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How To Clean Soap Scum off Glass Shower Doors Easily

How to clean soap scum off glass shower doors

Living close to the water, we decided to install an outdoor shower to rinse the saltwater after the beach or the boat. However, if you ask me the real reason the outdoor shower was installed, it was to avoid having to clean soap scum off the glass shower doors! Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but until you know how to clean soap scum off glass shower doors, it feels like a never-ending battle. If you aren’t quite ready to start showering outside, I’ll show you the method I use that helps to both clean and prevent soap scum on the glass shower door. 

Before You Begin: Important Tips 

Most of my tips for cleaning glass shower doors that are coated in soap scum are quite simple. However, you can do some serious damage to your shower doors if you are not careful. 

  • Even when soap scum is thick, if you use an abrasive cleaner or scrub, you will scratch your glass shower doors 
  • If you have hard water issues, be careful rinsing with the shower or bathroom water, consider using distilled water that will not leave mineral residue behind 
  • Keep a squeegee in the shower to wipe down the glass each time so you won’t have soap scum buildup

Supplies and Tools Needed To Remove Soap Scum Off Glass Shower Doors

How To Clean Soap Scum Off Glass Shower Doors

To clean soap scum off glass shower doors, you will create a cleaning solution using ½ a cup of white distilled vinegar and half a cup of water. The acetic acid in vinegar will dissolve soap scum and any mineral deposits left on your shower door. Place a towel on the ground in your bathroom outside the door to prevent spilling onto the floor. Spray the vinegar and water solution on the glass shower door and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Scrub the vinegar and water solution with a microfiber cloth; spray more if needed in the difficult to clean areas. Rinse and dry (or polish) completely when finished. 

How Do You Remove Heavy Soap Scum From Glass Shower Doors?

If the vinegar solution is not quite enough for your soap scum issues, you can work with a bit of baking soda to help make this process easier. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, and a little bit of this scrubbing action can help your soap scum break up. 

  1. Create a paste using about three tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of water; make sure the paste is thick but not too granular
  2. Place the baking soda paste on the difficult to deal with soap scum areas and gently scrub the shower glass 
  3. If you push too hard or use a cloth that is abrasive, it will scratch; keep adding a little bit of water to the solution if you feel it is too rough 
  4. Rinse the baking soda off the area 
  5. Spray with a vinegar and water solution and let it sit for about 10 minutes
  6. Rinse completely with water, preferably with distilled water, then dry and polish 
  7. If there is still soap scum residue, start the process from the beginning and focus that baking soda paste on the tough areas

Alternative Methods for Removing Soap Scum From Glass Shower Doors

Nine times out of ten vinegar works as one of the best homemade cleaners for dealing with soap scum on shower glass. However, if you want to try a commercial cleaner or an alternative method, these are a few that I have had success with. 

Vinegar, Dish Soap, Water

Now that we know that vinegar is essentially my favorite method for removing soap scum, you may be wondering, does vinegar and Dawn remove soap scum? You can use a mix of vinegar and Dawn to remove soap scum; use equal parts vinegar and water and add in just a few drops of Dawn. 

  1. In a spray bottle, combine equal parts vinegar and water and add a small squeeze of dish soap
  2. Shake the spray bottle so the vinegar solution is mixed thoroughly 
  3. Spray directly on the glass shower doors
  4. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes 
  5. Wipe and gently scrub the area with a microfiber cleaning cloth 
  6. Rinse with water, dry, and repeat if necessary 

Rain-X Shower Door Extreme Clean 

The Rain-X Shower Door Extreme Clean is the best commercial method for removing soap scum from shower glass. The Rain-X is a gel-like product that not only cleans but also helps in preventing soap scum. This product was made especially for glass. 

  1. Take a clean cloth and put a small amount of Rain-X Shower Door Extreme Clean directly on it 
  2. In a well-ventilated area, scrub the soap scum with circular motions until it loosens and dissolves
  3. Rinse the door thoroughly with water
  4. Dry completely with paper towels or microfiber towels

Lemon Juice and Salt 

The natural acidity of lemon juice will break down soap scum, and table salt is a natural scrubber. I’ll warn you here that lemon juice and salt are not quite as non-abrasive as something like vinegar and dish soap. But, don’t scrub hard at all! 

