How to Clean Years of Soap Scum Using 3 Easy Strategies

By Marsha Harrison

how to clean years of soap scum

When the substances in your soap combine with the minerals in hard water, dirt, bacteria, body oils, and dead skin, they form “soap scum.”

Over time, they build up and harden on bathroom surfaces. The longer you leave them on the tiles, countertops, showers, and tubs, the more difficult it is to remove them.

But all is not lost! Follow along as I show you how to clean years of soap scum on different types of surfaces and give you tips to prevent them from building up in the first place.

Things You Need

While store-bought cleaners are formulated for bathroom surfaces, they can pose health risks. Before you reach out for a commercial cleaner, look for the following items in your pantry:

  • Dish soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Lemon juice
  • Sponge
  • Spray bottle
  • Brush
  • Bowl or any container
  • Rag
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands

Scrubbing Away Years’ Worth of Soap Scum


1. Prepare your cleaning solution and other supplies

Mix the following ingredients in a bowl or container:

  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide

That said, be sure that you have baking soda ready. You will be adding it later when you scrub the surfaces.

As for tools, you will need a cloth to apply the paste, as well as a brush to rub out the soap scum.

Tip: According to this Love to Know article, the powerful combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda forms a paste that can clean years of soap scum off the tile and a bathtub.

2. Scrub away the soap scum

Apply the paste solution directly to the soap scum using a cloth. For it to work, leave the mixture for an hour or so to let it get deeper into the stains.

After that, add a bit of water and use your brush to scrub the surface in a circular motion, targeting soap scum.

Next, sprinkle some baking soda on the brush and buff up the toughest stains with elbow grease.

You can rinse it with water and repeat the steps above until you restore your tiles and tub to their original state.

Cleaning Away Soaps Scum From Fiberglass Tub

Although there are plenty of commercial cleaning products designed for fiberglass, you can formulate your DIY soap scum cleaner.

There are three recipes you can use to remove soap scum from your fiberglass tub or shelf.

1. Deal with tough stain

As instructed in this article on The Spruce, You can start with 1 cup of borax and ¼ lemon juice to make a paste.

Apply the mixture directly to the soap scum and let it do its magic for 15 minutes. Use a cloth to wipe away the mixture.

Soak the area with water and buff it dry.

Tip: You can also try this mixture on a stainless steel or porcelain tub or sink.

2. Clean the soap scum every week

To do this, another tutorial from The Spruce suggests making a paste of ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda in a bowl or container.

This combination will cause the substances to foam but once it stops, you can see a paste forming.

Apply the paste onto the fiberglass surfaces with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. Let it sit for 10 minutes then rinse with water.

Use a soft towel to dry the surfaces.

Tip: Do this every week to prevent the soap scum from accumulating on your fiberglass bathroom surfaces.

Removing Soap Scum From Bathroom Walls


1. Gather your supplies and mix ingredients

For this soap scum remover tutorial, prepare the following:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Soft brush or old toothbrush with soft bristles

Pour water, vinegar, and dish soap into the spray bottle.

Be sure to put the lid back on. Then, shake the container vigorously to mix the ingredients.

Tip: This vinegar solution can remove soap scum from shower walls, glass doors, and bathroom fixtures.

2. Start cleaning

Spray the mixture on the surfaces and let it sit for the next 20 minutes or so before scrubbing. This ensures the cleaning solution is given enough time to work its way into the stains.

Next, use a sponge to scrub the soap scum off glass, walls, and fixtures. If you find a specific area harder to clean, you can scrub it with a soft brush.

Last but not least, rinse off the solution as recommended in this tutorial on Bob Vila. You can repeat the process to remove the remaining soap scum.

Eliminating Soap Scum on Metal Surfaces

Soap scum can also build up on shower heads, metal door handles, and faucets. But before you start mixing ingredients, you need to identify the specific material of the fixture.

In any case, here are your strategies:

1. Cleaning chrome and stainless steel

The best way to remove soap scum on chrome fixtures that I have tried is using distilled white vinegar.

Pour distilled water into a plastic bag. Make sure there is enough to submerge the faucet or shower head.

Let the fixture soak in the bag of vinegar for one hour and rinse them with clean water afterward.

If you see some remaining soap scum, Oh So Spotless recommends scrubbing it before drying the fixture completely.

2. Cleaning oil-finished brass and bronze

Oil-finished brass and bronze are delicate surfaces, so the wisest move is to read the manufacturer’s recommendations on their website.

Avoid abrasive materials when cleaning this type of fixture. Instead, opt for a soft cloth and water.

Rub the scummy area in circular motions. If this technique does not work, try using vinegar diluted in water or store-bought cleaners and proceed with caution.

Do a spot test by applying the cleaning product in a hidden area of the fixture.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does bleach remove soap scum?

Yes. If you prefer to use store-bought products, you can opt for bleach like Clorox to get soap scum off tile, tubs, and showers.

How can I prevent soap scum from building up?

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure and this rings true even in housekeeping. By now, it is clear that soap scum is a lot more difficult to clean when you leave it to harden on your bathroom surfaces.

Many experts recommend switching from bar to liquid soap. That’s because soap bars contain ingredients that give rise to the formation of soap scum like talc and fatty acids.

Another tip is to ensure your bathroom surfaces are dry. Using a squeegee or a towel, you can wipe off the moisture from your tub, floor, or sink.

When it comes to long-term solutions, consider getting a water softener system. With hard water running through your taps, this can decrease the build-up of soap scum. Thankfully, this service is available regardless of whether you are living in the UK or another country.


No matter how hard you scrub, water, and soap alone won’t cut it. This is why I compiled ways to deal with the stains on different surfaces using DIY solutions.

Apart from how to clean years of soap scum tutorials, I also shared information on how these stains form and what you can do to prevent them daily basis and in the long run. Hopefully, these tricks will keep your bathroom looking good as new!

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