When all three messages landed in my inbox on the same day, the problem of soap scum, shower mildew, and hard water buildup grabbed my attention.
I’ve been told that if one person actually writes to me with a problem, that represents a thousand other readers with a similar situation. True or just slightly exaggerated, either way, three in one day tells me there’s a lot of this problem going on!
How do you remove soap scum from shower walls and floor—and the hard water spots from shower doors? Diane
My shower mat has turned almost black. I have tried to clean it, but unsuccessfully. Can you help me? Ronnie
We recently remodeled our kitchen with stainless appliances. We have treated well water. The very first week we had a large water stain in the water dispenser area that I can’t get off. It looks terrible! Is there any way to remove it? Help! Pat
Quite possibly one of the best tips to ever land my mailbox came from a professional property manager guy. He handles rental apartments and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants.
This reader told me that the biggest challenge is always the bathroom, specifically the tub and shower. He kindly left specific details to my imagination but let me know that “gross” is not strong enough to describe what he often finds.
And that’s when he gave me his super magical potion—the only product he uses to return showers, tubs, tile, enclosures, faucets, and doors to their sparkling clean and sanitized selves.
I gave his unbelievably simple recipe a try. In what has to be more than 25 years since I got that letter (we’re talking pre-Internet, pre-Pinterest … maybe pre-historic), I’ve used nothing else to clean tubs, showers, sinks, toilets, patio furniture—just about anything that will stand still long enough to get sprayed, and can be rinsed easily. This must be rinsed off.
To make your own Tub Tile and Shower Cleaner you will need three things:
- empty spray bottle
- Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
- white vinegar
Pour one cup blue Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle; 1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar. (Or one-part blue Dawn to three-parts vinegar, regardless of the size of the spray bottle.) Apply sprayer top; shake gently to mix.
Spray liberally on the area to be cleaned—shower and tub walls,* floors, doors and faucets. Allow to sit from 30 minutes up to overnight, depending on the severity of the problem. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and become soft and gooey. Simply rinse it away. For especially challenging situations—or if this is the initial treatment—use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surfaces before rinsing.
To treat mildew
While this Tub, Tile and Shower Cleaner works to loosen and remove most mildew, if you see a lot of black growth you will want to pretreat with full strength liquid chlorine bleach* before proceeding as above.
MORE: Simple Solutions for 3 Common Laundry Problems
Here’s the best thing about this cleaner—if you use it weekly you will never have to scrub again. Once each week I spray down the walls, doors, tracks, faucets, shampoo caddy—everything within reach—with this magical cleaner while I am in the shower*. Before I step out, I use the handheld sprayer to rinse it all away. No scrubbing required. It dries sparkling clean without using a squeegee or wiping down with a towel. And not a watermark to be seen. Simply brilliant!
By the way, this homemade product works in other areas of the house, too. I’ve used it to remove watermarks that show up on the refrigerator’s in-door water dispenser area (letting it sit for a while then rinsing very well), the sink and faucets, too.
I can’t wait to get your feedback once you give this super simple cleaning and maintenance homemade product a try. Before and after pictures would be great!
*And now for three important cautions …
CAUTION: Never, ever allow chlorine bleach to come in contact with other products, especially vinegar. This could produce chlorine gas, which is deadly. Don’t panic. Simply make sure you rinse the chlorine bleach away completely before proceeding to clean with this awesome homemade tub, tile and shower cleaner.
CAUTION: Always make sure you are using a non-slip rubber mat in the shower or tub before attempting in-shower maintenance!
CAUTION: Never use this on granite shower walls or countertops as vinegar can damage the sealant that makes granite look so beautiful. Granite needs to be re-sealed annually. Don’t forget! Alternatively, in this recipe, you can substitute rubbing alcohol for white vinegar. Just don’t expect the same dramatic, magical results.
First published: 3-30-15; Updated 8-20-23