How to Clean a Shower

Cleaning your bathtub or shower once a week can help prevent soap scum and mildew from building up. The materials you will need depend on what your shower or bathtub is made from (i.e. marble, porcelain, fiberglass). Be sure to check out “How to Clean Shower Heads” and “How to Clean Shower Curtains” to complete your shower’s transformation!

What You’ll Need

  • Ingredients for your cleaning solution (see below)
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge or soft cloth
  • Liquid fabric softener (optional)
  • Cream of tartar (optional)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Liquid disinfectant cleaner
  • Diluted chlorine bleach
  • Baking soda
  • Old toothbrush
  • Towel
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon cut in half
  • Oxalic acid (optional)
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Furniture polish

The Cleaning Process

  1. Prepare your cleaning solution and put into a spray bottle. Depending on what your shower is made from, choose the appropriate solution.
    • Porcelain – Store-bought tile cleaner OR make your own using a recipe from Donna Smallin’s book, Cleaning Plain & Simple: Mix 1 2/3-c. baking soda, 1/2-c. dishwashing liquid, and 1/2-c. water; add 2-tbsp. white vinegar.
    • Fiberglass – White vinegar, heated. WARNING: Do not boil the vinegar.
    • Marble – Mix 1/2-c. liquid fabric softener and 1-c. water.
    • Glass shower door – Mix 1/2-c. vinegar and 1-qt. water or laundry pre-wash to clear the cloudy film that can often accumulate on glass
  2. Use a sponge to rub solution over walls, tub, and shower. If your tub is fiberglass, use a soft cloth so you don’t scratch the surface. Don’t forget cracks and crevices where bacteria are more likely to grow.
    • For tough soap scum, use a solution of either 1-c. liquid fabric softener and 1-qt. warm water or a paste of cream of tartar moistened with hydrogen peroxide.
    • According to Good Housekeeping’s Household Handbook, you should clean mildew with liquid disinfectant cleaner or diluted chlorine bleach (see package instructions).
  3. Clean tile grout with a solution of 1/2-c. baking soda and 1/2-c. bleach. WARNING: Make sure to wear protective rubber gloves when working with bleach. Apply this paste and scrub with an old toothbrush.
  4. Let various solutions sit for 10 minutes, then rinse completely with water, and towel dry.
  5. Remove mineral stains and rust spots by soaking them in vinegar or lemon juice. After five minutes, scrub with a sponge before rinsing completely with water.
    • For extra-tough mineral stains, use oxalic acid. This can be bought at a hardware or drugstore. WARNING: Make sure to wear protective rubber gloves when working with oxalic acid and use extreme caution—it is poisonous!
    • To clean brass and copper fixtures, rub with half a lemon sprinkled with some salt.
  6. Clean your tub’s rubber bath mat with disinfectant spray by rubbing both sides with a sponge. You can also clean it in a washing machine with bleach. Prevent build-up by hanging the mat up to dry between uses.
  7. Prevent future build-up by covering only the walls of your shower with furniture polish. This will act as a shield from dust, soap, and water. WARNING: Be careful not get furniture polish on the shower floor—it will become slick and you may slip! It is also helpful to towel dry your shower walls after each use. And don’t forget to remove hair from the drain to prevent clogging!


  1. I learned a great tip that helps me keep my shower clean. After you have cleaned it thoroughly, take standard car wax, and follow the directions on the package like you would if you were waxing your car. Wax down your shower walls, and fixtures (but make sure you cover the floor – old towels work great – so you don’t slip). The water just beads off, and helps keep your shower clean and sparkling for a much longer time.

  2. January says:

    How often should you “wax” your shower?

  3. I noticed how my housekeepers cleaned my shower and bathtub, which was odd, but made sense when I thought about it. Wait until your shower/tub is completely dry and take a hard bristled scrub brush to scrub off the dirt and stains. You will find that it just flakes away with very little effort. Next, take your typical cleaner (I still use Tilex with soap scum remover) and spray all over the shower/tub and clean as usual with water. This saves me time between housekeeping visits. I am done in a few minutes!

  4. If you have a hard water problem keep a spray bottle with vinegar and water at each sink and on the edge of the bathtub. After a shower, just spray all the surfaces and shower curtain. Dry with a towel and it will always shine. Wish I had thought of that many years ago. After you finish washing the dishes or cleaning up the kitchen, spray and wipe. Always shiny and clean. After you brush your teeth, spray and wipe. Wow – everything always shiny.

  5. I try to squeegee my shower dry when I’m finished, since I’m the last one in the shower in the morning. It reduces the total moisture in the bathroom and hopefully mildew.

  6. To clean soap film from tile and glass use shampoo on a non-scratch scrubbing pad. Apply, let sit for a few minutes, and scrub again while rinsing. It works; it’s simple; and there’s no unpleasant odors.

  7. For daily shower spray get a 32oz bottle. Fill with 16oz vinegar, 16oz water, 2 TB dishwasher rinse agent (cascade). Spray on lightly after a shower and do not wipe off. Works good with hard water also. I did the math and it comes to $.70 a refill.

  8. I have tried many solutions over the years. I just found out that Weiman Glass Cook Top stove cleaner takes water spots off faucets and glass shower doors. After 14 years of accumulated water spots I used full strength Weiman’s with a paper towel and removed ALL spots and continued rubbing until the paste was dry and then dry buffed it shiny. After 14 YEARS. It looks BRAND NEW, not kidding. Wish I had taken pics.

    With paper towel or soft cloth you can also clean your fiberglass tub or shower of water spots. Also works to remove gray marks on white porcelain/ceramic sinks left by pots and pans. Amazing.

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned this product before – notice the word “glass cleaner” in name. It does just that: cleans glass, chrome, porcelain and fiberglass of everything.

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