Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting rid of soap scum

We've got a real problem with soap scum build up in the shower and the tub, mostly because we use actual soap instead of body wash or some other liquid petroleum based product that doesn't leave a film.

I know this is one reason why people are using body washes over soap because they don't like the film left behind from bar soap. But, the cost is one of plastic packaging and expense for buying a product that is mostly water. Not to mention the petroleum-based product you are using on your skin.

So, what's a conscientious consumer to do? Let it build up for a couple of years like we do? No, that's really not a good answer, but I hate scrubbing the walls and tub mostly because it doesn't seem to do anything particularly if you are using a non-toxic cleanser. I don't care what people claim about baking soda or borax, but it doesn't do anything to budge the build up. And we have the softest water in the country. I'd hate to see what it would look like if we had hard water.

Anyway, a few weeks back before our vacation I ran across a product in our grocery store that claimed that it was a heavy duty cleaner for scrubbing away soap scum and mildew on porcelain tile and grout. I finally got around to test driving it out over the weekend.

It is called the Earthstone BathroomStone which claims that it is 100% eco-friendly and 100% non-toxic. It's basically like a soft pumice stone on one side and a thin spongy thing on the other for wiping down.

Well, let me tell you, with some (serious) elbow grease it really does work. I found it easier to remove build up on the porcelain tiles than on the glass door, but that's mainly because our glass shower door is kind of bumpy. One problem I did notice is that the soap build up transfers from the shower (or tub) to the stone and it's hard to remove.

I ended up using a pumice stone to scrub it off the BathroomStone. If you don't do this you are basically scrubbing a thick layer of soap crud on the shower wall which, not too surprisingly, doesn't work well in removing any more goop. In spite of their claims about removing mildew, particularly in the grout, I found it to be totally worthless in that regard.

Another thing to keep in mind with this product, since it is so abrasive, is that you'll want to wear gloves while using this unless you want to remove some skin in the process.

Do you have a favorite, non-toxic method for removing soap scum build up?

Photos courtesy of Earthstone. No compensation was received for the review of this product.

23 comments:

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Citrus shampoo. Weird but I just found it to work good. One day I was taking a bath and realized the top of my 365 basics shampoo citrus scented was leaking and had taken off half the wording on the side of the bottle. If it worked that good on the wording printed on the bottle, maybe it would clean my bathtub. Well it worked! So if your in need of a good cleaner, head on over to Whole Foods and pick up a bottle of this shampoo for only $3.99. Smells pretty good too

Stephanie said...

We do use baking soda and vinegar to remove soap scum. The secret ingredient is patience. I usually walk away from it for a time before scrubbing. A really good scrub brush also helps. And the walls are still pretty much a pain. This works best on the bottom of the tub or shower.

Sprinkle baking soda all around, then spray with vinegar. Just leave it alone for a while.

It's kind of the same principle as using baking soda and vinegar to clear a clogged drain, although I haven't tried pouring boiling water on it to rinse. I just grab my good scrub brush and the scum starts disappearing with about the same effort I put into it back when we used the usual chemicals.

Sera said...

We use a steel pot scrubber on our plastic shower and it seems to do the job. That plus our 'non-toxic' cream cleanser. Not sure exactly how good that is, but you don't need much to do the job thankfully.

Jen said...

I keep a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge and a squeegee in the shower and wipe down after every shower. I know the magic sponge is an environmental sin, but it really does cut the scum no matter how bad it gets. And the squeegee is just preventive.

I used to use one of those plastic shower poofs used for body wash and some old shampoo and scrub down the shower after every time, but I no longer have either of those. It worked really, really well.

cachet said...

well, i don't think my kids use soap, so that helps there.

and we wipe it out after every use. i hardly scrub it at all due to this.

Suze said...

We have very hard water and soap scum is the bane of my existence. I am forever descaling etc and I wish I need an answer to this problem.

Lee Borden said...

Outdoor shower. We don't notice soap scum on the concrete or the metal walls of the pole barn.

TheSimplePoppy said...

A razor blade. Seriously. It scrapes off the scum and then you can do a little light scrubbing for the rest. I don't have tile though, so I'm not sure how well it would work on that.

Shoshanna said...

We rely on Melaleuca's Tub and Tile. It removes hard water stains and soap scum and does a great job on glass doors too. Sometimes we boost the power with SoluMel and Melamagic. All great products and extremely cost effective.

Billie said...

I use a green scrubbie that you use in the kitchen and elbow grease. I don't even use a cleanser. I find it works best on dry tiles actually.

