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Bathroom Cleaning: How to Remove Soap Scum for Clean Bathrooms

best soap scum remover for tub
Soap scum in bathrooms is something that we all have to deal with at some point. This thin layer can stick to shower doors, tiles, and faucets, and it’s important to address it promptly to ensure it’s fully removed.
 
When hard water minerals like magnesium react with soap molecules, a stubborn residue called soap scum is formed. Soap scum is a mixture of dirt, body oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria. As time passes, it can accumulate and harden, making it challenging to remove.
 
In this article, we outline the effective methods for eliminating soap scum from various bathroom surfaces, ranging from glass shower doors to fibreglass tubs/showers.

Why Is Soap Scum a Problem

In hotels, the issue of soap scum in bathtubs becomes particularly pronounced due to the high volume of guests using the facilities. Often, individuals may not give adequate attention to cleaning the tubs or the shower areas after use, leading to the gradual accumulation and hardening of soap scum. The continuous flow of guests and the repeated usage of soap and bathing products contribute to the buildup of this stubborn residue.

Furthermore, if guests do not ensure proper drainage or if there is a blockage in the shower drain, it can impede the water from fully draining, exacerbating the problem. In the hospitality industry, maintaining a pristine and inviting atmosphere is crucial, making regular cleaning and drainage maintenance essential to prevent soap scum-related issues and ensure a positive guest experience.

What Is the Science Behind Soap Scum Formation

essential oil soap scum remover
Two glasses of water display varying levels of soap suds on their surfaces. The left glass contains distilled water mixed with liquid soap, while the right glass shows how hard water impacts the production of soap suds.

Soap scum forms when the fatty acids in soap react with minerals in hard water, primarily calcium and magnesium ions. Soap molecules have a hydrophilic (water-attracting) head and a hydrophobic (water-repelling) tail. When soap is used in hard water, the calcium and magnesium ions combine with the soap molecules, forming insoluble compounds. This reaction leads to the precipitation of soap scum, which is a solid, sticky residue. The scum adheres to surfaces, such as shower walls and glass doors, creating a visible and often challenging-to-remove film. The combination of soap scum with other substances like body oils and skin cells contributes to the formation of the stubborn deposits commonly seen in bathrooms.

Preventing soap scum involves using water softeners, alternative cleaning products, or regular cleaning to mitigate the impact of hard water minerals on soap molecules. In the following sections, we will recommend the best methods and products to remove soap scum from various bathroom surfaces.

The Chemical Reaction

For example: If the soap used is sodium stearate (sodium salt of stearic acid), the reaction with calcium ions in hard water can be represented as:

2C17​H35​COO−Na++Ca2+→(C17​H35​COO)2​Ca+2Na+

The formed calcium or magnesium salts are not soluble in water and appear as a solid, sticky residue, known as soap scum.

The precipitation of these insoluble compounds (calcium or magnesium salts of the fatty acids) forms the soap scum that adheres to surfaces like shower walls and glass doors. This scum, combined with other substances like body oils and skin cells, contributes to the formation of the stubborn deposits commonly seen in bathrooms. 

Bathroom Surface Soap Scum Cleaning Frequency

Ideally, hotel bathrooms should be cleaned daily or after each guest’s stay to prevent the buildup of soap scum. It is much easier to remove thin layers of soap scum than to wait for months to tackle thicker layers.

Soap Scum Removal from Glass Shower Doors

remove soap scum from shower
To remove soap scum from glass doors, it is essential to use a dedicated glass cleaner that promises fast-drying action because when a cleaner dries quickly, it reduces the likelihood of leaving behind residue or streaks, providing a clear and streak-free finish. The key is to follow product directions and give the cleaner time to work before wiping or rinsing away. 
 
Remember that it is also important to use a microfiber cloth to accomplish the cleaning task. Microfiber cloths are lint-free, so they won’t leave behind fibres or lint on the glass surface. Additionally, microfiber is a soft and non-abrasive material. This is important for preventing scratches or damage to the glass surface while ensuring effective cleaning.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

KLEER GEL cleans and degreases glazed surfaces and all other smooth surfaces. Its gel formula clings to vertical surfaces and allows a clean spray (gel does not easily flow on surfaces). 
 
KLEER GEL removes a wide variety of soils and delays their return: insect debris, smudges, fingerprints, and oily and greasy marks. 
 
KLEER GEL is a ready-to-use alcohol-based cleaner with a fast drying action. 

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

AZURDI is a high-quality professional microfiber for deep cleaning of all surfaces. Ideal for plastic surfaces, aluminium, stainless steel, glass, wood, marble, etc.
 
AZURDI surface microfiber has a high absorption capacity for capturing all dirt without leaving smudges, residues or scratches. Very soft material for an easy spin without effort. 
 
AZURDI is extremely resistant and lasts up to 300 washes.

Cleaning Shower Door Tracks

how to clean shower door tracks

It is important to open windows and turn on fans before starting. Remember to wear rubber gloves, too. Spray the cleaner on the surface and let it sit for 1-2 minutes, then carefully but thoroughly scrub the track with a soft sponge. If the fumes are bothersome, either apply the cleaner with a sponge or leave the room while waiting for it to work. For heavy soap scum soiling, use a thin bristle brush to scrub through the crevices and lines.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

MILDEX is a heavy-duty chlorinated penetrating formula that destroys mildew stains and soap scum stains that build up on grout or tile surfaces wherever dampness encourages these stains to form. 

