The Best Soap Scum Removers of 2022

The right soap scum remover can cut down on unsightly buildup, preserving your bathroom surfaces in the long run.

By Andréana Lefton | Updated Apr 25, 2022 8:13 AM

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Best Soap Scum Remover

Photo: amazon.com

When soap combines with hard water, it can leave a filmy, whitish residue in your tub, shower, and sink known as soap scum. It’s especially noticeable on metal fixtures, tile, and grout. This buildup is hard to remove and needs daily and weekly removal.

In most cases, nontoxic spray will work without damaging surfaces or heavy chemicals. For older, deeper stains and stubborn scum, you may need to combine a concentrated formula with a scrub pad and some elbow grease. That said, read on for the best soap scum removers and shopping considerations to address your scum in minimal time.

  1. BEST OVERALL: CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Clorox Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach
  3. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Seventh Generation Professional Tub & Tile Cleaner
  4. BEST FOR GLASS: AMAZ 11107 Water Stain Remover
  5. BEST FOR TUBS: Rejuvenate Scrub Free Soap Scum Remover
  6. BEST FOR SHOWER WALLS: Bring It On Cleaner
  7. BEST FOR TOUGH STAINS: ForceField ScumBlaster Tub and Tile Cleaner
  8. BEST SCRUBBER: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Cleaning Pads
Best Soap Scum Remover

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Soap Scum Remover

An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. So if you have hard water, make sure you’re removing water spots and mineral deposits daily or weekly, before they have a chance to build up into scaly scum. Another trick is to buy a good soap dispenser so liquid soap isn’t dripping and causing stains and scales to form. However, even with the best efforts, scum happens. To cure your bathroom surfaces of this scourge, consider the following.

Surface Type

Bathrooms contain a mix of surface materials from metal fixtures to ceramic tiles to fiberglass, acrylic, or porcelain tubs. You don’t want to damage any of these materials in the process of cleaning them—but switching between cleaners every time you touch another surface isn’t necessarily a convenient solution. So when shopping for soap scum removers, be sure to look for formulas that are compatible with a wide range of surface types.

Make sure the formula does not contain harsh abrasives, chlorine bleach, or strong acids, which can permanently cloud or scar anything from metal to glass. For mirrored and glass surfaces, you will likely want to purchase a separate, specially formulated product, since these materials streak easily and require surfactants or solvents to provide that perfect shine.

Formula

Soap scum busters come in a wide range of formulas. For all but the most severe cases of buildup, you may opt for a plant-based, nontoxic solution rather than a product containing heavy artificial chemicals. Nontoxic solutions should not include chlorine bleach, ammonia, heavy fragrances, or phthalates.

Instead, they use mild abrasives (like salts or baking soda), less caustic acids (like lactic, citric, or gluconic), hydrogen peroxide, or other plant-based surfactants (ingredients that lift dirt and mineral buildup through chemistry).

The best soap scum remover may also be certified by the USDA and the EPA. You can also check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for product toxicity and ratings. Nontoxic removers work on a diverse range of surfaces and are often just as effective as commercial, chemical solutions for household use.

They are also safe for people with allergies and health issues as well as kids and pets. For use around drains and in toilets, look for septic-safe formulas, too. If you are sensitive to scent, many brands now offer scent-free alternatives as well as solutions containing essential oils rather than artificial fragrances.

Application Method

In addition to plant-based or nontoxic formulas, soap scum removers come in a range of different application types:

  • Sprays are the simplest and easiest to use. Spray onto the affected area, wait a few minutes, then rinse clean. For stubborn scum and water spots, you may also use a non-scratch scrub pad, along with the spray, to lift buildup from the surface.
  • Creams and concentrates provide more bang for the buck and are also designed for professional grade, industrial strength applications. These products may be applied directly to surfaces using a non-abrasive pad or diluted in a separate container according to product instructions.
  • Cleaning pads should always be non-scratch so you don’t damage the surface. They are helpful for removing soap scum that sprays and even creams alone can’t erase. Combine your chosen spray or concentrated product with a cleaning pad only on hard surfaces, like tubs, tile, shower doors, and sinks, that can handle mild abrasion. In most cases, it’s also best to wear gloves while cleaning.

