A woman stands inside a shower and uses a microfiber cloth to clean glass shower doors

Cleaning Glass Shower Doors: Home Remedies and Hard Truths

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Hard water spots and soap scum can make your glass shower doors look awful. You can often remove the buildup with nontoxic household ingredients, then keep them crystal clear with a few preventative steps and routine cleaning. But not always.

The hard truth is sometimes even deep cleaning glass shower doors won’t do the trick. For example, years of hardened mineral buildup can cause permanent etching. Abrasive cleaning methods can also leave micro-scratches. Then, you may need a polishing compound to get them smooth and clear. But first, give these methods a try.

The Vinegar and Soap Standby

Fill a spray bottle with homemade soap scum remover made from equal parts liquid dish soap and warmed white vinegar then spray it on your glass shower doors. Wait at least 1 hour up to overnight, then scrub with a damp microfiber cloth, rinse, and squeegee your clean shower doors.

This combination relies on heat and vinegar’s acidity to dissolve mineral buildup, while the liquid dish soap loosens soap scum so you can rinse it away. Since it includes vinegar, do not use this method if your shower has a natural stone floor or walls—use the next method to clean your glass shower doors instead.

The Bar Keeper’s Friend Method

If your shower has natural stone tiles, or you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, apply a paste made of Bar Keeper’s Friend and water with a damp cloth. Wait 5-10 minutes, then gently scrub the doors with a clean, damp cloth. Use more of the paste on stubborn areas, then rinse thoroughly and squeegee dry.

Did You Know?

The inventor of Bar Keeper’s Friend discovered it after cooking rhubarb. The oxalic acid in rhubarb, which is also present in spinach, does an excellent job dissolving mineral buildup and brightening metals. BKF makes their product by recycling plant waste from industrial suppliers.

The Baking Soda and Peroxide Paste

You can also clean glass shower doors using homemade soft scrub: combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to form a stiff paste then add a dash of liquid dish soap. Apply with a damp cloth, wait 5 minutes, then scrub it with a cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide. Rinse thoroughly with water and squeegee dry.

Baking soda provides a mild abrasive that won’t scratch the glass, and the hydrogen peroxide and soap scum cut through organic residues and lift away soap scum. Use standard 3% bottle of hydrogen peroxide for this, since greater concentrations may be too harsh.

Pros and Cons of Other Methods

There are always lots of ideas on the internet about how to clean things. While the methods above are all eco-friendly, these other methods have environmental considerations you may wish to take into account.

Magic Erasers

The standard Magic Eraser sponge or sheet can clean glass shower doors with just water. To avoid abrasion, work in one direction and keep the sponge wet. Some are concerned about microplastics, but there is little current data on the topic.

Dryer sheets

A wet dryer sheet leaves a petroleum-based residue which loosens soap scum, while the polyester weave of the sheet acts as a gentle abrasive. If you’re concerned about fragrance or chemical sensitivities, skip this method. Otherwise, even a used dryer sheet works.

Household ammonia and water

An old-school method for cleaning glass shower doors used a spray made from 2 tablespoons of ammonia and 2 quarts of warm water, applied then scrubbed after 3 minutes and rinsed thoroughly. Ammonia is corrosive on many surfaces and requires safety measures like ventilation and skin protection, so it’s not popular anymore.

Keeping Glass Shower Doors Clean

A few preventative measures can keep your glass shower doors clean and free of both soap scum and mineral buildup.

• Dry after use: After every shower, use a squeegee to remove water and soap scum, or wipe the doors with a dry towel.

• Use a water repellent coating: Products like car wax or Rain-X make water bead up and roll off, so your glass shower doors don’t develop spots.

• Add a filter: Softening hard water reduces spotting and buildup. You can add a filter to the shower head pipe if installing one for your entire home isn’t feasible.

Routine attention as part of your weekly bathroom cleaning routine, combined with a deeper monthly cleaning if you live in a hard water area, can keep your glass shower doors clean and crystal clear for years.

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