Removing soap scumPin

No-Scrub Homemade Soap Scum Remover

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Anyone else get almost blind with rage when dealing with soap scum? That white, chalky film can sneak up on you! At first, it’s a thin crust that most bathroom cleaning products can easily remove. But, without regular cleaning, more layers will form every time you bathe.

These layers get so hard, you might think about remodeling rather than cleaning. Good news: my homemade soap scum remover practically does all the work for you.

What Causes Soap Scum?

Soap scum results from calcium and magnesium particles in your water combined with fatty acids, oils, and other ingredients in soap. You’ll find these most often in natural or organic soaps and shampoos, like Castile soap and goat milk soap. These are better for your skin but harder to rinse off bathroom surfaces.

Also, the harder your water is, the more likely soap scum will occur. That’s because hard water contains minerals that bind with the fatty ingredients in soap and help them stick to your shower or tub’s surfaces. Not sure if you have hard water? If you have soap scum, you probably do since soft water contains salts that prevent buildup.

How Do You Get Rid of Soap Scum?

To remove soap scum from shower curtains, wash them using your machine’s delicate cycle using a cup of baking soda but no laundry detergent. Add a clean towel to the load to act as a scrubber. Hang the curtain back up once you’ve tackled soap scum on the rest of your shower’s surfaces.

To get soap scum off of your tub or shower walls, use the homemade soap scum remover. Be careful if you’re climbing into the shower to clean it, though, since the mixture is very slippery. If your shower doesn’t have grab bars, consider using a long-handled mop to wipe the walls.

Homemade Soap Scum Remover Recipe

This DIY soap scum remover can get rid of years of soap scum residue in one go without hours of scrubbing. Spray it on, wait, and rinse it away. That’s it!

You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup White vinegar, very hot but not boiling
  • 1/2 cup Dawn dish soap
  • Bar Keeper’s Friend (for marble or granite)
  • Hot Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth


  1. For tile, fiberglass, and acrylic showers: Add the heated vinegar and dish detergent to the spray bottle and swirl gently to combine. Spray your shower and tub walls, including your glass doors. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes for light buildup to overnight if needed. Rinse with hot water and buff dry.
  2. For natural stone surfaces like marble or granite: Dampen the surface with water then sprinkle some Bar Keeper’s Friend on a damp microfiber cloth and gently apply it to the surface in circles. Do not rinse. Meanwhile, add 1.5 cups of hot water and the dish detergent to the spray bottle. Spray the surface and let the mixture sit at least 30 minutes, up to overnight. Rinse hot water and buff dry.

Removing Spots on Glass Shower Doors

If you still see spots on your glass shower doors after using the homemade soap scum remover, it’s probably from hard mineral buildup, not soap. Try homemade soft scrub or baking soda and some elbow grease to rub it on with a damp sponge to fix the problem. Then, spray the surface with heated vinegar and wait 5 minutes to dissolve the mineral bonds. Wipe with a Magic Eraser or microfiber cloth and rinse well.

How to Prevent Soap Scum

• Switch to body wash. Synthetic soaps like body wash don’t contain the organic fats that bar soap does. So, they’re less likely to create soap scum.

• Soften your water. Adding Epsom salts to your bath softens the water and keeps soap scum from forming in your tub. Or consider adding a whole-home water softener system to remove the calcium and magnesium ions in your home’s water that contribute to soap scum and water spots.

• Dry your shower after you dry off. Wiping your shower walls and doors with your towel after you’ve dried off will remove a lot of soapy water, so you’ll see less soap scum. A squeegee works, too. Neither method completely removes the soapy layer, though, so you’ll still need to clean your shower weekly to prevent soap scum buildup.

• Or use homemade shower spray daily. You can keep soap scum, mold, and mildew from forming at all with this daily homemade shower cleaner spray. Spritz it on glass shower doors, walls, and even the tub. It neutralizes the fatty substances in soap so they don’t cling to your shower surfaces, and that means you’ll never have to deal with removing soap scum again.

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  1. Helped soooo much. We were about to pay for an additional layer of non slip.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      So glad it helped you!

  2. Has anyone tried this recipe with a fragrance free dish soap? The dawn was choaking me and man does my house smell! Go figure I like the smell of vinegar, but not the dawn. Ha!

  3. Barb Chamberlain says:

    I read somewhere in a similar recipe that it needs to be heated when you make the mixture so the soap and vinegar can combine chemically, but after that it isn’t necessary to reheat. I haven’t fully tested this yet.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I have not read that, but my recipe does recommend heating the vinegar.

