The Best Soap Scum Removers

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

Best Overall

The Best Soap Scum Removers Option: Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner

Dr. Bronneru0026#039;s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Soap Scum Remover Option: CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover

CLR Calcium, Lime u0026amp; Rust Remover

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Best Eco-Friendly

The Best Soap Scum Removers Option: Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Cleaner

Seventh Generation Tub u0026amp; Tile Cleaner

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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. For older, deeper stains and stubborn scum, you may need to combine a concentrated formula with a scrub brush 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: Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover
  3. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Cleaner
  4. BEST POWDER: Bon Ami Scratch-Free Powder Cleanser
  5. BEST FOR TUBS: Rejuvenate No Scrub Soap Scum Remover
  6. BEST FOR SHOWER WALLS: Bring It On Cleaner Water Spot Remover
  7. BEST FOR TOUGH STAINS: ForceField ScumBlaster Tub & Tile Cleaner
  8. BEST SCRUBBER: Mr. Clean MagicEraser Bath Cleaning Pads
The Best Soap Scum Remover Options
Photo: depositphotos.com

Before You Buy Soap Scum Remover

An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. 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. Those with hard water might also want to consider using a shower head filter that lowers the level of minerality in the water. Another trick is to buy a good soap dispenser so liquid soap isn’t dripping and causing stains and scales to form.

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, some 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. We didn’t include products containing bleach or other potentially toxic ingredients.

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

Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner

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Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner is an eco-friendly and effective multipurpose cleaner that excels in removing stubborn soap scum, among its other uses. Its plant-based surfactants cut through grease and dirt, producing abundant suds and biodegrading quickly. Enhanced with the soothing aroma of pure fir and spruce essential oils, it imparts a refreshing forest scent.

Since it’s free of synthetic dyes, fragrances, preservatives, and harsh chemicals, it’s a cleaner choice for your home and the environment. The brand upholds a strong ethical stance, and their products are 100 percent cruelty-free and never tested on animals, qualifying for the Leaping Bunny logo.

Product Specs 

  • Key ingredients: Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Form: Concentrated liquid
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Tackles everything from soap scum to laundry stains effectively
  • This product is cruelty-free and is not tested on animals
  • The formula won’t irritate skin and is environmentally friendly
  • Effective in hard or soft water as well as hot or cold water

Cons

  • The concentrated formula requires dilution, which is potentially inconvenient for quick cleanups

Get the Dr. Bronner’s soap scum remover at Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

CLR Calcium, Lime u0026 Rust Remover

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The best products in your cleaning arsenal are multipurpose, nontoxic, and highly effective. All this can be said of CLR’s classic calcium, lime, and rust 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 certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and also receives an A rating from the Environmental Working Group, an independent testing body.

Product Specs 

  • Key ingredients: Mild lactic and gluconic acids
  • Form: Concentrated liquid
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • The nontoxic formula ensures safer cleaning for the whole family
  • Recognized by the EPA and Environmental Working Group for environmental safety
  • Effectively combats calcium, calcium carbonate, and iron residues

Cons

  • Unpleasant odor during use may detract from cleaning experience
  • Should not be mixed or used with other household cleaners

Get the CLR soap scum remover at Amazonor The Home Depot.

Best Eco-Friendly

Seventh Generation Tub u0026 Tile Cleaner

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Seventh Generation is known for its nontoxic 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (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 cleaner is safe to use on acrylic, ceramic, fiberglass, porcelain, satin-nickel, and stainless steel finishes. This formula will keep your bathroom clean and spotless.

Product Specs 

  • Key ingredients: Citric acid
  • Form: Concentrate
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Formulated with 91 percent plant-based ingredients
  • This product is safe to use in homes with septic systems
  • Free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and solvents
  • Suitable for acrylic, ceramic, fiberglass, porcelain, satin nickel, and stainless steel

Cons

  • This product is not suitable for cleaning marble, brass, unsealed granite, or engineered stone
  • Due to the inclusions of essential oils, it may have a strong scent

Get the Seventh Generation soap scum remover at Target or Grove Collaborative.

Best Powder

Bon Ami Scratch-Free Powder Cleanser

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With a little elbow grease and Bon Ami’s powder cleanser, your kitchen and bathroom surfaces will have a new lease on life. This formula doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or acids, with the primary ingredient being calcium carbonate (limestone). It offers a gentle abrasive effect and won’t scratch delicate surfaces. It doesn’t contain chlorine, bleach, fragrance, or dye, so it won’t be irritating to sensitive users.