  1. Sprinkle salt directly on the soap scum 
  2. Squeeze a fresh lemon on the soap scum
  3. Use your fingers (wear gloves if sensitive) to gently rub the lemon juice and salt into the soap scum
  4. Rinse the area with warm water
  5. Dry and repeat if necessary
  6. If the lemon juice solution is not working, consider going to vinegar 

Borax and Water 

The borax and water solution is a good one if you are dealing with a stubborn soap scum. The borax will neutralize the acids in the soap scum and break down calcium or magnesium that may be present; once this happens, the water washes everything away.

  1. Create a solution in a spray bottle with equal parts borax and water 
  2. Spray the homemade glass cleaner on the shower doors and allow it to sit for about five minutes
  3. Spray and let the borax work for about five minutes. You can also use this to clean shower door tracks
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water when complete, and wipe with a microfiber cloth to pull any soap scum off the doors
  5. Dry completely with a microfiber towel 


The lubricating properties of WD-40 can loosen and break down soap scum. I’ll warn you that WD-40 has a strong smell; use this one when you can keep a window open in your bathroom. 

  1. Prep an area under the shower door in case WD-40 drips down to the flooring 
  2. Spray WD-40 on the soap scum 
  3. Let it sit for about 10 minutes
  4. Rinse with water and scrub with a microfiber cloth as you rinse 
  5. Do a secondary rinse to ensure that all the WD-40 is removed 
  6. Dry with a microfiber cloth and polish the glass doors

Does Magic Eraser Remove Soap Scum From Glass?

I would avoid using Magic Eraser to remove soap scum from glass. Although the Magic Eraser can effectively scrub the soap scum, the sandpaper-like surface of the Magic Eraser can sometimes leave tiny scratches on the shower glass. Commercial soap scum removers that can be used with a soft or non-abrasive sponge are a better solution. 

Methods To Avoid

I know there is a lot of information out there about ways to clean glass shower doors and even shower door tracks, but not all of those have been tested to ensure they are safe. My glass shower doors were expensive, so I’m not going to use anything that can harm them. Here are the methods I would avoid.

  • Ammonia: when you have the option for vinegar, which is much easier to work with and not as dangerous when it comes to breathing issues, stay away from the ammonia
  • Magic Eraser: if you look closely at the Magic Eraser, it is almost like a fine sandpaper; if it’s not wet enough, it will scratch your shower doors
  • Baby Oil: although baby oil won’t hurt your shower doors, it’s not particularly effective at breaking down soap scum, and it leaves an oily residue that can be tough to wipe down

What Is the Best Thing To Remove Soap Scum From Shower Doors?

After all of the product testing and discoveries we have made, the vinegar and water method is still the best thing to remove soap scum from shower doors. The acidity in the vinegar works to break down the soap scum and leave you with a shiny surface. Use this vinegar and water solution on a regular basis to ensure that your shower doors never have a problem with soap scum buildup. 

What Is Soap Scum?

When you find out the composition of soap scum, you are going to want to clean it even more. Soap scum is a combination of calcium and magnesium soaps that create fatty acids, leftover soap molecules, dead skin cells, and body oils. 

Yes, soap scum needs to go! 

Your glass shower door is vulnerable to soap scum buildup because of its frequent exposure to hard water and soap. The smooth surface of the glass allows for a perfect spot for the soap scum to attach.

Prevention of Soap Scum on Shower Doors

Once you finally remove all of the soap scum from your shower doors, the last thing you want is to have to do it again. Luckily if you follow these methods for soap scum prevention, you may not have to worry quite as much. 

  • Get an in home water softener to help minimize the impact that hard water has on soap scum buildup. This is the most effective prevention, but also the most expensive
  • Use a squeegee to dry the shower glass after each shower 
  • A water-repellent shower cleaner like Rain-X Shower Door makes it harder for soap scum to stick 
  • Bar soap does not rinse off the shower glass quite as easily; use liquid soap or body wash and avoid oily products found in special conditioners
  • Leave your shower door open to improve air flow; this can also prevent mildew 
  • Keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water in the shower, when finished showering, spray that on the door, squeegee, and dry 

When Is It Time To Restore or Replace Glass Shower Doors?

If you can’t find a cleaning method that is actually working to remove soap scum from your shower glass, it could be time to replace them. Before that happens, I would try polishing the door one more time with a vinegar and water solution. You may also want to use the Rain-X Shower Door as a repellent or seal to keep soap scum from attaching to and sticking to the door.


Britt Olizarowicz