Solved: Soap Scum and Hard Water Stains

soap scum cleaning testMy apartment has terribly hard water, plus a shower with glass doors. What does that make? Instant soap scum. I went looking for the best cleaner that would cut through soap scum, plus remove the underlying hard water spots. After careful study, I found a winning product.

shower door with soap scum

My shower door, before I started cleaning.

First, some context and explanation. Hard water spots, also called “lime scale,” occur when droplets of hard water dry on a surface. The water evaporates, leaving the minerals behind. On vertical surfaces this looks like overlapping scales, or shingles. Hard water is problematic for many reasons (I’m going to tackle this topic at large in an upcoming post), but in the bathroom it’s trouble because the mineral scales give the soap scum something to stick to, and soap scum build-up happens much faster. Soap scum is a combination of soap plus minerals, so not only does the lime scale make the soap scum stick, but hard water produces more soap scum overall.

This soap-scum-plus-lime-scale combination presents a problem for traditional household cleaners. Most general household cleaners are alkaline (or have a pH level greater than 7). The foundation of many cleaners is bleach, and bleach has a pH level of 13. Soap scum needs an acidic cleaner to break up its minerals, however. With my thick soap scum, due to very hard water, I needed an even more specialized product. I knew from experience something like Tilex (which pledges to remove soap scum) just wasn’t going to cut it.

For this test I scoured housekeeping books and online message boards to assemble as many product recommendations as possible. I knew any cleaner that pledged to remove hard water spots would also work on soap scum, so that is what I searched for.

soap scum cleaning products

The line-up here corresponds to the testing order in pictures below.

Here is what I found:

  • Some people online speak highly of Bar Keepers Friend
  • Martha Stewart recommends Lime-A-Way.
  • Another housekeeping expert endorses vinegar.
  • Others online speak highly of Kaboom. It pledges to “remove soap scum, dirt, hard water stains, calcium, lime, grease and grime.”
  • CLR (Calcium Lime Rust) is the other widely available anti-hard water product.
  • Finally, for a control I included the strongest alkaline cleaner I had – toilet bowl cleaner with Clorox.

The setup: I marked off six areas on my very dirty shower door. I decided for this test I would simply dab or spray on the cleaning product and let it sit for two minutes. I’m not opposed to using some elbow grease when cleaning, but I wanted to know how strong the product was by itself. The vinegar-endorsing expert suggested using a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water, but I opted for straight vinegar. This isn’t sulfuric acid we’re talking about here. At the end of the two minutes I wiped off the cleaning product with a clean paper towel and studied the results.

soap scum removal test resultsFindings: The angle of the above photo is perfect to study the soap scum component of this test. All five of the specialty cleaners, including the alkaline toilet bowl cleaner (far left) did a good job of removing soap scum. Straight vinegar (third from right) barely penetrated the scum. Let’s look closer to find a winner.

soap scum test resultsStudying the cleaning test head-on provides definitive proof. While both Bar Keepers Friend and Lime-A-Way did an admirable job with the lime scale, the toilet bowl cleaner failed. Note how hazy the glass is. it’s clear the vinegar hardly did soap scum test resultsanything. And while Kaboom cut through a lot of soap scum, it still left those pesky lime scales behind. CLR did pretty well, but it doesn’t look to be better than either Bar Keepers Friend or Lime-A-Way.

To my eye, the results were a toss-up, with Bar Keeper’s Friend and Lime-A-Way in a dead heat. I let the ease-of-use question settle the matter. While Lime-A-Way comes in a spray bottle, Bar Keeper’s Friend requires sponge application. Listening to my spray bottle prejudices, I opted to clean my shower with Lime-A-Way.

A few minutes later, the results were striking – I could actually see through my shower door! Closer inspection (note the photo at left) revealed unsatisfactory results, however. While the scaling was much better and the glass door was see-through again, there were still obvious water spots on the glass. My selection backfired on me.

To settle the matter, I returned to the second and third-place finishers – Bar Keepers Friend and CLR. Both require sponge application, so I coated each pane of the sliding door with one cleaner. I waited and scrubbed, knowing this tough residue likely wouldn’t just dissolve.

soap scum test resultsThis time I had total success. While the CLR didn’t change anything, Bar Keepers Friend reduced the residue to almost nothing. In places where I had scrubbed particularly thoroughly, the glass was completely clear.

Bar Keepers Friend traditionally comes in a powdered can, like Bon Ami or Comet. I opted to use their “multipurpose cooktop cleaner,” which is in thick liquid form, and I knew would be easier to use. By cleaning my glass doors with Bar Keepers Friend I was going off-label. The bottle says, “To prevent scratching glass … use sparingly and rub gently with damp sponge.” I did not use sparingly and I definitely didn’t rub gently, but I also didn’t see any scratches on my glass.

I finally found a product that could handle my admittedly filthy shower doors. The price point sealed the deal – I purchased one 13-ounce bottle of Bar Keepers Friend for $3.29, and still have more than three-fourths of it left. To do an equivalent amount of cleaning I needed almost a whole bottle of Lime-A-Way, costing $5.49 a bottle.

One more benefit of Bar Keepers Friend: I had to stand in the shower, with the doors closed, to clean them. Fumes from the sprayable Lime-A-Way quickly built up, but breathing wasn’t an issue when using Bar Keepers Friend.

In the end, this was one Internet factoid that proved to be worthwhile to follow up. If you have thick soap scum, hard water spots or both, Bar Keepers Friend Multipurpose Cooktop Cleaner should be the first product you choose.

(One important note: You should never use an acidic cleaner to remove soap scum from stone, like marble. The acidic properties that remove the scum will also degrade the finish on your stone. Opt for ammonia instead.)

  • Lily

    i love this post and the scientific method used to come to your conclusion. amazing!

    • Mark Evitt

      Thanks! It was a lot of fun to design this experiment/test. One of the best parts was going to the store, knowing I could go crazy buying cleaning products!

    • Tim

       Hi, Another great device you may want to try is the AquaMag Plus water conditioner. No chemicals, no salt, no maintenance. Click on the following link 

  • Kimberly

    Great post! Major fan of Bar Keepers Friend here. I use the canned powder, which is excellent for scouring sinks and bathtubs, for cleaning pots and pans, and removing light rust (make a paste, let it sit for a while, scrub) but will now be buying the cooktop cleaner due to your research and results.

    There was a product on the market a few years back, called (I think) Shower Power. I liked to call it “miracle in a bottle.” NOTHING worked better to clean showers and tubs/enclosures, and it was EASY. No fumes, in fact it smelled kind of nice. (Not a “recreational use” kind of nice, just … pleasant.) You just sprayed it on, wait a bit, wipe (maybe a little scrubbing was needed) and I swear, the shower SPARKLED LIKE NEW. It was actually kind of creepy in a way. Anyhow, for some reason, it went off the market and I’ve been unable to find it, so I searched for something else and found BKF. But nothing works like Shower Power used to. *Sigh!*

    • Mark Evitt

      I did a little digging and learned that while Shower Power isn’t available in stores anymore, you can buy it online. Apparently after the product disappeared, enough people protested for the company to bring it back and sell direct to the consumer.

      • Kimberly

        OMG, Mark, I was coming back to tell you that I found the Shower Power online store as well! That stuff is *expensive* compared to what it used to cost in the store, but it is SO worth it. You have to try it! I bought two 32 oz. bottles. Guess who is getting my second bottle?

      • Kimberly

        Me again. The Shower Power arrived today at the office!!! Woohoo! I am sending a bottle home to you with Emily tonight (if she’s here today, otherwise, you’ll get it on Monday).

        I hope you like this stuff as much as I do!

      • First

        Regarding Shower Power with phosphoric acid I know there can be a numer of reasons why it is off the retail shelves. OzKleen mat

      • MikeS1961

        Don’t forget to use the coupon code and save some $$. I just ordered a 2-pack for $22.00 and used the code 30POWER and got 30% off with free shipping-total cost, just $15.40! :30

    • Dan

      Shower Power is available online through the manufacturer.

      • First

        4 times the cost of anything else though

    • Pam

       I remember Shower Power – there must have been some ingredient in it that was caustic. That stuff worked GREAT tho!

    • First

      shower power is available online but is like 4 or 5 times the cost of anything else such as Bar Keepers Friend and yet BK is a very close second to effectiveness. Shower Power is major expensive for what it is especially when BK works well too……………

    • anon
    • AC

      I just purchased Shower Power based on the comments on this website. They received 5 stars consistently.

    • Deb

      I found Shower Power on Amazon. $19.99 for a bottle. 1 Quart.

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  • randeegf

    Is Bar Keepers Friend environmentally friendly? Some of us have spouses that object to “harsh” products. Any thoughts about the non-traditional alternatives?

    • Mark Evitt

      I don’t have much experience using explicitly labeled “environmentally friendly” products. My (possibly biased) thinking has been that environmentally friendly products are weaker, and what I care most about is cleaning power. Of the products I tested, I suppose the vinegar was the most environmentally friendly, but that hardly worked at all.

      Also, what exactly does “environmentally friendly” mean? None of the three acidic cleaners (Bar Keepers Friend, Lime-A-Way or CLR) uses phosphates, the chemical that causes algae blooms. Jelmar, the maker of CLR, says it has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to use ingredients that are “designed for the environment.” You can read more about that here:

      The primary acid used in Bar Keepers Friend is derived from rhubarb – does that make it a “natural” cleaner?

      You pose a good question though. I think it’s time for more research: What makes a product environmentally friendly, and do products that are labeled “environmentally friendly” actually work?

      • Greg Nixon

        “Environmentally friendly” is Eco-code for “this product will do absolutely nothing.”

        • Id0

          Your ignorance is deeply profound. Our society has become so lazy that we opt to take the quick and easy way without thought to the cost of our environment.

          • Fanatoli Guyoff

            Actually it’s scientifically proven that eco products on average work worse than regular products. If you search lexusnexus you’ll find about 11 studies on the subject in the last decade… so I would venture to say that you are the ignorant one, his statement was completely correct.

          • LittleEddie

            Working worse is way better than doing absolutely nothing as was originally claimed. So now Fanatoli you are the buffoon.

          • Fanatoli Guyoff

            I was referring to Id0’s comment specifically, sorry you got confused.

  • LauraJ

    Just read that using fabric softener on towels makes them less absorbent? Is this true? Experiment?

    • Mark Evitt

      Great question – I definitely think an experiment is in order.

    • Lee Ann Hitt

      It stands to reason that it would.  People who cloth diaper are told not to use fabric softener as it coats or leaves a residue on the fibers that make them repel instead of absorb water.  The same thing would happen with towels.

    • Bdale1870

      Yes, it does…if you want a low cost 
      “exfoliant” and a super absorbant towel, just wash your towels w/o softener, then hang them on the line outside to dry…They’ll likely look like oversized pieces of paper!

    • Sarah

      Fabric softener and dryer sheets do make your clothes and towels less absorbent. They basically melt synthetic fats and coat your clothes and towels with those fats to make them soft. They are also chock full of toxic chemicals which are also deposited onto your clothing which is then touching your skin. Anything in contact with your skin for 26 seconds or more is absorbed by your skin.

      You can get the same amount of softness without these products. Just use wool dryer balls! You’ll also cut your drying time by 25% and save money off your electric bill!

    • George

      In my experience, yes its true. Something that works well is to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle of the wash and throw a USED dryer sheet into the dryer along with 1-2 tennis balls. Your towels will not be as “soft” as with using a dedicated fabric softener but a heck of a lot softer than using nothing!

