How do I clean soap scum off the bottom of showers doors?

Updated April 17, 2017

Accumulated soap scum rapidly becomes unsightly and clouds the glass on shower doors. The track below a shower door and the bottom part of the door that runs along it can be especially problematic as it fills with soap scum and stagnant water. Soap scum can be cleaned away inexpensively using readily available household materials. Cleaning off thick scum deposits may take several applications and determined scrubbing, but once cleanliness is achieved, regular preventive cleaning can reduce the problem.

Spray shower doors with distilled vinegar from the spray bottle. Climb inside the enclosure to spray the inside adequately. Open and close the sliding doors while spraying so that overlapping sections are cleaned -- this hard-to-reach area is often the place of most soap build-up. Let the vinegar sit for five minutes.

Soak a plastic scrubbing pad in vinegar. Scrub the shower doors, including the overlapping sections.

Scrape off residue with a squeegee. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry.

Rub an inexpensive shampoo or a solution of dishwashing detergent over the shower door if stubborn scum remains. Let the shampoo or detergent sit for five to 10 minutes. Scrub with the plastic scrubber and scrape off the scum with a squeegee. Try a paste made from bicarbonate of soda and water, which is mildly abrasive, for especially stubborn scum.

Repeat the vinegar treatment from Steps 1 to 3.

Completely fill the track below the shower door with white distilled vinegar. Let it soak for several hours or overnight.

Scrub the channel and the door portion that slides in it, using an old toothbrush. Rinse the channel and door with hot water.

Blot water from the channel with an old towel.

Wipe down shower doors with lemon oil after cleaning to discourage soap adherence. Repeat this treatment weekly.

Spray shower doors with white vinegar before each shower and at the first sign of cloudiness.

Wipe down shower doors with a squeegee after every shower or dry them with a towel. This ensures that soapy water is not left to dry on the glass.


Spraying shower doors with inexpensive vodka also works on soap scum. The alcohol also kills mould and mildew. A solution of 1 part salt to 4 parts distilled vinegar works well on soap scum and will clean chrome fittings on shower doors. However, do not leave it on chrome for very long, as salt and vinegar are corrosive.


Filling the door channel with vinegar and scrubbing with a toothbrush will cause flow of water, scum and vinegar down the front of the shower enclosure or tub onto the floor. If you have carpet or other sensitive flooring, protect the floor first with plastic sheeting or old towels. Avoid getting vinegar on any marble bathroom fittings or surfaces. The acid may etch the stone's surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic scrub pad or scrub sponge
  • Squeegee
  • Old toothbrush
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Small plastic bowl
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Shampoo or dishwasher detergent
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Old towels
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About the Author

Based in the Isle of Man, Tamasin Wedgwood has been writing on historical topics since 2007. Her articles have appeared in "The International Journal of Heritage Studies," "Museum and Society" and "Bobbin and Shuttle" magazine. She has a Master of Arts (Distinction) in museum studies from Leicester University.