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Thread: OT - Can soap scum be removed using workshop solvents?

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    Pete F is online now Stainless
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    Default OT - Can soap scum be removed using workshop solvents?

    I'll confess to not being a fan of OT posts, but in this case I hope there's a connection to the board's topic.

    We have a pretty serious build up of white soap scum in our shower and I've been tasked to remove it. Yes there's some commercial products from the supermarket that do an "ok" job on it, eventually, but in general I find they're expensive and diluted down to the point where they barely seem to work. Instead I wondered if, given how many solvents I have in my workshop, whether there's something in the workshop that may do a better job at removing it? Commercial degreasers etc.? I don't want to dick around with mamby-pamby "soft on your hands" supermarket crap, instead want to get in there and have it squeaky clean with little effort. "Real man stuff",

    Any suggestions?

    Pete
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    adama is online now Diamond
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    Caustic soda if its real soap scum will shift it quick. If its mineral deposits nothing beats something acidic. As is oftern the case might need a bit of alternating bettwen the two for a mixed deposit.

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    Forrest Addy is online now Diamond
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    Chances are it's not soap scum but minerals precipitated over time from your water; calcium salts mostly -lime. Soap scum is relatively soft and can be scraped loose with a thumbnail. Mineral deposits are granular and tightly bonded to the glass. There will be some soap, yes, but the real culprit is mineral deposits.

    The traditional home remedy for mineral deposits in the shower or tub is white vinegar straight out of the jug. Wet a rag or a paper towel and pat it on the surface and let it work for ten minutes. This gives the acid time to work. Wash and wrinse off the residues. second or third applications may be necessary for heavy deposis.

    Alternatively, use CLR, LimeAway, or similar products. from the Home Center

    Your bathroom will smell life salad dressing for a while but with ventillation it will quickly disburse.

    It's all here in different words

    How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Glass - wikiHow

    As a side note, the same mechanism that deposite lime in your shower creates over millenian the impressive formations found in limestone caverns. Tell SWMBO to let the lime accumulate because in 10,000 years the tile and tub will be covered in beautiful ivory flowstone just like Carlsbad.

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    Pete F is online now Stainless
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    It's from soap and not mineral deposits. As mentioned I can remove it with various products sold for cleaning showers available from the supermarket, but like many of these products I suspect they're just a dilute form of the active ingredient. I want to real McCoy so I can remove it all in one go. It's remarkably tenacious once it builds up, and I think the texture of our tiles doesn't help.

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    Forrest Addy is online now Diamond
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    Start with a razor blade scraper. No point in wasting expensive solvents on films more easily removed mechanically.

    Not much attacks soap film. Try some solvents but if there are smokers or asthmatics in the house...

    Maybe tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). I've used it for heavy household cleaning for many years. It's now anathema to the EPA folks - causes cancer in striped-ass ants or something - but it's a great bathroom cleanser. My favorite version was Spic and Span but it's been reformulated to take out the only indredient that actually worked - TSP. I think you can still get TSP based paint etcing products at the paint store.

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    Rob F. is offline Stainless
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    Barkeepers friend is a great cleaner. Nothing better. I also use it to remove rust stains from stainless steel.
    Bar Keepers Friend | Cleaning Products | Household Cleaning Supplies
    Rob

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    taildrager is offline Aluminum
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    We had the same problem in a house we used to live in . It had a fiberglass tub shower combination and it would get a soap scum build up i don't know if it was a static electric thing or what ? but mineral spirits would cut it right off .

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    Pete F is online now Stainless
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    The texture of the tile means I can't scrape it off. Yes it's interesting how some places seem to attract soap scum like a magnet, others it doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. I presume it's the surface finish on the surface that dictates just how much of a problem it will be. The last time I did a really thorough job it took hours and I don't look forward to repeating it!

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    There is a type of scrub pad that will remove the stuff. Looks like scotchbrite but is blue and has no abrasive, just coarse nonwoven fiber, but still takes a lot of elbow grease. I think it really is mostly talc from soap; if you use clear soap and clear shampoo they have no talc so will greatly reduce the buildup. I used to have a shower tiled with a soft marble & rather than go thru the hassle of having to remove the buildup I just kept an extra large towel in the bath and just dried the enclosure walls after a shower. Sounds like more hassle than it really was, took just a few seconds and NEVER had any build up even when using regular soap. I'll bet that new neverwet stuff at NeverWet Liquid Repelling Treatment would solve the problem, or automotive wax on the walls maybe.

    tom

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    We keep a quart sprayer of vinegar in the shower that we spray after each use and we don't have to scrub much anymore. Its worth the buck for a sprayer and a buck or two for a gallon of vinegar.
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    Phosphoric acid based metal prep solution will take it right off. You can get it branded as "Prep and Etch" at Home Depot.

    Mike

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    Pete F is online now Stainless
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    Phosphoric acid, sounds dangerous and the worst thing to have in a household bathroom. AWESOME, just the sort of thing I was looking for, ta I have some in the workshop and will give that a go. It's interesting that caustic soda was one suggestion, while phosphoric acid was another, as I would have expected them to be at opposite extremes of the chemical spectrum. Mind you I hated chemistry and failed it IIRC.

