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Handyman Minute: Getting Scum OUT

Posted On 02/17/2017

Dear Handyman, I recently moved into a new house, and the previous owners left a lot of soap scum and hard water buildup in the shower. It doesn't look nice, but I've tried scrubbing it with various bathroom cleaners to no avail. What product or method do your recommend?


There are tons of products that will claim to do the trick with little to no effort, leading you to more frustration once you realize they don't work! Now granted, not every solution I'll offer will work for every person - it depends on the kind of buildup you have, how dense the buildup is,  and the material (glass, porcelain, etc) that the buildup is on. Here are a few solutions that work for me when I'm battling buildup in the bathtub:

1) Dish Soap/Vinegar Mix: Gently mix 2 Tbsp of blue Dawn dish soap, 4 cups of white vinegar, and 4 cups of water into an empty spray bottle. Spray the solution on the affected areas & let sit for 15-30 minutes. Gently scrub it away with a damp bristle brush, and rinse away with hot water. Wipe area dry.

2) Dish Soap/Borax Mix: Gently mix 2 Tbps of blue Dawn dish soap, 1 cup of Borax laundry booster, and 1-2 cups of water in a bowl to form a paste. Use a brush to apply the paste to the affected areas and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Scrub paste away with a bristle brush and rinse with hot water. Wipe area dry.

3) Cooktop Cleaner: (Best for glass surfaces) Use a glass cooktop cleaner or "Bar Keeper's Friend" cooktop cleaner. There are two methods to try: 1) Pour some cooktop cleaner onto the scrubber side of your sponge, and simply scrub the scum away gently or 2) Pour glasstop cleaner into a small bowl and use a paintbrush or rag to 'paint' the cleaner onto the surface, let sit for up to 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and dry. 

Hopefully, one of these methods works for you as well as they have for me! 

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