How to Clean Your Shower and Keep It Absolutely Gleaming

A small primary bathroom, which has been lined with the same striking floor tile from wall to wall

Julian Porcino

It should come as no surprise that you need to clean your shower. Our showers see us at our absolute filthiest, so it takes no time at all for soap scum, mildew, and other gunk to build up. 

“Generally speaking, bathrooms can be packed full of germs—and that’s especially true of showers,” Ray Brosnan, property maintenance and cleaning expert at Brosnan Property Solutions, says. “If you’re not regularly cleaning your shower, you may start to see things like mildew or mold spores forming on your shower curtain and tiles.”

And bacteria might collect on your shower head, too. On top of all of that, soap scum can build up on your shower walls, and water spots can start to form in your shower over time.

The picture we’ve just painted is a pretty gross one. But with regular maintenance, these problems should be avoidable. To steer clear of them, you’ll need to clean your shower once a week. (Yes, really.) But if you stick to this schedule, the cleaning you have to do shouldn’t be all that hard.

Meet the Expert

  • Ray Brosnan is a property maintenance and cleaning expert at Brosnan Property Solutions, a property solutions firm serving both residential and commercial clients.
  • Will Cotter is the COO of HappyCleans, a cleaning company based in Oklahoma City.
  • Stephanie Cooper is a representative for Top Cleaners London, a London-based cleaning company.
  •  Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam are the cofounders and directors of UrbanMop, a cleaning service company based in Ottawa.
A white bathroom with a small bath stool in it

Cathie Hong Interiors

How Often Should You Clean Your Shower?

Talk to any cleaning expert, and you’ll hear the same advice: you need to clean your shower once a week—and that's exactly what Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, shared with us. Though weekly cleans may sound like a lot, they should help you keep your shower in tip-top shape. 

Unfortunately, this rule of thumb comes with a caveat: some parts of your shower need to be cleaned more than once a week, and others just need to be cleaned every few weeks.

“There are some general rules and timelines that should be followed by everybody when it comes to bathroom cleaning,” Stephanie Cooper, a representative from Top Cleaners London, says. (And the team at Top Cleaners London kindly walked us through all of those rules, below.)

What to Clean After Every Shower: 

  • Glass shower door: Wipe it down.
  • Glass shower walls: Wipe them down.
  • Shower drain: Remove hair and other debris from the drain, and wipe it down.

What to Clean Weekly:

  • Shower cabin: Thoroughly clean everything—including your walls, your floor, and your drain.
  • Shower door handle: Wipe down with an antibacterial multipurpose cleaner.
  • Any chrome surfaces: Wash them with a specialized detergent to avoid limescale damage.
  • Fabric bath mat: Throw it in the laundry.
  • Towels: Throw them in the laundry.

What to Clean Monthly: 

  • Shower drain: In addition to cleaning it after every shower, deep-clean it with a drain cleaner once a month.
  • Showerhead: Deep-clean every 2–4 weeks.
  • Shower tiles: Deep-clean to remove limescale and fungi.
  • Shower curtain: Pop it in the laundry, or wash it by hand.
  • Silicone bath mat: Deep-clean it using detergent.

And when the team at Top Cleaners London says “after every shower,” they really mean it. Strange as it may sound, the best time to clean your shower is right after you’ve taken a shower.

“It is true that the best time to clean your shower is right after you use it,” Cotter says. Since the shower is already wet, you won’t have to use as much water when cleaning, he says. And according to Cotter, the steam from your shower can loosen some of the dirt and grime on your walls. 

“Cleaning your shower after its use is a really good time as it minimizes the chances of water stains, grime, and mold building up,” Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam, cofounders and directors of UrbanMop, say. “However, it is very unlikely for some households to do that, especially if the majority of the household showers in the evening.” 

If you don’t feel like cleaning your shower right after you’ve gotten clean, Chiu and Tam recommend tackling the task the following morning. “This will fall into your daily cleaning routine and allow your shower to be fresh and clean before the next use,” they say.

A shower with a blue tile accent wall

 Pure Salt Interiors

How to Clean a Tile Shower

Things You Need:

  • Store-bought grout cleaner or baking soda
  • Soft-bristled cleaning brush or toothbrush
  • Store-bought tile cleaner or white vinegar and dish soap
  • Sponge or soft-bristled scrub brush
  • Old rag or squeegee

Step 1: Empty Your Shower

Before whipping out cleaning solutions or wiping down your walls, you’ll want to take one simple step: remove everything from your shower. “Get everything out of the way before you start cleaning, because it will be inconvenient to do once you’ve begun to scrub and wipe every surface in your bathroom,” Cooper says.

