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How (and When) to Clean Your Tub and Shower

Woman wiping down a shower door with a microfiber cleaning cloth
Oleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock

When you step into the shower or slip into the tub, you intend to get clean. While it’s a great way to get the grime off yourself, you also need to take the time to get the grime off the tub.

As wonderful as it would be if taking a shower washed down the shower and tub as effectively as it washed us down, that’s unfortunately not the case. Every time we use the tub or shower, there’s always a little bit left behind: mineral buildup, bio-films from a combination of residual soap and skin oils, and actual bits of the grime we’re washing off.

You don’t have to clean your bathtub or shower every time you use it (that would both be tedious and total overkill). However, routine cleaning will keep stains, soap scum, mildew, and other nastiness at bay.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tub and Shower?

How often your tub and shower need a scrub down depends on how often it’s used. For a single person or two people, once a week is a good place to start. If you have kids, roommates, or you (or anyone else in your house has a particularly messy job, you may need to clean more frequently.

Your weekly (or more often) tub and shower cleaning should include wiping down the shower walls (including the door if you have a door instead of a curtain), the tub itself, your faucets, and the outside of your shower head.

Cleaning the Tub and Shower Walls

When it comes to cleaning your tub and walls inside the shower, you can use your choice of bathroom cleaner, or you can make something from scratch with two simple ingredients you already have in your home. If you want to cut down on the number of chemicals you’re using in your home, plain old water and white vinegar work great to deep clean your tub and make it sparkle.

  • You’ll need a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water.
  • Spray down the tub and walls of the shower, and even the shower door if you have a solid slider or opening door. Let the mix sit for about ten minutes (don’t rush this, the time-on-surface is what helps kill the microbes).
  • Use a sponge to wipe down the mixture.
  • Rinse your tub and shower with water.

This mixture is suitable for cleaning soap scum off of your glass shower doors too and great for getting soap scum off the faucets, knobs, and other hardware in the tub. In fact, you can use the vinegar and water mixture to clean most surfaces in your bathroom.

Got stains that won’t come up with vinegar? You can use baking soda in place of an abrasive scrubbing agent. If the stains are even being stubborn with baking soda, mix in a little hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide offers whitening power that will help you get tough stains out of your tub.

Cleaning Shower Curtain, Shower Mat, and Bath Mats

In addition to cleaning the tub and shower enclosure, there are some adjacent items you’ll want regularly clean too.

Your shower curtain may only need a good washing every other month, but you can judge that by how grungy it starts to look. Every time you wash your shower curtain, it’s a great time to wash your bath mats—tossing the mats in with the curtain help keep the curtain from wrinkling. Naturally, check the care tag on them first. Hang dry it outside for freshness, or on your inside drying rack if the weather doesn’t permit. (The heat of the dryer is very rough on both shower curtains and the rubber backing on bath mats, so hang drying is a must).

If you use a non-slip vinyl tub mat, you can clean that right in the bathtub. Wash both sides with your vinegar and water mix. You may even want to pour some white vinegar on and let it soak a little to help remove old stains (this is especially helpful if it’s been a while since you cleaned the thing).

Finally, can do a deep cleaning of your shower head once every month to descale it and keep it flowing freely.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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