  • PJMclean

    soap is basically like grease. if you use a white scrubbing pad with many products it will come off. Vinegar as an example should set up for 10-to 15 minutes.
    rub and wipe and keep rinsing the white scrub pad.
    Calgon dishwasher powder mixed in water 1 teaspoon to a gallon with the white pad will work on both the soap and minerals becuase of it’s chemical make up.
    simple test use a thumbnail scrape the surface if there something there it’s soap if not it’s hardwater stains which over time can etch into the glass. two separate
     regarding there are 2 products named Shower Power one by ozclean or ozkleen using citrus
    (a degreaser) and the online brand which they sometimes add #1 which uses phosphoric acid. If you look for an MSDS Sheet there is one for the ozkleen brand
    and it is considered safe and will not damage like phosphoric acid.
    from the internet website what to avoid and you can be in an enclosed space breathing acid fumes masked by mint scent
     Should I avoid using Shower Power on anything?
    – Decorative brass fixtures – Polished or anodized aluminum, nickel or brass – Formica® or similar counter tops or surfaces – Natural or synthetic marble, wood, gold or acrylics – Special colored grout, painted surfaces, wallpaper – Clothing, carpeting or other fabrics – DO NOT place container on Formica® or other porous surfaces – Use only as per label directions – Do not allow to dry on glass or mirrors *Formica® is a Registered Trademark of the Formica Corporation.
    Do you have any suggestions before I start using Shower Power?
    We always recommend testing Shower Power on a small, inconspicuous area first. Some older tubs, sinks and non-ceramic tiles may be etched ordiscolored by Shower Power®Shower Power® is a powerful cleaning agent. It contains phosphoric acid and is also harmful if swallowed. Avoid contact with eyes or mucous membranes and prolonged contact with the skin.If you have sensitive hands, it’s a good idea to wear protective gloves.Use only in a well ventilated area. Store and transport in a closed and upright position.
    as for etched glass a little rubbing compound and fine steel wool can work think of remving oxidents with with compound.
    auto shops have hard water cleaners, cerium oxide powder is used in a slurry or liquid form with steel wool. If it is severe buffing is required a buffer at low speeds is used. Shower doors are tempered glass so care is taken not to overheat.
    A glass polymer (rain x can work) to coat the glass  will help with cleaning by sealing pores.
      after every shower use a squegee (sp) and or towels to wipe down walls.
    Dishwashing liquids like dawn are degreasers this or shampoo cab both be used to clean glass. Bar soap is the worst for soap scum use liquid gels.
        Regarding Shower Power with phosphoric acid I know there can be a numer of reasons why it is off the retail shelves. OzKleen mat

  • Allison

    Thanks for the testing! We have hard water and I’ve NEVER been able to get the showers clean. I use only natural products, so I’ve been cleaning primarily with vinegar/baking soda – which clearly does not work. I’ll check out this Bar Keepers Friend to see if it’s something I can tolerate once in a while in exchange for a shower door I can see through!

  • Anne-Marie

    I have lime and soap scum issues, and I’ve tried so many cleaners to no avail. I read this post and had to try Bar Keepers Friend. My local target only carried the powder stuff (for less than $1.50), so I gave it a whirl. Wow! 10 minutes, a sparkling shower and bathtub. Thank you for the suggestion!

  • allison

    Thank you so much for this post. After trying practically everything under the sun, this is the first time our glass basically transparent. There were some tougher areas that were improved, but still need some work, but I hope over time it will get better.

    Also, my first pass, I rinsed with water and for whatever reason it doesn’t work it was just as cloudy as before. My second pass I wiped the haze with a dry towel and it was like magic. I then cleaned with window cleaner and applied Rainex.

    Thank you again for your experiment.

  • Brent

    Just did a similar experiment and found bar keepers friend to be the best. I didn’t try Lime-a-way but a similar product and it failed. Sunny bright worked too but it etched the glass (to be fair, it did warn not to use on glass) Bar keepers friend really surprised me though.

    • Yvette

      I have used the powdered Bar Keepers Friend for years and just tried it on my heavily dirty shower door … It really made a difference but due to the length of time it’s been dirty I will need to do it again. I do clean it regularly, but now I can see HUGE results!! I can now keep it shining like new by doing this weekly!! Thank you for doing this test.

  • Kjavery

    Thank you for your information. I am going to try it right way.

  • Idontgivemyemailout

    This is one of the most conclusive and intelligent things I have read on the internet in a long time.  Thanks for taking the time to compile such quality info.

    • Melanie

      Completely agree. Thanks for the comprehensive study and photos. Just added Bar Keeper’s Friend to my shopping list.

  • Gmaples2

    I found this info very helpful!

  • Frugalicity

    Hello Mark,

    I really like your blog and this experiment in particular.  FYI, I found your site linked to in someone’s “” page.

    I know you said in your comments you prefer cleaning power over whether a product is a green cleaner.  You are correct that some green cleaners are not strong enough for some jobs like lime scale, for example.  

    But for most basic cleaning jobs those green cleaners or simple vinegar and baking soda works just fine and saves a lot of money and the environment too – see link to my extensive collection of safe cheap recipes below.  

    We all need to become more aware that this planet just hit 7 Billion consuming human beings.  And a symptom of our daily complacently consumptive lives can be seen in the thousands of toxic waste filled Superfund sites and landfills from sea to shining sea.

    Our toxic waste dumps runneth over with chemicals directly resulting from the cradle to grave legacy of the manufacture, use, and disposal of all these various household products we have been brainwashed into thinking we need for specific jobs.

    It really is disgusting when you start to realize the tens of thousands of collective tons of garden pesticides, fertilizers, cleaners, ect most Americans are dumping on their properties.  Hardly anyone thinks about the consequences and assumes the government will protect everyone. Not true at all.  Most household chemicals are not even tested for their effects on humans. 

    Most people have no clue how contaminated our blood has become due to the thousands of man-made chemicals we are daily exposed to through inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion.  We are pissing in our own fish bowl and it is just beginning to come home to roost.

    As a scientist who has studied cancer and aging and worked with many of the deadly chemicals in household cleaners, please don’t get complacent with the idea that cleaning power should trump having a healthy home.

    The cleaning power you prefer often goes hand in hand with them being highly toxic and carcinogenic.  Chemical reactivity is where that cleaning power comes from and it is often directly proportional to the biological damage it can produce.  Our air tight homes can accumulate these man-made industrial chemicals over time, in addition to all the regular off-gassing from the structure itself.  

    Is the trade-off worth it?

    So moderation is very important here.  Studies have tied the use of cleaning chemicals and detergent to the rise in breast cancer in women.  And that is just one small example.  

    Here is an extensive guide I created to help people understand more about the dangerous household chemicals in many products most of us tend to over-use.

    And on the flip side, I want to help more people find safer, cheaper, and more eco-friendly alternatives, so I created an extensive list of frugal home-made household product recipes that I think everyone of your readers will appreciate.

    By the way, you mentioned that Bar Keepers Friend had an ingredient found in Rhubarb.
    That probably means the active ingredient is Oxalic Acid which is found in Rhubard and reacts with calcium.  The reaction will actually occur in your mouth when you eat Rhubarb such that you may get a granular feel in your mouth.  This reaction has been implicated in the formation of kidney stones if too much Oxalate-containing vegetables are eaten.

    I think Oxalic Acid has similar properties to Hydrofluoric Acid (HF), though may not be nearly as dangerous.  It is probably the primary lime scale dissolving agent.  Some oven cleaners contain HF, and HF in concentrated form can be deadly.  In my industrial lab we used 50% + concentrated HF and in this form it could definitely kill you.  If you get a small spot of concentrated HF on your skin you can die due to the chain reaction that occurs in your blood and tissues as the HF has a strong affinity to bind Calcium and travels to do so destroying tissue along the way.  Initially there is no pain, but you can die a slow and very painful death hours or days later.  I think of it like getting bit by a chemical recluse spider.The antidote for HF exposure is to administer a shot or cream.  In our lab we worked with HF regularly and had vials of Calcium Gluconate cream to quench the reaction upon exposure.  The local hospital and EMS workers had to be stock with these antidotes because of us.HF is very very nasty stuff…..but it is one of the few things that would dissolved chemicals similar to lime scale.  In our case that involved using it to dissolve zeolites and other very stable alumina silicates.  HF will etch glass, while most other acids will not react at all with glass.  Anything that will etch glass, will likely dissolve lime scale too.The reason I bring all this up is it brings to mind another cheap scouring paste that instead of Oxalic Acid, actually contains something similar to HF…Sodium Fluoride.  My Crest has 0.243% Sodium Fluoride (0.16% Fluoride ion w/v), so it is very weak, but may have enough fluoride to dissolved lime scale, which is similar to the reaction for cleaning our tooth enamel.  I did notice they still put a warning never to swallow the toothpaste and to call poison control in that case.  This is because of the Fluoride ions in it.  If a kid ate half a tube, it might not be too pretty.The kind of toothpaste with the fine grit of baking soda would make it even better as a cleaner, though you could add that to the gel kind yourself.  I don’t have a problem with lime scale, so have not tried it myself, but maybe you can do an additional experiment using Toothpaste.  I do know it makes a good metal polish.Anyway, I hope the above information helps someone live a healthier and more frugal life.I will be back often.-Marc

    • Joecamel45673

      keep it to yourself-treehugger

      • Treehugger

        Go breathe toxic fumes-cyber bully .

      • Tree-Hugger = American Insult

        I think about all the thousands of superfund sites that still exist across the U.S., plus the new ones now being formed that the EPA is not yet aware of.

        Neurological disorders like Autism and Alzheimers are exploding in prevalence, and still know-nothings have their head buried deep in the sand.

        We all should be ashamed and alarmed at our out of sight, out of mind destruction.

        Each person holds some responsibility for the mess. But you have so many ignorant people, like those who quickly gave the typical low information knee jerk comments to mine above.

        Many people…

        JUST. DO. NOT. CARE.

        Whether someone is green or not, it’s just good common sense not to consume/buy so much expensive and toxic crap we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we actually need!

        That is just one of the “matrix” mentalities I wish more people could UN-brainwash themselves out of. It’s hard to do when someone’s raised that way.

        It’s bewildering to see all the anti-environmental sentiment in America. Among countries we are the worst glutton for energy and food waste and among the worst of polluters.

        You see a glimpse of the eco-disdain in the comments above. They don’t even think. They simply regurgitate what they’ve been fed.

        Many people are just plain brainwashed by Big Industry and their politician bedfellows who spoon feed propaganda to their easily whip-sawed base.

        They don’t know how to question things because from children they’ve been taught not to question in many regards. That’s the poison of religion too.

        Why bother if the “second coming” is underway? It’s all “the lord’s will”.

        Or…”the good lord will provide!” Let’s pray it away. LOL!

        Prayer could no more affect Hurricanes like Sandy, Irene, or it could put weather satellites into orbit. Did the prayer bowl in Texas stop the epic drought? NOPE.

        Prayer provides no solutions beyond a warm and fuzzy placebo affect for the make believer.

        It’s time for some us to start pushing back against this “world is flat” mentality. This is the 21st century for god’s sake. It’s time to cast off old traditional superstitions and advance much bigger evidence-based thinking.

        It’s time to reverse the big “faith-based” regression that happened post 9/11.

        It’s become a national past-time to automatically deny global warming. Most allow themselves to be whip-sawed by politics and by psuedo-science funded by the big industries with a vested interested in bolstering conspicuous consumption and keeping any opposing position in doubt.

        Low information citizens will never be convinced by clear evidence if they’ve made up their minds it’s all a hoax (because that’s the talking point they’ve been fed over and over again from the pulpit to Fox)…just like many will go to their graves believing Obama is an “extremist muslim” from Kenya who’s prime objective is to deprive everyone of healthcare and their beloved military assault weapons.

        Hard evidence means nothing to those who make up the denser portion of the American idiocracy. I call it the Marlboro mentality.

        Cigarette smoke particles and 5,000 toxic chemicals inhaled deeply into the alveoli of the lungs causes lung cancer? THE HELL YOU SAY! (and what’s an “raveoli”???)…

        I have a god-given right to be a big ol’ dumb American rebel. Heck yeh, I smoke inside around the kids. Their asthma ain’t that bad.

        I think no matter what someone believes about climate change, or toxic chemicals, or pollution, whether they think this or that is true or a hoax, it just makes good dollars and sense to save energy, live in healthy homes, reduce pollution, protect clean air and water, and grow/eat healthy foods, and not live at the expense of all the other species upon which our own survival depends.

        We are an appendage of nature. If we destroy nature, ultimately we are destroying ourselves. All the deniers are also ignoring history.

        Many humans can stay environmentally agnostic, and yet still just do things that are a no-brainer economically, if for no other reason than to save money. I find the moronic obstructionist mentality baffling in America.

        Even doing OBVIOUS win/win things seems to have become offensive to the dumber among us.

        Sorry for the rant, but those who let logic and reason rule in their lives really do need to start speaking up more loudly, especially in this oh so wasteful nation that is increasingly being held hostage by know nothings.

        We all regress when dumb distracts and obstructs.

        Heaven help this nation of ever-more “home schoolers”. ugg

      • David

        Treehugger actually posted with intelligence and referenced facts. You… not so much on either front.

    • Bdale1870

      Thanks for the information.

