It might seem counter intuitive, but the soap and water you use to clean yourself don’t keep your shower clean. Worse, they can actually damage your shower if not dealt with correctly.

As a matter of fact, hard water and soap scum are some of the main causes of normal shower deterioration.

Boise area tap water is notorious for being full of minerals, thus why we call it “hard water.” When hard water evaporates it leaves behind small amounts of these minerals. Over time – especially in showers that drain poorly – these minerals will build up along tiles and in grout lines. This buildup not only discolors everything in your shower, it can also damage your tiles through a chemical process called “etching.” Etching damages the surfaces of tiles and can permanently affect the texture and color of those tiles.

Soap scum is the residue left behind from soap when you shower. Like hard water it takes a while to build up, but when it does it leaves a waxy discolored residue that holds onto dirt and grime. It’s also very difficult to clean, and without the right tools hard work and elbow grease will leave you right where you started. One trick to reduce soap scum is to stop using bar soap. While liquid soaps can still leave behind residue, bar soap will liquify and resolidify on the walls, leaving behind a thick waxy trail.

Preventing Hard Water and Soap Scum

There are a few solutions to mitigate the worst of these issues. The best way to deal with them is to prevent buildup in the first place.

The most expensive solution is to install a water softener. It will remove most of the minerals that make your water hard and significantly slow hard water buildup throughout your home. Unfortunately, it does nothing to deal with soap scum.

The easiest –  and cheapest  – option to solve both of these issues is to use a shower squeegee. Shower glass is the most visible place that hard water and soap scum will build up, and removing water before it has a chance to dry prevents residue from forming. The same applies to your shower walls. A quick squeegee from shoulder height down to the floor will make a huge difference. The oxymoron to remember is that the dryer your shower is, the cleaner it will stay.