How to clean a shower – Top to Bottom Guide

How to clean a shower
How to clean a shower

Ever had an awesome shower? Good pressure, lots of hot water, plenty of room and a sweet shower head… only for it to be ruined? Ruined by dirt, soap scum, mold, mildew or worse. Yuck! You just can’t have a great shower in a dirty bathroom.

Luckily, is here to help. Keep your shower and bathroom sparkling clean with the cleaning tips in this comprehensive guide – and be sure to check out our guide to the best shower cleaner to make sure your bucket is filled with the right cleaners for the job.

What causes a shower to get dirty?

Dirt & hair. Day to day use of your shower will cause ordinary dirt and hair washed from your body to accumulate in your bathroom shower and in the drain (pretty obvious right?).

Soap scum. In addition to the obvious dirt, soap scum will build up over time on your shower walls and fittings. Soap scum forms when soap is mixed with ‘hard water’ or water that contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. All household water (and even bottled water) contains minerals that will cause soap scum to form. How ‘hard’ your particular household water is will impact on how much soap scum forms over a given amount of time. The chemical reaction that occurs to form soap scum technically creates a ‘lime soap’, which is really ineffective for cleaning and washing (plus it looks gross in your shower).

Mold and mildew. They thrive in warm and wet environments, just like your shower. Puddles of water eventually drying increase the humidity in your bathroom, combine this with poor ventilation or air flow and you’ve got a fungus feast! Yuck!

Why even clean a shower?

Nobody really likes cleaning their bathroom – and no matter how much time you spend cleaning it, it’s just going to start getting dirty from the first shower after you’ve finished cleaning it, so why even bother?

For the looks. No one likes the sight of a dirty, moldy, soap-scum-filled shower. Everyone loves a sparkling, shiny and good-as-new bathroom. You’re not going to impress your girlfriend/boyfriend with an ugly messy shower… they might never stay over again!

For the feel. A clean shower head spray will have more pressure and better direction. Unclean bathroom tiles can feel slippery and slimy in the shower. We don’t think we’ll find a sane person who likes the touch and feel of a fuzzy mold in their shower either! Clean just feels better.

For your health. Mold and mildew in the shower can cause you and your family to become sick or unwell. Also, soap scum on vinyl shower curtains has been shown to have a rich ‘biofilm’ hosting bacteria and other microbes – see this page on Wikipedia for more: A clean shower floor can help prevent the spread of foot fungus such as athletes foot or tinea. Keep your health great by keeping your great shower clean.

How regularly should you clean your shower?

Generally speaking, a basic clean once a week should be sufficient to keep your shower looking good, feeling good and healthy.

Rinsing the shower walls quickly after each shower helps prevent dirt and soap scum build up. If you rinse your shower often and have good ventilation with airflow in your bathroom, you might be able to stretch to doing a clean every two weeks. Though this might not work if your shower gets a lot of use by the family or if you have a very dirty job (or hobby).

If you leave it too long between cleans, the cleaning becomes much harder. As soap scum builds up more and more, it becomes very difficult to remove, requiring harsher cleaning products or more elbow grease. Also, longer periods between cleans gives mold and mildew a greater chance of getting established. In our experience, a quick clean often is easier, quicker and cheaper than a deep and troublesome clean less often.

What to clean and how

Shower walls, tiles & stall

  • Try get some airflow into your shower area and bathroom. Open a window or turn on your bathroom fan.
  • Use rubber gloves & bathroom shower cleaner with spray bottle.
  • Rinse your shower first with a wet cloth or your hand held shower head.
  • Spray your bathroom cleaner onto your shower walls and glass (following the instructions on the bottle).
  • Scrub the shower walls and glass clean making sure you get all the soap scum off completely.
  • Wipe down the shower again with the wet cloth or rinse with a hand held shower head, then leave your shower to dry.
  • All done!

Shower glass & shower tiles

  • For the outside of your shower glass use a glass cleaner product to remove any finger marks or streaks 
  • Some people recommend using car wax or Rain-X on your shower glass and tiles to help reduce the need for cleaning. As Rain-X makes the water bead and roll straight off your tiles and glass, there is less chance for soap scum to form.

Shower curtain

  • For plastic and vinyl shower curtains, unclip them, remove the shower rings and then put them in your washing machine. Add a couple of towels that need washing as well. The towels will help scrub your shower curtain clean in the wash.
  • Make sure you wash plastic and vinyl shower curtains only on the cold water setting. You don’t want to melt your shower curtain with hot water.
  • Once finished, hang your shower curtain back up in the shower to dry. Again, don’t dry them in the dryer or they will melt.
  • To help prevent soap scum build up you can use baby oil on the bottom quarter of the shower curtain. By rubbing the baby oil onto the curtain you create a film of oil which will help stop soap scum sticking to the curtain, making it easier to clean next time (or reducing the need to clean).