    • Delaney Towery

      Fish pee in their own bowl and they seem okay. hehe. I think we may all be infected with imminent death syndrome. In some cases people suffer from it for seventy or eighty years.

    • CHIgirl

      Thanks Frugalicity! This is good info. I’ve been doing some research on chemicals as well and have practically gotten rid of all cleaning agents. Think about it – if we should not ingest these commercial cleaners then why on earth would we put them in our water system? it doesn’t make sense. OK, so I wont eat CLR, but i’m going to clean my tub with it, which flows in to the sewer system, and then gets leached in to the ground or mixed with larger water systems. ???? mind boggling. I can clean anything from Hard water/soap scum stains to travertine tiles all with natural cleaners. You have to put a little more time into hard water stains with vinegar and baking soda paste, but it’s totally worth it. thanks for your concise post. good stuff.

    • Brian

      Oxalic acid is in many foods, I would call that natural.

      It is a logical fallacy to say it’s “like” something else then list the problems with that something else. It is not HF.

      In fact the Wiki article seems to indicate is it anti cancer.

      Vinegar is not that different toxicity wise to Oxalic_acid

  • Sonrise Cleaning Services

    Ooooh thank you so much for that!    I just used lime a way and it worked but not as well as I wanted and you are right about those fumes, I wear protection when using chemicals like that.  Happy to switch over to BKF now!

  • Karen

    I am a huge fan of bar keeper’s friend, however when having to clean scum off of an old fiberglass or acrylic bathtub enclosure, it was not removing all of the hard water spots. Low and behold I tried Mr. Clean’s magic sponge.  Believe me, it is magic. Removes, mold also and can be used on the metal fixtures as well. Will not work on the porcelain. Heavy build up on tile/porcelain can be removed pretty effortlessly with a pumice stone from the grocery store.

    The non scratch sponges can be used on glass with bar keeper’s but not on acrylic/fiberglass. Liquid Gel Gloss will take off light buildup and make your enclosure like new again. For heavier scratches, use Novuus (1,2,&3) available on Amazon. I used it on a 25 yr. old acrylic “marble” vanity top and made it look brand new! 

    • Bdale1870

      Walmart carries a knock off Mr. Clean Magic’s much cheaper. Some teachers I know use it with their white boards!

  • Ittlbitty7

    Thank You!  Going to try it today!

  • Meetingplan2

    I want to thank you for this…you saved me so much time and money…I read this and used the BKF and IT WORKED GREAT!!!…i got so inspired I purchased a new shower head and spa quality towels…my bathroom is a whole new space just from this one improvement…again MANY thank

  • Gage

    Just moved into a home with carpet in bathroom around clear shower walls.  Splatters from cleaners (I have hard water) are removing color in spots on carpet.  Does Bar Keepers Friend remove color on carpet?  HELP

  • Bzacholl

    I used clorox clean up with bleach on my shower doors… 1st mistake I sprayed it on and let it set over night.  Now I have horrible brown run marks on the areas that are “frosted” white for privacy. Help!!! they look awful.  I recleaned with clorox and lime a way– no change… it’s awful… Hope you can help…. Thanks

  • Anonymous

    You are the man!!! I tried everything on my shower doors to get the hard water stains off. I tried CLR, Kaboom, vinegar, automotive rubbing compound, marine fiberglass rugging compound…but when the glass was dry…the stains were still there, I was convinced the glass was hopelessly etched. Then I found your website, and ran over to home depot and got both the liquid and powder BKF. BAM! The liquid didn’t work as well when I tried it first, so my heart sank before I even tried the powder. But then I used the powder and…my shower doors are clear once again. Never would have thought, because it seems just like comet or ajax, which I had tried. I never would have thought to try this stuff, but it got the job done.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Jean Mather

      Great testing on your soap scum. I stayed at 2 homes while the owners were away. One had straight glass doors, the other had dimpled glass bricks on two walls of their shower. Both were incredibly foggy. I used a product called “Nothin’s Better”. Appropriately named!! It’s a VERY fine silica (sand) product. Don’t know if it’s available where you are but it might be worth a check. I use Bar Keepers Friend on pans, but when it doesn’t completely do the job, I switch to Nothin’s Better for a finer shine/finish. Nothin’s Better cleaned both showers to a new condition. The owners were amazed.

  • nina hang

    I love you =] You have no idea how much money i spent trying to clean my shower! Especially as a college student money is an issue and BKF is less than 4 bucks? SCOREEEE

    • Venusrash143

      I have tried using it and it was so effective and easy to apply, it really amazes me.

  • Sweetness

    I love your methods!  I have to admit that I have a bias toward the “green cleaners” because of having allergies and asthma, and I have found them to work better in my own experience—unless we’re talking about something requiring bleach.  I am actually allergic to “Seventh Generation” products and will use a traditional one if it doesn’t cause me any trouble. 

    Have you tried using the “shower cleaners” that you spray after each shower?  They tend to help keep things cleaner in between scrubbing days.  I use Method Daily Shower for this, although I have to be careful not to get any on my skin because it gives me a huge rash.  I’ve turned into the hothouse orchid when it comes to chemical exposure!

    Also, Ecover makes a limescale remover.  I’ve sprayed it on the shower doors in a foamy line and let it run down.  It eats everything off quite well, but I also use a squeegee on the glass after each shower (started after having to use limescale remover). We have awful water where I live (suburb of Savannah, GA) and get black crud around faucets, spouts, and in the corners of tubs.  It’s so nasty!!!  It’s a constant battle to keep the stuff from building up.

    Anyway, LOVE YOUR SITE!

  • Chris Merriam

    Lemi Shine… it works the best

  • N2makeupnow

    Thank you! On my way to walmart!

  • Susanstokes66

    I have a cleaning company and love your blog, every shower I clean has this problem and I am so happy with your recommendation, thank you for doing this test. Next problem for you to look into: wooden floors I have cleaned them with products and vinegar and still when I go back over them I lift more dirt off, am this because the dirt gets into the grain and is hard to fully remove? Thank you!!

  • Rickszack

    Defenatly you are right about your thinking.Which way you present us this matter it helps me very much to make this matter very easy to understand.

  • Gwatts1490

    We have a 5th wheel camper that has hard water stains on the bottom of the shower – any suggestions on how to clean it?

  • Rath725

    One question (which you may have already addressed and I missed): can Bar Keepers Friend be used on the ceramic tile surround and fiberglass tub as well? This is my first time reading your site, and I’m VERY excited to try Bar Keepers Friend on our severely soap scum and lime scale covered sliding glass shower doors!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jrzjr47

    If your Bar Keepers Friend does trick – I say “Thank You”.  If not I say Aw-S___.

  • Carole

    The reason why you didn’t scratch the glass of your shower doors with Bar Keepers is because it is a stronger/harder glass . It’s “tempered” glass.

  • Carole

    Also, nothing wrong with using different products for one task…just dont’ mix them together :)  The combination of Lime Away and Bar Keepers to do a tough job such as this one was a smart one…..again, for your safety, just don’t mix any products together, rinse thoroughly when switching products.

  • Maria E. Schneider

    I recently tried a steam cleaner on the soap scum.  Fail.  When I used the floor mop steam cleaner, which gets a lot hotter than the hand-helds, the flat surfaces floor of the shower) do pretty darn good.  BUT.  I can’t clean the sides or the door effectively, not with the mop.  And the hand-held was pretty much an epic fail.  Did okay on the grout and tile, but the plastic floor pan?  Nada.  So I’ll be trying the bar keeper.

  • Tony

    FANTASTIC post and experiment.  We had the same problem with hard water and soap scum on a high-end glass shower.  After reading this I took our cooktop cleaner, made for ceramic cooktops, and it worked fabulously.  Thank you!!

  • damser

    Well written and much appreciated. I just rented a condo that the tiles were never wiped down, consequesntly, the tiles are scum, soap, and calcuim. I like nice shiny, clean tiles, and now I know that I will have them soon. damser

  • caliblonde

    thanks for the information!   well done.

  • Apartment for Rent in Tagiug

    Amazing post! Great! Stains in my bathroom is also a mess! I hope this also works on mine.

  • Rebecca Wolfgang

    Oh my gosh I cannot WAIT to try this!! I was so sick of our glass that I wanted to put back in the traditional tub and curtain but the thought made me sad :( I am SO excited that there’s a less dramatic fix!! And knowing I’ll be able to stand in the shower and clean without dying of toxic inhalation makes me THAT much more excited! THANK YOU!! On a side note I noticed you were going to receive a bottle of shower power- how did that compare?

    • Mark Evitt

      Here’s the follow-up test I did:
      Shower Power wasn’t as good as BKF.

  • Gert Balog

    Wow I am impressed with your experiment, this is so exciting and a cheep solution.  I have been looking through these spots on my windows and sick of it.  I also have the same spots on my car windows from our hard water.  Thank you so much!  I also use Bar Keepers friend for my stainless pots and nothing shines them like B.Friend.  Thanks again!!

  • Kse1221

    this definately works..  it did take 3 applications and elbow grease but it definately worked.  i used the liquid cleanser not the “cooktop” cleaner, as i coudlnt find it at my local store..  i had tried several other cleaners with no luck.. the lemon juice, the vinegar, comet, lime away, nothing would even touch this..  glad i found this site..

  • Tesscole

    If this works I’ll be thrilled. My cleaners swore by Bar Keepers Friend so I happen to have a bottle of the liquid which they used on the stainless kitchen sink. So I was excited by your post–now I don’t have to go BACK to the store.
    This could make my day–I have tried it all–vinegar, lemon, mixtures with baking soda after buying all sorts of stuff from Kaboom to whatever. . none of which worked–not a thing got rid of those ugly scales–the doors are clean but I hate seeing those scales reflected in the morning light.
    I’ll let you know what happens.

  • Tesscole

    nope–didn’t work for me.
    Any other ideas? Hammer and chisel?
    I’m depressed.

    • Pam


  • Htp0052

    thank you for your thoughtful article…will give it a try…

  • Y3829

    Thank you for your wonderful post

  • Karen

    I just recently moved into a new (previously lived in) home….I have been debating on whether I should use BKF on the shower enclosure…what is stopping me?  The shower ledge is  black marble surrounded by 3 walls of glass….any ideas so that the BKF (or anything else for that matter) doesnt harm the marble finish?  I cant seem to find a cleaner to clean the glass that doesnt say “do not use on natural marble”?!?  Help!!!

    • Mark Evitt

      Yeah, you’ll definitely want to be careful with black marble. Bar Keeper’s Friend (or any other acidic cleaner) will eat away at it and probably make the finish dull. I would try completely sealing the shower ledge off with garbage bags.

  • D Man

    My shower door was awful. You couldn’t even see through the bottom half of the glass from all the soap scum and limescale we had neglected to clean for so long. Also, the floor of my fiberglass shower had a dark, nasty build-up of scum which I had thought may be permanent.

    I took the suggestion above and it worked! I used Barkeepers Friend (powder in a can) and a scotch bright sponge. I added a bit of water to make a runny paste. I let this paste set on both the door glass and the shower floor for about 20 minutes.

    I started by lightly scrubbing the glass with the abrasive side of the sponge. The paste cut right through the nasty stuff and I could feel it getting smoother with each swipe. Followed it up w/ some windex and a dry cloth and it looks great.

    The floor took a little more elbow grease. I put my weight into the scrubbing force with the abrasive side of the sponge. The paste again cut through the nasty stuff incredibly well. The glass door and fiberglass floor look like new, and they are both 25 years old.

    BKF is awesome, it works like a charm on porcelain sinks & toilets, too. Thanks for the tip!

  • Lee Ann Hitt

    Lysol Bathroom cleaner comes in a spray and it has EASILY removed all the hard water deposits from our bathroom sinks, showers, etc. that have been in existence since before we moved in 2 years ago.  It smells good for a cleaner and, did I mention it comes in a SPRAY bottle?

  • Paul

    Was there a Huge difference in the powder and cooking liquid?

    • Mark Evitt

      If you don’t have liquid available, just make a paste with the powdered stuff. Not quite as easy to apply, but it works.

  • Marie Lund

    Where can I buy the Bar Keepers Friend for cooktops???

  • Dijoho2002

    thank you so much!!

  • Pablambert

    If Lysol ever brings back “Lysol Hard Water Stain Remover” you will love it even more.  It had a pleasant fragrance and ate through lime scale perfectly.  For some stupid reason, they discontinued it a few years ago.  I’ve never forgiven them.  Thanks for the tip on the Bar Keeper’s Friend as I would never have thought to try the cook top cleaner.

