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 equally well on soap scum, discoloration, and dirt. It is effective on multiple surfaces, including stainless steel, fiberglass, tubs, showers, 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.
The Best Soap Scum Removers for the Bathroom
The right soap scum remover can cut down on unsightly buildup, preserving your bathroom surfaces in the long run.
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- Best OverallCLR Calcium, Lime & Rust RemoverCheck Latest Price
- Best Eco-FriendlySeventh Generation Professional Tub & Tile CleanerCheck Latest Price
- Best For GlassAMAZ 11107 Water Stain RemoverCheck Latest Price
It’s a nasty combination. 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, but it can also affect tile and grout. Over time, this mineral buildup becomes increasingly hard to remove, which means you’ll want to stay ahead of the curve and find a soap scum solution that works for daily and weekly cleanups.
In most cases, a nontoxic spray will do the trick without damaging surfaces or requiring 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, the right product can address your scum situation in minimal time, restoring your bathroom’s shine and freshness.
- BEST OVERALL: CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Seventh Generation Professional Tub & Tile Cleaner
- BEST FOR GLASS: AMAZ 11107 Water Stain Remover
- BEST FOR TUBS: Rejuvenate Scrub Free Soap Scum Remover
- BEST FOR SHOWER WALLS: Bring It On Cleaner
- BEST FOR TOUGH STAINS: ForceField ScumBlaster Tub and Tile Cleaner
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.
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 glass and mirrored 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.
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.
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 nonabrasive 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 in lifting 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.
Seventh Generation is known for its nontoxic household cleaners, 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.
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 nonventilated spaces and is intended to restore glass, metal, and porcelain 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.
Where tubs are concerned, you will likely want an easy spray-on solution to soap scum. Enter Rejuvenate. This nontoxic, nonabrasive 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 stains, soap scum, and mineral buildup that spraying alone won’t dissolve.
Dingy grout, soap scum, and water spots are the bane of shower 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 stains, since the oxygen bleach also works on mold and mildew. Bring It On has a fresh mint scent, leaving your bathroom looking and smelling better without much effort.
Not all soap scum and 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.
FAQs About Soap Scum Removers
There’s a little chemistry involved in soap scum creation and removal. Knowing the basics can help you choose the right remover and preserve your bathroom surfaces over time.
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.