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The Home Depot

What Causes Bathroom Scum Build-up?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Cleaning > What Causes Bathroom Scum Build-up?
What Causes Bathroom Scum Build-up?

It can be difficult to keep a bathroom clean because of moist environments and the lack of ventilation. If you find yourself continually fighting a battle against bathroom scum, take heart – you’re not alone. With frequent maintenance and an eye for detail, you can keep your bathroom clean and attractive.


The North Carolina Cooperative Extension has information about mineral deposits on household surfaces. If you have hard water, these mineral deposits may be causing part of your bathroom problems. Once you understand how to minimize the build-up of hard minerals, you should notice a marked improvement in your bathroom surfaces.


With a firm understanding about the causes of bathroom scum build-up, you’ll be able to keep your bathroom sparkling.

  1. When you have hard water, it’s important to perform frequently maintenance to prevent minerals from building up on surfaces.

    1.Hard Water

    All water contains some level of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Depending on your geographical location, your water may contain higher levels or lower levels of these minerals. Water that contains high levels of minerals is harder than water that contains lower levels.


    These minerals cause a scaly residue to form and be left behind after the water dries. Mineral residue can form on bathroom fixtures, appliances, plumbing pipes, dishes and even your body and hair.

  2. 2.Scum Build-up

    Over time, mineral deposits will build up and become thicker on household surfaces. For example, if you notice your tub and shower surround developing a scummy build-up, it will become thicker and more unsightly as the days go by. As the scum gets thicker on the surface, it will become more difficult to dissolve and clean away.

  3. 3.Mold and Mildew

    Because many bathrooms have ventilation problems with a lack of air moving through the area, it’s also common for mold and mildew to appear on surfaces and fixtures. Because mold spores release into the air, people will inhale the spores present in the bathroom environment. This can cause unpleasant health issues such as allergic reactions, asthmatic symptoms and cold symptoms. Some people have a higher degree of sensitivity to mold and mildew, putting them at risk for potentially serious health problems.


    If you have a combination of hard water deposits and mold and mildew in your bathroom, the mixture can create an unsightly and potentially unhealthy environment.

  5. 4.Remedies for Scum Build-up

    To dissolve scrummy build-up, apply a straight solution of white vinegar to household surfaces. Allow the vinegar to sit on the surface for a few minutes and then wipe it away.


    For more stubborn build-up, make a gentle, yet effective, cleaner out of equal parts white vinegar and baking soda. The mixture will foam and bubble as you combine the two ingredients. Apply the mixture to the surfaces and scrub them gently with a sponge or cleaning cloth. Take care not to scrub so hard that you scratch surfaces.


    When you have hard water, it’s important to perform frequently maintenance to prevent minerals from building up on surfaces. Spray surfaces two or three times a week with white vinegar to minimize and dissolve mineral build-up on surfaces.


    Once you understand the science behind bathroom scum build-up, you’ll be ready to keep it from occurring in your bathroom.

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