  4. Hi Katie,

    If using cleaning vinegar (10% acetic acid), should it be diluted first? or should I reduce the amount of vinegar vs Dawn?


    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Sally,

      Since cleaning vinegar is twice as acidic, I’d dilute it.


  5. Katy Warwick says:

    Any idea what I can use if I can’t get my hands on Dawn, only able to get it online and it takes ages for it to be delivered

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Katy,
      In the U.K., Fairy works in place of Dawn. It’s very similar, aside from the color. (Colour? ?)

  6. Debra R Mox says:

    Katie, Thank you thank you thank you! I just finished rinsing my glass shower doors. No scrubbing needed thanks to your DIY. Not only is my shower sparkling clean again, this also worked on the scum build up on the porous floor to the shower. My 20yr old nephew uses all types of body washes and doesnt have the “time” to squeege the door or the tile walls etc. I did have to scrub the floor but I used a teflon safe sponge scrubby and used my feet to scrub! At 65 yrs old I don’t bend over in Any shower lol.

  7. I just used this to clean my shower curtains—perfect—no scrubbing!

  8. This is amazing!!!!! Moved into a rental home, and nasty, nasty, nasty. Oh, can I say that one more time, NASTY! This recipe took it right off. I used a majic eraser to scrub. The results where, simply amazing.

  9. Why Dawn? Can other dish soaps be used?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I recommend Dawn because it’s the best grease-cutting dish soap I’ve ever used. You’re welcome to try whatever brand you prefer, but if you’re disappointed in the results you might want to give Dawn a try before deciding the recipe doesn’t work for you.

  10. Obviously years after you originally posted this. But I came across this recipe today and tried it immediately! I have tried SO many things before and I can honestly say this stuff is the BOMB!!! It worked so well! I left in on for around an hour.

  11. Wow amazing result. Only issue is it’s so cleanbi really don’t want to use it and make a mess of it.
    Note to self… if you get the mixture on the floor use boiling water to wipe it up otherwise it’s A over T.

  12. My shower head doesn’t reach the glass enough to spray it clean. Will it matter if I just towel it off or wipe with a wet cloth or something?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Mine doesn’t reach, either. I wipe with a wet cloth and rinse it repeatedly while I work. 🙂

    2. Cynthia Wyman says:

      I usually use either a plastic cup or a plastic pitcher to rinse the very top. I also lay down an old towel (folded double) so the run-off doesn’t flood my bathroom (yes, even with the door closed!)

    3. Katie Berry says:

      That’s smart, Cynthia!

  13. I forgot to heat the vinegar…..I hope it still works….I’m desperate…’s disgusting and nothing works….sure hope it works cold…lol

  14. This was a miracle for my shower…I thought the staining (dirt and black mildew) in there was permanent, I’ve tried all types of cleaners on it. We are in a rental and the bathtub surround is super cheapo. The walls and tub are now white again. Thanks so much for providing such great tips on your site. I also used the hydrogen peroxide mix for the mildew and that helped a lot too. Planning to mix up the daily shower spray too 🙂

    1. Does it have to be Dawn? Would another dish soap work? Dawn gets a D rating from EWG

    2. Katie Berry says:

      I know it’s not a great EWG rating, but here’s the reason I use Dawn in this. Most natural dish soaps or those with better EWG ratings are oil-based. When that gets mixed with vinegar, they neutralize each other. So, rather than containing the ingredients that dissolve the bond between the soap scum and shower walls, it would just add another layer.

  15. Thank you for this!! I tried it today on my shower doors and was amazed at how easy it cleaned them!

  16. Definitely going to have to try this- we have a curtain, not doors, but we get lots of soap scum on the tiles in the shower itself. Thanks!

    1. This formula works better than anything I’ve tried! i have tried 4 different store bought products to find way to much scrubbingi nvolved, veyy little elbow grease need here.

    2. Katie Berry says:

      I am so glad you like it! Thank you for taking the time to let others know. ❤️

  17. I shall give this a try.  I’ve got some on our shower door that I keep looking at… Luckily it’s just a film and the door doesn’t have a metal surround where black gook builds up.  When I work up the energy to do it, I’ll let ya know how it goes 😉

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Please, do! Mine does have that metal surround, so I sprayed this stuff in the nooks and crannies then got out an old “spin brush” toothbrush and whirled it clean.

    2. I don’t have a microwave how else can I warm the mixture.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      You can heat the vinegar in the stove in a non-reactive pot until it’s very warm but not yet simmering. Be careful when pouring it into the spray bottle, and then add the liquid dish detergent.

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