bath and shower spray for soap scum and rust

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This bath and shower spray is just one of the cleaners in my natural bathroom cleaning arsenal. The way it cuts through tough rust and soap scum though it might just be your new favorite. Even better, it’s simple and pulls together fast!

The recipe is concentrated and doesn’t call for any water. Not only do we not have to worry about microbes growing in our bathroom cleaner, but a little goes a long way.

I recommend storing this cleaner in a glass spray bottle. Over time the acid in vinegar can break down certain plastics and it’s something our family tries to avoid in general. I found some cute and functional glass spray bottles from both Grove Collaborative and Amazon.

No Harsh Cleaners Here

The tougher the mess the tougher the cleaner needs to be. We don’t have to use harsh, synthetic chemicals to tackle difficult bath and shower messes though. Natural cleaners can be just as tough as their conventional counterparts.

When hard water minerals bind with soap it creates a filmy, white layer known as soap scum. Hard water is also notorious for leaving behind rust-colored stains. The best way to nix hard water stains and soap scum is to stop them before they start.

A water softener paired with a whole house filter helps prevent hard water deposits from damaging surfaces. If that’s not an option, a bathtub or shower filter can help. Even so, sometimes we just need a solid bath and shower spray to get the job done.

Scrub vs. Bath and Shower Spray

I have a scouring powder that’s great for those tough jobs, but sometimes I want another option. This bath and shower spray doesn’t have any abrasives so it won’t scratch more delicate surfaces. You can use it on tile, acrylic, and fiberglass tubs and showers. Just avoid spraying on metal fixtures because of the vinegar.

I prefer to use a soft microfiber cloth or sponge when cleaning the tub. Scratchpads may help get rid of more stubborn stains, but they do just that: scratch. Over time this can damage the protective coating on certain bathroom surfaces. If we’re using the right cleaner though there’s no need to scratch away at rust and soap scum!

For extra cleaning power, apply the bath and shower spray then leave the mixture for about fifteen minutes to do its thing. Wipe with a damp cloth after. Need even more oomph to your bathroom cleaning? You can also sprinkle on some baking soda and spray extra tough areas before scrubbing with a cloth or sponge.

Soap and Vinegar Don’t Play Nice

We’re using simple ingredients here, but it’s important to choose the right ones. Vinegar is acidic and helps cut through hard minerals. The dish soap helps lift away soap scum and other stuck-on dirt. Regular soap, especially castile soap, isn’t going to work in this recipe.

Dish soap is actually a detergent and works differently at a chemical level than castile soap. While I love using Bronner’s castile soap for hand wash, baby wipes, and even plant spray, it’s not my choice here.

When vinegar and soap are mixed together there’s a chemical reaction, and not a good one. According to Lisa Bronner, vinegar unsaponifies the soap. This means the soap is no longer soapy and can’t do its job. Instead of a powerful cleaner, we’re left with a goopy white mess.

Because dish soap is a detergent it plays nice with vinegar and we get an even better cleaner. If you don’t have a natural dish soap on hand, then Sal Suds will also work. And I’m talking about regular dish soap for handwashing dishes, not dishwasher detergent.

The Best Vinegar for Bath and Shower Spray

I use plain white vinegar for cleaning. White vinegar is affordable, natural, and does the job well. Save the good apple cider vinegar for things like this apple kale salad or spicy fire cider.

Adding a Scent Boost

Vinegar and dish soap (or Sal Suds) work just fine on their own to clean tubs and showers. I like adding some essential oils for extra cleaning and disinfecting power though. Here are a few options that smell yummy and are great for cleaning with:


DIY Bath and Shower Spray

Tackle tough hard water and soap scrum without damaging surfaces. This spray is great for getting the tub back in shape and helps keep it that way!

Prep Time5 mins

Total Time5 mins

Yield: 16 ounces

Author: Katie Wells


  • Combine all of the ingredients in the bottle, pouring in the vinegar last. Depending on the exact size of the bottle and sprayer, you may not need all of the vinegar. Be sure to leave a little room at the top to allow for mixing.

  • Shake well before each use.


To use: Spray liberally on bathtub and shower surfaces, avoiding any metal fixtures. Scrub off with a microfiber cloth or sponge. 

What are some of your favorite ways to get your bathroom sparkling clean? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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