Help! Issues with Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner

If I were keeping track of the number of responses from my readers that are filled with praise and gratitude, there would be thousands of hash marks next to Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner. And the word used most-often to describe it? Magical!

But now and then a response will report problems having to do with allergies and, well … that smell!

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Dear Mary: I love your homemade formulas for how to make our own cleaning products But a lot of them use the blue Dawn dish soap. I am allergic to Dawn soap, all fragrances, and citrus, among other things. Do you have a suggestion of what else I could use as a substitute? Peggy

Dear Peggy: I do have an alternative for you to try as a substitute for the Blue Dawn in Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner (and all of our recipes that use Blue Dawn). Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Baby Unscented Liquid Soap appears to me that it meets your requirements. It’s pure liquid soap, quite concentrated; has no fragrance, is organic and vegan. I am so sorry you have to deal with this health issue but confident that with the power of Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap, you’ll have acceptable results—cleaners you can tolerate.

For other readers who, like you, deal with allergies and other sensitivities, I hope you will let us know how Dr. Bronner’s castile soap works for you.

Dear Mary: I have been using your recipe for Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner to clean the shower (acrylic) at our home since I saw it in the newspaper many months ago. It does work as well as what I had been using, Tilex Daily Shower and the cost to produce is amazingly low.

Now the problem. My significant other will not use the bathroom for hours until the smell wears off. I suppose it’s the vinegar that causes tension in our household that I cannot afford. So, what can be added to the mixture to make it smell better? Any help would be appreciated on this issue. Dick

Dear Dick: I can see the problem here! Our Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner is very powerful and super strong because it is highly concentrated. That contributes to its nearly magical properties.

The directive for how to use it is to spray it on then leave it for hours, if not overnight, before completely rinsing it—and all that disgusting soap scum, mildew, and gunk that has built up over time—down the drain. More detailed instructions: HERE.

Leaving a window open during this time to provide ventilation is a good idea. Using it for maintenance is a little tricky, and that’s where I think you may be encountering a problem.

If you use this for routine maintenance, you need to spray it on and rinse it off immediately. But I have another option for you.

For daily maintenance, make our Daily Shower Cleaner. It’s far less potent while being very effective. Hint: Adding 20 drops of essential oil (peppermint or lemon are good choices) adds a pleasant fragrance.

Remember, this Daily Shower Cleaner maintains a clean shower. You need to start with a super clean tub and shower, then move into daily maintenance mode. Daily maintenance means you’ll only need to do a super clean every few months—or even less frequently—if you are diligent with the daily routine.

Daily Shower Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (like Blue Dawn)
  • 1 tablespoon dishwasher rinse aid (like Jet-Dry)
  • 2 cups water
  • 20 drops essential oil (optional)

Pour all of the ingredients into a 24-ounce spray bottle. Mix gently. Each day before you step out of the shower, spray the walls then walk away.

This no-rinse no wipe, no scrub shower cleaner spray is safe to use on glass, glazed tile, stone, tubs and shower curtains. The gentle formula contains no bleach, ammonia or harsh chemicals and it won’t scratch surfaces or leave behind a dull residue.

Store your daily shower cleaner in a dark cupboard, as hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly in the presence of light.

For my readers who get this post in their email inbox each weekday morning, a quick explanation for your reference to seeing this in your newspaper:

My Everyday Cheapskate blog posts are syndicated and show up in hundreds of print newspapers around the country. If you don’t see it in your local newspaper but would like to, contact the managing editor with your request for them to carry Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate is syndicated by Creators. Thanks!



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5 replies
  1. Karen says:

    I used the Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner every month or so until I noticed it was taking the finish off the shower fixtures. They now look awful and have rust on the edges where all the finish has worn off. It worked great but wasn’t worth it as now they need to be replaced. I’m back to using Bon Ami cleanser and more work. Has anyone else had this problem?

  2. Bill Campbell says:

    Would distilled water work better than tap water in the recipe for shower/tub spray with hydrogen peroxide?

  3. Robin says:

    For the soap scum or just general cleaning, I found a product that is fantastic! I have asthma and can’t do chemical smells any more. You just spray on this product and forget it till the next day. Just rinse it off and your shower and tub look like new. You just spray it once a week. It comes in a gallon jug. Under $16.00 at Menards. I use it in the camper and at home. The product is called Wet and Forget Shower. I just love this product!

  4. HereInAshland says:

    I’m allergic to Sodium Laurel Sulfate so Blue Dawn is out for me, too. I’ve found Ecos fragrance free dish soap work for me. Best part: my local hardware store carries it for $2.99 for a 25 oz bottle. Since I’m a member I get a monthly coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase so every few months I just load up and use my coupon.

  5. Kayla says:

    As much as I love and use Dr Bronner’s Castile soap (bathing, various DIY cleaners around the house, washing the dog, etc) … it will not work in the Soap Scum Cleaner. Castile soap cannot be mixed with vinegar, or it congeals. Look at Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds as a possible alternative. I have not tried it, but I understand it works with vinegar.


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