How to Remove Heavy Duty Soap Scum

Remove soap scum effectively without commercial chemicals.
Remove soap scum effectively without commercial chemicals. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Soap scum leaves behind an unattractive glaze on showers, sinks and bathtubs. The scum contains mineral deposits, mildew and soap residue. The scum will continue to build until you take the time to remove it. You can remove heavy-duty soap scum with common items in your home. Abrasive or acidic substances effectively break down the soap scum so that the surface returns to its original condition.

Things You'll Need

  • White distilled vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Baking soda
  • Bucket
  • Nylon scrub sponge
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Nonabrasive sponge

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Homemade Cleaner

Run the hot water in the shower for 10 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of ammonia and 1/4 cup of baking soda in a bucket. Pour 1 gallon of warm water in the bucket and stir to create a cleaning solution.

Wipe the solution over the entire soap scum surface. Allow the solution to rest for 15 minutes.

Scrub the soap scum with a nylon scrub sponge or a stiff wire brush. Apply the solution again and allow it to soak two or three additional times.

Rinse the area with clean water.


Pour 1 tbsp. of ammonia into a bucket. Fill the bucket with 1 gallon of hot water.

Fill a spray bottle with the solution.

Spray all areas of the soap scum and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Scrub the soap scum with a nonabrasive sponge or stiff wire brush.

Rinse the area clean with water. Repeat until you effectively remove the soap scum.

Baking Soda

Combine 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of water in a bowl.

Dip a sponge into the solution.

Apply the baking soda to the area affected by soap scum. Allow the solution to sit on the soap scum for 30 minutes.

Scrub the area with a stiff wire brush.

Rinse the area with clean water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dry the shower, bathtub or sink after every use to prevent soap scum. Squeegee water off walls and doors.
  • Wipe soap scum off the shower doors with a used dryer sheet.
  • Apply lemon oil in a circular motion to prevent soap scum. Wipe the lemon oil off with a soft cloth.
  • Purchase an alkaline soap scum remover and follow the directions carefully if the soap scum remains.
  • Never combine ammonia with bleach because the mixture creates lethal fumes.


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