Does your shower floor or tub get coated with a thick white slimy foam? After a long, relaxing bath, the last thing you want to do is to start cleaning up the muck. The stuff can also form a cloudy layer over your glass doors, partition, tiles, tub, sink, and countertops. Besides looking disgusting, it attracts the development of mold. It can damage your faucets, clog up your shower head and take the shine off smooth surfaces. If you need to know how to get rid of soap scum, here are some tips from house-cleaning experts.
Getting rid of soap scum as soon as you notice it is important. Leaving it for another day gives it enough time to harden and become more deeply embedded.
What Is Soap Scum?
It is also known as lime soap, forming a spongy white chalky coating that turns gray after some time. This material is similar to the limescale coating that results from hard water, but soap scum is a different product.
If the chemistry aspect appears complicated, it is! This solid matter contains calcium and magnesium stearates and alkaline earth metal derivatives. It forms when hard water reacts with soap or other surfactants. When you use commercial soap, the reaction occurs with the scum as a by-product. This doesn’t happen with detergents or dishwashing liquid because they usually contain products that prevent the formation of scum.
If you live in an area where the water supply provides hard water, you’re bound to face the problem of scum formation. This layer of ugly froth clings to everything in your bathroom, including the shower curtains and fiberglass doors, wooden shelves, cabinets, drain cover, and floor tiles. If you allow it to build, it has a nasty way of becoming more entrenched, and you have to work longer and harder to get rid of it.
While you’re looking at a cleaning solution, it’s important to remember that the scum latches on to different surfaces. You will need a different cleaning strategy for each of these materials. You can’t use the same products or methods to clean glass as you would a plastic shower curtain.
Something else to keep in mind is that soap scum may contain other nasty bits too. This could include dead skin, hair strands, and body oil besides talc, algae, mold, and mildew. While it’s certainly not possible to analyze the exact components of the scum in your bathroom, it’s good to know this before you start cleaning.
If the job seems beyond you, plenty of professional cleaning companies can do a great job. Get in touch with a reliable, local, and trustworthy firm for a thorough periodic scum removal cleaning.
7 Great Ways to Eliminate Soap Scum
Anti-Grease Spray: Remember that soaps contain significant quantities of oils and grease. They are essentially manufactured by mixing fats or oils with an alkali in certain proportions. For example, bar soaps contain alkali in the form of sodium hydroxide, while liquid soaps have potassium hydroxide. These materials are heated together to form soap. You can eliminate soap scum from tiles, glass, fiberglass, and acrylic by spritzing an anti-grease spray on the surface.
Non-Acidic Cleaning Products are ideal for natural stones such as marble, slate, or granite. They are gentler and won’t damage, corrode, pit the surface or remove the polish. Make sure you use a soft scouring pad or sponge to wipe the surface.
Natural Cleanser: Look inside your kitchen cupboard and use what is readily available there. Almost everyone has a baking soda and vinegar stock on the pantry shelf. Make a thick paste of the two and apply immediately to the scummy surface of your tub or sink. Leave it for a few minutes, then wipe dry with a wet towel. This mixture is good for almost all surfaces.
Faucets and shower heads: These are not easy to clean because they don’t have linear surfaces. The best strategy is to fill a few plastic bags halfway with white vinegar, bunch them individually around the shower head or faucets and fasten them securely with thick elastic bands. Make sure that the scum is fully covered and immersed in the vinegar. Leave the bags on for at least an hour. Once the scum dissolves, clean the surfaces with a damp towel and dry completely. You will see your faucets sparkle and the shower head gushing well.
Pumice Stone Cleaner: If you’ve let the scum build up over a long time, it will take some time and effort to get rid of it. Soak with vinegar and baking soda solution and get as much out as possible. Then you can work on the stubborn residue with a pumice stone. Wet the pumice stone thoroughly and moisten the scummy area well before you start. Gently rub the accumulated coating till it begins to dissolve. Don’t apply too much pressure, or you will scratch the surface. Collect the residue in paper towels, so it doesn’t clog your drains. A word of caution – don’t use the pumice stone on acrylic or fiberglass surfaces. This method is great for ceramic or porcelain only.
Lemon Juice and Salt: If you’re worried about using chemical cleaners, there’s another “super-natural” cleanser lurking in your kitchen. Cut a lemon in half, dip it in salt, and then work on the soap scum. Cover the area well and let the lemon and salt do their magic. Wipe off with a towel dipped in warm water after about 30-45 minutes. This method is good for recent build-ups, but you may need something stronger for more tough scum.
Tools and Gadgets: A glance through your local DIY or hardware store gives you plenty of options. There are lots of great tools and gadgets that promise to eliminate accumulated muck in an instant. For example, they may have micro-tips with scrubbers to attack the scum or tiny grinders that whiz away the hardened coating. You can also use an old electric toothbrush to work around faucets and drain covers. Just ensure you follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the surface or causing harm to the worker.
While soap scum is one of the unfortunate realities of life, it’s something that can be dealt with effectively in many ways. First, it’s time to consider prevention once you’ve cleaned the place thoroughly. For example, you can apply lemon oil to tiles and other areas that tend to collect scum. Another suggestion is to get rid of scum immediately when it collects after you use the shower or sink. Then, you won’t have to spend hours scrubbing the hardened layer.