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Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Posted by lizstanton08 (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 8, 10 at 9:16

I have lived in a rental apartment for two years, and soap scum and mildew have formed in the shower (between the tiles). I thought that using body wash, instead of bar soap, would prevent the problem, and while we didn't have a problem with soap scum and mildew in our first year, it's become an issue in our second.

I've tried multiple methods to remove the soap scum and mildew. I've used commercial cleaner (I can't remember the name of it - Tilex, maybe?), which did absolutely nothing. I've used vinegar, applying it using a method I found online (soaking paper towels in vinegar, plastering them on the shower wall and letting them sit for hours until the soap scum is removed). The vinegar removed some of the soap scum, but not the most stubborn stains, and soap scum is starting to come back in the other areas in which it had been removed. I also tried bleach, which didn't have an effect.

My husband and I wipe down the shower after every use, but the soap scum and mildew aren't budging. I'm getting extremely frustrated. Any advice? Are there any products that you've used that have been effective in removing these stubborn build-ups?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

In my mind, soap scum is generally a problem in a bathtub, while in a shower, the tiles and grout will suffer from hard water (efflorescence) and mildew.

If I were trying to clean up your bathroom, I would first try spraying on Comet bathroom cleaner. It has 6% citric acid. Follow the directions, leaving it on for the time they suggest.

If that doesn't do it, then I would step up to a one-time use of a powerful acid cleaner to remove what has built up. When I was preparing to sell a house that had well water, I used Stone Tech Restore on the tile and grout in the shower. You have to be careful using this stuff, you can't let it get on the fiberglass shower pan, but it will do an amazing job. After removing the build-up, use the Comet spray for weekly cleaning.

And, get a small fan that you can place on the floor in the bathroom, one with a timer so that you can turn the fan for an hour and walk away.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clorox spray


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I just had to deal with mold in my BR last week. Ugh. I sympathize. I have a guy coming in next week to put in an exhaust fan. Here's a link I found to be helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Handyman - Mildew


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I know of 2 things that might help you. The only Tilex that works is called Tilex Root and comes in a dark blue bottle. It's hard to find and I don't see why Tilex just doesn't sell that rather than all of the other others. I am only able to purchase this at 1 Walgreens, and not every one carries it. I would try to find it after I tell you what to do.

The first thing is , to remove the hair conditioner, body wash, or anything else which would create a barrier. This creates a barrier and nothing will work on the mildew, as what ever you are using it will not get through to the grout. I used to use Top Job 30 years ago but they no longer make it. I would use Greased Lightening, today. Spray it down, scrub it off, and rinse well. This is the big secret! LOL Buy a jug of Soft Scrub, and dig out an old Cool Whip bowl. Buy a new scrub brush. Put Clorox in the Cool Whip container, and clean it. Do not put much pressure on the brush. It will foam like hell. Just use the tips of the brush and not the sides. Most people make this mistake. This works every time. Remeber when you fan is installed, the CFM is for your cubic feet in the bathroom. This is not to be used without the door closed. I had timers in all bathrooms, and they ran for an hour. I never had a problem.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I have found that you have to use the cleaning supplies on a dry surface versus it being wet. I used X-14 and Tilex. they make a grout brush that works very well. Good luck. It could be that the mildew is under the grout and you will not be able to get it out. the clorox breaks down the grout and allows the water to get under it.
good luck!


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Buy a jug of Soft Scrub, and dig out an old Cool Whip bowl. Buy a new scrub brush. Put Clorox in the Cool Whip container, and clean it. Do not put much pressure on the brush. It will foam like hell. Just use the tips of the brush and not the sides. Most people make this mistake. This works every time.

Etienne, do you mix the Soft Scrub and Clorox in the plastic container? If so, what ratio? Is the idea that you get more bleach this way than buying Soft Scrub with Bleach (already mixed in)?


