You don't have to live with that dull film on the surface of your shower walls. Here's how to remove soap scum from tile and restore your bathroom's gleam.
Remove soap scum from tile. Photo: Corbis
Contrary to what its namesake suggests, soap scum isn't just composed of dried-on, dirty suds. Though dirt is definitely one of its components, soap scum is really more of a grotesque amalgamation of mineral deposits, shed dead-skin cells, body oils and bacteria.
Anything containing just two of these ingredients alone would be reason enough why it would be difficult removing it from any surface, let alone tile.
Here's how to handily remove soap scum from, and prevent it from forming on, the most common type of surfaces it forms on in your home.
Turn on the bathroom exhaust fan and/or open the door before you begin. Rubber gloves are also a good idea.
1. Fill a bucket or wash basin with warm water
and place it in the tub or sink so errant drips flow right down the drain. If you're working on the shower stall, it's best to begin just after taking a shower, as residue will come off easier.
2. Apply a few drops of grease-cutting dish soap to a scrubbing sponge,
such as Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber
, which comes infused with surfactant. It apparently removes up to three times more gunk than scrubbing alone with an all-purpose cleaner.
3. Wet the sponge and scrub away!
Scour small sections in tight, circular motions. Repeat as necessary.
4. Rinse tile with water.
Then adjust the showerhead (or detach your handheld model) to get hard-to-reach areas. Wipe down walls with squeegee (optional).
If Stubborn Scum Won't Budge:
Give finished ceramic tiles the once-over with a tile scraper
(really no more than a wide-edged razor blade with a handy grip). Be gentle, and double back with the scrubbing sponge to banish remaining deposits.
If you have marble, Travertine, slate or granite tile:
Since natural stone tile is softer and more porous than finished ceramic tile, you'll need to use a gentle, non-acidic cleaner
to tackle soap scum. Abrasive scouring pads will damage these surfaces, too. Use a regular, soft-sided kitchen sponge to remove soap-scum from delicate, natural-stone tile.
To Prevent Future Build-Up...
• Nix the bar soap in the shower.
Switch to liquid soap-it leaves less residue.
• Invest in a squeegee.
Wipe down tiles after every shower to remove errant soap splatter before it has a chance to dry.
• Coat tile with lemon oil.
Dab a small amount onto a dry, soft cloth and work your way over tiles. Soapy water will bead up, and then roll right off.
• Get a cool tool that works while you're away.
A fully automated shower cleaner that even targets "problem" areas. One question: Where has it been all our lives?
We've heard that a good wash-down with regular shampoo and an old mesh shower puff works, too. Makes sense to us because of the degreasing agents in it. Have you tried it?
What other formulas have you used to remove soap scum from your tile surfaces?
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