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Four Effective Ways to Clean Shower Glass

Four Effective Ways to Clean Shower Glass

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If you’ve ever tried to clean shower glass, you’ll know how challenging it can be. From hard water stains to mildew mist, it’s a neverending battle to clean and maintain the glass in showers.

There are many products out there that promise to make this cumbersome chore easier. But most of them don’t work as expected.

We’ll discuss, not one, but four ways to effectively clean shower glass. We’ll also give you some tips on preventing build-up on shower glass so cleaning it becomes much easier to maintain.

Why Shower Glass is So Difficult to Keep Clean

Before diving into the details, let’s quickly discuss why it’s so difficult to keep shower glass clean. There are five main culprits:

          • Hard Water Deposits
          • Soap Scum
          • Humidity and Moisture
          • Lack of Ventilation
          • Hard-to-Reach Areas

Hard Water Deposits

Unless you’ve got a water softener installed in your home, hard water is imminent. You may notice chalky white rings around your sink, and cloudy water spots and streaks on your shower glass.

This is due to minerals in your water, like calcium and magnesium. The constant use of water around wet areas creates a build-up of these minerals, making surfaces look dirty — even if they’re not.

Soap Scum

An unavoidable issue we all must face in the shower is soap scum. It’s usually lurking around the base of shampoo bottles and corners of your tile and grout, and can also build up on your shower glass.

Soap scum is typically caused by residue from all the various products you use to bathe — shampoo, soap, face wash, etc. The gunk is intensified because the residue attracts dirt and grime, making it harder to clean.

Humidity and Moisture

A moist environment promotes the growth of bacteria and germs. This makes showers the perfect place for mold and mildew to thrive.

If left damp and humid for long periods, shower glass and the corners inside a shower can quickly start to show visible signs of mold and mildew buildup.

Lack of Ventilation

Adding to the previous point, a lack of ventilation helps facilitate a humid and damp environment. Bathrooms with small windows or no exhaust fan are common, which is frustrating when it comes to keeping them clean.

If a shower is regularly used and not aired out between uses, it can quickly become a harbor for mold and mildew.

Hard-to-Reach Areas

Another reason why shower glass is hard to keep clean is its design. Most have small components, like hinges and seals that trap soap scum, mold, and hard water residue, making it almost impossible to clean thoroughly.

You often can’t remove these parts to clean them, either. Instead, you’ve got to find a way to scrub around and inside of them without causing any damage.

What Removes Hard Water, Soap Scum, Mold, and Mildew?

Forget everything you’ve learned about cleaning shower glass, and let’s take a quick chemistry lesson.

Hard water, soap scum, mold, and mildew are the four most common soils found on shower glass. So you’ll need products that will effectively remove these four things.

Hard Water

The common misconception is that you need hard chemicals to clean hard water deposits. In reality, hard water will dissolve in a basic acid-based solution like vinegar. You can’t use acids on certain surfaces, like marble. But in this case, we’re cleaning shower glass, so it’s completely okay to use acid-based cleaners.

Soap Scum

When done regularly, you can remove most soap scum with just a damp high-quality microfiber towel. However, sometimes the gunk has gotten out of hand and will need more than that.

Acids can be used to clean soap scum from shower glass, as can surfactants, depending on how severe the soap scum is.


Mold is a tricky beast because many types of mold exist. Mold won’t typically grow on glass, but it will on the surrounding components of a glass shower door, and most certainly on tile and grout.

Most people will reach for bleach to kill mold spores, which will usually work well on shower glass. You can also use hydrogen peroxide, which is a much less toxic alternative with similar mold-killing capabilities.


Where there’s mold, there’s usually mildew. Unlike mold which can be problematic for your health and grow in shades of green, pink, and even black, mildew is a harmless fungus that usually shows up as a thin white coating.

Like hard water stains, mildew can be removed using an acid, like vinegar.

Four Effective Ways to Clean Shower Glass

After learning about the most common soils and the chemistry behind what will remove each one the best, it’s easier to tackle the task of cleaning shower glass. Now, here are four effective ways professional cleaners get the job done efficiently.

Vinegar & Detergent Solution

Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner and is safe to use in the home around pets and little ones.

Mix dish detergent, cleaning vinegar, and water (ratio of 1:1:2) in a spray bottle and spray it liberally onto dry shower glass. Allow it to sit for five minutes.

The acidity of the vinegar will dissolve calcium and other minerals found in hard water stains as well as kill any mold and bacteria. While the detergent will help loosen up any soils.

Using a scrubbing sponge or brush, work in circular motions from the bottom up, scrubbing away any build-up from the surface.

Lemon Juice & Detergent Solution

Like vinegar, lemons are naturally acidic and have antibacterial and antifungal properties, making them a great cleaning agent for hard water, mildew, and even mold.

In a spray bottle, mix one part dish detergent with four parts water. Then cut a lemon in half and rub it over the shower glass. You’ll need a few lemons for one shower.

Allow it to sit for several minutes to allow the citric acid from the lemon to break down soils. Then spray your detergent solution liberally and scrub it all down with a scrubbing sponge or brush.

Baking Soda Paste

Another all-purpose product that has been in use for decades and is a kitchen staple in most homes is baking soda. Create a paste using baking soda and water and paint it onto the shower glass.

Scrub the paste into the surface using a tool like a scrubbing sponge, paying particular attention to problematic areas. Then allow the paste to sit for a few minutes so it has time to work its magic.

When scrubbing the paste again to remove it, work in sections. The abrasive texture of the baking soda will buff away any hard soils.

You can also use a detergent spray (the one from the previous step) afterward to remove any remaining residue.

Commercial Cleaners

If all else fails, you can always use a commercial shower glass cleaner. There are hundreds of options out there, and some of them don’t work very well. But here are some highly-rated options:

Just be sure to read the instructions and leave the cleaner on for the recommended time before scrubbing. Then use a scrubbing sponge, brush, or ultra-fine steel wool to scrub the shower glass.

If the shower glass still has any stuck-on residue, you can try using a scraper, but be careful not to scratch the glass.

We also recommend that you wear a ventilated face mask when working with commercial chemicals, as the fumes can be toxic.

Always dry the glass off with a shower squeegee or microfiber towel once you’re done with either of these techniques.

Why Haven’t We Suggested Bleach?

Bleach is one of the most common cleaning products used in the home, and can disinfect and kill surface mold. So why haven’t we mentioned it here?

Because of its properties, bleach tends to be overused in cleaning. But because it’s a caustic substance and can react with other chemicals, it isn’t the safest cleaning agent to use in poorly ventilated bathrooms. And there are many other less toxic ways to get shower glass clean without sacrificing your lungs.

Prevention is Key

To maintain crystal clear shower glass, prevention is key. Using products that repel water will prolong shower glass’ appearance so maintenance cleaning becomes a much faster and easier process every time.

On freshly cleaned shower glass, apply a water-repellent product such as Rain-X Water Repellant or Invisible Shield Glass and Surface Cleaner and Repellant. Do this once a month — and thank us later.

Shower Glass Cleaning Just Got Easier

Cleaning shower glass is a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. When you understand the chemistry, use the right products, and focus on prevention, it’ll become your new favorite cleaning task… well, maybe.

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