How To Clean Soap Scum From Tile and Grout. What pros say

Soap scum is the residue left behind on your tiles and grout when using hard water. The water combines with skin cells, body oils, and products like shampoos and cleaning liquids to create what you know as soap scum. But while soap scum build-up is inevitable, especially in your shower area, how do you clean it from your tile and grout once it has built up?

You can clean soap scum from tile and grout by using a solution of baking soda and vinegar, a commercial cleanser, creating a cleaning solution with vinegar and dish soap. You can also make a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda cleaning solution to clean more difficult soap scum.

Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of soap scum from your tile and grout. I’ll cover all these methods so you can get your tiles and grout as good as new in no time!

1. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

While you can buy a commercial cleaner, it isn’t necessary. Unless the soap scum has built up extremely heavily, you should have everything you need to clean it in your kitchen. 

The two main ingredients in this cleaner are baking soda and vinegar. Making the cleaner is pretty simple. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Step 1. Measure the baking soda: Measure out 1.5 cups (355 ml) of baking soda in a deep bowl.
  • Step 2. Mix with vinegar: Drizzle some vinegar into the bowl and mix. Keep adding vinegar until the baking soda turns into a thick, paste-like consistency. The mixture will fizz. This is normal, so don’t be alarmed–this is why you should use a deep bowl when making this mixture so that it doesn’t overflow.
  • Step 3. Clean the tiles: Once the mixture is ready, you can use a cloth, a sponge, or a pumice stone to clean your tiles and grout. Choose the cleaning tool you prefer, and gently dip it in your cleaning solution. Then, rub it over the surface of your tile and grout and allow it to sit. If you’re using a pumice stone, remember to be gentle. The stone may scratch tiles, especially ceramic ones.
  • Step 4. Let it sit and wipe the area: Allow the mixture to sit for about 15-30 minutes, depending on how much soap scum build-up there is. Once enough time has passed, wipe it off the surface with a cloth and rinse the area down with clean water.
  • Step 5. Rinse the area: Most of the soap scum should have come loose and washed away when you rinsed it. If there is any still left, use a stiff-bristled brush to wipe it off. Take a clean cloth and dip it in distilled white vinegar, and use it to wipe off any soap scum residue.
  • Step 6. Wipe the area: Finally, use another clean cloth to wipe down the area and ensure the tile and grout are completely dry.

2. Use a Commercial Cleanser

If you notice there is a lot of soap scum build-up or simply aren’t feeling up to scrounging for ingredients in your kitchen, you can also use a commercial cleanser to clean away soap scum. 

In general, look for a targeted soap scum remover. If you cannot find one, a tile cleaner should work just as well. Cleansers are generally available as liquid or foam solutions, and you can choose whichever you prefer. 

Once you have your commercial cleanser, all you need to do is follow the instructions written on the bottle. These will differ slightly depending on the cleaner you’re using. However, the general procedure you’ll have to follow will be:

  1. Step 1. Apply the cleaner: Apply the cleanser to your tile and grout. 
  2. Step 2. Let it sit for 10min: Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, depending on the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Step 3. Wipe the area: Wipe the cleanser off with a dampened, non-abrasive sponge that will not damage your tile and grout. If the scum does not come off, use a scrub brush instead.
  4. Step 4. Rinse the area: Rinse the area down with warm water.
  5. Step 5. Repeat until clean: If there is still any soap scum left, repeat steps 1-3 until the soap scum is fully cleaned.
  6. Step 6. Wipe the area: Wipe down the area with a dry cloth.

3. Create a Cleaning Solution With Vinegar and Dish Soap

If you don’t have baking soda or don’t have enough baking soda to spare to clean your bathroom thoroughly, you can also create a cleaning solution using white vinegar and dish soap. To make this solution, you’ll need equal parts of white vinegar and dish soap. Then, you should:

  • Step 1: Heat the vinegar in the microwave for about 1 minute. If you notice the vinegar has started to boil, remove it from the microwave before it actually starts boiling.
  • Step 2: Mix the dish soap and vinegar together. Ideally, mix them together in a spray bottle so you can easily apply the cleaner.
  • Step 3: Once the cleaning solution is ready, spray or apply it to the tiles and grout. Allow it to sit for 30-45 minutes. The thicker the layer of soap scum, the longer you should allow the cleaner to sit for.
  • Step 4: Wipe down the area with a sponge. If some soap scum is still attached to the tile, use a scrub brush to clean it away. Once all the soap scum has been wiped away, rinse the area dry with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

4. Make a Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda Cleaning Solution

Occasionally, the soap scum collected on the grout will be more difficult to clean away than the scum on your tiles. If this is the case, a solution of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda will help you clean it away.

To make this solution, you simply need to mix two parts of baking soda for each part of hydrogen peroxide. This will give you a paste that you can use to clean the grout. 

Since the scum that has collected on the grout will be more challenging to remove than that on the tiles–and will be collected on a thinner area than the scum on your tiles–you’ll need to use a cleaning toothbrush to get rid of it. 

  • Step 1. Apply the solution: Apply the solution to the grout with a cleaning toothbrush (any old toothbrush will do) and allow it to sit on the grout for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Step 2. Use a toothbrush: Then, use the toothbrush to fully scrub the grout, and rinse the area with water. 
  • Step 3. Wipe the area: Dry it with a clean, dry cloth. 
  • Step 4. Seal the grout: Finish by sealing the tile with a grout sealant. 

Final Thoughts

Cleaning soap scum from your tile and grout is relatively easy, though it can be time-consuming depending on how much build-up there is. If you want to avoid cleaning soap scum build-up, you should clean your shower with a shower cleaner daily. This reduces the risk of soap scum gathering on your tiles and grout and also keeps away other issues that require cleaning, like mold and mildew.

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