  • Ali

    Excellent experiment!  I too have hard water spots on my glass shower and it is very aggrevating when I can’t get them off..  I will try Bar Keepers Friend Multipurpose Cooktop Cleaner..  I did an experiment myself yesterday with “The Works Toilet Bowl Cleaner” on my rust color tile & grout in my “problem shower” and it worked great!  I knew it worked when the blue toilet bowl cleaner mixed with the rust and it turned green..  I did not leave on very long as I was afraid what might happen..  Thanks again for the tips!

  • Don Brown

    There is a lesser known product that you missed. EDFRED Shower Stall & Tile Cleaner for removing shower soap scum and hard water stains. Here are customer reviews and there are some before and after photos available.

  • How To Earn Money Fast

    Or alternatively, you could replace the tiles or glass that’s been affected by lime scale! :)

  • Nina Fazande

    Where do I find Bar Keeper’s Friend?

    • Robin

      I bought mine in a Lowes; they have an aisle with cleaning products. I have also seen it at Home Depot.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome post! Thank you so much for doing the hard work of testing the various options and posting your conclusions. I’ve already purchased Barkeeper’s Friend for a shower project I’m working on. I will be putting a link to your post on 

  • Luvnaz6111

    I like your results! Now the question is…how to keep the limescale & soap scum from building up!

    I have heard of several methods to keep the limescale & soap scale from building up.

    One is spraying furniture polish on the cleaned areas. Another is Rain X that is a wax for car windshields and the water will bead up and run right off.

    I haven’t tried either of these, but I think I will give the Rain X a try!

  • Verbal_

    Yes, I am making my own style of BKF at home from ingredients and a recipe I found on the internet. The active ingredient is oxalic acid which is quite toxic but very effective. I mean one isn’t going to drink the stuff neat. I dilute my mix in tap water, all kept well away in locked containers away from the kids and pets.

    Apart from glass at home, you can use it for auto glass and various surfaces of plastic. Best to rinse, you know any chemical used deserves a good rinse anyways. It gives off a strange “earthy odour” 

    Its not straight forward to make and takes time as chemicals need to leach out and about. It also costs more than BKF and you have to hunt the ingredients. 

    This was a really good test above, presenting the reasons why it is fun to do stuff at home and compare results. 


    • Pam


  • Pclark1950

    Try WD-40

  • JR

    Used the Bar Keeper’s Friend exactly as described above, but for an exterior window that hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time.  I put tons on the window and scrubbed hard since I think it may be decades since these windows were last cleaned.  The windows are now spotless.  I didn’t think it was even possible.

  • Kim Struthers

    So glad i found this blog!

  • Jennifer

    Have you tried using a window squeegee?  After every shower, use the squeegee to get rid of water left on the glass.  You won’t have to clean the glass as often and you won’t have to use so much product and elbow grease.  Just keep the squeegee in the shower with your shampoo, so you will remember to use it after every shower.

    • mcp_mariio

      ya.. my wife is tooo lazy. so every other shower would not work

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the info. on cleaning and used it on my 20 years of hard water buildup. I used BKF powder as I had completely disassembled my shower and I could lay the glass down. Plenty of elbow grease, steel wool and a razor blade had to be used to get the glass clean. Yes I know the potential potential using abrasives but my AADD won’t keep me motivated if I don’t get results quickly.
    The glass is clear again and saved me $300 for glass replacement.
    BFK shows a product similar to Lime Away on their web site but not stores stocked it. After cleaning I used Zemoil a car wax that I use to keep the buildup in the future. (apply twice a year)
    Another great cleaning product is Spray-9 found in Home Depot. UPS turned me on to it years ago and I am a fan.

    • Mark Evitt

      Nice job using a razor blade! That’s how I used to clean soap scum off the family shower stall when I was growing up.

  • Damser Huron

    I too enjoy your website, and thank you. I notice that the comments are always (I think!) about the class doors; but what is good to clean the scum off of ceramic tiles. Moved in to a very clean apt, but the tiles, I don’t think, have ever been cleaned. Hoe that someone can help me. Damser Huron (I’m a womanly cleaner, but VERY MUCH admire the manly ones…good for you in that you want your home to be clean.

    • Mark Evitt

      Yes, it will work on ceramic tiles, too. Just don’t use it on stone.

  • William T. Tripp

    I had some Soft Scrub with Bleach on hand, so I tried this instead of the Barkeeper’s Friend and found it quite effective.  I could even feel a difference between the areas I cleaned and the areas waiting to be cleaned.  The only con was smelling like bleach after I used it.

    • Mark Evitt

      That makes sense, since Soft Scrub is also a mild abrasive. 

  • Newcat311

    I love your site,  I clean houses for a living (and sometimes my own!)  I love learning new things to try, especially for hard water spots!!  Thank you, I am going to try this.

  • Barbara Harford

    For cleaning anything grease related you should try a product callled Dawn Dissolve. Less than $3.00 a bottle. I clean for a living and I am amazed by this product everytime I use it.

  • CJ

    I read all that was hear to offer and was struck with an idea, “cook top cleaner”. I went into my kids bathroom where there was about 5 years worth of shower scum on the sliding glass doors and wiped some on. It dried in about a minute and it wiped right off with very little effort and the glass looks brand new. Try it. You will be amazed.

  • microfiber lady

    This was very interesting. I would have liked to see you include Norwex’s DeScaler in your testing. It’s non-toxic and works significantly better than CLR and Kaboom. I actually ONLY use microfiber and water to clean my home – with the exception of when I have to remove lime scale. I get my DeScaler from a Norwex consultant named Deja Peterson – she’s awesome.

  • Jeannie

    I’m headed to Target!!!

    • Lisa

      I had terrible soap scum from very hard well water. I used comet and a blue scrubbie on the glass door and fiberglass shower stall for a few days in a row and that worked great. After getting it really clean, i now just rinse the shower, do a quick squegee on the doors, the rest if I have time and spritz the whole shower with vinegar water with some citrus essential oil. (smells great) Also, I have used RainX with success and read that lemon oil will repel water or wiping down the dry doors with fabric softener sheets will get the scum off, I use them on the water spots on the silver trim. Once you get it good and clean, maintaining it is pretty easy.
      PS- The comet with bleach didn’t scratch my shower.

  • Karen

    After all the hard work of cleaning shower glass doors ,and tiled walls in shower use rain x or clear car wax. it helps keep buildup from coming back. make sure it is clear because if it is green or another color it will color your grout. also to get the grout lines and the detail scum and mold in corners  I use a batter operated toothbrush or  it works wonders around faucets. You would be surprised how much yuck is all around and it only takes seconds.

  • Ginger

    A mixture of 3 parts vinegar and 1 part Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle sprayed on your shower door (and shower stall, bathtub, etc.) will do the trick!  Just spray it on, let it set for maybe 30 minutes to an hour, and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth and rinse.  It eats through the soap scum!!  I was skeptical but it WORKS!  

    • Anonymous

      I tried that but it just didn’t work for me. I was bummed! My husband bought me the green apple Dawn though. That could have been why it didn’t work. I’m trying BKF right now. It’s my last hope! :)

  • J Fancy

    Thank you.  I used BarKeepers Friend on decades’ worth of soap scum on a fiberglass tub with stellar results. Nothing else had made a dent. I had to apply the liquid liberally, leave it for 5 minutes, scrub and leave that, several times over, but I could see right away that it was working.  For vertical surfaces, I made a paste of the liquid and powder together.  Again, thank you.

  • angieb

    Hello! I came across this site and LOVE it!  I have been a HUGE proponent of BKF..I even use the powder version on my stove-top.  I just used a Dobie scrub sponge with a little water and BKF mix and it works awesome.
    What do you think works best to remove soap-scum from the Fiberglass walls and floor?? Any help appreciated.

  • Pam

    Glasstastic it works! I used a hand buffer.

  • Janis

    Love this! When my kids were small I always had Bar Keepers Friend around because of the low/no toxins. Somehow I forgot about it and am so happy to be reminded again. Thanks so much!

  • a.r.

    Make a paste with vinegar and borax. Borax is acidic (boric acid) and also non-toxic. Scrub. 

    Mixing vinegar and baking soda does not work because acid+base=H20+neutral salt.  

  • Lori

    Thank you so much for this post…..We just moved into our home and while the previous owner did get rid of a lot of the water spots on the glass shower doors, there are still some tough ones left behind.    I just went in with a scrubber today with baking soda mixed with lemon juice and it didn’t really touch it.   My mom used to clean houses for a living and I worked with her in high school and a bit in college, and she swore by BKF….I had completely forgotten about it.   Will have to see if my local walmart has the liquid, if not I’ll grab a can of the powder and go back to scrubbing and see what I can get off.   I”m also wondering if it will work on the greenhouse window in the same shower?   My concern is that the glass window won’t tolerate as much elbow grease (pressure) as the tempered glass shower doors.   ANy suggestions on maintaining the clean glass?

    • Windowwashguy

      Having cleaned windows professionally, my experience is that both shower doors and greenhouse windows are usually glass. In these instances we use a product called Simple Cleaning Solution we get at our local True Value hardware store. There are testimonial videos from hardware store managers and users at

  • House frau

    Bar Keepers also is the only product I have found to remove rust build up that forms on shower walls in homes with well water. I have tried many other even toxic solutions and this was by far the best.
    Also try on old grease in kitchens, test for scratching though.

    • Florida Lemon

      What color scrubber do you use with the Bar Keepers Friend on your glass? Green, white, blue…..I don’t want to scratch the glass but need to get the spots off.  Maybe you used steel wool?

      • Jake Blanton

         Do not use the green scrubbers.  They definitely CAN scratch the glass… I’ve also used the stainless steel pot scrubbers on glass and I have not had a problem with scratching of the glass.  Steel wool should also work, but it will be a bit messier…

  • suzanne b.

    I am so happy to read this post, and I love that you tested them all and show the results. That is awesome. :)

  • noelle

    Now that your shower is clean, hang a hand held squeegee in your shower and squeegee the glass door after everyshower, before you get out.(usually you can find one at the dollar store) The door should remain spot free forever.

  • mommer

    Try Spot-X!!   😉

  • EIC

    Wow.  You saved me! I had been scrubbing at my tub hopelessly with Comet, read this, grabbed some Bar Keepers Friend and voila.  Thank you!

  • Ckennedy744

    Thanks for your time and effort, I have Barkeepers under my sink, off I go to give it a try!

  • MET

    Thank you for your extensive research. I found it both educational and amusing.
    I would never have gone through the trouble of doing all those tests.  I applaud you for doing it and saving the rest of us lazy people the aggravation of hard water deposits and soap scum. 

  • Parr Michelle

    Thank you so much!  I have been looking.  Thanks for your documentation of your experience.  I am sure it saved me a lot of money and frustration.

  • Jake Blanton

    If an acid would work, maybe muriatic acid would work even better?  It’s the type used for adjusting the pH in your pool.

  • Jake Blanton

    In case anyone is curious about whether a pressure washer will remove it, I can verify that it will not… Unfortunately… Works pretty good on any algae or mold that might be in the grout lines though… :)

  • Jake Blanton

     I think that the next house that I build is going to have a shower room
    that does not have a glass door on it… I want a shower room that is
    large enough for 3 or 4 people and with either tile or stone walls… A
    couple of offset “walls” to prevent the water from being able to be
    sprayed  outside of the shower “room”… Even more practical might be to
    have the walls, floor, and ceiling cast from concrete so that
    everything could just be pressure washed to clean it instead of having
    to scrub with various chemicals…

  • Edward

    I just tried something that I read in another forum: oven cleaner. It works like magic! It is Easy Off Fume Free Max. Don’t use just any oven cleaner that will make you look like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, just this one. I had no problems with fumes and it melted through the soap scum like it wasn’t there. No effect with limescale, though, although if limescale is the base of soap scum formation, then maybe it does. I didn’t try it on limescale by itself, because I ran out of oven cleaner…

  • Kat

    Thank you so much!  I really appreciate the empirical testing method and the illustrative pictures.  I tried Barkeepers Friend on my horrendous rust stains in the bathroom and it is a miracle!  Nothing else has worked in 20 years of trying.  I have even donned a gas mask and scrubbed with Super Iron Out in the past, but the results were not as good and not worth dealing with the fumes.  I am hooked on Barkeepers Friend now!  My only complaint about the powder is that it tends to leave behind some powdered residue after rinsing.  I have been scouring stores (pun intended) and found the liquid version in Home Depot and stocked up on it!  Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    Thought you might find this tip helpful:
    Now that the soap scum is removed from shower door here is how to keep it away. Using Rain-X on your shower doors will not only keep the soap scum away it will also keep your shower looking clean.
    10 To apply the Rain-X spray it on a soft cloth and apply it in a circular motion to the shower doors.
    11 Then using a clean cloth buff the shower door until the haze disappears on the glass.
    12 Then take another clean cloth and do a final buffing in circular motion to rub off the last of the residue.
    Read more: How to Get Soap Scum Off Glass Shower Doors |

  • Jenneb4

    Like Kimberly, I too used to use Shower Power.  It worked perfectly but since I can’t find it anymore, I have been searching for something to take it’s place.  I’m so glad I came across your blog.  Thank you so much!  It was fun reading and I’m going right now to find BKF!  