Step 2: Wet Your Walls

Once your shower is empty and ready to be cleaned, take a moment to rinse off your shower walls and floor. “You should always wet your shower before cleaning it unless the instructions on your cleaning product say otherwise,” Cooper says. 

Why? By wetting your walls, you can rinse off the dust, dirt, and other loose debris—making it easier for your cleaning products to go to work.

Step 3: Gently Scrub Your Grout

Take a look at your grout. Do you notice any mildew? If your grout is discolored, there’s probably mildew on it—and that’s a great place to start your deep clean. 

When it comes to cleaning your grout, you have a couple options. “You can purchase a grout cleaner to remove the mildew,” Chiu and Tam say. You can also make a DIY cleaning paste using one-half cup of baking soda and several teaspoons of water. (Brosnan says 8–9 tablespoons of water should get the job done.)

If you decide to use a store-bought grout cleaner, follow the instructions on the bottle. And if you go the DIY route, let the paste sit for a bit before wiping it away. “Let the cleaning solution rest on the grout for about 10 minutes, and then scrub the remaining scum away with a brush,” Chiu and Tam say. Be sure to scrub gently to avoid damaging your grout.

When cleaning your grout, stay away from harsh chemicals. “Harsh chemicals with high acidity can wear out the grout prematurely, which can make your tile look bad and loosen the tile,” Chiu and Tam say.

Step 4: Spray Down and Scrub Your Tiles

Once your grout looks good, it’s time to clean your shower tiles. Again, you’ll have the option of using a homemade cleaning solution or a store-bought one.

To craft your DIY cleaning solution, Chiu and Tam recommend nixing 1 cup of warm water, 2 cups of white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap—and putting that mixture inside a spray bottle. “Spray the solution on the tile and leave it for about 10–15 minutes,” they say. “Then, take a sponge or a scrubbing brush to remove the excess scum off the walls.”

If you decide to use a store-bought cleaner, be sure you get one that’s designed for bathroom tiles. “Then, repeat the same steps to achieve the most optimal results,” they say. (Be sure to check the cleaning product’s bottle to see how long you should let it sit before wiping it away.)

Step 5: Rinse and Dry Your Shower

Once you’re done cleaning, flip on your shower, and use the water to rinse off all the cleaning products you’ve just used. Then, dry your walls using an old rag or a squeegee.

“Drying the walls after you clean your shower is important,” Cotter says. “Leaving them damp can cause mildew and mold growth, as well as water spots.”

A small primary bathroom with an ornate gold statement mirror, a striking wall sconce, and gray cabinets

Sarah Fultz Interiors

How to Clean a Fiberglass Shower

Things You Need:

  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Old rag or squeegee

Step 1: Empty Your Shower

First things first: Take everything out of your shower. Get shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and razors out of the way.

Step 2: Give Your Shower a Quick Rinse

Then, flip on your shower. “Wash the shower with lukewarm water to get rid of dust, hairs, fibers, or other small particles,” Cooper says. And if you spot any errant hairs in your shower drain, now’s a great time to get rid of them.

Step 3: Spray Down Your Shower With a Multipurpose Cleaner

According to Cooper, fiberglass showers are incredibly easy to clean and maintain. “You can easily clean a fiberglass shower with a multipurpose cleaner or a specialized detergent,” she says. So snag an appropriate cleaning product, and follow the instructions on the bottle. 

Let the cleaner sit for as long as its bottle tells you to. Then, gently rub it in with a sponge.

When cleaning a fiberglass shower, Cooper recommends staying away from abrasive products and hard-bristled brushes. These harsh items can scratch your shower.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry Your Shower

Finish off your deep clean by rinsing your walls. “Wash with cold water while scrubbing the shower with a sponge,” Cooper says. And be sure the water you’re using is cold. According to Cooper, hot water can cause some cleaning products to foam—making them harder to wipe off.

Once your walls are clean and rinsed, take a moment to dry them off using an old rag or a squeegee. “You really need to dry your shower to the best of your ability to prevent mildew growth,” Brosnan says. (He recommends drying the corners of your shower, in particular, as these can be hotspots for mildew.)

A bathroom shower with tiled walls and stone floors

Ashley Montgomery Design

How to Clean a Stone Shower

Things You Need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Store-bought stone shower cleaner
  • Soft towel
  • Ammonia *optional
  • Store-bought stone sealer

Step 1: Empty Your Shower

Start by removing everything from your shower. You want to make sure nothing is blocking your way when you go to clean your shower walls, shelves, and floor.

