Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean and remove soap scum.

Last Updated: February 23, 2021

We’ve compiled some of our best tips and tricks on how to remove soap scum to set you up for success in the cleaning process.

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Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

How to remove soap scum from any surface

Arguably the bane of most home’s existence. If you aren’t scrubbing things down regularly, soap scum can accumulate rapidly and be somewhat stubborn to remove entirely.

However, don’t despair. All hope is not lost. We’ve compiled some of our best tips and tricks to assist you in your battle against soap scum so that you aren’t left swinging that battle axe alone.

What is soap scum?

Soap scum is a white, chalky residue composed of magnesium and calcium stearate, along with some other materials. Soap scum forms when the fatty oil or grease-based ingredients in soaps react with minerals in the water.

It’s a combination of residue, dirt, and mineral deposits. They stick to any and all available surfaces and can be beastly to remove if allowed to build up and harden. The situation is made even worse if you have hard water.

What is the best cleaner for soap scum?

Soap scum can cover any and all areas, from shower walls, doors, and tubs, to fixtures like shower heads and water taps. Since most of these items are made of different materials, the ideal soap scum remover should work on most, if not all of them.

What constitutes a good soap scum cleaner? Ideally it should be non-abrasive, non-toxic, and preferably, it should not require aggressive scrubbing. You can try using store bought cleaners, although there are several homemade cleaners you can whip up that can often work equally as well, if not better. A few of the most popular store brands include:

  • Kaboom Foam-tastic Bathroom Cleaner
  • Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser
  • Clean Shower Daily Shower Cleaner
  • ForceField ScumBlaster

Recommended Grove products

How do I remove soap scum from any surface?

Method 1: Baking soda and vinegar for deep cleaning

This method is ideal for cleaning off soap scum from a glass shower door, as well as fiberglass shower enclosures.

You will need:

Baking soda

Distilled white vinegar

Microfiber cloth / sponge

Table salt (optional)

Hydrogen peroxide (optional)


How to do it:

Step 1:

Mix together baking soda and distilled white vinegar in a plastic bowl to create your cleaning mixture. Note that this concoction will fizz a bit, so don’t be alarmed.

Step 2:

Once the mixture stops fizzing, dip a microfiber cloth into it and apply it to the soap scum stained area.

Step 3:

Let the cleaning mixture sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then wipe down the area with a clean cloth. Rinse carefully with water and dry thoroughly to prevent water stains.

Grove Tip

If the soap scum is heavy, try dipping the microfiber cloth drenched with the cleaning solution into table salt. Gently scrub for a few minutes, using the table salt as a gentle abrasive.

You can also switch out some of the vinegar with hydrogen peroxide in your cleaning mixture. This will make it easier to cut through stubborn soap scum buildup!

Method 2: White vinegar and dish detergent for daily cleaning

This cleaning solution works well on soap scum that’s stuck to showers and sinks, plus metal attachments like faucets, walls, and doors. It can also be used to clean other areas and items at home like refrigerators, furniture, etc.

You will need:

Liquid dishwashing detergent

Distilled white vinegar

Water (optional)

Spray bottle


How to do it:

Step 1:

Whip up your cleaning solution in a spray bottle by mixing together liquid dishwashing detergent, distilled white vinegar, and water.

Step 2:

Spray the solution on the problematic surfaces and leave it to set for 10 minutes or so.

Step 3:

Once the solution has had time to work its magic, rinse it off with hot water. You can also use an absorbent cloth to dry the areas completely and prevent water marks.

Step 4:

(Optional) For more efficient cleaning, you can leave out the water in the cleaning solution. This works especially well on heavy and hard soap scum that’s been there awhile, and also other grime and residue that’s tough to remove.

Method 3: Lemon and borax

Designed especially for tough stains and soap scum that’s leftover from products sitting on shelves or floors, this mixture may just be the bees knees.

You will need:

Borax

Lemon juice

Microfiber cloth


How to do it:

Step 1:

Make a cleaning paste by mixing the borax and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Step 2:

Apply said paste onto the soap scummy area and let it go to work for a good 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 3:

Once the borax and lemon mix does it’s job, the soap scum will be soft enough to be easily removed. You should be able to wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. Be sure to rinse well with water and buff dry for best results.

What can I do to prevent soap scum in my house?

We certainly believe prevention is better than a cure! This is especially true in the case of soap scum, since it can become difficult to remove depending on how long it’s been there.


Some soap scum can even become as hard as concrete! With that terrifying thought in mind, we’ve compiled our favorite tips below to help you prevent soap scum from gumming up the joint in the first place. It’s up to you to do the work!

  • To prevent soap scum from forming in the first place, switch your soap bar with liquid or gel based soaps.
  • Apply car wax or a glossing gel after removing soap scum. This will form a layer of protection on the surfaces and make it difficult for soap scum to form again.
  • Sprinkle epsom salt in your bath as it is not only soothing for the skin, but does double duty and clears out soap scum along with itself when it is drained.
  • Keep your shower and tub areas dry as dampness not only promotes the formation of soap scum, but may also allow mold and mildew to grow on top of the scum. Yuck!
  • Invest in a daily shower cleaning product that works quickly and is non-toxic.

Soap scum may well be your nemesis today, but by implementing some of our tried and true cleaning methods, tomorrow it will be nothing but a grimy memory. Get your clean on, Grove friends.

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Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on soap scum, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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