  • Lmrrm

    Well, I am excited to try this out! Thanks for the tip.

  • Home Expert

    Wow. Definitely, the pictures will really tell the best cleaner and must be used. Some are alternatives but if you will try the best one, the result is magnificent! Imagine a blurry glass stalls turned into a more see though glass which makes it look new now. I shall try this at home so that I could see it in my own eyes. I really love the result of this study and I love how did the glass changes its appearance. Thanks for this! :)

  • Leslieb03

    I love these real life product comparison demonstrations, since they are done by real people. I have been using the Melaleuca products. I have demonstration that compares the Melaleuca product Tub and Tile to Lime Away. Check out this little video demonstration:

  • jamie

    I just wanted to say that I can’t THANK YOU enough for this post. I stumbled upon this post because I was fed up with the hard water stains on our shower door from well water. I have tried anything and everything under the sun, vinegar, lemon, baking soda, kaboom, lime away, cerambryte, Tilex…you name it! After reading your post I decided to give Bar Keepers friend a try. I went to Lowes, it was $1.98. I got the powder because someone on here said that it works better than the liquid and I couldn’t find the BKF glasstop cleaner. Anyways, OMG! I couldn’t believe it, it actually worked!!! I made a paste and used the green side of a scotch sponge and rubbed it in a circular motion. I let it sit for 5 minutes, rinsed with water and squeeged it off…the hard water stains are gone! I followed it up with some Windex and the door gleams! I’m like a crackhead with this stuff, I have cleaned our porcelein sinks, our grill, kitchen sink, toilets, its amazing! Where has this been all my life???

  • Jackandsueshopping

    Thanks for doing such thorough research and sharing it with us.  Saved lots of time and I’ll definitely give it a try.  I will also “pay forward” giving a helpful tip for other people.

  • Nikkimelton

    I tried every single product that you tried and was about to give up until I read this post. Bar keepers friend worked miracles! I thought we were goi g to have to replace our shower doors and windows. I used the bar keepers and a ststeel wool pad , 0000 grade, and it worked!

  • mitchell

    Thanks so much.  This is the best advice I’ve found online in months!!!

  • Sj_clarks

    After you clean the shower doors (NOT THE FLOOR) you should then apply Gel Gloss. This works like Rain-X in the bathroom. It should provide a nice clear slick (think wax) surface.

  • Bcasey2552

    no to the chemicals
    use a ‘used dryer fabric sheet’.  wet it and clean all the walls and glass.
    just like new.

    • Anne

      Dryer sheet does not work at all for hard water stains and scrum, just tried it. Then tried BKF, worked so well!

  • Bdale1870

    Great job…have you seen the product “Awesome” that I buy at Dollar Tree for a buck? It’s what I’ve been using, but will try your suggestion for my glass doors!

  • AlohaMaidsOC

    Have you tried vinegar? Vinegar is better than all of those chemicals. Mist with a spray bottle directly on the shower door. Use dish soap and water and a scotch bright sponge to scrub. Rinse with water, then squeegie away! I have a house cleaning company, and have tried everything on that list. Throw those stinky chemicals away, and use vinegar.

    • Eric and Becky

      Aloha, if you read his post, then yes, he did try vinegar and it was subpar.

  • Cheri

    OMG!! Thanks for your post & for taking the time to explain everything in such detail. I happened to have had the powder form of Bar Keepers Friend on hand after reading this & immediately put it to the test. Worked beautifully! Can’t wait for hubby to get home & see the glass looks like new. Tried MANY products over the years & nothing worked like this.
    Thanks again :)

  • wendy craig

    I have a product that is 100% effective – go to and have look. It leaves your glass doors looking brand new.

  • Emilie

    Thank you so much!  I absoutely DREAD cleaning our shower because of the same issues you have… And I always feel like I am killing my insides with all the fumes.  I cannot wait to try Bar Keepers Friend.  I use it on my stainless steel cookware but never thought to try it in the shower! Great post!

  • Sasha

    Just to let you know, I always used Lime-Away with a Magic Eraser sponge. Basically no scrubbing and the results are incredible! 

  • Rwilhelm42

    Nice analysis and experimental design. I’ve had some very good results using bathroom cleaner (Scrubbing Bubbles) with a Scotch-Brite sponge. 
    Do you have any experience or ideas on how to clean etched window glass? Our front doors have accumulated a tattooed series of deposits, mostly from traffic dirt over the years. Someone suggested oven cleaner but I don’t want to damage the newly-painted wood around the glass. All suggestions welcome. Thanks.

  • Dlchampaco

    Thank you for the awesome detail! I’ve been searching for ways of cleaning and clearing my bathroom doors!

  • LynneHackett18901

    I found a solution.  Why?  Cause I’m a lazy scrubber……LOOK at this!!!  I was so happy to see your post.  Informative and funny (sorry it probably wasn’t supposed to be)….But LOOKIE Here:

    Go down almost halfway under the pic of the screaming man and you see sections for Fiberglass shower stalls and the doors.  It WORKS!!!!!

  • Jackwwinters

    So what is the active ingredient in Bar Keeper’s Friend? We don’t have that product name here so this advice is worse than useless.

  • Jackwwinters

    The active ingredient in Bar Keeper’s Friend is oxalic acid (H2C2O4). Acetic acid (vinegar, CH3CO2H) is too mild to work. Beware! Oxalic acid is potent and can do massive damage to your system! Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) may work because the formula is close but lacking the C element. Check products for the active ingredient as well as the percentage. Don’t use alkaline based products – you are trying to titrate the alkaline based scum so only an acid will work.

  • djnj

    The tiles on my shower floor were horribly water stained. I tried Comet, Soft Scrub with bleach, CLR, Clorox Bathroom Cleaner, all with no results at all. I was ready to have it detailed. I went online one last time and found a suggestion to sôak a towel in whîte vinegar and leave on tile as long as possible. I left the towel on the shower floor all day, drenched in white vinegar. That evening I used a scrub brush for what I knew to be a futile attempt at cleaning. The stains came up! I did this several times over the next week and the shower floor glistens. Vinegar is relatively cheap compared to household cleaners. It smells bad but ît is not a chemical fume like Kaboom or CLR.

    • djnj

      Actually I meant to have it re-tiled, not detailed. $1200 estimate. Cost of white vinegar, $3.00 gallon.

  • James

    I have had similar problems however I found a way to essentially prevent the problem in the first place. I bought this stuff called Water Armour ( and coated my shower with it. the water doesn’t stay on the glass at all and therefore no more stains! It’s fantastic! I wouldn’t definitely recommend the stuff to anyone else.

    • Ryan

      Yeah, I have tried Water Armour too. Works great! It is a little more expensive than I would have liked, but it just works so well that it is worth it for sure.

      • Linda

        Ryan, can you buy Water Armour at grocery stores or only on line?

  • Ryan

    Yeah, I have tried Water Armour as well. It works great! It is a little more expensive than I would have liked, but it just works so well that it is worth it for sure.

  • Ann

    My problem with barkeepers friend is that it is so abrasive damaging the polished finish surface, allowing more build up in the future. Once that sink/tile surface is damaged, the problem gets worse. same with the toilets

  • dw

    now that the glass is clean, go over it with rainx to keep the water off. really helps.

  • Julie C

    Thanks so much for the advice. The kids shower doors look like new. Before I used BKF they looked like they were frosted. Took some elbow grease but now they’re crystal clear. Thanks for your post. I love the internet!!

  • AlohaMaidsOC

    Have you tried white vinegar? It’s way better then all of these products. I have a house cleaning company in Newport Beach. The water here always leaves calcium stains everywhere. Vinegar is the best cleaner for these stains. Spray it everywhere. Let it sit for a moment, and then clean it off with a Scotch- Brite sponge and dish soap. Rinse it off with a glass of water, and finally everything will look new again. It’s amazing!

    • goldeneagle78

      If you had read his blog, you would see that he also used vinegar, which did nothing.

  • sweetiepetitti

    I just threw away a bottle of liquid BKF, I bought it for the ss sink and pots and pans, and it sucked. The powder form cleans ss and copper beautifully, now I will buy another liquid and put it in the bathroom. I hate the smell of most of those products, but I feel pretty safe with this one as I bought it at a kitchen store to clean pots and pans. But I have to share my ahh haa moment. Toilet rings that would not go away. I soaked them in bleach, drained and scrubbed with everything, magic eraser, nothing. Then I found this pumice stick at Home Depot and holy moly if that didn’t just scrub them away. Amazing, and the toilets look brand new.

  • Delaney Towery

    Nice. Scientific. I was looking for the best solution to this problem and I have no qualms about chemicals. Thanks

  • Matt

    Thanks for the tip! Bar keepers friend worked like a charm. The shower door came clean in minutes.

  • AlohaMaidsOC

    You are a risk taker my friend. These products are all very toxic, and together, even more so. Bleach and vinegar are deadly when mixed together, similar to the effects of mixing bleach and ammonia. Also, Bar Keepers friend will scratch your glass. I hope you don’t do this experiment again.

    I think that straight white vinegar would be your best bet, it’s acidic PH 2. CLR is only PH 5, (which is more base) so by adding CLR you are only weakening the powerful effects of vinegar. Do yourself a favor, spray the shower all over inside with vinegar, and then just wipe it with a scotch bright sponge, and I guarantee almost all of it will come off. More importantly, you will live longer, healthier, and will do less damage to the environment.

  • Glenn Neff

    After I clean the doors I use RainEx on the glass to keep the water spots off.

    • Reatha Yrizarry

      good idea

  • Beth

    Just FYI, if you spray a light film of pledge on your glass after cleaning it will help keep the deposits from sticking. It also helps keep your stainless sink cleaner.

  • Shelley

    I have tried every one of your products Iisted above and more on my gross shower door. NOTHING worked until TODAY I tried THE WORKS. I was shocked at how easy it was to use. I applied it with a rectangular abrasive type sponge. After YEARS of trying various products I am thrilled that FINALLY I found something that works with little to no effort.

  • ahearn

    Awesome info as my shower doors look like yours… well like yours before the Bar Keepers Friend. Thanks for the info!! Really. Going to get this cleaner tomorrow!

  • Kathy Carter

    OMG, this works just as you said. Was at my wits end, even bought a shower curtain thinking this wouldn’t work either, Had to take the shower curtain back, thank you, thank you, thank you. I told two people in line when I took the shower curtain back and they left line and went to get BKF..Caused a real stir.Thanks for your hard work. {inned your page, don’t want to lose it. Thanks again..

  • Irving

    First I would like to say that I have had experience with other well known cleaners and they do not do as they say to remove the long term deposited soap scum and limescale. After your conclusion on BKF, I immediately went to Bed Bath and Beyond to find one. I specifically looked for the “Cook Top” cleanser type as you tested but they only had the “Soft Cleanser” type on their shelves. I was going to ignore it, but I took a quick look at the back label and it said exactly as I was hoping for – Effective against limescale, soap scum, blah blah blah. It was less than $4 so I said why not and bought it.

    A M A Z I N G S T U F F ! ! !

    I was amazed how EASY it was to remove about 90% (as you mentioned and I agree with that rough percentage of removal). It was as you say, spray it on your sponge or directly onto the glass, wipe around a few times, and wash it off after a minute or so of wiping. Not only did I get my glass shower doors clean, I also used it on my chrome sink faucets. The faucets are rather new (been installed for a year) but had deposits almost immediately at first use. I was pretty saddened that it had tough deposits already and I tried cleaners to rub it off but didn’t work. I gave it a shot with BKF not knowing if it’d ruin the material or not but I didn’t care at that point. IT IS LIKE BRAND NEW and the material is not damaged.

