Steam Cleaners & Soap Scum

Soap scum buildup is a common occurrence in sinks, showers and bathtubs, and it can be difficult to remove. There are chemical products that cut through the soap scum, but these use harsh substances and the fumes can be irritating. Many of the chemicals used for soap or hard water deposits have warnings about wearing gloves and ventilating the area being cleaned. Steam cleaners, however, use water to cut through the buildup, leaving the surface clean, sanitized and sparkling without creating any toxic side effects or leaving behind a chemical residue.

Clearing the Area for Cleaning

Cleaning soap scum from bathrooms is a fact of life.

Steaming away soap scum is an effective way to get rid of it on shower walls, floors, bathtubs, glass shower doors, and sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. Getting the surface ready for cleaning involves removing all of the items around the sink, shower and tub. Many people keep shampoos, bath soap, and dishwashing liquid nearby. Moving these items away speeds up the steaming process. Place these items on a nearby countertop or put them in a box.

Prepare the Steamer for Cleaning

All steam cleaners need water to operate. The instructions for the steamer will say whether tap or distilled water can be used. In areas with very hard water, a 50/50 mixture of tap and distilled will extend the life of the steamer. Steamers also require a warm-up time. Some have lights that illuminate when the water is hot enough, but others require a manual check by pressing the trigger to test the amount and pressure of the steam.

All steamers come with a measuring cup and funnel that make it easy to fill the steamer with the proper amount of water. Steaming soap scum off surfaces will use a lot of steam because the deposit is difficult to dissolve.

When the steamer runs out of water, turn it off and let the pressure drop inside the water vessel. Opening a pressurized fill tube can lead to injury.

Speeding up the Cleaning Process

Sometimes, bars of soap leave a thick residue on the bottom of the soap dishes or on the sink. Softening the soap residue first hastens the cleaning process. Place a damp cloth on the residue for about 30 minutes to soften it. Then, use the cloth to wipe off the surface. This makes it much faster to clean the area with the steam cleaner.

Using the Steamer for Clearing Soap Scum

The tool to use with the steamer depends on the size of the surface being cleaned. The widest tool attachment works for most surfaces with soap deposits, while the narrower nozzle tools clean out corners, especially sliding shower door frames where soap scum accumulates.

Moving the steamer in horizontal or circular motions softens the soap scum. Wipe away the loosened scum with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse cleaned areas regularly during this process.

Apply a Wax to Fiberglass to End Soap Buildup

Once cleaned with the steamer, use automotive surface wax to deter future soap scum buildup on shower walls. Don't, however, use it on sinks or tubs where skin and food may come in contact. The wax creates a finish impermeable to even the hardest water or soap. Car wax may also be applied to the shower doors to keep them free of soap scum and hard water spots. Most car waxes are easy to apply using a soft cloth. When dry, wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

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