A Guide to Cleaning Your Shower (Because You Really, Really Need To)

That soap-and-pube residue around the edges is not a good look.


Many of us assume that our showers are, well, always clean — they get sprayed down with a concoction of soap and water every day or so, after all. Sadly, though, our soapy runoff does virtually as little for the cleanliness of our showers as it does for our feet, instead just encouraging a buildup of gummy debris. And as we explored a while back, that means our showers are squirming with insidious germs that, besides just being nasty, can cause everything from urinary tract infections to pneumonia.

None of this means you need to start obsessively cleaning your shower, though. In fact, Rik Nonelle, president of the professional cleaning company Window Genie, suggests simply cleaning while you shower. “As you let your conditioner set in, do a quick wipedown while you wait,” he says. Just grab an old rag, a few drops of dish soap and go ham, my man.

But while, yeah, the occasional wipedown can make a huge impact, especially if your shower has been neglected for a long, long time, you should still get serious with a deep clean every now and again. Which, of course, requires a little more work (and would be impossible to do while taking a shower), as outlined below.

How to Clean the Grout, Walls and Floors
“To clean grout in a shower, spray it with warm water, then use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub in a circular motion,” explains Jennie Varney, brand manager for the Molly Maid cleaning company. “Rinse and let dry. If more elbow grease is needed, make a paste out of two parts baking soda and one part water, and apply it to the grout. Then, spray the areas with a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water. Again, scrub with the brush in a circular motion, rinse with water and let dry.”

Make sure to get up high, too. “When cleaning the shower, it’s common to focus on the floor of the shower and forget to clean the top,” Varney says. “Molly Maid recommends cleaning left-to-right and top-to-bottom, like a grid, to ensure that no spot is missed.” Smart!

How to Clean the Shower Head
Varney sent me this thorough, step-by-step method for cleaning shower heads, so I’ll let that do the talking on this one:

  1. Fill a plastic bag partway with white vinegar. Be careful not to overfill the bag, as it could overflow when you submerge the shower head.
  2. Place the bag over the shower head until the entire fixture is immersed in the vinegar. If you need to adjust the vinegar level, do so now.
  3. Fasten the bag with a piece of string or twist ties wrapped around the neck of the shower head. Carefully test how secure the bag is to make sure it won’t slip once you let go.
  4. Let the shower head soak for several hours. For an especially dirty fixture, leave it overnight. However, if you have a brass, gold or nickel-coated shower head, remove it from the vinegar after 30 minutes, as any longer than this could damage the finish.
  5. Untie the bag, and remove it from the shower head. Tip the bag and let the vinegar run down the shower drain. Run hot water [through the shower head] for a minute to flush out any mineral deposits stuck inside the shower head.
  6. Scrub the fixture with an old toothbrush if buildup remains. Focus on the areas around the holes where water comes out. Turn the hot water back on to flush out even more residue. Repeat this process until you no longer see mineral deposits.
  7. Polish the shower head with a soft cloth for a finished look. Buff and dry it to remove water spots and help the shower head look new.

By helping remove any mineral blockages, this could help improve your shower pressure, too. Nice!

How to Clean the Shower Door
“When soap scum starts to accumulate on a glass shower door, use full-strength white vinegar,” Varney suggests. “You may also try this other nontoxic method: Mix one cup of Dawn detergent and one cup of warm vinegar (heat in the microwave before adding soap). Then, scrub with a soft sponge. If not fully satisfied with these two nontoxic approaches for soap-scum removal, consider a commercial lime and scale remover.”

Then, when you go to squeegee the door, Nonelle says, “Window Genie recommends using snake-like sweeping motions. Avoid pulling the squeegee straight across.” This will prevent streaks.

How to Clean the Shower Curtain
“To clean a dirty shower curtain, put it in the washing machine with two bath towels on the gentle cycle,” Varney says (if you have a plastic curtain, simply wipe it down with a soapy sponge). “Add a half cup of baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle and a half cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Don’t put your curtain in the dryer. Let it air-dry instead.”

Sweet! Now that your shower’s all clean, get the hell in there, bro. You’re covered in dish soap.