Our Top Picks

Cleaning products, like soap scum removers, don’t need to contain heavy chemicals to get the job done. These recommendations are all effective, yet formulated without harsh solvents, acids, or bleach. This means they are safe to use if you have kids or pets, health sensitivities, or environmental concerns. Most of these products are also multipurpose, saving you from buying multiple bathroom cleaners.

Best Overall

Best Soap Scum Remover CLR
Photo: amazon.com

The best products in your cleaning arsenal are multipurpose, nontoxic, and highly effective. All this can be said of CLR’s classic soap scum and water stain remover. Using mild lactic and gluconic acids as its primary ingredients, CLR breaks down the mineral deposits that lead to unsightly buildup, like calcium, calcium carbonate, and iron.

This fast-acting formula works for removing soap scum, discoloration, and dirt. It is effective on multiple surfaces, including stainless steel, fiberglass, tubs, shower doors and walls, tile, fixtures, toilets, and sinks. Safe to use around kids and pets, CLR is EPA-certified and also receives a B rating from the Environmental Working Group, an independent testing body.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Mild lactic and gluconic acids
  • Compatible Surfaces: Stainless steel, fiberglass, tubs, showers, tile, fixtures, toilets, and sinks
  • Form: Concentrate
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Non-toxic formula
  • EPA and Environmental Working Group recognized
  • Suitable for multiple household cleaning tasks
  • Works on calcium, calcium carbonate, and iron
  • Safe for homes with pets and children

Cons

  • Harsh smell while in use
  • Should not be mixed or used with other household cleaners

Get the CLR cleaner at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Soap Scum Removers Option: Clorox Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach
Photo: Walmart.com

Clean any area of the bathroom with this pair of bathroom cleaners from Clorox. Get rid of stubborn stains, mold, mildew, and soap scum with the 30-ounce spray bottle of disinfecting bathroom cleaner that also can kill common bathroom germs that cause salmonella, flu, and skin infections. The second bathroom cleaner is a 32-ounce spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner that includes bleach in the formula, so it can handle just about any stain.

The all-purpose cleaner is capable of killing up to 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses, helping to keep the home clean and people safe from disease. Use either product on the floor, tub, shower, toilet, or sink, but make sure to properly ventilate the room and wear a mask to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Bleach and disinfectant
  • Compatible Surfaces: Floors, tubs, shower doors and walls, toilets, and sinks
  • Form: Spray
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • 2 products; cleaner and disinfectant
  • Removes scum, stains, mold, and mildew
  • Ample quantity provided

Cons

  • Should be used with proper ventilation
  • May require ample elbow grease to clean

Get the Clorox Clean-Up cleaners at The Home Depot and Walmart.

Best Eco-Friendly

Best Soap ScuM Remover_Seventh
Photo: amazon.com

Seventh Generation is known for its non-toxic household cleaners with no harsh chemicals, and its professional-grade tub and tile formula is heavy duty without being hard on your health or the planet. It is also septic-safe and contains 91 percent plant-based ingredients (certified by the USDA). You won’t find any chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances, dyes, or solvents in this product. Instead, it gently dissolves soap scum and hard water stains using citric acid (the same acid in limes and lemons).

It leaves behind a botanical scent derived from 100 percent essential oils. Effective on most bathroom and kitchen surfaces, Seventh Generation is safe to use on acrylic, ceramic, fiberglass, porcelain, satin nickel, and stainless steel finishes. This two-pack should last a long time and will keep your bathroom clean and spotless.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Citric acid
  • Compatible Surfaces: Most bathroom and kitchen surfaces
  • Form: Concentrate
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • 91 percent plant-based ingredients
  • Septic-safe
  • USDA certified
  • Free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and solvents
  • Suitable for acrylic, ceramic, fiberglass, porcelain, satin nickel, and stainless steel

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar options
  • Not suitable for marble or glass
  • May have a strong scent

Get the Seventh Generation cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Glass

Best Soap Scum Remover AMAZ
Photo: walmart.com

With a little elbow grease and AMAZ’s water stain remover, your glass will have a new lease on life. This formula doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or acids and is chlorine-free. It is also septic-safe and won’t scratch delicate surfaces. For tough soap scum spots, you will likely want to use this concentrated product along with AMAZ’s specially designed gripper pads, which won’t harm glass but will lift tough stains and scum with its mild abrasiveness.