    Oh, and although I didn’t thoroughly test this out but I think you can remove the other 10% if you really want to with concentrated dosage and scrubbing. When I was cleaning my sink faucet, there would be left over deposits after the 1st round of applying and rinsing. Two more rounds on the sink faucet got rid of deposits completely.

    Thanks for testing out this stuff and sharing.

  • Willow1100

    Here is a tip for keeping that glass looking so clean for longer:
    After cleaning you shower door, use car polish on it. This really works. I have very hard water, and I even use this trick on my taps, and kitchen stainless steel sink – it works for months at a time.

  • Hannele

    try bicarbonate, it can be made with very little water to efficient scrubbing pasta … and let it have some time to work … no elbow grease needed!

  • Jamesx

    Great test but so far I’ve found that nothing is working on my shower doors. Vinegar or CLR or Lime-Away don’t work, even if left alone for a while. I tried a mild mix of muriatic acid and water (carefully) which I use to clean my boat hull with, naval jelly and just about every commercial cleaner I could find. Nothing. I saw that you successfully used Bar Keeper’s Friend so I bought both soft and power. Didn’t make a dent. The only thing that removes the shower door mineral deposits and soap scum is scraping with a razor blade so I know the glass isn’t etched. Right now I have no idea as to what to do outside of replacing the entire glass shower surround with new glass.

  • Sarah

    I find that leaving a dishwand (full of half-and-half vinegar and dishwashing detergent) in the shower is great for giving the walls a once-over every other time you shower. Gets rid of soap scum, doesn’t scratch, plus no dangerous fumes. Little and often is the key, rather than letting it build up to the point where you’re considering commercial cleaners!

  • Terry Perez Taylor


  • Odd Broad

    once you have your shower doors clean – apply a coat of wax and it will keep scum from sticking (for a while) you must reapply – like with your car

  • James R

    As to the green aspect I haven’t tried it yet for water spots on glass but Simple Green is a very effective cleaner for many purposes (eg grease stain on concrete) that you ought to give it a try. Also will try MAAS metal cleaning paste since it is good on mild corrosion (don’t know how green it is)

  • patsugarloaf

    Just wondering what you used for the ‘scrubbing’ process. You said you applied the BKF with a sponge, but what did you scrub with?

  • ExBhamster

    I think I may try this. We get really bad scum here in Sun Valley NV because our water comes from a local well on the hilltop even though they have filters in place.

  • Jean Marc Berube

    Re: Soap Scum and Hard Water Stains on Shower Stall Glass Doors.

    I read your comments re: the above. You fell short in your experimentation and BarKeepers Friend is not the way to go. Just go out and buy yourself a jug of liquid Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner (any brand will do) and you will find that this immediately cleans off hard water marks and soap scum. Also, next time you put in a new shower, make sure you fit it with Shower Guard Glass.


  • Furball209

    Wow! How do I thank you enough? I spent the last 3 hours trying to rid my shower doors of heavy soap scum residue! I wish I had read your post first. I also tried vinegar, Kaboom, Scrubbing Bubbles and an amonia solution. Needless to say, out of all the above, the Kaboom worked best but still not to my satisfaction. I will heed your advice and purchase the Bar Keeper’s product. I must say, however, my shower smells wonderful! Thank you for all of your information. You no doubt saved me some money! Happy New Year!

  • Donna Sloane

    Awesome comparison! Great job! Really helpful. I would only add that after making the doors clear, coat them with RainEx. The water beads up and reduces the need to scrub.

  • day

    I will try BKF, and then polish with rain-x, or marine wax, I was also told, but have not tried that WD-40 is great to replace rain-x, it is made from fish oil. try this out and lets see how this works

  • Jayne

    Once the doors are clean use Old English lemon oil on them and buff dry to repel water and stay clean longer.

  • Kerry

    Brilliant! I was in the grocery store, standing in front of all the cleaners, when I googled “How to remove hard water stains from glass” – your blog came up just in time! Thanks for the great tips!!!

  • Nikki

    Thank you so much! : )

  • La Rubia

    Gosh; all that, and brains, too! Thank you for your thoughtful notes about your mindful research!

  • Bill Soukup

    There is a new green soap scum remover by a company called BioWorx. Their web site is They show laboratory experiments on how their cleaner dissolves soap scum while other cleaners can’t. I tried the same experiment at home as seen above and Bioworx cleaner simply dissolved the soap scum. My door was perfectly clean. You can purchase this on Amazon.

  • Coach Rollie

    Baking soda with some water and some good scrubbing works for me. I’d prefer some extra work over inhaling toxic fumes.

  • Ruth

    I found a product called Bio Clean hard water stain remover. Our shower doors were impossible. This product cleaned them like new using a sponge. Also, it lasts for several weeks, and does not need to be reapplied until you see the scale again. They have another product called Shower Shield which also keeps spotting and staining down. Both products work well on fixtures as well, so that if your fixtures become water stained, they will clean them up. Admitedly, they are expensive, but they last for a very long time.

  • Scubasmom

    Impressive research! Thank you for solving my problem.

  • caleb poynter

    I own/run a house cleaning biz and have used Bar Keepers for years. I absolutely love it!!! Can I just say Kaboom is worthless.

    • Reatha Yrizarry

      and it stinks (the smell lol)

  • onehappycleaner

    Your research and analysis are the best things I have read on a DIY website. You are a god’s send. I bought Bar Keepers liquid and actually had fun cleaning my filthy bathrooms.

  • Dusty

    I have seen Bar Keepers friend in a liquid squirt bottle form, like soft scrub cleanser. I love the stuff.

  • Kat

    Awesome! It worked fantastic – thank you! I have tried everything on my glass door. I bought Bar Keeper’s Friend specifically for my stainless steel sink but obviously never read the big red print saying it also worked on soap scum & hard water spots!

  • KAZ

    great job… thank you for taking the time to do this … much appreciated

  • btc909

    I find that CLR Kitchen Bath (yellow spray bottle) works fantastic on everything except for soap scum. I tried Kaboom before, it was a waste of money. I will try the Bar Keepers Friend Cooktop cleaner. If you had to scrub a tub / shower get a Drill Brush. Be sure to run the drill in forward & reverse to keep the bristles straight.

  • twotofourfoot

    awesome! thank you. good job.

  • sparky

    This is the best post that I have seen. Conclusive evidence that Bar Keepers Friend is the best choice. Thanks for all your help and the logical way your test was preformed!

  • JanuaryJade

    Dryer sheets work great. Just wet and wipe :)

  • Collin

    Hard water stains are usually suspended in the soap scum, so by removing the soap scum, you will inherently remove most hard water spots as well. A company called BioWorx has scientific proof on their website of their ability to dissolve calcium stearate and magnesium stearate which are the two compounds of soap scum.

  • Sp

    Thanks. You have made me look great in front of the missus. I read about all of your selection before but no one did such a methodical comparison. Now I’m hoping not to have to replace the shower door!

  • Laura & Josh

    WOW! Thank you sooo much, my boyfriend and I could figure out how to clean our glass shower door, water is incredible hard in our house. Took me 5 mins to get it done before bed time! 😀

  • Cathy

    Try cleaning your shower door with lemon oil and a soft cloth.

  • lkhh27

    thank you for this! i’ve been searching for something for a long time, found this article, purchased the product, and now have a clean sower!

  • Shane

    If I don’t have soap scum and just need the best hard water remover which one would you recommend?

  • Kelly

    Two things: 1) I cannot conceive of my husband ever noticing soap scum/hard water deposits on the shower door, let alone attempting to clean them, so BIG kudos to you for tackling this project and 2) the BarKeeper’s Friend did, in fact, work on our shower door but it took a whole lot of elbow grease to make those deposits disappear. Must be the water in west Michigan is a whole lot worse than the water wherever it is you live. Good post and tips, though.

    • Nancy

      Had a question for you…I live in Western Michigan also and am using the BarKeepers Friend…is not doing anything. Did you leave it on for awhile and what did you use to scrub with?

  • Tim Little

    I was cleaning a shower on rental house the shower had hard water and had not been cleaned in over a year, I used a spray bottle of 1/2 vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and the rest dish soap. then sprayed the walls let set for 30 min. and scrubbed with a magic eraser and it came clean. I had tried lime away, C L R and comet before and nothing would work, and this solution smells better, (couldn’t even breathe with the C L R ).

  • Tim Little

    I was cleaning a rental house bathroom with plastic walls they had hard water and not cleaned in over a year I tried Lime away, CLR, comet, Telex, kaboom, nothing would work and I couldn’t even breath with CLR, so I tried a spray bottle of 1/2 vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, the rest dish soap, 32 0z.. sprayed the walls waited 30 min. and scrubbed with magic eraser and it came clean and smelled good (like what ever dish soap is used)

  • rachel

    amen to the bar keepers friend! Thank you for your scientific research. It worked wonders.

  • Jason

    Thanks for a worthwhile analysis

  • Ted

    Wow, this was helpful and worked better than CLR and Lime away that I had tried.

  • Prash

    Awesôme work.. Thanks for such detailed notes

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for doing this! You did exactly what I would have done, but now I don’t have to!

  • kathywill61

    This didn’t work using a sponge, so I tried it with a Dobie™ pad. It worked!

  • Carolyn

    THANK YOU!! You saved me!! Bought Bar Keepers Friend and it worked GREAT. After struggling for awhile with freakin’ vinegar. LOVE that Bar Keepers doesn’t give you toxic fumes. You’re the best.

  • Caroline

    Hello, i was excitée to find your website and especially your experiment on soap scum, i have just moved into à new house and i gphave tried everything to get rid of the stains on my glas shooter door. I was excited to learn about this product. I live in Ottawa, Canada and sadly i can’t find the exact BKF product you used, i sent to many store where they sell their products but i can never find the one you used. If i send you money in the mail, would you be willing to buy me a container and mail it to me in Ottawa? Thank you so much.
    Caroline Carriere

    • Josee

      I live just outside Gatineau and found BKF at Canadian Tire. I bought the powder one and it did the job. I wet the sponge, add the powder on it, make sure it’s wet then used it on the shower door making circles. Rince well. Stains gone. Shower doors look like bran new. Good luck.

  • Georgia

    Lime Away did NOT work! My shower door looks just like yours and I used Lime Away to start and it did not even touch it. Help!

  • Debbie

    i use a DIY method i found online that sticks to the walls/shower glass and after a couple of hours you just wipe down with a wet sponge. It works so well I spray it in the shower then go about my day and then climb in and wipe it down before my shower…the recipe is simple, vinegar and Blue dawn dishwashing liquid. You heat the vinegar till its hot , pour into a spray bottle and add equal amount of the blue dawn and gently shake to mix. I use 1/2 cup each. its forms a gel that sticks to whatever you spray it on. I LOVE it and talk about cheap :) The recipe says for stubborn scum etc you can let it sit overnight but i have never had to leave it more than a few hours to get everything clean and clear!

    • Ed

      Debbie, is that just for soap scum or does that work for hard water spots as well. Thanks.

      I tried the BKF powder and it did a better job than most but I still have noticeable hard water spots even with multiple attempts and lots of elbow grease. I’m still trying to find a solution that gets it all.

      • Debbie

        Ed, for me it did both, can’t hurt to try – its just vinegar/dishsoap!

  • MrsQuannaB

    Great post! We tried a few of these but what worked best for us is lemon (as in the fruit) and the kosher salt. That has been the best at getting the scum off. Also, we do not rinse with water. Instead, we wipe anything left over with lemom pledge wipes… we found rinsing with water caused the scum to come right back.

  • Mandy

    Thank you. I have natural stone in my shower. Is it on natural stone or marble?

  • Betty Wielgasz

    I am Amazed…although i did not have this type of cleaner..i used the stove top cleaner that i have (after using i think everything on the market to try and clean the doors on my walk in shower) and they are perfect now. I am glad i found your site and THANK YOU so much for sharing.

  • Coly1010

    Excellent experiment! I found this today while searching how to remove terrible limescale build up in my shower/tub. I had tried 4 applications of CLR and it did nothing. I tried BKF and with a little elbow grease the limescale did not have a fighting chance. BKF is my new best friend :) Now that I am reading about Shower Power, I may have to look into that one too!