It works well on granite, ceramic tiles, chrome, porcelain, stainless steel, copper, cooktops, and brass, and can be used with caution on more delicate surfaces like fiberglass and plastic. One downside is that it’s not suitable for cleaning windows or mirrors.

Product Specs 

  • Key ingredients: Calcium carbonate
  • Form: Powder
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • This delicate cleaner will not scratch or damage surfaces
  • Versatile enough to use in various spaces around the home
  • Formulated without the use of harsh chemicals

Cons

  • Not suitable for use on glass surfaces, including mirrors

Get the Bon Ami soap scum remover at Amazon (2-pack).

Best for Tubs

Rejuvenate No Scrub Soap Scum Remover

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Where tubs are concerned, you will likely want an easy spray-on solution to get rid of soap scum. Enter Rejuvenate. This nontoxic, nonabrasive formula is safe to use on glass, ceramic, 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, and 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
  • Form: Spray
  • Multipurpose: No

Pros

  • The nontoxic formula is fragrance-, bleach-, and acid-free
  • This product is easy to use and no scrubbing is required
  • Works on glass, ceramic, porcelain, chrome, plastic, fiberglass, and natural stone

Cons

  • Needs to sit for some time to clean properly
  • This product does not simultaneously disinfect surfaces

Get the Rejuvenate soap scum remover at Amazonor Lowe’s.

Best for Shower Walls

Bring It On Cleaner Water Spot Remover

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Dingy grout, soap scum, and water spots are the bane of glass 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 glass 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
  • Form: Liquid concentrate
  • Multipurpose: No

Pros

  • Removes limestone, calcium, iron, mold, mildew, and magnesium
  • This formula is kid-safe and nontoxic
  • Suitable for bathroom fixtures, shower walls and heads, drains, tile, countertops, and toilet bowls

Cons

  • This is not a multipurpose product, making it less versatile than some others we recommend

Get the Bring It On soap scum remover at Amazon.

Best for Tough Stains

ForceField ScumBlaster Tub u0026 Tile Cleaner

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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, a good hard-water cleaner, and better for the environment, too.

Product Specs 

  • Key ingredients: Organic salt
  • Form: Spray
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Works on soap scum, hard-water stains, rust stains, and mildew
  • The spray-and-rinse formula means no scrubbing is required
  • This product is formulated without bleach or acids

Cons

  • Needs to sit for some time to clean properly

Get the ForeceField soap scum remover at Amazonor Wayfair.

Best Scrubber

Mr. Clean MagicEraser Bath Cleaning Pads

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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 four- or 10-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 you apply 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: Melamine resin foam
  • Form: Cleaning pad
  • Multipurpose: Yes

Pros

  • Comes with a pack of 4 or 10 flexible scrubber sponges
  • Can remove soap scum, toothpaste, fingerprints, and grease
  • Leaves behind a fresh lavender scent

Cons

  • Not suitable for use in a toilet bowl

Get the Mr. Clean soap scum removers at Amazon (10-pack) or The Home Depot (4-pack).

Or, DIY Your Own Soap Scum Remover

While many great commercially available soap scum cleaners are on the market, you can also create an effective, eco-friendly soap scum cleaner using common household ingredients.

Mix 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle, warming the vinegar first to help it blend. Add a tablespoon of natural liquid soap, like castile, and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil for its antimicrobial properties.

Spray the solution generously onto the afflicted area and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This allows the vinegar to break down the soap scum, making it easier to wipe away. Then, scrub gently with a soft cloth or nonabrasive sponge. Be sure to rinse thoroughly afterward to avoid leaving any residue.

This formula is biodegradable, nontoxic, and friendly to both humans and the environment.

Jump to Our Top Picks

Our Verdict

When it comes to soap scum removal, products like Clorox Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner With Bleach and Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower Foamer Disinfecting Spray are popular for their efficacy. However, these products fall short of our sustainability guidelines. Despite their popularity, we don’t recommend them in our top picks due to concerns about their environmental impact, harmful chemical ingredients, and potential health hazards.

What to Consider When Choosing a Soap Scum Remover

Even with the best cleaning 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. 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, and 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 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.

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 and 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.

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Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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Andréana Lefton is a writer and educator, focusing on human rights and creating spaces of refuge—in our homes and communities. As a documentary researcher, she has freelanced with The Guardian as well as NPR- and BBC-affiliates. She’s written for On Being, the United Nations, and many non-profit clients in the US, UK, Europe, and Middle East. All that she knows of garden care and interior design she learned from her artistic mother, Jacqueline. She now applies these skills to her life in Chattanooga, TN, where home is an urban art studio with books piled everywhere. Follow her on Twitter.

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