This potent product can be used in non-ventilated spaces and is intended to restore glass, chrome, porcelain, fiberglass, metal, and tile to its original quality. That said, don’t expect miracles. AMAZ will not repair glass or reverse scoring or scratching that’s already occurred. It will, however, erase scummy buildup and mineral deposits that can’t be sprayed away.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Petroleum distillate
  • Compatible Surfaces: Glass, chrome, porcelain, fiberglass, metal, and tile
  • Form: Concentrate
  • Multipurpose: No

Pros

  • Delicate cleaner; will not scratch or damage surfaces
  • Septic-safe
  • Can be used in non-ventilated spaces
  • No harsh chemicals

Cons

  • May not work on extremely tough stains
  • Suitable for light-duty cleaning

Get the AMAZ Stain Remover at Walmart and The Home Depot.

Best for Tubs

Best Soap Scum Remover Rejuvenate
Photo: amazon.com

Where tubs are concerned, you will likely want an easy spray-on solution to soap scum. Enter Rejuvenate. This non-toxic, non-abrasive formula is safe to use on glass, ceramic and porcelain, chrome, plastic, fiberglass, natural stone, and most other bathroom surfaces. No scrubbing is required; simply spray on, let it work for a few minutes, then rinse off.

For people with allergies or chemical sensitivities, Rejuvenate is fragrance-free, bleach-free, and acid-free. It is safe to use around kids. For a complete tub and shower stall refresh, you may want to use a sponge or non-scratch scrub pad along with Rejuvenate to lift deeper hard water stains, soap scum, and mineral buildup that spraying alone won’t dissolve.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Surfactants
  • Compatible Surfaces: Tubs and showers
  • Form: Spray
  • Multipurpose: No

Pros

  • Non-toxic formula
  • No scrubbing required
  • Works on glass, ceramic, porcelain, chrome, plastic, fiberglass, and natural stone
  • Fragrance, bleach, and acid-free
  • Safe to use in homes with children or pets

Cons

  • May need to sit for some time to clean properly
  • Does not disinfect

Get the Rejuvenate scum remover at Amazon, Lowe’s, and Walmart.

Best for Shower Walls

Best Soap Scum Remover BringItOn
Photo: amazon.com

Dingy grout, soap scum, and water spots are the bane of shower doors and walls. You may tackle all these at once with Bring It On. This whitening formula contains oxygen bleach (hydrogen peroxide), which removes stains from minerals like limestone, calcium, iron, and magnesium, and it’s also kid-safe and nontoxic.

Equally effective on shower walls and doors, Bring It On works on almost all bathroom surfaces, including fixtures, shower heads, drains, tile, countertops, and toilet bowls. It is especially good for tile and grout buildup, since the oxygen bleach also works on mold and mildew stains. Bring It On has a fresh mint scent, leaving your bathroom looking and smelling better without much effort.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Oxygen bleach
  • Compatible Surfaces: Bathroom fixtures, shower walls and heads, drains, tile, countertops, and toilet bowls
  • Form: Concentrate
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Fresh mint scent
  • Removes limestone, calcium, iron, mold, mildew, and magnesium
  • Kid-safe and nontoxic
  • Ample quantity provided

Cons

  • Suitable for bathroom cleaning only

Get the Bring It On cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Tough Stains

Best Soap Scum Remover ForceField
Photo: amazon.com

Not all soap scum and hard water stains are easy to remove. For older, stubborn buildup, ForceField offers an industrial-strength solution. It’s formulated to cut through soap scum, hard water stains, rust stains, and mildew. Even better, ForceField’s ScumBlaster really is an all-purpose cleaner that’s effective on most surfaces and bathroom areas, including fixtures, sinks, showers, mirrors, tile, and grout.

