How to Clean a Bathtub & Shower Like A Pro!

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Something that a lot of people struggle with when it comes to cleaning is how to properly clean a shower and bathtub. Seriously, we get asked this a lot. And while we do have an older video on how to clean a bathtub, we’ve taken some of your feedback into consideration and created a simple step-by-step procedure on how to do this task. So, I’m going to show you guys how professionals clean bathtubs and I’ll also cover off some of the pitfalls that people fall into (and how to get around them).

Products & Tools

Whenever I tackle a cleaning task, I always categorize things into three different sections: products, tools, and techniques. The products and tools that you’re going to need for this are:

What Is Soap Scum Anyway?

Soap scum is something that I’ve talked about a lot over the years, but before I started my cleaning company I had no idea what it was. It was, of course, something that I’d heard about on TV commercials, but I was unclear on exactly what it was. After cleaning hundreds of tubs, I can say with certainty that I’m now very clear on what it is! It’s essentially a buildup of soap, dead skin cells, body oils, and hardened minerals from your water, creating a cakey greyish brownish gummy build-up. It becomes sticky and difficult to remove over time, which is why you need abrasion and you really want to pre-treat any surfaces which have soap scum before you start cleaning them.

Step 1: Empty The Tub

Start by removing everything from the shower and the tub—anything that’s sitting in there for a long period of time has the opportunity to grow mold and mildew under it so everything needs to come out before we start cleaning.

Step 2: Tiles

Next up, we’re pre-treating our tiles—we’ll do the tub afterward so that you can stand in the tub, safety first! Dip your sponge into your tub and tile cleaner (or if you’re using a spray follow the same procedure) and work your way from top to bottom, left to right. Let this sit for 5 minutes.

Now, you’re going to scrub the tiles using the scrubby side of the sponge (it should be nice and wet). You’re going to apply pressure and work from top to bottom, left to right. By doing this you really help remove any of the schmutz that’s stuck to your walls including anything stuck in the grout lines. Now, if you need some additional abrasion, you can add a little bit of baking soda to your sponge. This will help get rid of any stubborn soap scum. By the time this work is done everything will be nice and clean. But hold on, we’re not rinsing just yet!

Step 3: The Tub

A quick pro tip here: roll up your bath mat and use that to rest your knees on when you’re working in the tub—trust me, it will save your knees! Using the soft side of the sponge apply the tub and tile product, working from left to right. Once again, you’ll want to let this sit for 5 minutes before any scrubbing starts. Flip over the sponge and use the abrasive side of the sponge to start scrubbing the tub. Now, the product will have done a lot of the work for you, but you still have to give it a little elbow grease if you have significant soap scum build-up. If you need any extra abrasion, again, you can always throw some baking soda into the mix. Oh, and make sure you scrub your chrome!

Step 4: Rinsing & Polishing

Now, we’re going to rinse. I have a detachable shower head that is super helpful for this task. However, if you don’t have one of those just fill up a large container and dump water on your tiles from the very top letting the water run to the bottom. You really want to make sure that you get all the product off so that you get a nice clean smooth finish. Leftover product can attract dirt and debris and start your soap scum build up all over again!

I’ll use a squeegee to remove any residual water (or product) from the walls and tub. If you don’t have a squeegee, seriously—get one! I squeegee my tub after every use and I can tell you that cleaning the shower has become so much easier just by staying on top of this (I also have a DIY daily shower spray that does the same thing). Finally, use a microfiber cloth (I like an extra-plush microfiber cloth for this step) to wipe and polish the tub and chrome surfaces. If you have any water spots left behind you can spot clean with some vinegar. And that’s it!

A Note On Grout

If you happen to have any discolored grout, there’s a really simple way to fix that. You can mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl making a thick paste. Measurements don’t really matter here, just make what you need and ensure it’s nice and pasty. Apply it with a cleaning toothbrush to the grout lines and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will give the product time to do its work—whitening and brightening! When the time is up, simply rinse and wipe clean.

Physical Challenges

We do get a lot of emails and comments about people who either have physical limitations, chronic pain, or are looking for more ergonomic cleaning solutions instead of having to bend down or crouch. There are a number of cleaning tools available to make these tasks a little bit easier, and for this particular job, you can get an extendable tub and tile scrubber. It makes the cleaning process a little bit easier for sure.

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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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Would like to hear some suggestions for fiberglass enclosures and glass doors. They often require a more delicate approach to prevent scratching the fiberglass and glass doors show everything. Also, any preferences for a daily shower spray to use between cleanings? Thanks!

  2. Finally got a squeegee for the shower and what a difference it has made! The problem of the dreaded shower stall cleaning has been solved. Thank you!

  3. Melissa,
    I just found your site. I am not a doctor, I am a reporter. For years I have been using .5t of baking soda mixed in water, to cure my acid indigestion, when I ate too much of the wrong thing.

    Recently I was reading Sodium Bicarbonate by Mark Sircus, MD. He pointed out that it is added to chemotherapy, to smooth out what the horrible chemo poison does to patients. He went on to say that on an intracellular level baking soda makes the intracellular electricity able to move much faster, and that it can power up your cells. Here is the reason this is important:

    For over 2 years now I have been doing research into why my wife died from breast cancer. One MD from Mexico told me about his cancer research. He was able to change healthy cell into cancer cells and back over and over. He said what made the difference was their internal voltage. At 35 microvolts they were cancerous. At 70 microvolts they returned into healthy cells. So it looks to me like cancer is a form of baking soda malnutrition.

    In view of the fact I read that 1 in 2 men are now expected to get cancer in their lifetimes, (And 1 in 3 women) after I found this out, I started taking a cup of cold water with a very small amount of dissolved baking soda in it and drinking it prophylactically on a regular basis.
    Steven

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