How to Remove and Clean Shower Door Etching

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A shower can quickly become dirty and dingy looking if you have hard water.
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Those who live in soft-water regions have a far simpler time in bathroom upkeep than those who live in hard-water areas where mineral deposits in the water can do a real number on the tub, tiles and even glass shower surrounds. Despite these being caused by nature's wily ways, homeowners can feel vexed when these deposits discolor their porcelain or leave what seems like etching on shower doors or walls.

Removing Etched Glass Stains Naturally

Hard water stains and etching are difficult to remove once the mineral deposits bond with the glass surface, hence the reason that regular cleaning isn't sufficient. Smith Glass explains that the porous nature of glass can mean etching may be permanent, but there are some tricks to use.

Vinegar is acidic and is a great household cleaner, especially for things like soap scum and hard water. But look for "cleaning" vinegar versus regular as it's 6 percent acid versus 5 percent for normal vinegar. It seems like a tiny difference, but that's 20 percent more acidic oomph. As a cleaning spray, the Maids recommends microwaving a half-cup of nondiluted distilled vinegar for 30 seconds, using as you would any spray cleaner and buffing with a microfiber cloth.

For stubborn etching, spray or wipe the surface with fresh lemon juice — the real thing, not the bottled stuff — and let it sit for a few minutes. Make a 50-50 mixture of cleaning vinegar and lemon juice; then mix in enough baking soda to get a toothpaste-like slurry. Put some paste on a glass-safe scrubbing pad, such as a cooktop scrubber, and gently scrub the glass. Rinse with water and see if it gleams yet — repeat this process one or two times if needed for added shine.

If your shower floor is tile, be aware that repeated vinegar use can break down sealants on the tiles or grout, so you should keep it to a minimum.

Erase Shower Door Glass Etching

Sometimes, household eraser products like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will handle light to medium etched stains, a method recommended by Garrety Glass. Simply buy the eraser, get it damp and scrub the glass until it comes clean. It won't always get the job done, though.

Last Resort: Sandpaper

In automotive shops, they use super-fine wet/dry sandpaper for final finishing jobs. When all else fails for hardcore etching, the Everyday Cheapskate suggests that using 5,000- to 10,000-grit wet/dry sandpaper can get the most stubborn etching off, but it can also go awry if you fail to keep the glass completely wet during the whole procedure. (It must be the wet/dry sandpaper, not just wet or dry.)

As with any sanding job, start with the lower-grit paper and work your way up to 10,000 using gentle circular motions. Never use less than 5,000-grit sandpaper and be very cautious as the lower grits are more abrasive and may cut the glass.

Again, this is the last resort and can make things worse, but if you're already thinking that plan B is to invest in a new shower door, give this a shot before spending all that money.

After Removing Shower Door Etching

So, you got your door clean — congratulations! To keep it looking great, invest in some daily shower cleaner or even just a squeegee. Water getting on your glass isn't the problem that causes the etching — it's water drying on the glass that's the issue.

By neutralizing the hard water with a good spray-on daily cleanser, you can just walk away. You may spray on vinegar, which also works great, but remember that it can be damaging to some sealants.

Alternatively, simply squeegeeing off the water can keep your shower looking great, as can wiping it down with quality microfiber cleaning cloths. Get yourself a shower squeegee; there's no need to use any products with it. Just squeegee from top to bottom and you'll spend far less time scrubbing your shower in the months and years to come.


Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.

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