The 10 Best Soap Scum Removers

Updated March 02, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Who would have thought that combining two of the most seemingly innocuous substances – water and soap – could produce such an unsightly mess? If your home suffers from bathroom woes, try one of these soap scum removers. They are formulated to take all the hard work out of cleaning tubs, showers, and counters, and are even available in natural and eco-friendly options. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best soap scum remover on Amazon.

10. Kaboom With OxiClean

9. Comet Bathroom

8. Clorox Tilex Remover & Disinfectant

7. Rejuvenate Remover

6. Scrub Free Plus

5. The Bucko Shower Soap Scum and Grime

4. EarthStone Bathstone

3. Bring It On Cleaner

2. Krud Kutter Original

1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

What Is Soap Scum And Why Should It Be Removed?

Soap scum is the term for the white solids which build up around shower doors, counter tops, clear glass dishes, or windows after treatment with tap water and soap. The concentration of hard minerals left behind is often called soap scum, silt, or limescale.

Soap scum is caused by minerals in hard tap water interacting with soap. As molecules of ionic calcium or magnesium come into contact with the fatty acids in soap, they lock on to the natural sodium ions in these fatty acids. The bond formed between the two creates insoluble compounds within the soap that prevent it from lathering; rendering the soap highly ineffective. From cleaning laundry or dishes to washing the body and hair, soap clings to other molecules rather than react with the water, leaving behind the familiar white crust.

Soap scum is an eyesore, and that alone is reason enough to remove it. Without a soap scum remover, however, it is a very difficult task. In addition to being laborious, soap scum may also pose some risks to your health. Recent research studied polyvinyl chloride shower curtains which came into contact with hard water and soap. Over time, these shower curtains tend to accumulate soap scum deposits, which show rich microbial biofilms under microscopy.

Researchers collected samples of shower curtains from different homes to identify the types of potentially harmful bacteria found in these biofilms. The study noted that each film was highly complex and that no two biofilms were composed of the same microbes. All samples included various opportunistic pathogens known to be harmful to humans. The researchers also detected many other kinds of organisms in lower abundances. If the shower curtains remained uncleaned, these organisms would have enough time to reproduce and become a much larger threat.

Why Use Soap Scum Removers?

Knowing that soap scum provides the ideal breeding ground for various pathogenic bacteria, the decision to use a soap scum remover is a smart one. Additionally, soap scum removers make the process extremely easy, as they create the ideal compounds to adhere to and remove soap scum.

The chemistry of soap scum removers is the key to their success. Most contain either ionic or non-ionic surfactants combined with acids to react with the heavily basic composition of soap scum minerals. These two working together produce far greater results than scrubbing alone.

In actuality, many of the compounds in soap scum removers require little external effort. After spraying them on the soap scum, the acids begin to lessen the bond of the basic minerals through a neutralization reaction; while the surfactants help to bind with the soap scum. The result is sparkling clean glass, counter tops, and tiles with just the effort of wiping the soap scum remover away with a cloth.

Additional Effects Of Hard Minerals In Soap Scum

The effect of the hard minerals which create soap scum is not limited to spotty windows and biofilm. The majority of homes depend on a hard water supply, especially in large cities. The term hard water simply means water that has a high mineral content. Pure water has often been called the ultimate solvent. Water mixes with carbon dioxide as it comes up through the groundwater, forming small amounts of carbonic acid. Only about one percent of the carbon dioxide turns to carbonic acid. This carbonic acid lasts for just a fraction of a second before turning into protons and bicarbonate ions. Despite its short lifespan, carbonic acid is critical to the health of the atmosphere and the human body. It is an important part of the equilibrium between carbon dioxide, water, and many other minerals. In its short lifespan, carbonic acid can dissolve limestone, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals into the water.

This process continues as long as the water is pulled up from the earth. The result is extremely high concentrations of minerals in certain areas of the world. This effect may be amplified if the water is used more than once or travels long distances to its destination. As this hard water enters the home, the minerals within it are in an ionic state and highly reactive. These reactive minerals stick to metal pipes, faucets, appliances, glass, and even combine with soap; creating a long list of problems.

If these minerals build up within pipes, the first thing noticed is fluctuations in water pressure. Some areas of the home may have little to no pressure, while the water pressure elsewhere is extremely high. If the pipes are not cleaned, they can become completely clogged and may even burst.

Many household appliances use tap water, such as dishwashers, coffee makers, and washing machines. Hard minerals may also cause a reduction in the lifespan of these appliances. Continuous mineral buildup can affect or completely arrest the moving parts of these machines. Additionally, machines that use soap will create additional soap scum, as these minerals cling to the soap and adhere it to clothing and glass. Many people turn to water filters to reduce the minerality of their water to manageable levels or eliminate it completely.


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Last updated on March 02, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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