Shower Door Cleaning: Soap Scum and Hard Water Stains

The shower door is one of the toughest cleaning chores on the list.
The shower door is one of the toughest cleaning chores on the list.

It's not the most popular of household chores, but it is one of the most essential: The bathroom is a place you want to get truly clean. And of all the tough-to-clean zones in the bathroom, shower doors can be the most stubborn, with streaks, spots and perhaps a faint (or not-so-faint) green tinge that seems to hover despite the hardiest cleaning efforts.

Soap scum, water stains and mildew can be worthy foes.


Here, some effective ways to deal with the nastiness, so you can shower, at last, in clean, sparkling peace. You may not even need to scrub a thing.

Up first: The scum has a fairly simple solution…


How to Get Soap Scum off Shower Doors

Use vinegar to make your shower door's glass crystal clear.
Use vinegar to make your shower door's glass crystal clear.

Yes, if you use all-purpose bathroom cleaner and a lot of elbow grease, you can rid your shower doors of soap scum, eventually.

Or, you can use vinegar. It cuts through that film like a knife through warm talc combined with body oils in a steamy environment.


To remove the chalky streaks, dip a sponge in full-strength, white vinegar. Coat the door, and keep applying as the vinegar dries. You want to keep the door covered in wet vinegar for at least 5 minutes. The film will melt away. If you have particularly stubborn soap scum, you can try applying boiling vinegar -- very, very carefully.

Rinse off the vinegar with warm water, and you're done. The vinegar smell will go away after a couple of showers.

Other options include orange-based cleaners, mineral-oil solutions and liquid-fabric-softener solutions.

Once the scum is gone, switch to liquid soap, which is lacking the talc that can lead to soap scum in the first place.

Up next: A shower-door health hazard, and how to eliminate it.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Shower Doors

Soap scum may be unsightly, but it's not going to hurt you. Mildew, on the other hand, just might. It's that usually black (but sometimes pink or green) growth you sometimes see around the edges of shower doors, where the glass meets the frame, and it's a fungus. It can cause illness, especially in people allergic to mold. And it's ugly.

"Mold" and "mildew" actually refer to the same growth. "Mold" is the fungus, and "mildew" is what you get when that fungus builds up.


Whatever you call it, you can get rid of it using a solution with either chlorine or hydrogen peroxide in it. Both will kill the mold. Just spray or wipe it on -- you don't need to scrub. If you have a bigger mold problem, you might need to repeat the application a couple of times.

If, however, the mildew creeps behind the caulk, you may have to replace it. Once it gets back there (or into the grout anywhere else in the bathroom), it's very hard to get rid of.

To prevent mildew's return, leave the shower door open between uses so air can circulate, and consider using an anti-mildew spray after each shower.

Up next: The spots that are "hard" to wipe off.

How to Remove Water Spots From Shower Doors

Diluted vinegar will help get out those hard water stains.
Diluted vinegar will help get out those hard water stains.

"Hard water," that bane of so many existences, contains excess minerals that stick around after the water has washed away. Those minerals can leave a caked-on mess in pipes and on water faucets, streaks in toilet bowls and "hard-water spots" on shower doors that are impossible to hide and seem impossible to remove.

They're not, though. Vinegar will take care of those stains, too, but in this case try a diluted mixture -- half vinegar and half water. Wipe it on just like you would for the soap scum, leave it on for several minutes, and then rinse. For water spots on the metal rim, a citrus oil (like lemon or orange) can work wonders.


And once you've cleared the spots, consider applying car wax to the shower doors. It will seal the surface so it's harder for the minerals to deposit there (and easier to remove if they do). Just make sure you don't wax the shower floor -- you'll slip.

Once you've cleaned your shower doors of water spots, mildew or soap scum, the trick is to keep them that way. If you wipe the doors with a towel, keep them open for air flow, and spray on a shower cleaner after each shower, you'll find your weekly scrub-down to be a lot less time-consuming.

For more information on cleaning bathrooms (and everywhere else), look over the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

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