Whether deep cleaning your bathroom, scrubbing your kitchen sink, or refreshing the inside of your washer, getting rid of soap scum is essential to achieve a thorough clean. The right ingredients or cleaner can easily eradicate soap scum, grime, and hard water stains while protecting your surface from future build-up.
To find the best soap scum removers, we researched various options and products while considering factors such as application method, surface type, and ingredients. We also spoke with Emma Barton, cleaning expert and founder of Steam Clean Queen, for tips and insight on how to use soap scum removers and what to look for when buying one.
“Choosing the right soap scum remover depends mostly on two factors: the type of water you use (soft or hard) and the difficulty level of soap scum you’re dealing with,” says Barton.
Our top pick is The Bucko Soap Scum & Grime Cleaner. This soap scum remover is powerful on old and new soap scum stains and other types of build-up while being versatile and safe for use on various surfaces.
Here are the best soap scum removers.
Best Overall Soap Scum Remover
The Bucko Soap Scum and Grime Remover
Who it’s for: People who want an effective soap scum remover to use on nearly any surface.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a more affordable cleaner.
Soap scum and grime aren’t only inside your shower. To get rid of these pesky problems in your bathroom, around any chrome fixtures, outdoor furniture, and even boats, check out The Bucko Soap Scum & Grime Cleaner. Despite being a powerful and effective no-scrub cleaner, it is formulated without bleach or acid and has a light and refreshing lemon-water scent.
For best results, spray thoroughly on the targeted area, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and rinse or wipe with a clean, damp cloth to bring out extra shine. This highly-reviewed soap scum remover is expert-recommended and preferred by customers for its quick results and ability to get rid of old soap scum, grime, and hard water stains, making this product worth the higher price tag.
Price at time of publish: $20
- Type: Spray
- Size: 32 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Ceramic, tile, grout, glass, fiberglass, chrome, outdoor furniture, stainless steel, porcelain
Best Budget Soap Scum Remover
Scrub Free Total Bathroom Cleaner Plus OxiClean
Who it’s for: People who want a scented and budget-friendly soap scum remover.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a cleaner with natural ingredients.
A tough soap scum remover doesn’t always have to come with sticker shock, which is why we recommend the Scrub Free Total Bathroom Cleaner Plus OxiClean as our budget-friendly pick. Barton regularly uses this product in her cleaning rotation because she likes that it destroys hard water stains mixed with soap scum. It also has a clean and fresh lemon scent that’s a little strong at first but then dissipates into a pleasant and subtle aroma after rinsing.
This versatile cleaner can be used on nearly every bathroom surface (except natural stone or marble) to thoroughly clean, deodorize, and brighten. Spray it on the desired area, let it sit for a few minutes (or longer for tougher jobs), and rinse or wipe it away with a wet sponge or cloth. With regular use, this product can prevent future soap scum buildup.
Price at time of publish: $4
- Type: Spray
- Size: 32 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Tile, ceramic, glass, fiberglass, chrome, porcelain
Best Soap Scum Remover for Glass
Tilex Soap Scum Remover & Disinfectant
Who it’s for: People with soap scum stains on glass surfaces.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a soap scum remover for tubs and tiles.
Glass surfaces are one of the most common places soap scum likes to form—plus buildup is visible and impossible to ignore. The Tilex Soap Scum Remover & Disinfectant gets rid of soap scum on glass surfaces, as well as eradicates mold, mildew, grime, and hard water stains. The penetrating foam spray is bleach-free but cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes, and is also safe to use on glazed ceramic tile, porcelain, ceramic, acrylic, and more.
To clean and disinfect, spray up to 10 inches away from the target, pre-cleaned surface until thoroughly wet, let it sit for up to 10 minutes, and rinse. While this product does not contain bleach, you should still utilize proper ventilation and consider wearing gloves to apply.
Price at time of publish: $13
- Type: Spray
- Size: 32 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Glass, glazed ceramic tile, fiberglass, glass, porcelain, stainless steel, grout
Best Soap Scum Remover for Shower Walls
Rejuvenate No Scrub Soap Scum Remover
Who it’s for: People who primarily want to tackle soap scum in their showers.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a soap scum remover sponge.
