Posted on: August 14, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 8

You’re organizing a dinner party at home this Saturday night and you want to make sure that all the corners of your house are squeaky clean, especially your bathroom. You are faced with several problems, including the dreaded bathroom enemy of all — soap scum.

For many people, the most challenging bathroom stain to remove is not the toilet stain but soap scum. Removing soap scum looks very simple and easy, but in reality many of us lose our patience when faced with this monumental task.

Armed with a brush and bleach solution, intense scouring is the only known solution to many; however, not all bathroom fixtures can withstand abrasives. The frustrating end result? A bathroom free of soap scum with all the fixtures damaged by abrasions.

Soap scum can be found everywhere in the bathroom. It can be on the sides of the tub, walls, sliding doors, and even on the floor. Soap scum accumulates when people use enough soap to wash the natural oils from their bodies but not enough soap to completely remove everything that spills on the tiles. The fat usually sits on the tile, hardens, and combines with soap molecules to become hard-to-remove scum.

It’s crazy to spend so much time getting rid of soap scum. Here are some ingenious ways you can try to eliminate soap scum effortlessly, and prevent it from building up so quickly.

The Ammonia Recipe

Ammonia is a certified scum remover because it dissolves fat that makes up the bulk of soap scum. Don’t forget to use gloves when cleaning with ammonia because it can hurt your skin. It’s a strong liquid solvent with huge concentrations that can irritate your eyes. You’ll need liquid ammonia (for household use), a measuring cup, a spray bottle and a clean towel.

  • Make an ammonia solution by mixing one part of ammonia to two parts of water. For instance, if you’re using a cup, mix one cup of ammonia with two cups of water.
  • Place your ammonia solution in a spray bottle and you can start spraying the solution on the problem areas. You should see the soap scum slowly softening.
  • Once you see it breaking apart, wipe the scum off with a piece of rag or towel.
  • After the scum is removed, you need to rinse the area thoroughly to make sure the ammonia residue is removed as well.

The Vinegar Method

If in case you cannot find ammonia, you should use a vinegar solution to curb your soap scum dilemma. This time, you’ll need vinegar, a spray bottle, a clean towel, a measuring cup and a microwave.

  • Measure two cups of vinegar.
  • Using your microwave, slightly warm up the vinegar. The vinegar doesn’t have to be too hot.
  • Pour your warm vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the soap scum.
  • Allow the vinegar to break down the soap scum by letting it stand for two minutes after spraying.
  • You can begin wiping the scum off a few minutes later. Towel dry the area. You can also use a dryer sheet, which is advisable to wipe soap scum off walls.


Borax may sound a bit geeky, but it’s actually just the common scouring powder. It may be a bit tough to use borax to remove plenty of soap scum, but it can be effective for little circles and minute traces. Make sure you use an acrylic scrub sponge to avoid damaging your bathroom fixtures. For better results, rinse the area down with hot water.

Improvised Soap Scum Remover

This is an effective solution to easily scrub soap scum from shower heads, grout, soap holders, and even tiles. To do this, you’ll need to mix a variety of substances.

Mix the following ingredients thoroughly in a small basin:

  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of ammonia
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • six cups of water


  • NEVER add bleach to the mixture because it will react with the ammonia.
  • Apply this solution to the problematic areas.
  • Start scrubbing with the use of acrylic sponge or a terry cloth. Ammonia can irritate your skin but not so much because six parts of water are involved. It’s best if you still wear gloves while doing this.
  • After scrubbing all the soap scum off, you don’t have to rinse down the area.
  • Leave it to dry as it is.

Control The Scum

It’s very important to invest some time making sure that soap scum won’t build up in your bathroom. Soap scum that sits too long in the bathroom is hazardous to your health. Soap scum also contains your body oil and bacteria that goes with it. After some time, it’ll be the breeding grounds of mold and mildew, which can give you skin problems. It can also make your bathroom too slippery for comfort. Follow these two simple tips to prevent soap scum build-up:

  • After every shower, take the time to wipe off some soap residue off your tub. Make sure you get everything covered including the sides and the bottom of the tub. This ensures that soap scum build-up will only take place once in a blue moon.
  • After removing the soap scum using any of the techniques mentioned above, it is best to apply a layer of furniture wax (like lemon oil).

This is good for two reasons:

  • It will place a protective layer over your tiles, preventing soap scum from setting on the area.
  • It gives your tiles a nice shine and a fresh scent.

There are also soap scum removers that are commercially available. If you choose to go with a commercial product, make sure that you read and follow the directions carefully. Many people experience frustration because they don’t get the best results from the soap scum removers they buy. Follow what’s indicated in the packaging. Remember that commercial products tend to be overrated. Using too little or too many of these products won’t yield you the best results.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of soap scum.

8 People reacted on this

  1. I tried bleach, vinegar for soap scum without success. the said part the scum did not come from me but from previous tenants. I guess I either have to replace the door or cover it up with tacky paper

  2. The last paragraph of this article is SO TRUE! I have 42 bucks worth of soap scum crap. Buying a new 200,000 dollar home and having a shower door with soap scum is killing me softly on the inside, I look forward to using these farmers almanac techniques. Ill respond later with the results.

  3. The Improvised Soap Scum Remover doesn’t work. Maybe if the shower is new but not on the white mineral deposits you normally have. So what does work?

  4. I found that a combination of Dawn dishwashing liquid and baking soda scrubs the scummy stuff off without abrading the finish of our shower ( acrylic with glass doors) Have to b careful not to scratch the finish, or it is gone forever. the baking soda cuts the fat deposits and the detergent disperses it. Rinse thoroughly as quickly as you can.. if it dries in place it takes more elbow grease to get the glass clear.. but afterwards the water beads up & rolls off. the wax tip sounds like it could be very slippery and therefore very dangerous..

  5. It does not make sense to add both ammonia and vinegar to your improvised soap scum remover. Ammonia is a base, and vinegar is a weak acid. They’ll just neutralize each other.

  6. Best thing we have done is just cleaned once a week and so far so good. No one wants to clean their shower, but its worth it. me and my wife alternate

  7. Soap scum is calcium stearate and magnesium stearate. Try using soap scum cleaner. They have laboratory proof they dissolve soap scum. Showers also have what is called sebum which vinegar and most other homemade products can’t clean. Sebum is the waxy oil our bodies secrete.

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