How to Dissolve Soap Scum

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Soap residue makes bathrooms look dirty.
Soap residue makes bathrooms look dirty. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Showers, bathtubs and sinks suffer the most from soap buildup. The dry, white residue left behind by soap repels water, so it doesn't rinse away easily. Mineral deposits from hard water can make the scummy area look even worse. You must first break up the scum before scrubbing it from the surface. Many of the harsh, abrasive cleansers available scratch or etch bathroom tiles and sinks, making it necessary to use a mild abrasive to dissolve soap scum and keep the fixtures looking their best after cleaning.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning rags
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge

Soak a cleaning rag in white vinegar. Wipe down the soap scum with the vinegar-soaked rag. Repeat as necessary until the entire soiled area is soaked in vinegar.

Sprinkle baking soda onto the scummy area, coating it thoroughly. Allow it to bubble for two to three minutes after the baking soda comes in contact with the vinegar.

Scrub the scum from the area with a moistened cleaning sponge. Continue to scrub until the majority of scum is removed.

Rinse the area with clear water. Repeat the vinegar and baking soda treatment as necessary to remove any remaining scum.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wipe down shower walls, doors and bathtubs with a clean towel or a squeegee after each use to prevent soap scum buildup.
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