Shower walls notoriously harbor soap scum, hard water stains, and other types of buildup. To combat these issues, we recommend Rejuvenate Scrub Free Soap Scum Remover. This product has a bleach-free, fragrance-free, and non-abrasive formula that cuts through soap scum on contact and leaves a streak-free finish. We like that it is safe and effective on ceramic, tile, chrome, plastic, and even natural stone. Although the label claims no scrubbing is required, we recommend scrubbing the targeted area lightly with a brush for heavy-duty messes.
Barton also recommends this product for quickly cleaning mild to medium stains and freshening up your glass shower doors. Spray the product around your shower, let it sit for up to three minutes, and rinse with water or wipe it away with a damp cloth. You can use this cleaner daily to prevent major build-up that can become harder to clean.
Price at time of publish: $10
- Type: Spray
- Size: 24 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Shower glass doors, tile, chrome, plastic, tile, natural stone, porcelain
Best Soap Scum Remover for Tile
Kaboom Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner With OxiClean
Who it’s for: People who want a heavy duty soap scum remover for hard-to-reach places.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a soap scum that can also work on glass.
Getting in between the corners of tile and grout to remove soap scum can require quite a bit of patience and elbow grease. Thankfully, the Kaboom With OxiClean Shower, Tub, and Tile Cleaner is an effective option that does almost all the work for you. Barton also recommends this product because it’s “great for cleaning scum off of laminated tubs and ceramic tiles.” This bleach-free foam spray utilizes micro-bubbles that effectively penetrate and remove soap scum and other stains and grime. Just spray this cleaner on the targeted area, let it sit for up to three minutes, and rinse or wipe with a damp cloth.
Price at time of publish: $5
- Type: Foam spray
- Size: 32 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Ceramic, tile, grout, porcelain, fiberglass, plastic
Best Eco-Friendly Soap Scum Remover
CLR Multi-Use Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover
Who it’s for: People who want to use a soap scum remover that’s EPA- and EWG-approved.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a spray cleaner.
You might assume that tough bathroom stains like soap scum need an equally tough cleaner, but the CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover gets the job done using natural and environmentally safe ingredients. This product is EPA Safer Choice-certified and has an A rating from the EWG, meaning it’s made without harsh ingredients.
This versatile cleaner is formulated without alcohol, phosphates, ammonia, or bleach and is septic-safe and biodegradable. It’s also safe on nearly any surface, including stainless steel, cement, and brick. While the application directions vary on the surface, for bathroom surfaces the label recommends mixing equal amounts of this cleaner with warm water, applying it directly to the surface, and rinsing or wiping it with a clean cloth.
Price at time of publish: $7
- Type: Liquid
- Size: 28 fluid ounces
- Recommended Surfaces: Plastic, ceramic tile, glass, stainless steel, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain
Best Soap Scum Remover Concentrate
Grove Co. Tub & Tile Cleaning Concentrate
Who it’s for: People who want a natural, concentrated cleaner.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer an abrasive soap scum remover.
Some surfaces, like glass and acrylic tubs, should be cleaned daily to prevent soap scum, grime, and other buildups. Not every cleaner is for daily use, which is why we love the Grove Co. Tub & Tile Cleaner Concentrate. You can mix this tiny yet powerful concentrate with a 16-ounce spray bottle to clean and reduce soap scum on tubs and tiles—no rinsing or wiping required. We also like that the formula is comprised of 89 percent plant-based ingredients, including essential oils and plant extracts, and does not contain harsh chemicals like parabens, phthalates, phosphates, or chlorine bleach.
In addition to being an EPA Safer Choice-certified product, this cleaner comes in recyclable glass and 100 percent recycled paper that you can pair with a reusable glass bottle. You can also receive a prepaid packaging label to send the concentrate and spray bottles to Grove Co. for them to recycle. It also has a lovely orange and rosemary scent for an extra clean feel.