This spray-wait-rinse formula doesn’t require heavy scrubbing or hours of cleaning. Formulated without bleach or acids, the main ingredient is organic salt, making ForceField ScumBlaster septic-safe and better for the environment, too.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Surfactants
  • Compatible Surfaces: Fixtures, sinks, showers, mirrors, tile, and grout
  • Form: Spray
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Industrial-strength solution
  • Works on soap scum, hard water stains, rust stains, and mildew
  • Septic-safe
  • Spray-and-rinse formula; no scrubbing required
  • No bleach or acids

Cons

  • Some users report the product is ineffective

Get the ForeceField ScumBlaster cleaner at Amazon, Wayfair, and Walmart.

Best Scrubber

The Best Soap Scum Removers Option: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Cleaning Pads
Photo: amazon.com

This impressive bathroom cleaner is designed for reaching into surface grooves, cleaning grout, and removing tough, stuck-on stains and grime from the tub, shower, sink, toilet, floor, and walls. The two-pack of bathroom scrubbers is made out of a white Durafoam material that is filled with foaming cleansers to help loosen and remove soap scum, toothpaste, fingerprints, and grease.

However, the Magic Eraser shouldn’t be used to clean inside the toilet bowl because the toilet water can cause the bathroom scrubber to quickly lose its foaming cleansers. The bathroom cleaner activates with just a little water, releasing the cleansers while the user applies abrasive force to the surface with the Durafoam scrubber. This also has the added benefit of creating a pleasant, fresh scent.

Product Specs

  • Key Ingredients: Durafoam and cleansers
  • Compatible Surfaces: Tubs, showers, sinks, toilets, floors, and walls
  • Form: Cleaning pad
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • 2 cleaning pads
  • Flexible form
  • Can remove soap scum, toothpaste, fingerprints, and grease
  • Leaves a fresh, lavender scent behind

Cons

  • Not suitable for use in a toilet bowl

Get the Mr. Clean cleaning pads at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Our Verdict

When soap scum begins to build up in your bathroom or kitchen, the CLR cleaner is non-toxic, compatible with many surfaces, and is tough enough to tackle multiple types of grime like calcium, calcium carbonate, and rust. Alternatively, for a budget-friendly pick, the 2-pack of Clorox Clean-Up cleaners disinfects and cleans bathrooms with powerful bleach and its spray bottle allows for quick and easy application.

How We Chose the Best Soap Scum Removers

We researched the most sought-after soap scum removers in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their ingredients, compatibility with multiple surfaces, form, certifications, and other special features included by top brands.

While searching for the best soap scum removers available, we included concentrates, sprays, and cleaning pads that are capable of removing mold and mildew, calcium, calcium carbonate, iron, rust, stains, scum, limestone, magnesium, and even grout stains. While most of these cleaning products have chemical-based formulas that include bleach and surfactants, select picks are made with all-natural ingredients like citric acid.

These ingredients are all safe to use on bathroom and kitchen areas that are made of stainless steel, fiberglass, acrylic, ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, glass, porcelain, chrome, and other bathroom surfaces. Plus, many of these products are safe to use in homes with children and pets, leave fresh scents behind, and have been certified by the EPA, the Environmental Working Group, and the USDA.

FAQs 

There’s a little chemistry involved in soap scum creation and removal. Knowing the basics can help you choose the right remover to preserve and clean your bathroom surfaces effectively.

Q: How does soap scum build up?

Over time, minerals like calcium and magnesium, found in hard water, combine with soap and dirt to create a scaly film that coats bathroom surfaces, fixtures, laundry, and more.

Q: Does hard water cause soap scum?

Yes. Hard water contains minerals (calcium, magnesium) that chemically combine with soap to create scum and limescale.

Q: What is the best thing to use to remove soap scum?

A non-scratch sponge, along with a specially formulated cleaning product, is often the best method to remove tough soap scum. Apply the product as directed and buff gently. Rinse clean with water.