Shower soap dishes get a lot of use, and they can break or deteriorate over time. Although removing one from a tiled shower can seem like an easy fix at first glance, it may be more involved than you think. Older soap dishes can be tricky to work with, but using the proper tools and being patient can increase your chances of success. The proper procedure depends on the type of shower and soap dish you have.
Ceramic Soap Dishes
The tools needed to remove a ceramic soap dish include a grout removal tool like a small rotary grinder, a strong putty knife, a razor blade scraper, a heavy-duty flathead screwdriver, a chisel and a hammer. Also don a pair of safety goggles and a respirator, since flying debris and dust could be dangerous. If you don't need to save the soap dish, you may be able to remove it in pieces. If you want to keep it, make sure you work carefully to preserve it.
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Take the grout removal tool or putty knife and begin loosening the grout surrounding the soap dish. Remove as much grout as possible with either of these tools. Next, use the razor blade scraper to get at the caulk around the edges of the dish. Because using a heavy hand will likely damage the tile and dish, be sure to work with care.
Take the flat end of your screwdriver and insert it under the soap dish. Pry the dish out by pushing the screwdriver's handle toward the shower wall. If possible, have someone help you by using the razor blade scraper to cut through any leftover caulk still holding the dish to the wall. Having this done as you're working with the screwdriver will make this part easier.
Some ceramic soap dishes may be badly damaged and can shatter when being removed. If the dish is fractured, you can use a drill with a fine bit attachment to drill a few small holes in it. This can make removal safer.
Once the dish is out, you can save it for later use or throw it out. Look for any remaining grout in the area and remove it. There may also be tile adhesive left in the hole where the soap dish was. Scrape this out as well if you're planning to install a new soap dish.
Metal Soap Dishes
Many older homes have metal soap dishes in their showers. These holders are usually screwed right into the tiles with caulk sealant or a grout border. The metal can crack or rust, and it should be replaced when this happens. Get started by putting on your mask and goggles, locating the dish's anchoring screws and picking up the grinder.
Grip the grinder's handle and angle its cutter between the soap dish and tile. Holding it parallel to the grout seam, cut into the grout along the seam using firm pressure. Once the whole seam is broken, remove the screws.
Use a chisel and hammer to break up the adhesive seal that connects the soap dish to the shower wall. Make sure that you remove all the adhesive; then carefully pull the soap dish from the tile.
Additional Removal Tips
If your soap dish is fixed to the shower wall with caulk sealant instead of grout, there's another method you can try. Using a hair dryer, heat the seam until it's pliable; then remove the caulk with a utility knife. This can help you avoid using the grinder.
If you plan to install a replacement soap dish, the hole left from the old soap dish must be as dry as possible. You can push in some dry paper towels and cover it all up with plastic and tape. Check it after one or two days for condensation. If the towels and plastic are dry, you're good to go.