How to Clean a Shower

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One of the most common questions I get asked is how to clean a shower properly.

This is definitely one of the jobs that seems harder than it is. If you have the right tools, products, and technique, and do it regularly, you will be in good shape. If your shower has not been cleaned in a while, however, expect a little more elbow grease to be required the first go.

What You’ll Need:

Tub and tile cleaner. For porcelain, glass walls, glass tile, or ceramic tile, you can use any tub and tile cleaner that you like. I love Mother’s Choice, or you can use a homemade soap scum cleaner.  For natural stone such as granite, slate, or travertine, you can only clean it with neutral soap or a specialty stone cleaner.

Double-sided sponge. Look for the non-scratching kind, to avoid scuffing any finishes. Don’t use a cheap sponge here—that will just have you working overtime.

Microfiber cloths for drying walls and the tub, and a squeegee if you have one.

Baking soda for some added abrasion, just in case.

Full-strength vinegar for heavily-stained glass shower doors.

Here’s My Ultimate Shower Cleaning Strategy

Step 1

Remove everything from the shower: bottles, soap bars, sponges. (If you want to clean your loofah at the same time, fill your bathroom sink with a cup of hydrogen and water and and let it soak for about 10 minutes.) Place bottles to rest on a towel or counter. Remove the bath mat.

Step 2

Pull the curtains out of the way—flip them up over the shower bar or remove them altogether. Spray the walls very generously with your tub and tile cleaner and let it sit for about 5 minutes. (This “dwell time” will allow the product to do the work for you, so the longer you let it sit, the more easily it will break down soap scum.)  Be sure not to spray the tub or floor of the shower—we leave that until the end to make the cleaning process easier. Don’t worry about spraying any higher than the tallest person that uses that shower—you are not going to get any soap scum up there. For glass shower walls, put full-strength vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz right on.

Step 3

With the scrubby side of your non-scratching sponge, start scrubbing at the far left wall of the shower, and continue down until you get to the bottom of the wall. Then move on to the next wall. For heavy soap scum (on non-glass walls or tiles), sprinkle about a tablespoon of baking soda onto your sponge and wet it, then squeeze it a few times to work the baking soda in. The abrasion will help scrape off the scum. Work from top to bottom, from left to right. And avoid the temptation to scrub in circles—that is a total time waster. Keep doing this until all walls have been cleaned. Do not rinse the walls yet.

Step 4

Now, repeat steps 2 and 3 for the tub. Spray it down, let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, and then scrub, starting at one end and working your way to the other. Warning! If your tub is acrylic, use the soft side of your sponge only—the scrubbing side can ruin the finish.

Step 5

Crank the shower on hot water. If you have a removable shower head, start spraying the shower walls down, following the same pattern you used to clean it—far left clockwise to right. If you don’t, run the faucet and use a container or jug to rinse the walls. Once you’ve rinsed, use a squeegee to remove all the water from the walls, then follow that up by buffing with a clean cloth. Repeat for the tub. Don’t forget to shine the chrome!

Final Tips

To check and see if all soap scum is gone, look at your tub and tiles on an angle—you should not see any greyish lines or dull spots. You can also feel it: If you feel any resistance when you run your hand along the surface, it means soap scum is still there.

Always use a squeegee after your shower. It may seem like a big effort, but it takes about 20 seconds, and prevents any soap scum from building up. Alternately, just take an old towel and wipe the walls quickly before you leave the shower. If the walls are dry, you will never see soap scum, because it won’t be able to settle!

You can also create your own shower spray by mixing a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and keeping a spray bottle of that in your shower. When you’re all done in the morning, mist the shower down. That will prevent soap scum from clinging to the walls.

I hope that helped. Let me know how you like this routine! Also, what are your shower cleaning tricks?

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Very difficult to remove the proteins and fatty deposits shed by skin cells on a shower floor. Over time, it takes on a brown discoloration especially noticeable on white ceramic tiles. Only thing that works for me is to sprinkle caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) granules or flakes onto the wet floor and use a long handled scrubbing brush or deck brush. Keep rinsing with hot water from the shower and re-apply.

