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Bathroom

How to Clean a Dirty, Grimy Walk-in Shower and Make it Sparkle!

September 22, 2022

What if I told you that your shower is one of the largest breeding grounds for bacteria and germs in the bathroom? Would you really feel clean washing yourself in a shower full of bacteria and build-up? 

Well, unfortunately it’s true. Your shower is the ultimate bacteria host. Because of its location and environment, it’s basically a receptacle for nastiness. Not only is it a collector of dead skin, dirt and soap residue, but its close proximity to the toilet makes it a magnet for other invisible debris and particles. 

The humid environment of your shower makes for a cozy spot for bacteria to fester and grow. But if you get in the habit of regular cleaning and maintenance, you won’t have to worry about any of these things.

Safety pit stop: There are a few rules about bathrooms around here. Always wear gloves, and run your fan or open a window. We don’t mix chemicals in the #cleaningarmy! Read your labels. Wipe and rinse thoroughly with warm water between changing from one chemical to another. 

Please note that some of these products are affiliate links. Consider these brands our friends with benefits. When you buy from these links, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. We use this commission to pay our staff, produce content, and of course, buy our cleaning supplies. Pretty neat, huh?

Clear it out and vacuum

Make the job easier for yourself by clearing out the shower before you officially start cleaning:

  • Remove bottles, razors and accessories. 
  • Recycle any empties in your shower.
  • Rinse all shampoo and conditioner bottles with water in your sink to remove any gunk and grime. (Wait until after the shower is cleaned to replace.) 

Once the shower is cleaned out and you have a blank slate, use your handy horsehair brush (Canada) (USA) attachment on your vacuum (Canada) (USA) to suck up any hair and dust around the shower. If you spray cleaner all over the place without vacuuming first the dust and dirt turns to mud and is much more difficult to clean up. 

Be sure to vacuum the top ledges as they tend to collect the most dust! This is also a good time to clear any excess hair from the drain. 

Hard water build-up.

Hard water buildup is most commonly found on your showerhead or faucet. The easiest way to tackle it is to:

  1. Fill a bag with vinegar.
  2. Secure the bag over the showerhead or faucet with an elastic (making sure it is fully submerged in the vinegar). 
  3. Let it sit for 20 minutes (or even overnight, if it’s bad) and the vinegar will do the rest! 

Check out our Dealing with Hard Water article for more detailed instructions.

Shower glass and fixtures. 

Next, it’s time to clean your shower glass and fixtures. Here’s our simple two-step process:

  1. Spray shower doors and fixtures (levers, brackets, frames for glass doors, drains, faucets etc.) with our shower door recipe (1 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of blue Dawn® mixed in a spray bottle). This will tackle grime and hard water in your shower. 
  1. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes minimum, scrub the shower door and fixtures with a soft sponge. If your first attempt is unsuccessful, try again leaving the recipe on longer. (Do not use anything abrasive because these doors are easily scratched.) Rinse very well with hot water and squeegee to remove the excess water. You are going to be grateful for your fan running when you smell this stuff! 

While you are waiting for the vinegar/Dawn® mixture to work, take the plastic strip off the bottom of the shower door. Did you know that they are removable? A lot of people do not know these come off, which can result in permanent staining from mold, mildew and soap scum. It should be clear, not orange or green! Simply slide or pop it off the bottom of the shower door. After you have removed the strip, all you need to do is spray it with Clorox® Clean Up (Canada) (USA) or our water, bleach and Tide® (Canada) (USA) recipe and scrub clean with a scrub brush. 

Shower grout.

Use the WBT (water, bleach, and Tide®) recipe (below) to clean and restore the color of your shower grout. (DO NOT use on marble!) 

For best results scrub with a scrub brush that has strong bristles. Be careful around caulking to avoid damage. Microban 24 Bathroom Cleaner® (Canada) (USA)  is also a great product to use if you are finding WBT unsuccessful (or have marble to contend with). Having a detachable shower head will make rinsing everything easy, but if you don’t have one, a large measuring cup or tupperware container will do the trick. See our article to Deep Clean Nasty Tile Grout.

Pro Tip: If you are finding that your grout stains quickly, it might be time to re-seal it! 

Stains.

For stains caused by anything from purple shampoo to minerals in your water, Liquid Bar Keepers Friend® (Canada) (USA) is your best friend. Before you begin, test the Bar Keepers Friend® on an inconspicuous spot to assure it is the right product for your shower. Apply a layer of the product to the stain and use a dry cloth to rub the stain off. If this method does not work the first time the product may need to sit longer.

Dry it out and polish.

A dry shower is a clean shower! It is important to dry your shower walls, floor and glass after cleaning if you want to avoid watermarks and create a smoother finish. Squeegee away as much moisture as possible, then use a dry cloth or towel for anything left.

If you wish to polish your shower (we always do!), use Windex® (Canada) (USA) and a microfiber cloth. The CarbonTuff® Cloths (Canada) (USA) from OceanSales work wonders for any streaks left on your shower glass.

Maintain.

If you tend to deal with lots of hard water buildup, keep a bottle of our shower door recipe in your shower for a quick spray and rinse. Another important step to avoid hard water buildup is to squeegee off your shower glass after each shower. It takes two seconds and will make a huge difference when it comes time to clean. 

Now you are all set with some simple steps to a flawless shower that will level up your bathroom as a whole. 

To tackle the rest of your bathroom read this; 9 Steps to a Sparkling Bathroom! And for more simple cleaning tips for the entire home, check out our 75-minute interactive “Basic Training” course!

  • Denise @GoCleanCo

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