Step 2: Gently Scrub Your Grout

If you notice any mildew on your grout, start by cleaning that up. “When giving your stone shower a full clean, start by using an old toothbrush and mild soap detergent to scrub the grout between the tiles and floor,” Cotter says. Be sure to scrub gently so you don’t damage the grout.

Step 3: Spray and Wipe Down Your Walls

Once your grout is in good shape, it’s time to clean the stones lining your shower. Instead of using an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, look for a cleaning solution that’s specifically designed for stone showers. (Cotter recommends finding a pH-neutral or non-acidic cleaner, if possible.)

Then, spray the solution all over your shower, and let it sit as long as instructed. The cleaning product’s bottle should tell you exactly what to do here. Once it’s time to wipe away the cleaning solution, Cotter recommends doing so with a soft cloth like a microfiber towel. This should keep the stones from getting damaged during your clean.

Want to keep your stone shower in good shape between deep cleans? “Wipe down the stone and any grout gaps daily with a soft cloth,” Cotter says. And if you don’t shower every day, consider doing this after every shower, instead.

Step 4: Gently Scrub Your Stones to Remove Soap Scum

If you’re dealing with serious soap scum build-up, you may need to clean your shower a little more thoroughly. Cotter recommends creating a DIY cleaning solution by mixing ammonia and water. Then, gently scrub your towels with a soft cloth. Keep scrubbing until your shower looks clean.

When cleaning a stone shower, you’ll want to stay away from harsh products, rough sponges, and hard-bristled brushes. “Harsh cleansers can discolor and damage the [stones] and grout,” Cotter says. “And rough sponges can scratch the tiles.”

Step 5: Rinse, Dry, and Reseal

Once your shower is clean, there are only a few things left to do. First, you need to turn on your shower so you can rinse away all the cleaning products you just used. Then, you need to dry your shower using a soft towel.

After that, you may want to consider resealing your shower. Stone showers need to be resealed with a stone sealer every 6–12 months. This keeps the stones in tip-top shape and helps protect them from damage.

Since this only needs to happen once or twice a year, you don’t need to do it every time you clean your shower. But if you haven’t done it in more than 6 months, you’re probably due for a reseal. Snag a store-bought stone sealer, and follow the instructions it gives you.

A shower decorated with a small bath stool, which has been topped with soap and a sponge

Katie Hodges Design

How to Clean Your Shower Head

Things You Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Plastic
  • Rubber band *optional
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush

Step 1: Soak the Showerhead in Vinegar

To properly clean your showerhead, you need to soak it in white vinegar. And you can do this in one of two ways. You can either remove the showerhead and soak it in a plastic bag full of vinegar, or you can fill a plastic bag with vinegar and attach it to your shower head using a rubber band. (The second method may be a little tougher to pull off, but it saves you from having to remove your showerhead from your wall and then reinstall it.)

Once you’ve settled on a soaking method, give your showerhead time to soak. “Leave the showerhead to sit for at least several hours,” Brosnan says. “If your unit is particularly dirty, leave it overnight.”

Step 2: Rinse and Scrub Your Showerhead

When your showerhead is done soaking, rinse it off with hot water. Then, reattach it to your shower (if you removed it). With your shower head in place, turn on your shower. “Let hot water run through the showerhead for a few minutes,” Brosnan says.

If you notice any grime on your showerhead’s nozzles, gently scrub them using a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush. 

When cleaning your showerhead, Brosnan recommends staying away from hard-bristled brushes and bleach. Hard-bristled brushes may damage the finish on your showerhead, and bleach may make your showerhead more prone to accumulating bacteria, he says.

An all-white bathroom with a small wooden accent table

Katie Martinez

Tips to Keep Your Shower Clean Longer

The easiest way to keep your shower in good shape between deep cleans? Regular upkeep. Wipe down your shower every time you use it, stick to your weekly cleaning schedule, and make sure to dry your shower after cleaning it.

"Ensure that you wipe all condensation right after you shower, and schedule a bathroom clean every week,” Chiu and Tam say. During those post-shower wipe-downs, Chiu and Tam recommend using a shower squeegee. You can use the squeegee to remove grime from your walls while they’re still wet. And you can also use the squeegee to dry your walls once they’re clean.

One other thing you can do? Keep an eye on your caulk (the white stuff lining the corners of your shower). “Designed to keep a watertight seal, caulk stops moisture from getting in behind the tiles or walls of your shower,” Brosnan says. “If this starts to chip or come away, get it replaced. If even the smallest bit of water gets in behind the caulk, mold will soon follow.”

Article Sources
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  1. Rock Doctor. How to Care For Stone Shower Tiles. Rock Doctor, 2019.