Shower grout

  • Cleaning your shower tile grout can make your shower look like new again!
  • An old toothbrush or narrow scrubbing brush is the best tool for the job.
  • Use plenty of your bathroom cleaning product or get some more specialized grout cleaner for really tough and stained jobs.
  • Let the product work its magic for a little while, then apply your brush with a bit of elbow grease.
  • Rinse or wipe clean once you’re done.

Shower head

  • Often we miss cleaning the shower head – usually we just forget or don’t think about it until we have a clogged shower head. Over time, calcium and other minerals that are present in our water supply start to build up in the shower head nozzles. Eventually your shower head will start to spray in different directions or with less pressure as the mineral deposits build up.
  • You can use ordinary white vinegar or for a quicker, more powerful clean try a product like CLR
  • With CLR, the process takes about 2 minutes with a mix of hot water. Meanwhile cleaning your shower head with white vinegar takes around 20 minutes with hot water and sometimes as long as overnight with cold water.
  • With either white vinegar or CLR, remove the shower head first, then heat your water (enough to just submerge your shower head) finally add your vinegar and your shower head.
  • With white vinegar you need approximately 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. With CLR, simply follow the instructions on the pack, though generally a 50:50 mix of hot water and CLR works well.
  • Make sure you leave enough time for either the vinegar or CLR to work its magic and dissolve the build-up of minerals in your shower head. You shouldn’t need to do any scrubbing whilst cleaning your shower head this way.
  • If you don’t wish to remove your shower head, you can try holding a bowl of CLR up to the shower head for the 2 minutes. For vinegar you’ll need to tie a ziplock bag filled with the white vinegar solution very tightly around the shower head and arm. Try using a rubber band or duct tape, though be careful not to put too much solution in the bag. A heavy bag will come loose and leave an unpleasant mess in your shower. Remember, it will need to stay up all night overnight.

Shower drain

  • Most shower drain issues will be caused by hair trapping more dirt and gunk. This will prevent your shower from draining quickly and quietly, turning a great shower into a noisy shallow bath. Bleh!
  • To clear a slow and noisy shower drain, first remove the grate or cover. Then, whilst wearing rubber gloves, just get in there. Don’t be scared, use an old toothbrush, wire or your fingers to pick out the offending hair and gunk. Also flushing with hot water can help.
  • For more messy drains that you don’t really want to touch (even with rubber gloves and a 10 foot pole), you might consider using a drain cleaning product. Chemical drain cleaners can be very effective at burning away gunk and hair (maybe even a little fun as you hear the pop and sizzle as it burns through your messy hard work). Just make sure you follow the instructions. 
  • Please note that chemical drain openers won’t clear large blockages from objects. If you get a really big blockage your best option might be to call your local plumber. Cleaning your shower and drain regularly will help prevent this expensive call out.

What about cleaning fiberglass?

  • Make sure your bathroom shower cleaner is fiberglass friendly, or you can use a white vinegar solution to clean. Some products like CLR will etch fiberglass so use them sparingly and quickly if necessary.
  • For stubborn fiberglass stains, you can try using baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda on the stain, then cover with a paper towel soaked in white vinegar. Remove after 30 minutes then scrub clean.
  • For really stubborn stains, you can try an oven cleaner product. Make sure the product says ‘no fumes’ and does not contain any lye as this will damage fiberglass. Spray on the oven cleaner thick and leave for at least an hour then wipe or wash clean.

What about cleaning marble?

  • If you’re lucky enough to have marble in your bathroom, remember never to use vinegar. Vinegar is acidic and will eat away at the marble and ruin the finish.
  • Instead of vinegar, use hydrogen peroxide for light colored marble. For darker marble, don’t use hydrogen peroxide as it might lighten the color and look odd in the spot you just cleaned. As another alternative, you can use baking soda. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste. Leave for 24 hours and then gently wipe clean.
  • There are also a number of products specially made to be gentle on marble. Cleaners such as “Granite Gold” are specially formulated to be safe on all natural stone surfaces, like marble and granite. 
  • If you’ve got yourself in a lot of trouble with your marble (i.e. you’ve had a wild party without Mom & Dad’s permission and someone has stained the marble badly…), then it is best to consult a professional marble cleaner.

2 thoughts on “How to clean a shower – Top to Bottom Guide”

Leave a Comment