Remove ‘stubborn’ soap scum from your bathroom using vinegar

Phil Spencer advice on improving your kitchen and bathroom

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Soap scum is a thick, film layer that forms when soapy deposits interact with the minerals in tap water. Just like limescale, the bubbly stains are often worse in hard water areas with a higher concentration of mineral salts. Softening your tap water is one way to reduce soap scum long term, though there are several other ways to remove and prevent soap scum using natural ingredients, such as white vinegar and baking soda.

Showering, bathing, and even smaller tasks like washing your hands can all contribute to soap scum, but what is it made of?

According to a cleaning expert at Bob Vila, the thick substance forms when a mixture of ingredients found in shower gel and soap bars react with one another.

They said: “If you bathe your body at all, you’ll inevitably encounter soap scum. It’s a sad irony of housekeeping that a substance that gets you clean every day can make your shower or bathtub so grungy.

“While that stubborn, scaly buildup forms when the fatty acids, talc, and other ingredients in bar soap react with the minerals in hard water, soap scum also contains body oil, dirt, bits of dead skin, and bacteria.”

How to remove soap scum

Like most stains, the faster you act, the easier it is to remove soap scum which can become almost solid if left to sit for too long.

Baking soda and vinegar

Bob Vila said: “Pour a cup of baking soda into a small bowl and add enough white vinegar to make a paste.

“Once the mixture stops fizzing, use a sponge to apply it to your shower and tub, then let it set for about 15 minutes.

“Wipe the surfaces down with a non-scratch sponge, rinse thoroughly with water, and then dry.”

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Vinegar and dish soap

For a less abrasive solution, combine vinegar and dish soap to target the greasy residue in your bathroom.

Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in an empty spray bottle and add one tablespoon of dish soap.

Bob Vila said: “Spray the solution on the soap scum and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes.

“When you return, scrub it with a soft-bristle scrub brush, and rinse with hot water. Dry thoroughly.”

How to prevent soap scum

Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to cleaning, and there are a few easy ways to keep soap scum away.

Swap bar soap for liquids

Surprisingly, liquid soaps are much less stain-prone than bar soaps, so making a simple switch can really pay off when it comes to cleaning.

The home advice expert said: “It’s the talc and fatty acids in bar soap that cause soap scum, so if you switch to liquid soap or shower gel, you should see a significant decrease in filmy residue.”

Keep your shower dry

As well as keeping surfaces clean, drying your bathtub, shower and sink is also useful to combat soap scum.

All you need is a squeegee or dry towel to wipe down the soapy residue after every use.

Use Epsom salts

If you’re reluctant to invest in a water-softening system, Epsom salts are an ideal alternative.

Simply add a handful to your bathwater to soften the mineral content.

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