MILDEX contains a fresh fragrance that effectively masks chlorine odour after it is rinsed off.  

Removing Soap Scum from Fibreglass Tubs & Showers

clean soap scum from bathtub

Fibreglass tubs and showers are a durable, cost-effective, and luxurious addition to bathrooms. However, fibreglass finishes are prone to losing their shine due to soap scum and using harsh cleaners, and abrasive scouring pads can damage them. The good news is that there are specialised commercial cleaners available that can effectively remove tough grease, rust, soap scum, scale, and stains from fibreglass tubs and showers, resulting in a sparkling clean finish.

Directions for Removal

When maintaining the cleanliness of fibreglass tubs and showers, it is important to choose a safe and neutral cleaner, as these fixtures will be used for bathing and filled with water. Additionally, selecting a product that does not cause the fibreglass to lose its shine is essential. For daily cleaning, soak a cloth or sponge in the cleaning solution and apply it to the fibreglass tub. Use a scourer to scrub off the soap scum, and then rinse the tub thoroughly with water.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

SANIKLEANER is a safe, neutral cleaner formulated to hygienically clean bathrooms and sanitary ware. 
 
SANIKLEANER cleans, disinfects and deodorizes in one single application. 

Soap Scum Removal From Showerheads

how to remove hard soap scum

When it comes to shower heads, there are generally two materials used for their construction—stainless steel and brass/bronze. Stainless steel is a preferred choice for high-end shower heads due to its durability, corrosion resistance, and modern appearance. On the other hand, brass and bronze are known for their classic, elegant, and rustic appearance. However, it’s important to note that these materials require different cleaning products to remove soap scum. 

Removing Soap Scum From Stainless Steel Showerheads

If you’re looking to get rid of soap scum from a stainless steel showerhead, start by sanitising it with an effective sanitiser. Once that’s done, apply a stainless steel cleaner using a soft and lint-free cloth, like a microfibre one. Gently wipe the surface with light pressure to restore its lustre.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

RINCON is a foaming sanitizing detergent formulated for effectively cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in food areas. 

RINCON is formulated with a blend of detergents, sequestrants and quaternary ammonium compounds specially selected to be effective against a wide range of microorganisms for maximum hygiene.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

SHEEN is a viscous colourless liquid formulated to clean and restore the natural brilliance of stainless steel, chrome and other bright metals. 
 
SHEEN leaves a fine, invisible film which seals and protects the surface from re-soiling, fingerprinting, corrosion and surface deterioration. 

Removing Soap Scum From Brass and Bronze Shower Heads

To clean the surface, you can apply the cleaner directly on it or use a damp sponge/brush. If the soil is heavily embedded, gently agitate with a soft brush. A gentle rub with a sponge or cloth should suffice for light soils. Once done, you can polish the surface with a clean cloth.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

TOP SECRET is a smooth and neutral renovating cream formulated to remove difficult grease, rust, soap scum, scale and stains from surfaces. 

TOP SECRET is ideal for cleaning bench tops, baths, basins, taps, cookers, sinks and utensils without scratching. It is particularly suited to controlling the build-up of body fats and soap in baths.

Soap Scum Removal From Tiles

how to clean soap scum off tiles

Glazed ceramic tiles and porcelain tubs are hard finishes, making it easier to remove soap scum compared to other finishes.

Directions for Removal

To clean tiles, you can use a specialised tile cleaner by applying it directly on the surface. Alternatively, you can apply it with a damp sponge or brush. For tiles with heavy soiling, agitating with a soft brush is recommended. For light soils, you can simply rub lightly with a sponge or cloth. Once done, it’s important to polish the surface with a clean cloth for a shiny finish.

ORAPI RECOMMENDS: 

SANITOR is a smooth, neutral renovating cream formulated to maintain, deodorize and polish metal, porcelain and tile surfaces. 
 
SANITOR leaves a soil-repelling film that protects surfaces and reduces the cleaning frequency.

Pro Tip: Use a Wet Pumice Stone for Heavy Soap Scum

pumice stone stain removal

To get rid of stubborn soap scum buildup on a tile or porcelain surface, you can use a pumice stone. Before you begin, wet both the surface and the stone. Avoid using the stone when it’s dry because it can cause excessive scratching. Gently rub the damp stone over the soap scum in a small area. As the scum is transferred to the stone, rinse it in plain water and scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush. Remember, only use a pumice stone on a ceramic or porcelain tub, as it can permanently scratch an enamelled finish.

Conclusion: Soap Scum Removal

In conclusion, addressing soap scum in bathrooms is essential for maintaining a clean and inviting space, especially in high-traffic areas like hotels. Understanding the science behind soap scum formation, particularly its reaction with hard water minerals, emphasises the importance of preventative measures. Regular cleaning, the use of water softeners, and alternative cleaning products can effectively mitigate soap scum buildup. This article provides practical recommendations for various bathroom surfaces, from glass shower doors to fibreglass tubs, offering insights on suitable cleaning methods and products. Emphasising the significance of daily cleaning in hotel bathrooms, along with specific recommendations for different materials, ensures a proactive approach to combating soap scum and maintaining a pristine environment for a positive guest experience.

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