  • larryshair

    Excellent post! I am going to the store right now. I have used Bar Keepers Friend (BKF) powdered form and love it. If you use Ajax or Comet and think that BKF is the same, you are mistaken. Do your own test and see. Take a pan that is greasy and caked on gunk and try half the pan with Comet or Ajax and then try BKR. Amazing result. You will never go back to the others. No doubt.

  • townieboy

    I am a big time fan of Bar Keeper’s Friend, but be forewarned that the main active ingredient in BKF is oxalic acid. Prolonged contact with BKF will make your hand’s dry up, peel or give you contact dermatitis. Make sure you use gloves. I know…not manly…but it’s better than your wife giving you hell when she feels those dried out paws of yours. Not getting any isn’t exactly manly.

  • Mike

    Bar Keepers Friend MSDS for several of their products, including this one available online at:

  • FelineGirl

    Rubbing alcohol works beautifully! Pour some on a rag and wipe. If it’s really heavy wipe a couple times. It literally dissolves like magic!

  • Dorette

    To clean the glass shower doors and tile!!!!! Use 1 Part White Vinegar & 1 Part Blue Dawn!!!Spay it on and leave for about 15 minutes then rub Gently and rinse off! I was soooo Amazed at the results i had to put before and after pictures on Facebook!!!

  • Dinsdale

    Great Post, thanks for the info. In a future post can you tackle cleaners for refinished tubs. There doesn’t seem to be definitive answers anywhere only vague warnings on some products. I used Lysol 4 in 1 bathroom cleaner on my refinished tub yesterday and it did a great job but will it soften the finish over time… no one can tell me.
    Thanks again.

  • Kathleen

    FISH OIL works wonders! Just remember it is oil and it can make walking on it slippery, so BE SURE to wash off the surfaces well after you have left the fish oil on for awhile to do their magic.

  • Lance Collier

    I just used Go-Jo as I’ve tried many of the other methods with poor results. The Go-Jo hand cleaner worked perfectly with no problems. Wiped it on and let it set for 15 minutes. Wiped it off with Scotch-brite sponge and water. Easy with no bad odors.

  • RJ, the lazy neat freak

    Incredibly helpful … even two years later. Thanks for doing all this work.

  • Itsbetterinlongbeach

    or….try this….make a paste with baking soda…used a magic eraser sponge with it (don’t know if that makes a difference….will have to experiment with a regular sponge next time) just rub it on, no elbow grease necessary…rinse off…spotless results…and cheaper than barkeeper’s friend…got a 10 lb bag of soda from Costco…nothing beats baking soda.

  • Cyn Sadler

    thank you for great info.

  • Serena

    This is awesome!!!! Thank you! Going to Wal Mart NOW!

  • Serena

    Don’t underestimate how much you need to scrub, though. For us (women), it is a workout. But it’s well worth it. Just to note, we didn’t have any Barkeeper’s Friend Stove Top cleaner in the house, but we had a comparable brand and it worked ok. I am definitely going to get Bar Keeper’s next time. No more razor blades for me!

  • JonFB

    Great write up! I had tried a few things (including powdered BKF) and nothing worked on my 5+ year old water and soap stains on my glass shower doors.

    Regular liquid BKF (found at Smart & Final) was just the ticket. I used my 10″ electric Orbital Buffer (that I use to detail my car) for the job, and it worked perfectly and very quickly! The shower doors look brand new, and my wife was shocked.

  • brenda boudinot

    I am going through this now. CLR, Lime-a-Way, Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime Remover, Ammonia, Vinegar, Jet Dry with Vinegar and Dawn. Razor Blade and Scrubbing Bubbles Spray. None of this did much. Some soap scum is off, but the hazing effect hasn’t budged. I am going to try BarKeepers and will come back to post.

  • Zoe Taylor

    This was fun to read. It must have been very fun to test! I bought a house from an auction and they shower was terrible! There was no hope using any products. I went to and got some beautiful new doors. Hopefully the next owner will keep them clean.

  • Casa Del Mar

    Thank you, I’m an apartment manager and have to clean vacant units and have been trying different things to help as I am petite and have carpal tunnel, so sometimes I can’t work up enough “elbow grease.” Hopefully you have an oven cleaning page 😉

  • Anthony Neilly

    I used lime away and let it sit on the glass shower dor 15min. Something went terribly wrong. At the bottom of the door about 2 in. All the way across it turned the glass white like someone sprayed white paint and cannot remove it. That stuff somehow damaged the glass and now I must replace the glass. Do not use this product!

  • mixolydian

    Hi! Well, I think the water in Rome may equal or beat the water in LA for hardness–it’s the several thousand year old recipe for make an incredible-tasting espresso…and for clogging public fountains and gunking up Roman baths! I have to second the suggestion below on having a squeegee handy. Just takes a few seconds, and cuts down on the amount of deposits that build up. For the slightly OCD ones of us (perhaps the entire readership of this blog?), it’s kind of fun, too!

  • zolag24

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  • notmedallastxyx

    hgRl – Lately I used to be so very low on money and debts were eating me from all angles. That was RIGHT UNTIL I learned to make money on the internet. I visited surveymoneymaker period net, and started doing surveys for cash, and really, i’ve been really more able to pay my bills! I’m very glad, i did this.. SXvx

  • Troy Smith

    use a squeegee ~ No chemicals. Works for me.
    Would that work?

  • Damsellee910

    Mark you need to try Scrub Free, by Arm and Hammer, true it is Scrub Free and really cheap at Walmart. I spray it on let sit maybe ten minutes and then rinse, if it’s been a while since I used it I will use a scrubbie or a toothbrush but it is super easy, hope you give it a try and let me know.

  • Bill Soukup has a great shower cleaner that dissolves soap scum and scale. Soap scum actually requires a high pH product and scale requires a low pH product. BioWorx has figured out how to remove soap scum and scale with one product. Soap scum melt like butter in seconds.

  • Maria

    Great tips! I’m use Bar Keepers Friend for lots of jobs. It’s a a favorite of mine every since my cleaning service introduced me to it.

  • MomBlogDigest

    This is an old post, but I had to tell you that I love Bar Keepers Friend. I wouldn’t of known about it if not for this post. I’ve never had anything fight soap scum like this product and there is no smell to cringe from. I wanted you to know I featured this post and your blog on a recent blog post of mine about must have cleaning tips. Thanks!!

  • rhinoHI

    “Lime scale” build-up is primarily calcium carbonate, a white, chalky substance which is the main component of coral reefs. To remove it, you need two things, preferably both: a strong acidic solution and mechanical abrasion aka elbow grease. Most common household cleaners simply aren’t strong enough. There are heavy-duty acidic cleaners available at home improvement stores that contain muriatic or phosphoric acid. Vinegar is a very diluted solution of acetic acid, and its not strong enough to remove stubborn lime scale. Bar Keeper’s Friend is one of the few household cleaners containing oxalic acid, and it is abrasive, so it is an effective mineral and rust remover.

  • dj

    I live in an area with extremely hard water. Even after processing through a water softener we still get hard and impervious water spots if we don’t stay on top of it. I’ve already discovered what a miracle product Bar Keeper’s Friend is for cleaning water spots off our porcelain sinks but had never thought to use it on our shower glass. Good to know! Also, a couple of other bits of info we gleaned from the guy who installed our shower glass: 1)while the glass is clean, use a good automotive paste wax and wax the interior of the shower glass about every 3 months. The wax fills the microscopic pits that naturally occur in glass and prevents the hard water from gaining a “grip” on the glass. 2) dry it EVERY time it’s used (we use a microfiber towel). Six years later and our glass is still sparkling clear with no spots.

  • bayouman

    My main issue is fiberglass tubs and showers. CLR helps and gets some off using non scratch scrub wand and I mean you have to scrub. THE BEST product for tubs and showers I found that works the best with one application is DE-SOLV-IT by Orange Sol. I found it at Walmart. By the best in one application I mean this product removed the most soap scum in the first application than any other product I have used. No, it didn’t remove all of it in the first application, but more than the other products with the first application than any other product I have tried. Oh, and you do have to use the non-scratch scrub wand or pad. THERE IS NO EASY WAY, regardless of the claims I have seen about other products claiming they power through soap scum, etc.

    This product is guaranteed to work by Orange Sol. It is a 100 % organic citrus solution. It can be used in laundry and skin. Since it contains citrus oils, it may leave a slippery film that could be slipping hazard. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and check for slipperiness with your finger (not your feet). I was disappointed that there is no slip hazard warning. It’s not cheap compared to other products in my view. A spray bottle that only contains 12.6 ounces cost me $4.57 and that was at Walmart. But you will find that a little goes a pretty long way. Especially, considering it removed more of the soap scum than the other products in the first application. Taking this into consideration, I believe it is fairly economical. I sprayed it on and let it sit for about 5 minutes before I scrubbed.

    I found that it DID NOT work well on my glass shower door. I tried it out on just a small section so don’t buy it for glass, because that may be a waste of money. But if you do buy it, you may also want to try a small section. Maybe it will work for you.

    • bayouman

      I made just a slight error on the price. It should read $4.78.

  • Yvonne

    Loved your experiment. Trying to locate bar….. Recommendation. Thx

  • Vicki

    I just got home from work…where I spent the last three workdays trying to clean the hard water spots off 1 glass shower door. I have 3 more shower doors to do. I LOVED your experiment! I will try the Bar Keeper’s Friend Cook top stuff.

  • Angela Olguin

    I am definitely going to try this but I have one question, what type of sponge did you use?

  • Darcy A.

    I’m definitely going to try this! One thing I have figured out also: To get thick soap scum off of a tub or shower wall, I use a plastic putty knife to scrape it off.

  • Jesse

    or you can just take a couple of dryer sheets, dip them in warm water and wipe away, then rinse off and BAM, your glass shower will look good as new!

  • chrispy

    this post was a cool find. i forgot about BKF. I have the powder and love it but never tried it on shower walls. (in tub yes) i was just at walmart and found a new spray bottle of bar keepers friend for about 2.50. i grabed it like i just scored the last piece of chocolate cake, i was giddy, (embarrassing) Just quickly sprayed a small area, let it sit a min, then used a soft bristle dish washing wand to give a scrub, rinsed and… woohoo! yay! the tiles are shiney again. i’ve only seen them shine once in the last 6 years. i can see my reflection. very exciting. actually looking forward to doing the whole shower. oou, did i just say that? (i have the classic 3×3 ceramic glazed tiles with hard water, lime, calcium, soap scum build up) The bottle sprays upside down so i also tried it on my faucet screens, let it sit for a min then just ran the water, no more wayward water sprays! gonna spray the shower head next.

  • pumpndump

    I cleaned my shower with mineral spirits once…and i used gas on a few black spots and wowow it works

  • Vance Decker

    …there is always some vinegar, lemon juice, and/or baking soda nut bag out there.

    It’s like their entire goal in life is to advocate the usage of inferior cleaning products on blogs.

  • Clipping Path Service

    Nice work you’ve done on this article. The things have been well-written and everyone loves your information. Thanks a lot, mate.
    Clipping Path service

  • John

    Thanks very usefull

  • Dianne Stafford

    Have you ever tried Finazzle Soap Scum Remover? Go To Ace! You will be amazed!!! It is the only one that is safe with natural Stone,Marble, and Anodized Aluminum on your shower door!! No Acid or Bleach and smells refreshing!!

  • Lisa

    Have been fighting hard water for years!! This is (((AMAZING)))!! I did modify a bit. Kept seeing stuff using lemon juice so…I had a lemon and cut it half and used that for my scrubbing pad. Also rinsed with Dawn dish soap and water then dried with an absorbent towel (not paper towels), this is my shower cleaner from now on!! Thanks!!

  • Eva

    Are you recommending BKF Cooktop Cleaner for the entire shower, or just the doors?

  • Sasha

    Vinegar needs water in order to work, to separate the acid particle from the molecule. Hence the 1:1 dilution.

  • Evelyn Danielle

    I appreciate your doing all the legwork to find the best cleaner for this task, however I couldn’t help but notice the bottle of Windex on the counter. Did you have to followup after the Bar Keepers Friend Multipurpose Cooktop Cleaner with Windex?

  • Guest

    I am super cool!

  • Barbara Chisholm

    What I did…take the shower doors off, and laid them on tables in the back yard, flat. Covered them is lime away, and let them soak. Then rubbed car wax all over them. And polished that all off. Talk about elbow grease. But the car wax prevents *most* of the gunk from re-depositing. I have heard people do this a couple times a year. Also, using a shower squeegee helps too. But definitely going to try bar keepers friend first chance I get.

