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How to Remove Years of Soap Scum Buildup From Bathroom Surfaces

cleaner wearing black gloves cleaning heavily stained shower fixture that is riddled with soap scum

Getting rid of soap scum from the bathroom isn’t a tough task, but when you are dealing with years worth of buildup, that’s when cleaning poses more of a challenge. Everyday or weekly cleaning methods are rarely successful in effectively removing old soap scum from bathroom surfaces which is precisely why you should clean your bathroom regularly! More importantly, this grimy buildup is highly unsanitary, thus creating a very unhygienic bathroom space for you, your family, and guests.

Depending on the type of surface, and how long soap scum has been sitting on it, the cleaning tools, products, and methods required to remove it will differ. So, in order to achieve the best cleaning results, you have to know Maid For You’s best cleaning tips to remove years of soap scum buildup in your bathroom! Read on.

Removing Old Soap Scum From Different Bathroom Surfaces

bathroom basin tap that is heavily stained with soap scum

Much like hard water stains, soap scum (also known as limescale) is a chalky buildup that is caused by the combination of minerals (in the water) and soap. It appears as a whitish or yellowish film once the surface has dried, thereby causing dullness and discolouration. This scaly buildup gets thicker as time (or years) pass, therefore, allowing it to really cling to the bathroom surface. 

So, how do you remove soap scum buildup from your bathroom? Let’s find out!

Wall & Shower Tiles

While your shower tiles encounter the major brunt of grime that consists of dirt, body oils, and soap scum, the splash back from your shower makes the wall tiles prone to the buildup as well. Overtime, the limescale becomes crusty, and requires some amount of abrasiveness to remove from tiled surfaces. 

Here are the steps to get rid of years of soap scum on bathroom tiles:

  1. In a spray bottle, combine 1 part liquid dish soap, 1 part warm water, and 2 parts warm vinegar. Close the bottle and shake it vigorously until the ingredients are mixed properly.
  2. Spray the bathroom tiles generously with the cleaning solution, ensuring that you do not miss a spot. 
  3. To effectively break down limescale on bathroom tiles, allow the cleaner to sit for at least 30 minutes. If you notice that the cleaning solution is doing its job in a shorter period of time, you may proceed to the next step before the end of 30 minutes.
  4. Dampen a non-abrasive scrubber or tile brush with warm water, dip it in a bowl of salt, and then scrub the tiles in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse the wall and shower tiles immediately after scrubbing, and check for any missed spots. If needed, spray any remnants of soap scum with your DIY cleaning solution and scrub after 5 minutes. Rinse the area thoroughly when finished.
  6. It is best to dry your shower and wall tiles after removing soap scum to prevent hard water stains or spots.

Glass Shower Door

There are quite a few commercial cleaning products on the markets that are intended to remove soap scum from glass shower doors; however, if you choose to, you can get the job done with a DIY cleaning solution instead. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make a thick paste of baking soda and white distilled vinegar in a plastic bowl. Allow the ingredients to react until the foaming/fizzing stops.
  2. Using a sponge or microfibre cloth, apply the paste to the glass door by scooping up small amounts, and spreading them over the surface.
  3. Leave the paste on the glass for up to 15 minutes.
  4. Dampen a clean microfibre cloth and wipe the glass to remove the loosened soap scum.
  5. Spray the glass shower door with water to rinse off the baking soda and vinegar paste.
  6. Finish off by wiping the glass with a clean, lint-free towel to prevent water spots.

Stainless Steel & Chrome Fixtures

Showerheads, faucets, and other bathroom fixtures made of stainless steel and chrome are prone to soap scum and hard water stains. The buildup of this unsightly residue does not only dull the metal fixtures, but it drags down the rest of the bathroom interior’s aesthetic! 

If your bathroom fixtures have years worth of soap scum buildup, use the following method to clean them and bring back their shine:

  1. In a pot, combine equal parts water and white distilled vinegar; heat the mixture so that it is just warm.
  2. Soak a microfibre cleaning cloth in the solution, and drape it over the fixture.
  3. After 5 minutes, use the cloth to wipe down the chrome or stainless steel fixture.
  4. Finish off by buffing the surface dry with a clean soft cloth.

As an alternative to removing soap scum from your showerhead, soak the fixture in equal parts water and vinegar by tying a plastic bag (filled with the solution) over the showerhead to submerge it. Leave it for 30 minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or microfibre cloth; buff dry thereafter.

Porcelain Sinks & Tubs

Soap scum sticks to porcelain surfaces like gum to your shoes! Even worse, the longer you let it sit, the more fighting power you need to get it out. It may take some time and quite a bit of elbow grease but with this cleaning method, you can effectively remove soap scum from your porcelain tub or sink.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Pour undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle and set aside.
  2. Dampen the porcelain surface with water, and sprinkle baking soda over it immediately so that the powder sticks to the surface.
  3. Spray the porcelain with vinegar so that it forms a pasty consistency while sitting on the surface. If needed, sprinkle more baking soda over the sink/tub interior after spraying on the vinegar. 
  4. Allow the ingredients to sit for approximately half an hour.
  5. Use a damp cleaning brush to scrub the porcelain clean.
  6. Rinse the tub/sink thoroughly, and check for remnants of soap scum. Repeat the steps above if needed.
  7. Once clean, dry the porcelain tub or sink with a clean, lint-free cloth.

Although old soap scum is stubborn, there are certain ingredients that cut through it, and specific cleaning methods that break down the scaly buildup, making it easier to remove than most people think. Learning how to remove years of soap scum buildup will help bring back the sparkles your bathroom has been missing for too, too long! So, put your cleaning gloves on and gather the tools and cleaning agents you will need as you set out to get rid of that nasty, old soap scum in your bathroom!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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