      • I just moved into my house and have started to learn how to clean it. I have been mopping our hardwood and bathroom floors but they always seem to be stinky after. Do you have any suggestions? Am I using too much soap? Thanks!

  2. Do you know what a hardened white material is that has appeared on my shower tiles, and how to remove it? I thought it was limescale & used lemon juice but made it worse! Tiles are only in 6 months. Thanks

  3. It seems i shed a lot (hair). The one thing i hate most about cleaning the shower is the hair sticking to the tiles and scrubbing just swirls it around. HELP whats the best way to remove all the hair from the walls and floor? Thanks

  4. I wanted to try your grout cleaning solution , and your shower cleaning solution , so I did, and OMG, where have you been all my life. You are amazing. They worked perfect. So I had a pan I used in my wood fired pizza oven and let my husband cook, well needless to say, I had been soaking my pan for 3 days until I came up on your site. So I tried that method too. And it looks brand new… Omg I am cleaning everything in site. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

  5. Shower & Tub are my most dreaded part sof the house to have to clean cause I have a bad back and cannot really get in there all that well. Thanks for the tips. : ) I’ve always employed vinegar and rosemary eo around the house & it’s nice I can use this in the shower as well.

  6. Hi Melissa,
    Hope you are doing fine. I am a huge fan of your really ‘effective’ videos. I religiously apply your tips for a healthy and clean house. Its much more needed in Indian homes where we are more susceptible to fall victim to dirt and dust due to highly polluted air and oily food that we cook in our kitchen. Thanks to your videos, my house is all clean now.
    However, wished to learn from you how to clean water marks from bathroom tiles. I have tried all that I can but to no avail. Your handy tip would really be a great help.
    Thanks in advance. Look forward to your videos.

  7. Hi Melissa,
    Hope you are doing fine. I am a huge fan of your really ‘effective’ videos. I religiously apply your tips for a healthy and clean house. Its much more needed in Indian homes where we are more susceptible to fall victim to dirt and dust due to highly polluted air and oily food that we cook in our kitchen. Thanks to your videos, my house is all clean now.
    However, wished to learn from you how to clean water marks from bathroom tiles. I have tried all that I can but to no avail. Your handy tip would really be a great help.
    Thanks in advance. Look forward to your videos.

  8. i’ve watched several of your videos and just want to say THANK YOU! Very educational and informative…I can’t wait to go clean stuff!

  9. I squeegee my shower daily also but I use a dish scrubber filled with equal parts vinegar and dishwashing liquid and every few days give the shower a scrub while water is still running, rinse it all and then squeegee and dry off 🙂 I never wash my shower now 🙂

  10. Hi Melissa. I just started watching your videos and find them addictive and very informative. I am looking for ways to clean my shower wall that has very hard water stains due to the iron in my well water. No water what I do or use, it doesn’t come off easily from the porcelain tiles and the grout. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you!

  11. I love your cleaning videos. You make cleaning something that can be fun with all of the extra body motions. Might have to put some music on!

  12. I was wondering more on the products….. So I don’t use the harsh chemicals….. You mentioned vinegar and bi-carb….. You have mixture we can make up….

  13. I work for a landlord. In Boston, MA where I live the landlord is required to take care of all pests. The modern way to get rid of roaches is roach bait gel. The exterminator comes in with tubes of the stuff and place it where roaches frequent. It works very well and costs about $150. per apartment for the exterminator. The tenant can be home or out.

    • DuPont Advion roach bait gel.. I swear by it. Check it out on Amazon. The reviews will sell you on it if you are dealing with roaches. I think I paid less than $20 for 4 tubes. One application took care of my problem, haven’t seen one since and it’s been a few years!!

  14. Melissa, I have a bathpiece screwed in my rented house bathroom that its metalic and its getting all rusty and i tried to wash away the rust but its stick to the racks. Do you have any tip to take off rust from a piece that is stuck to the bathroom and what to put on to prevent the rust to grow back again? Thanks

  15. I’m wondering how to clean a very large walk in shower with 3 separate shower heads (10ft by 5ft). Note, this is not my shower, so I can’t take advantage of “cleaning while showering”. Thanks

  16. We live in the country and have well water instead if city water so needles to say we get iron stains what can I use to clean that kinda stain? I have used a recipe of blue dawn and warm vinegar in spray bottle that everyone had rant and raved about. It smelled really bad and really strong and didn’t work. O I scrub. Any helpful ideas and hints? Thanks and I enjoy your website.