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Graywings, I use something I an able to toss when I am through. The bleach smell never comes out. I don't mix the 2. I apply the Soft Scrub to the brush to a 4X4 area, then dip the brush in the Clorox, so when it foams, the 2 will stay in place. If it starts running just apply more Soft Scrub. Once you apply it in 2 sections you will get the feel of it. It's strong smelling but I feel that it is easier on the lungs than inhaling all of the micro-droplets from the spray bottle. When you use the 2 you get a stronger bleach solution which stays in place. The abrasives in the Soft Scrub aid you when you scrub it off with plain, hot, water.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I had tried many cleaning products and then I read on this site of a product called "Bring it On". You have to order it online. It is best just to google it. I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever used to clean my shower doors, tiles etc. I recommended it to my girlfriend and after using it her kids asked if they had gotten new shower doors. Too funny... Worth a try.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I had tried many cleaning products and then I read on this site of a product called "Bring it On". You have to order it online. It is best just to google it. I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever used to clean my shower doors, tiles etc. I recommended it to my girlfriend and after using it her kids asked if they had gotten new shower doors. Too funny... Worth a try.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Hi all,
Word of warning: I have a mildew/soap scum problem on my tile (I think they are porcelain or ceramic tile walls)because of poor circulation in our walk-in shower. I sprayed clorox on the walls, let sit and then sprayed them down. We went on vaca for a few days, came back and now the walls are etched with streaks. I have scrubbed and scrubbed and in reading John Bridge Tile Forum it seems I've permanently bleached my tiles. So be careful using acidic and bleaching products on your tiles - if they are ceramic. We will probably have to redo our shower if we ever put our house on the market to sell (we can live with it for now).
Also on this same forum they have this as a cleaner which I will try in the future. If anyone has tried it please post and let us know how it worked. I've cut and past the thread about this below (it does mentioned bleach so be careful on ceramic tiles):

'This is an excerpt from a thread about mold. The auther is a member and an official with the Dallas Housing Authority.

4. so what works? According to the instructor of the mold class I attended, try a spray bottle with the following in it:

1/2 gal. white vinegar
1/2 gal. hydrogen peroxide-common peroxide available from your drugstore
1 cup boric acid
keep closed tightly
mix well - use in a spray bottle on a dry surface.

Shake well and spray area well. The vinegar/peroxide kills active live mold and the boric acid keeps them that way. (Note: uncapped peroxide loses it's oxygen molecules to the air when not capped tight and becomes H2O [water], so keep this solution in a bottle that can be capped off tight).

Instructor stated that boric acid works on mold bodies like it does on roach bodies - cuts them and they bleed to death because they cannot "coagulate" (snakes and snails and puppydog tails).

I guess we all know that there are some very beneficial molds, too.'

One last note on the above solution. This solution will not "bleach" out the mold stain. After mold is under control, then you can bring out the bleach and whiten the mold stains.'


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I have been watching this thread since my post. I want to clear up, a few things. Mold is a air born spore and mildew is the black stuff you are tying to get rid of.

Caulk and grout are used and they are 2 differant things. Get the terms straight before you ask a question.

downsouth: Who gave you this info, a member of the Junior League? You never mix H2O2 with anything in a closed container, as it will explode in your face! Has this person not gone past third grade? I think not!

The only person who gives sound advice is graywings. I think she is around my age and has tried it all as she learned when she was growing up. No one who had learned anything growing up would ever ask these questions.



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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

H2O2 is used in hair coloring & there Is just a tiny hole in top of bottle that you hold your finger over & gently shake so it is not that explosive & it is 20 volume, 30 or 40 so much stronger than household peroxide! "Top Job" gave me chemical pneumonia 40 yrs ago, took 3 mos. to recover. Glad it is off the market. Meat depts. used to sprinkle Comet on floors & then dump bleach on floor, cousin was fireman & meat dept. manager for large chain, as he was leaving 1 night he checked on guy cleaning the floor, he was nearly dead from the fumes, that ended that practice. Clorox in small space like bathroom can be deadly! Also open a window or have fan on & door open when using chemicals. I'm going to try something called "Krud Kutter" friend gave it to me, used it yesterday in kitchen & really worked wonders.Says it removes mildew & soap scum. I'm trying it today.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Thank you, eteinne, for your kind words. They are high praise considering you are in the business!


