The care and keeping of showers
December 4, 2018 7:12 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep my shower functionally clean with minimal effort?

I feel like such a shower owner failure right now. We have to re-tile one of our bathrooms that has original 1930s mosaic tile because the bathroom had moisture issues and despite our best efforts to clean thoroughly and re-caulk when the caulk was getting gross, moisture snuck in and we found a mushroom growing in our bathroom. (It was small but mortifying)

We live in a city. So most bathrooms are not incredibly well ventilated and nearly every place I've lived in the city has needed a re-grout of the shower annually because landlords never really feel like doing a thorough cleaning under the caulk. But now we own our place and the tables have turned because, well, how do you even clean a bathroom well?

So, please give me your effective shower cleaning practices!
Bonus points for:
-Mentioning how often you clean your shower
-Methods that reduce the frequency of shower cleaning
-Caulk and grout cleaning that reduces frequency of re-caulking
posted by donut_princess to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
If you put your soap in a small sock or similar (like a pillow in a pillow case) it will make your soap last longer, which reduces soap scum significantly.
posted by aniola at 7:17 PM on December 4, 2018

Squeegee shower walls after showers
posted by saturdaymornings at 7:20 PM on December 4, 2018 [15 favorites]

Liquid body wash has less soap scum, rinse everything down after a shower (if you have a handheld thing), squeegee, use a daily shower cleaner, ventilation
posted by raccoon409 at 7:22 PM on December 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I clean it every week. Do you have a fan? Even if not vented to the outside, and overhead fan can help a lot with reducing moisture.
posted by something something at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2018

Method Daily Shower Spray has enzymes that seem to eat mold on caulk and I spray it a few times a week, when I remember. When I do a thorough clean, I scrub everything and spray spic n span with bleach, let it sit, then rinse down everything.

The Method Daily shower is really great and the shower rarely needs more than that, tbh.
posted by jbenben at 7:36 PM on December 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

When I lived in an apartment with moldy-looking grout, I used the Clorox bleach pen and it worked well. (I can't vouch for the safety of this method if you do have mold, but it does seem to be effective.) Can you add ventilation or heat to the bathroom? Can you hire a weekly cleaner, even for part of your house if not all?
posted by pinochiette at 7:58 PM on December 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

You can tell by my question history that I'm not a master of bathroom upkeep, but one thing I have been trying to offset my sluggish pace of manual cleaning is a mini de-humidifier in the absence of a built in bathroom fan.
posted by space snail at 8:11 PM on December 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of chemical terror and a rigorous calendar -- so a vinegar+accoutrements spray for fixtures (hard water; spray and wipe with towel) weekly, that Foaming Bubbles brand stuff for the tile monthly (spray, wait a couple minutes, hose down), and an enzyme+surfactant mix for the drains (quarterly).

Fair warning: I'm the sort of questionably-stable individual who possesses a borescope camera in part to ensure his drains remain unquestionably functional, and who therefore becomes agitated when he notices biofilm buildup in the drain lines.

Rubbermaid makes a rotary scrubber (the "Reveal") that I'm deeply embarrassed to say works pretty well for grout lines that are being recalcitrant. I use that once or twice a year, in conjunction with the Foaming Bubbles stuff.

If an area is being especially resistant to foaming liquid death, I apply bleach straight-up, leave the room for a while, then rinse.

...but a proper vent fan works wonders. If you can physically get one installed, do so. Even better, get one that senses humidity and turns itself on/off appropriately (this saves you from having to repeatedly lecture guests and family members).

...and be careful with bleach. Despite being easily available, it's quite nasty. I knew a guy who lost his sense of taste due to carelessness with bleach. That sucked for him.
posted by aramaic at 12:03 AM on December 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

On the simple and cheap end, I take one of those dishwashing sponge wands (the kind that takes liquid soap and has a scrubbie head) and fill it with half with dawn dish soap and half white vinegar. Keep it stored propped upright in the shower, and take 30 seconds during every shower to give a part of the shower a good little scrubdown. Rinse off anything the shower itself hasn't taken care of by the time I'm ready to step out, and done. I've used the Method spray though and it smells fantastic and now might add that back in to the routine a couple times a week.
posted by shelbaroo at 1:19 AM on December 5, 2018 [10 favorites]

I have a combined tub/shower and after three years in London I am the Queen of Mould. The ONLY thing that really works for mouldy grout is HG Mould Spray. You can literally see the mould die before your eyes.