  17. I love all your cleaning videos. You have certainly inspired me to clean my space! I have a question: When you say 50/50 how much of each ingredient should I use in the spray bottle; is it , for example, 1 cup vinegar to 1 cup water?

  18. My tub is really dirty it is so dark in color and has all kinds of salt water stains and dirty patches in it. It is almost dirt mud color and I am really feeling bad to step into it can you please help me cleaning my bath tub please….

  19. Hey Melissa – I have the same question as Ali (below). I searched for the shower liner video but can’t seem to find it. Is it out yet?
    BTW, Thank You SOOO Much for all your cleaning tips! I try to use them and I actually enjoy cleaning after watching your videos. Also, I saw some nasty comments in your “How to clean your grout” video and just wanted to say that I did try cleaning part of my grout (just like you did in the video) in my bathroom several months ago and I must say it is still whiter than the rest of the area…. so it DOES actually work regardless of what the others say 🙂

  20. […] Showers are damp and warm and what a perfect environment for mold and mildew to cultivate.  Mold and mildew come in a variety of colours, but the most common ones you’ll see in the bathroom are pinky/orange and greyish/brown.  Mold and mildew are not indicative of a ‘dirty’ shower per se, but they don’t help in creating a clean looking shower.  And, your shower will become dirtier as the mold and mildew builds up (because you are not cleaning it away), but the initial onset of the stuff doesn’t mean you are showering in some sort of pig sty.  To be clear, soap scum is the true indicator of a dirty shower – oh, have you seen that video yet? […]

  21. Yet another great video. Thanks Melissa. I also make my own daily shower spray. Here is the recipe.
    Put the following into a spray bottle:
    1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
    1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
    6 drops of liquid dish soap
    2 tsp Jet Dry
    water (to fill bottle) ***I now add my dishsoap last because it causes too much foaming when adding the water

  22. Thanks everyone!

    @Melanie, you may need to try and scrape that soap scum off. Before that, try finding ‘full strength vinegar (6%) which may need to be ordered online. Apply that with a cloth and leave it for 5 minutes and then scrub off. You can also try using a SKrAPr to get rid of the scum. Once you have, follow the daily shower routine to avoid ever having this build-up again.

    @Lauren, the only experience with a roach I’ve had was in Mexico (thankfully). I don’t know what else to tell you, aside from seeing if you can have your place fumigated. I’m not typically a fan, but those are scary buggers and I’d do it if need be.

    @Ali, that’s our next video, so please check back soon!

  23. Thanks for the tips. I do use very similar products, but now I feel like I can pare back more because maybe I don’t need as many.

    I rent, and every inspection they mention that the shower windows are soap scummy, but nothing I have tried seems to get rid of it. Mentholated spirits worked the best, but it also work it’s best to try and kill me with fumes as well. Do you have any suggestions to deal with shower windows…even though you don’t have any?

  24. hey melissa!
    I have a question about roaches.. ive been living in a new build for 6 years, and we’re probably about an 7 or 8 or the clean house scale 10 being the cleanest. But after about 6 years.. Ive seen a few roaches….and they’re my nightmare. what are your tips to get rid of them or maintaining a home to keep them out? I leave pouches of bay leaves around to try to get them away but i still see 1 or 2 here and there… please help!!

  25. Melissa-

    Do you also suggest the same routine for the shower curtain liner? I can’t afford to replace them as often as I’d like, and want to do what I can to keep them from getting so nasty. Thanks!

    • I just throw my plastic shower liner in the washer machine with a couple of towels. And my came from dollar tree store so you know it’s not really quality being a thin shower liner.

    • Just as Peggy said. Add some towels in the washing machine if you have PVC curtains. Add some vinegar and banking soda into detergent and it should do the job perfectly fine.

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