I try to wipe the bathroom down after each shower which I really thought helped immensely.

I do have to clean the tiles because they have horrible build-up. My ex-husband was not into wiping down the shower so I gave up and let it build up.

Jo said...

My husband brought home the KitchenStone from the same company a few weeks ago. They were giving them out at an Environmental/Recycling Conference he went to. We live in an old house with the original white porcelain covered sink that is all nasty looking and marked up from my cast iron skillets. That little stone was amazing, required some elbow grease for sure but I couldnt stop scrubbing the sink once I saw how pretty and white it was! I was wondering if they had one for the bathroom but I just too the extra one up to scrub the shower with. I was pretty impressed. I'm going to have to get a new pack, I wore my down to almost nothing already.

Condo Blues said...

I squirt vinegar straight from the bottle on shower grout and scrub it with an old toothbrush. It's the best thing that's worked out of everything I've tried. My second favorite is my steam cleaner. It was a brush attachment that scrubs away the crud the steam loosens.

simplifysimplify said...

I used to work in a food processing factory where you have to keep things very clean. There was a strict rule not to use anything abrasive on the equipment, because it creates tiny scratches which trap bacteria, and makes things harder to keep clean. I take this rule home, too. I heard about people cleaning their toilet bowls with pumice stones, which scratches the porcelain, and then just traps particles more and more, and cringed. For the shower and soap scum, I think it is the same way. I think it's best to use a liquid cleanser (vinegar solution, hydrogen peroxide, or citrus based like citri-solv) if you're cleaning it frequently, and something very gentle like Bon Ami if less frequently. I wet a sponge and make a paste with Bon Ami, rub on gently, let sit, and rub off gently with lots of water. Vinegar and citri-solv are opposite soap on the pH spectrum so that is why they dissolve it so well.

Erika said...

I still have a partial bottle of Method brand shower cleaner (that works wonders! I'll be sad when it's gone!) that I use to clean the tile and tub. I add to it baking soda, a splash of water, and lots of elbow grease and use a heavy-duty scrub brush. For the grout - a baking soda-water paste and toothbrush. Folks have to settle for dirty grout 'round here, 'cause I only break out the toothbrush every 4-6 weeks. :-P I have yet to master a way of getting ALL the scum off the shower... the squeegee thing doesn't work well for us...

--Erika

MadameMim said...

I use a pumice stone for really hard stuff...rust/soap scum/etc. Yup, the same one I used on my feet...

Does that stone feel like pumice?

iwantpeaceplease said...

I like to use a broom to scrub my shower and tub... it gets the walls and tub with out breaking my back... IT WORKS SO GOOD! (rinse your broom first) N'joy your next cleaning :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

I also read that rubbing alcohol works really well. I tried it this morning and it worked great, but it's not very eco-friendly. Better than using scrubbing bubbles.

It would be useful to remove large amounts of build-up to start and then something eco-friendly to keep it under control.

Crazy Charm said...

I have used that stone and found that it scratched some of my surfaces. Now, I mix baking soda with seventh generation dishwashing liquid and scrub with some serious elbow grease.

It's a lot easier if I keep up with it and do it once or twice a week, but sometimes that just doesn't happen.

Anna said...

I've found that baking soda and vinegar works well. Or, heating vinegar up in the microwave and putting it in a spray bottle. I spray it on and leave it for a bit and it's usually easy to clean after that.

Kimmarie said...

To my despair my husband will only use bar ivory soap so we were getting lots of soap scum. So I tried borax, one of those little nylon scrubby things and an old fashion scrub brush to get in between the nubs on the bottom of the tub and it works! The borax seems to work much better then baking soda. Sorry, I have to agree that the pumice stones do leave behind tiny scratches which will make it that much harder to clean in the long run. The use of them is not recommended by the manufacturers of bathroom tubs, toilets etc...

brenna said...

My plan is to get a steam cleaner. i was pleased to see another commenter suggest that as well. I am getting a little tired of the baking soda and vinegar, especially since it takes so much work that I just don't have time for right now!

Anonymous said...

At our old apartment, on a beat up tub, I used a lemon half and some borax. It worked really well. And we were using Ivory, which does seem to leave a ton of scum.

Now that we have a house and the tubs are in pretty good shape, I am reluctant to use the Borax. I mostly just use a scrubby and some effort. I might try the lemon and Bon Ami.

Anonymous said...

I keep a large cup in my shower and rinse the walls (and the shower curtain) before I turn off the water. It really helps a lot. You might still get sediment from hard water, but the soap is rinsed off so no scum.

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