My shower cleaning routine is as follows: squirt cream bleach (or cream cleaner? Cif? I'm not even sure if it contains bleach) all over tub and tiles. Spray down chrome fittings with anti hard water stuff. Use a damp scrubby sponge to scrub down tub and tiles. Rinse using handheld shower head. Spot clean unrinseable spots with bathroom spray and a damp microfibre cloth. If the grout is especially foul I'll get in there with a bit of cream cleaner these fiendishly useful grout brushes. This all takes far less work than it sounds.
posted by nerdfish at 2:07 AM on December 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

In addition to using a squeegee after I shower, I also keep a dry washcloth nearby and wipe down all the fixtures after each shower. I never have to do anything else with them.
posted by FencingGal at 4:09 AM on December 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

For super-gross tubs and tile, mix equal parts white vinegar (ideally warmed up in the microwave) and Dawn dish soap, soak paper towels in the mixture (or lightweight cloths if you want to cut down on waste), and slap them up on the surfaces that need help. Wait a few hours, and the grossness wipes off like magic. Keep a little bit of the Dawnegar mixture around for regular maintenance - ooh, that reminds me, I should give my shower tiles a good wipedown today.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:39 AM on December 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Keep the door open when not in use. Open the window regularly if you have one. Wipe/squeegee the shower as you use it. Then add the cleaning regime of your choice, including bleach.
posted by plonkee at 4:42 AM on December 5, 2018

I stand behind the dawn/vinegar mixture for hard water issues.

also, i realized, i can use a (dedicated) mop instead of being on my hands and knees with a stupid dish wand. it's a lot less effort, with quicker cleaning, and comparable results. this changed the frequency with which i clean my shower.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:26 AM on December 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you have mildew and mold, your bathroom is too wet. Open a window for 30 minutes after a shower; you can close the door to the rest of the house while the window's open. Get a small heater and run it. Run a fan.

After many years of using only simple cleaning products, keeping the shower clear of scum was too much of a pain, and I have been using Scrubbing Bubbles spray. I clean the shower after taking a shower, so the hot water has softened things up. Probably monthly or a bit more often.
posted by theora55 at 6:41 AM on December 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

VWD40 keeps the scale at bay on your shower glass n metal. It also removes scale.

And because your tiles are coming off, maybe consider doing something bigger now to stave off trouble later? Rip up all the tiles on the floor and walls and start again.

I have cement fibreboard on the floor of my bathroom (2400mm x 2400mm area), which I then tanked with a serious sealer (it stinks, wear a proper mask, have doors/windows open). I got a concreter to do a nice smooth pour with the correct fall. I used big shiny black porcelain tiles laid with barely any space between, and black grout for the walls. (You could get a plasterer to do concrete glass float to the walls too, as my friends have. It looks excellent.)

I used concrete paint (about 80 bucks here in Australia) on the floor to seal the concrete. After six or so years when some white marks from water staining emerged, I lightly sanded the floor and repainted. Easy peasy.

My basin and WC are wall mounted so I didn't bother to install a glass shower screen. The water falls well and any splashes are squidgeed with a long armed squidgee after I turn off shower. Bonus with squidgee is that I can spray the walls with cleaner every week as I shower, then use the mop side of the squidgee to run over the walls and floor.

This is the best bathroom I've ever had, especially its easy cleanabilty.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:54 AM on December 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Squeegee enclosure after use. Weekly, spray enclosure and tub with hot water then spray oxy cleaner on enclosure, tub and fixtures then go over it gently with a white scrub pad. Rinse with hot water and squeegee. Dry fixtures with a clean white cloth.

Don’t leave the curtain/door closed or fully open; everything needs to dry. . Don’t let soap or shampoo drips sit around, though dripping into the tub is ok. If you use a bath mat hang it up to dry in the tub, not dripping down the wall.

This is 30 seconds of work after each shower, and five minutes once a week.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:11 AM on December 5, 2018

Earlier this year, I switched from bar soap to body wash and my shower/tub cleaning needs have plummeted. I didn't believe that it'd be such a major difference but seriously, between that and being conscientious about fan maintenance (I outright replaced one, which was really easy and not tremendously expensive) and use, I only really have to wipe out hair. Now maybe monthly I shine things up with Mrs. Meyer's spray, whereas previously I was endlessly searching for the correct combination of chemicals to make it more than a couple weeks without looking gross. Baking soda + Dawn followed by a vinegar rinse had worked best, but still required scrubbing, whereas now I just wipe.
posted by teremala at 8:27 AM on December 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thirding the Dawn + hot vinegar. I started using that earlier this year as recommended here and it works REALLY AMAZINGLY WELL. Also works fantastic on toilets!!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:14 PM on December 5, 2018

Our bathtub loves to grow mold in the caulk and what we’ve finally figured out that works for us is-

Run the fan while showering and for 10-15 min after
Squeegee the tile
*****Use a microfiber cloth to wipe dry the caulk and the corners of the shower walls*****this really really helps
A light spray of commercial or homemade (peroxide, alcohol, water, dawn dish soap & jet dry) along the caulk

Icky mold is reduced by 90% tho it takes a minute or 2 to do all this so we tend to shower right after each other so it only has to be done once. If you don’t have a fan or window you could try an oscillating fan in the doorway pointing into the bathroom, to help get the moisture out, its a pain but have done that before when circumstances made it necessary.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

#1 - Ventilation, install a good forced ventilation system and use it during and after shower use. #2 - lose the soap forever for everyone, replace with gels.

I follow my own advice (above), and if I told you how often I clean my shower my mother would disown me (and the only thing growing in my bathroom is a potplant).
posted by GeeEmm at 4:49 PM on December 5, 2018

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