    I should emphasise I need to get this right. Last time I was tasked to give the bathroom a good clean I gave the mop and bucket the flick and instead headed in there with my pressure washer (a pressure washer, a large hammer, and a welder are the basis of any workshop in my opinion, and no job should be considered complete until at least one, and preferably all, are utilised on the job). Well blow me down and call me Bubba if the pressure washer didn't put SO much water and mist in the air that the vanity cabinet particle board started to explode. Wifey-poo wasn't impressed and I scored zero points for that little song and dance routine. If I don't come up with some mighty impressive results this time, my whole justification for a decent workshop could be in jeopardy here, which is bound to have some pretty serious implications when I decide I really NEED the one owner Precision Auto Screwing Wigga-Wagga Donga Machine next time one is listed on ebay!

    Pete

    Edit: switching to clear soap sounds like a good idea. I'll get the Ministry of Finance on to it. Everyone else in the household uses liquid soap but I don't like it. I find only a cake of good old fashioned soap jammed under the armpits and rubbed for half of eternity is the only solution to the otherwise gagging reflex anyone (including myself) suffers if their olfactories come within a 2 metre radius of ground zero when I have my arms raised!
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    Haha phosphoric acid dangerous? I have used it for years, also good for rust removal. It is not "the worst thing," as you call it, to have around the bathroom. You make me laugh.

    Caustic soda will not work on hard water deposits, plus it IS ACTUALLY DANGEROUS.

    Mike

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    PDW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete F View Post
    Phosphoric acid, sounds dangerous and the worst thing to have in a household bathroom. AWESOME, just the sort of thing I was looking for, ta I have some in the workshop and will give that a go. It's interesting that caustic soda was one suggestion, while phosphoric acid was another, as I would have expected them to be at opposite extremes of the chemical spectrum. Mind you I hated chemistry and failed it IIRC.

    I should emphasise I need to get this right. Last time I was tasked to give the bathroom a good clean I gave the mop and bucket the flick and instead headed in there with my pressure washer (a pressure washer, a large hammer, and a welder are the basis of any workshop in my opinion, and no job should be considered complete until at least one, and preferably all, are utilised on the job). Well blow me down and call me Bubba if the pressure washer didn't put SO much water and mist in the air that the vanity cabinet particle board started to explode. Wifey-poo wasn't impressed and I scored zero points for that little song and dance routine. If I don't come up with some mighty impressive results this time, my whole justification for a decent workshop could be in jeopardy here, which is bound to have some pretty serious implications when I decide I really NEED the one owner Precision Auto Screwing Wigga-Wagga Donga Machine next time one is listed on ebay!

    Pete
    Use an angle grinder with a s/steel wire brush and a soda blaster for the difficult to reach corners. Just *don't* tell her that it was my suggestion! I don't want rat poison in my chocolates....

    PDW

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    Weirsdale George is offline Stainless
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    From what I have heard, soap scum deposits is from the talc in bar soap. I have switched to body wash liquid (Zest Aqua) a few months ago which has seemed to lessen the problem.

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    Pete F is online now Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDW View Post
    Use an angle grinder with a s/steel wire brush and a soda blaster for the difficult to reach corners. Just *don't* tell her that it was my suggestion! I don't want rat poison in my chocolates....

    PDW
    Yes you're taking a mighty chance with that suggestion next time you come around for a coffee! Though great and/or twisted minds think alike, and I was contemplating some form of abrasive blasting arrangement, however the compressor hose wouldn't reach. In such a small space I'm sure there would be a huge amount of abrasive overspray to engineer a solution to. If you think I got in to trouble for the cabinets, just imagine the strife I'd be in if I put a permanent sandblasted outline of my butt etched in to the shower door!!

    Sadly, since nobody has come up with a solution requiring explosives, I think I'm gunna run with the acid idea.

    Pete aka Bubba-Joe

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    Limy Sami is online now Diamond
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    Needle gun?

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    Rob F. is offline Stainless
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    Pete
    Oxalic acid is the key ingredient in barkeepers friend.
    Rob

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    cash register is offline Aluminum
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    I agree with Oldbikerdude37. Use vinegar. It will soften lime scale and should work on the soap scum too. My wife mixes lemon juice and a few drops of dawn dish washing soap in too with the mixture and it will clean almost anything.
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    BobRenz is offline Stainless
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    I fought with the same problem for years, and I tried commercial shower cleaners, liquid cleaners, and vinegar. Then I decided to try Scrubbing Bubbles - I hosed the shower down with an entire aerosol can,let it sit for half an hour, then I used a white 3M Scotchbrite pad on a broomstick (they call it a "doodlebug"). I ran the shower and used a coffee can to splash water everywhere to rinse.

    The shower came out spotless. I use the stuff every month now, and the shower stays squeaky clean.

    Not an ad, and I don't own stock in Scrubbing Bubbles - I just found it at Sam's Club.

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