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

sunnyca: I know all baout H2O2 in the various volumes as I owned a hair salon from the time I was 25 until I was 50. You just can't mix it with anything as this is an acitvator and releases oxygen and will explode in a sealed container. I use all volumes for various household stains. This is before any of the Oxy products came out. I installed white carpet in every place I have lived and the higher volumes have saved my carpet every time. I use the cream and not the clear on stains as it stays in place and just doesn't run through the fabric. It works great where other products have failed.

I'm sorry you had a problem with "Top Job," I still miss it.

"Krud Cutter," will work on you soap scum but it won't do much for the mildew. It worked in the kitchen as you are dealing with grease. It's not the right thing to use for mildew. Cleaning is chemistry and using the right product just make sense. Work smarter, not harder.

graywings: I call em as I see em. We have been on here enough years to know that.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I don't have tile or grout, but on my fiberglass shower & tub -- shampoo is what I use, I just put a little on a sponge that has the green scratcher on the back of it & the soap scum & mildew comes off very easy.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I had the same issues in my last house. In addition, we also had iron stains. I tried everything mentioned on this thread plus a few others and nothing worked. Then my Mom came over and said Grandma always used Bon Ami (don't think they make it anymore) or Barkeepers Friend (BKF). Bought BKF, tried it and WOW!!

It did require a little elbow grease, a pair of rubber gloves, a small soft bristle brush for the grout lines (toothbrush works great), a sponge with the nonscratching green scrubby on the back for the tub & walls, and some plain nonscratching green scrubbies for the tile itself. For the tub/shower floor, wet the area, sprinkle on and scrub. For the walls, wet the surface, sprinkle a good amount of BKF on the wet sponge and apply to tile in a circular motion-it should form a slightly foamy thick paste. Get your green scrubby out, wet it and scrub in a circular motion. Then wet your soft bristle brush and give the grout some action using the cleaner that's already on the wall-if you need more, sprinkle some BKF in a bowl and dip your wet bruch into a it. Rinse once to get the majority of cleanser off then rinse a second time using the sponge to wipe the tile in a downward motion as the water cascades over it.

If the caulked areas still have mildew (where tub/shower pan meets the tile wall & the corners of the tub surround/shower) you will need to recaulk (but that's another thread).

Words of wisdom (or learn from my mistakes-whichever you prefer)

- Make sure you wear rubber/vinyl gloves to protect your hands!

-Wear eye protection if you are working in a small space (i.e. tight shower stall)

-Once you've got it clean again, use a good squeegee to remove water from the walls after EVERY shower.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

I use 20 Mule Team Borax. A little sprinkle on a piece of cloth cuts through soap scum with very little elbow grease. You have to rinse it thoroughly as it makes the shower floor slippery, but it really cuts through the crud for me.

Robin


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Try a Magic Eraser. I used these in my bathroom today for the first time and they cut through the scum easily.


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RE: Removing Stubborn Soap Scum and Mildew

Get all the mineral deposits and soap scum off first, either with abrasive (Magic Eraser, Bar Keeper's Friend) or acid (Zap Restorer for REALLY bad buildup, Kaboom for normal amounts).

Then kill the mildew with Clorox BLEACH PEN. Leave it on a long time. Rinse and scrub off with Magic Eraser.

Keep your now-sparkling shower clean by spraying jasmine-scented Method shower cleaner after each use, or every day or two.

When caulk gets mildewed, remove it, clean thoroughly with Bleach Pen and Magic Eraser, dry COMPLETELY, and re-caulk with mildew-resistant caulk.


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