Price at time of publish: $7 for 2-pack
- Type: Concentrate
- Size: 1 fluid ounce
- Recommended Surfaces: Tile, ceramic, porcelain, glass, fiberglass
Best Soap Scum Remover Sponge
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for Bathroom and Shower
Who it’s for: People who want a scented, disposable, and abrasive soap scum remover.
Who it isn’t for: People who want something unscented.
Scrubbing soap scum from hard-to-reach places like the edges of glass shower doors, sink corners, and around a tub drain can be a frustrating and sometimes fruitless task. To smoothly get rid of soap scum, grime, and other buildups in these areas, try the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath. Magic erasers are made of melamine foam, which makes this foam sponge soft yet abrasive enough to thoroughly clean surfaces. We also love the lavender scent.
To use this sponge, add water to the purple dots to activate the built-in cleaner. Then, scrub it over soap scum and hard water stains on nearly every bathroom surface and rinse. Despite its fluffy texture, avoid using a Magic Eraser on delicate surfaces such as marble, granite, wood, and stainless steel.
Price at time of publish: $16 for 10-pack
- Type: Foam sponge
- Size: 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.70 inches
- Recommended Surfaces: Glass, acrylic, tile, grout, porcelain, ceramic, chrome
Our top pick is The Bucko Soap Scum & Grime Cleaner for its surface versatility and ability to clean both new and old soap scum stains. Despite being a no-scrub cleaner, it’s formulated without bleach—and it has a light and refreshing lemon scent.
How to Shop for Soap Scum Removers Like a Pro
Most soap scum removers come in a spray or liquid, while a few others can be a foam sponge (like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser). While the application method instructions depend on each brand or label, most soap scum removers should be left to sit on the targeted area so that the product can penetrate the build-up.
According to Barton, the most important thing to check in a soap scum cleaner is its surface compatibility. Even if a cleaner does not contain bleach or has plant-based ingredients, it’s important to ensure that it is safe to use on delicate surfaces.
“Surfaces like marble, natural stone, and granite are extremely sensitive to soap scum cleaners containing acids,” says Barton. “Trying an acidic scum cleaner on those surfaces isn’t worth it so it’s best to aim for more alkaline ones based on natural ingredients or that have OxiClean.”
Like any cleaning product, soap scum removers can vary in their ingredients list. Some may contain harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia, while natural ones can contain ingredients like vinegar or lactic acid. Barton says you must first determine the severity of your soap scum issue plus the surface compatibility before shopping for a soap scum remover and reviewing the ingredients.
Questions You Might Ask
What’s the best way to remove soap scum?
If you’re using a store-bought soap scum remover, Barton says that most are powerful enough to clean without scrubbing or using intense elbow grease. As a rule of thumb, spray or apply the product to the desired area, let it sit for a few minutes to work its magic, and rinse or wipe clean with a damp cloth.
“If you’re dealing with hardcore scum buildup, it’s worth trying out cleaning pads with releasing cleaning agents inside that’ll boost the effect,” she says.
How often do you need to use soap scum removers?
While Barton says that the frequency depends on the hardness of your water, she recommends a biweekly application for regular maintenance and prevention.
“Soap scum cleaners are the heavy artillery in the battle against bathroom stains,” she says. “Of course, to avoid headaches and countless rubbing hours, always do little bits of cleaning during the week. That’ll maintain the levels of soap scum at the bare minimum and ease your cleaning days down the road.”
Does bleach remove soap scum?
While bleach gets rid of soap scum, Barton says it’s not always necessary. There are effective bleach-free commercial cleaners and natural options for cleaning soap scum. Using a combination of simple pantry ingredients, like vinegar and baking soda, can remove soap scum without harsh ingredients like bleach, though this option does require some scrubbing and more elbow grease compared to using a commercial cleaner.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by L. Daniela Alvarez, contributing writer for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing about lifestyle content and product reviews. To compile this list, she spent hours researching soap scum removers and evaluating the most popular options on their ingredient lists, usage, and versatility. She also received tips on how to shop for soap scum removers from Emma Barton, cleaning expert and founder of Steam Clean Queen.