How to Clean Shower Doors

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Bathroom with large windows, porcelain sinks, large mirror and glass door shower

Cleaning shower doors with a squeegee is one of those everyday maintenance tasks that just doesn't seem that important until you stop doing it and find your shower doors covered in soap scum, grime and hard water stains, leaving your whole bathroom looking grimy. Even if you wipe away the water with a squeegee or a towel after every shower, you should still plan on cleaning your shower doors once a month to prevent damaging soap scum and hard water deposits. There are many ways to clean shower doors, whether you're working with clear glass, frosted glass or acrylic doors.

Keeping Your Shower Doors Clean

While nothing will stop you from having to clean your shower doors altogether, you can slow down the frequency by doing some regular maintenance. In fact, failing to clean glass shower doors will result in soap scum and hard water residue thickening and hardening like concrete. These hardened stains will eventually etch into the glass, causing permanent damage, so you'll never be able to enjoy truly clean glass shower doors again—all the more reason to get your cleaning routine right.

The most important thing you can do to protect your shower doors is to keep them dry by wiping them with a microfiber cloth or running a squeegee over them as soon as you finish your shower. Don't forget to wipe down the shower walls as well since moisture can cause mildew buildup. For the same reason, you should also leave the bathroom door or window open when the shower isn't in use. These actions will also help prevent mold and mildew growth in your tile grout.

If your shower doors are particularly prone to water stains and soap scum residue, mix together 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar with a squirt of dish soap and 15 drops of essential oils in the scent of your choice. Use a spray bottle to squirt your DIY cleaning solution after squeegeeing off the water and then wipe the glass clean with a microfiber towel. You can also try ditching bar soap since it causes soap scum buildup; shower gels do not leave soap scum behind.

If you really want to keep your shower doors clean, you can also try using a hydrophobic glass treatment like Rain-X on the surface, which will allow the water and soap scum to slide right off the surface. This treatment will need to be reapplied regularly, or it will begin to lose its effectiveness, and your shower will again begin to develop water spots. Similarly, you can install a water softener, which will reduce the minerals in your water, making hard water spots less of a problem, although this solution can be a bit expensive.

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How to Clean Soap Scum and Water Spots

The good news is that the process for cleaning shower doors is the same whether you have soap scum, water spots, mildew, grime or any combination of these problems. While there are many products and techniques to clean glass surfaces in your shower, one of the most common and most effective is the method suggested by Molly Maid, which uses natural cleaning products such as white vinegar and baking soda. Lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar for light-duty cleaning with a refreshing smell, but it is not as acidic as vinegar and is not as effective.

  1. Wet the shower glass with warm water by spraying it with your showerhead or using a bucket to dump water on the glass. Try cleaning just after taking a shower, when the grime is already damp from the humidity.

  2. Use a spray bottle filled with white vinegar and spray across the entire surface. Let it sit for 10 minutes. This should start dissolving the water spots and soap scum.

  3. Moisten a scrubbing sponge or a soft-bristled scrub brush and then dip it into baking soda before scrubbing along the glass. This works as a mild abrasive to remove the film that has already been loosened by the vinegar.

  4. Rinse with clean water and then dry with a microfiber cloth.

  5. Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth or paper towels to clean fingerprints and smudges from the front of the shower glass, trim and towel hangers, leaving the doors to shine.

  6. Use a similar process to clean the shower tracks, placing cotton balls soaked in vinegar in the tracks for 15 minutes before using a toothbrush dipped in baking soda to scrub away the grime.

It's worth noting that while vinegar and baking soda are safe for most surfaces, if your shower has natural stone in it, you should skip vinegar and use liquid soap in its place, as Better Homes & Gardens warns that vinegar can damage stone.

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How to Clean Tough Stains

When you've had substantial buildup of mineral deposits and soap scum, white vinegar and baking soda alone won't cut it. In these cases, you can use a DIY cleaning solution made with equal parts grease-cutting dish soap and vinegar as well as scrubbing pads like Magic Erasers. In severe cases, you may find that ammonia can help break up particularly bad hard water stains. Always wear gloves and properly ventilate your bathroom when working with ammonia.

Alternatively, lubricating liquids such as WD-40 have been reported to work well on water spots. Spray a thin layer of the oil on your shower door and let it sit for 15 minutes so it has time to break down the water stains. Wipe it down well with a microfiber cloth. These oils clean away easily, so you won't see or feel any residue, but any trace of residual oil can help prevent water spots for a short time in the future.

How to Clean Frosted Glass or Acrylic

Frosted glass, etched glass or acrylic can all be damaged by abrasive products, so they must be treated a little differently. That means you should avoid using anything that can damage the surface, which can include:

  • Scrub sponges
  • Scouring pads
  • Steel wool
  • Vinegar
  • Citrus juice
  • Anything advertised as particularly abrasive or heavy duty

Since you can't use acidic cleaners such as vinegar and lemon juice, you'll need to go with more alkaline solutions. D&D Glassworks suggests the following method:

  • Use a glass cleaner like Windex and scrub with paper towels to remove any stuck-on residue. This could actually be enough to complete the job.

  • For tough stains, try mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with 2 cups of water. You can also add dish soap to the cleaning solution for really bad spots. Spray over stuck-on residue, let it soak for a few minutes and scrub it with paper towels.

  • If you had to use the baking soda solution, spray the surface with glass cleaner and wipe with a paper towel a second time to remove any remaining streaks.

  • Clean the shower door track by lining it with cotton balls soaked in vinegar for 15 minutes. Then, remove the cotton balls and scrub with a toothbrush dipped in baking soda.
references

Jill Harness is a blogger with experience covering architecture, design and decor trends from around the globe. As she lives in what would politely be called a "fixer upper," she is particularly interested in writing about DIY projects and repairs. Most of her home design writing can be found at www.homesandhues.com. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.

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