift and float away soap scum so it can be rinsed off.

  • Scrubbing beads/powder – Provide gentle abrasion to help scrub off sticky buildup.

Spray or wipe the cleaner directly onto soap scum according to label directions. Let it soak in for several minutes, then scrub and rinse away.

Preventing Soap Scum Buildup

The best way to deal with soap scum is to prevent its buildup in the first place. Here are some tips:

Use a Squeegee

One of the easiest ways to minimize soap scum is to squeegee water off smooth shower walls, doors, and tile after bathing. This prevents soapy water from drying and depositing residue.

Make squeegeeing part of your post-shower routine. It only takes a minute and really helps!

Rinse Surfaces

Give surfaces a quick extra rinse while you’re still in the shower to wash away any remaining soap before it has a chance to dry and form scum deposits.


Exfoliating scrubs and shower sprays help slough away soap scum before it accumulates. Use an exfoliating cleanser or scrub periodically in the shower to keep surfaces free of buildup.

Filter Hard Water

In hard water areas, installing a water softening system can make a huge difference in soap scum formation. Softened water won’t leave the same mineral deposits behind.

Limit Moisturizing Soaps

Super moisturizing liquid body washes and bar soaps tend to contribute more to soap scum. Opt for a gentler, low-moisturizing cleanser.

Clean Often

Regular bathroom cleaning is key for preventing soap scum. Get in the habit of giving surfaces a quick wipe down after bathing along with a thorough weekly cleaning session. This keeps soap scum from getting out of hand.


Dealing with soap scum buildup is a common hassle in many bathrooms, but it can be managed with some simple cleaning methods and preventive habits:

  • Safely remove existing soap scum with natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda or formulated commercial cleaners.

  • Help prevent buildup by squeegeeing surfaces after showering, rinsing well, and exfoliating.

  • In hard water areas, a water softener can minimize soap scum formation.

  • Clean bathrooms frequently and limit use of moisturizing soaps.

With the right techniques, you can keep your bathroom’s surfaces looking fresh, clean and free of annoying soap scum. A little effort goes a long way towards an enjoyable, relaxing bathing experience!

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