  • Patsy

    Awesome post! So are there any recommendations for the tiled walls in the shower? And how to keep silicon clear of mildew and soap scum?

  • Sarah

    Great post and I love how you really tested each cleaner. That said, everything you used (except vinegar) is HIGHLY toxic and really bad for the environment. Everything we use to clean goes down our drains and into our water supply. I recommend trying to stick with natural products and they really do work. Look into Norwex products – they have a DeScaler that would have blown all of these products away and it’s made from highly concentrated citric acid. It dissolves the lime scale, calcium, and soap scum naturally and the results are amazing. If you want more info, check out my website:

  • passerby1969

    Hi. I have a similar problem in my basement shower. I opted for opaque shower doors instead of clear glass for the very reason of soap scum build up. I’ve tried cleaners, although not as methodically as you. What I have found works best is 2 cups of vinegar heated in the microwave to be very hot and about 1/3 of a cup of blue dawn dishwashing detergent in a sprayer. Spray and let stand for a little bit. Then wipe with a micro fibre cloth. The vinegar eats at the mineral build up and the Dawn helps to degrease the surfaces. It works better than lime away in my opnion.

  • MomentaryLapse

    I was going to say dilute some muriatic acid, but that may be overkill. LOL!

  • suzanne wells

    Have you tried Bring it On cleaner Australia
    this product works and lasts up to 6 weeks between cleans.
    It is also environmentally friendly.
    No harsh chemicals that eat into your grout and spoil your glass

  • Sally

    Hi, I will try Bar Keepers next time I’m at store. However, I want to also suggest you try Simple Green (I get the spray not the concentrate you have to dilute yourself, it’s only $3 bucks for the spray so why add more maintenance by mixing yourself, since we are trying to reduce work here right?) Anyway, used to use CLR, this is much better. It is also a less harsh chemical breathing, but still an issue. It works really well and doesn’t sound like Bar Keepers is doing it any better but always looking for that “magic bullet”. It sounds like from your research and mine, this will always be a high maintenance job! I can get it off, but with hard water it doesn’t last long, and I finish it off with Pledge polish to try to slow down future build up. If you don’t do it often, it seems like it will always take a lot of muscle, if you do it regularly not too much muscle but still time consuming and doesn’t look good for long. I am guessing this is just the reality of hard water. FYI, I do have a water softener, but Phoenix water is so hard it is still a constant problem even with that. I was researching as I approach a bathroom remodel and have decided I need to stick with white tile, as gorgeous as stone or gray tiles would be, with our hard water I don’t think it would be worth the maintenance to me.

  • TNT

    Hi this is TNT from Texas, I am a pro window cleaner and I have been in there! but if you want some good results cheap easy access safe with gloves is Trisodium Phosphate and ready! let me know your results to

  • gg

    I EU there are numerous manufacturers that make stainless glass for bathroom purposes – used widely. Not pricy either. One might wander – whey do we need so many toxic chemicals to be able to live in a up kept environment…. Great post, thank you!

  • George

    A glass friendly scouring pad (green) or heavy duty (if you want to risk scratches) dampened and sprinkled with Borax will do you good. No fumes and just a little elbow grease will release the soap scum and the hard water spots. Obviously more work then a spray, wait and rinse but if you are interested in being chemical free, its a better choice than bleach, no fumes like lime away or clr and works faster than vinegar.

  • Steve

    What – head top head comparison!?!? Like science – you’re blinding me. Thanks!!! I’ll have to come back here.

  • Joe

    I used bar keeper’s friend in the powder form to removed hard water stains from my car’s windows and I was amazed on how good it worked.
    everything else I had tried before that, fell to do the job, all it took was a little scrubbing with damp newspapers and some paste I made with the powder and water.
    scrubbed until it dried off on the glass, than rinsed and dry with newspaper and the glass looks as if it never had any stains.
    thanks a lot for this tip!

  • terdralyn

    I use either BKF or Zud. They both work great. I did run across a problem years ago, and neither of the above options worked to my satisfaction (most gone, but I could still see spots). I don’t know what made me think of it, but I put baby oil on the glass doors, and I was amazed. There were no more spots, streaks or anything resembling soap scum/mineral buildup. BKF and Zud worked well after that one cleaning, and I didn’t have to use the baby oil again.

  • tutttul

    Thank you thank you thank you! Now where to find “Bar Keeper’s Friend” products? Thanks!

  • vin

    vinegar + dish detergent, 1:1, mix in a spray bottle (no dilute in water), spray on the soap scum, leave it for 1 hour or even overnight, scrub it lightly with a sponge, rinse with warm water, it’s all clean!

  • Paula Thomas
  • Jawahir Lal

    Bar Keepers Friend cooktop did not work.It did not even make a dent.I have tried every product out there and some you tube DIY methods and none have worked so far.I have about 7 years of hard water and soap scum built up that does not go away at all.Any suggestions besides replacing the glass.

  • Leanh

    Bar Keepers Friend definitely worked on my shower doors. I Iive in an area where the water is hard and leaves spots. Tried all of the products mentioned in this article and also found that bar keepers friend also cleaned the stainless steel that is trimmed around the shower as well. I definitely recommend this product. I am going to stock up because this stuff also cleans tough grease of glass casserole dishes.

  • Angel Ortiz

    Very scientific approach of yours 😉

  • Frank Lee

    excellent methodology. thanks.

  • Charlotte Green

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Where I live, the water is horrible. I had just about figured out I’d need a gas mask to thoroughly clean my shower. Now I have my answer.

  • zenmom

    Thanks for doing the comparison testing! I will buy the Bar Keepers Friend product now. I appreciate the time you put into getting the products, testing, photographing, and then writing up the exercise.

  • ModernSexCulture

    Hahahaha! This post was fantastic and helped me make a decision. Thanks for the test! I love using vinegar for a lot of things but for tough soap scum, I wouldn’t think it would work unless you paired it with baking soda. And that’s a maybe. I was just looking at Barkeeper’s friend the other day and wondered how it worked. Thanks for trying it out for me.

  • Ash

    I work for a well-known cleaning company but I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it. We have a good soap scum spray and I usually let it sit then scrub it with a mnr clean magic eraser. good results, but only on recent deposits on newly-installed doors. I needed something to tackle my loyal clientele’s shower doors. Definitely gonna buy this and hide it from my boss. Can’t wait to see what it does for textured shower floors and metal fixtures, another giant problem for me.

  • Ben

    I own a cleaning service with 20 staff and have done over 40,000 services to date. We run into this all the time on first/one time deep cleans. Vinegar and a magic eraser is by far the best solution. You just have to let the 5% acid in the vinegar soak long enough to break down the mineral deposits. The heavier the buildup the longer you re-apply. And don’t let the vinegar dry, keep spraying it every 20 minutes to re-activate the acidic properties. Scrub a small area each application with a magic eraser until you see that the vinegar has penetrated through the layers – otherwise your just wasting your energy – you can’t scrub calcium off without something acidic unless you want to use a scotch bright pad, but that will scratch/etch the glass and make calcium adhere stronger next time. The magic eraser is a key tool to grab the buildup and efficiently pull it off the glass. It’s going to take some effort scrubbing, but you will know when the vinegar is working. Fine steel wool is an alternate to the magic eraser. Start out with #0000 super fine grade.

    Once you get your glass clear, every few months just let vinegar soak on the glass for 20 or 40 minutes and quickly scrub off or even squeegee off. Works equally well on porcelain tile, faucets, fixtures, etc. Vinegar is an amazing cleaner if you understand how it works, and can be patient with it.

    Bar keepers friend has 5-10% Oxalic Acid but you have to keep scrubbing for as long as the acid breaks down the calcium, and it’s harder to stay activated (wet) since you have to keep wiping it on. Use vinegar and get the timing down and you will be surprised.

  • Yana Duffy

    Would bkf also work on the tileand grout in the shower? I am a housekeeper and this one lays house that I clean has a very stubborn shower. I’ve used all my best tricks to try and tackle it, but the buildup won’t budge. I’m wondering if I could use bkf with a scrubber brush on the tile and magic erasers on the glass to clean it? The lady had me try a kaboom shower cleaner with bleach today and it didn’t do a thing. Even after letting it door for an hour then scrubbing at it for an hour. Her house smelled like a swimming pool, and I got a migraine from the smell. It burned into my nose-hairs.

  • Mom2thewildboys3

    Works like a charm – Thanks!

  • Hjf2bme

    I am ready to try bar keepers friend on an impossible task that I have been working on! If it is a success, I owe you big time!

  • Dr. Lorna

    It’s important to note that bathroom cleaners have strong fumes, even just those fumes can combine to deadly levels, and such chemical combinations are even more likely when cleaners are sprayed, so using various cleaners at once can be quite dangerous. I’m glad you came out of your experiment okay, and thanks for sharing your findings.

  • Dr. Lorna

    I noticed the website for Bar Keeper’s Friend has a 50-cent coupon. Every little bit helps.

  • Jacks

    This method may need elbow grease but it works. I read online to use newspaper! First use scrunched up dry newspaper and rub your shower doors all over quite vigorously. apparently the friction of the newspaper on the scum loosens it. Then use scrunched up wet newspaper and rub over the scum again. it really starts to come off. However I wasn’t happy with this so then sprayed with Viakal and left for 30 minutes then scubbed with a sponge scourer. when rinsed and dried with a soft cloth, it was like new.

  • awim

    I think that if you regularly cleaned your showers :) instead of waiting till the scum build up is impossible to clean/remove :), you wouldn’t need to use such harsh/harming/toxic/unhealthy chemicals.

  • Anne

    Thank you! I have very hard water and we have had zero success cleaning the shower door. I’m going our right now to try to find some bar keepers friend.

  • Andrea*B

    THANK YOU! I have used bar keepers friend for a long time but never thought to use it on my shower…. I also have been trying to figure this out because using some products will change the color of the antique brass fixtures we have….so that’s my excuse anyways…. but THANKS!

  • Zakirah

    I used a Mr Muscle brand that claims to make my shower glass door shiny, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.Thanks for this experiment! Hopefully the hardware store nearby sells Bar Keepers’ Friend.

  • LiveAgain

    The best thing I found for glass shower doors is car wax. Wax on, wait till dry, Wipe off. It will also works on acrylic bath surrounds. I love BKF, I will definitely try it on tile and the faucets in the shower.

  • Celeste

    THANK YOU!!! Thank you!! Thank you !!! I have tried literally everything and I just can’t get rid of that nasty soap scum but now with you proved method I will definitely do it.

  • Kelly Burstow

    This is so helpful. Thank you.

  • Karen Marino

    Lime away doesn’t work at all for my shower doors, it used to work but now it’s more environmentally friendly. It did nothing for the hard water spots. my search goes on!

  • Carlos Aliaga

    Nice job man! I am glad seeing people like you, who really put the best to make a great work.

  • David

    Finally, someone who does a scientific test and objectively posts results instead of perpetuating old wive’s tales. I tried the Bar Keeper’s Friend and, although it does require some elbow grease, this does work very well. The vinegar solution so widely-touted on all these DIY sites… not worth a crap.

  • Toby

    How long do I need to keep Barkeeper’s Friend on my shower doors before wiping off? So far it hasn’t worked in removing hard water deposits and soap scum.

  • Gary Crainshaw

    A product that, although not “green”, worked amazing and removed all traces of hard water with little effort and was cheap was at the hard water remover.

  • Ken Mcfadden

    You are a genius! Thanks for the review. I have GLASS SHOWER BLOCKS all around my shower and have been battling soap scum for years. I found using a liquid soap like Dr. Bronners keeps it way down, but the other stuff accumulates. I found a product called Bio-Clean water stain remover which works great..maybe u can add it to your tests..But I am all out. I do have some lime-away the gel I am going to try right now based on your tests. Thanks again!

  • Tia

    Thanks for the tip on shower door cleaning. For years I could not get the bottom of my shower doors clean no matter how much scrubbing I did. On your advice, I got the spray Lime-Away. Then I used those pads for cleaning black stove tops. They have some roughness but are guaranteed not to scratch the glass stove top, so I assumed the same would apply to the glass door. Within seconds my door bottoms were clean. Took almost no effort at all. Please note you will need gloves to use the Lime-Away, so get some if you don’t have any.

  • Karen DeFuria Ryan

    Automatic dish detergent works like magic along with a magic sponge…

  • Der Bengel

    Dude, I just found this page because I wanted to see if chlorine bleach can remove hard water stains (lime/calcium), and I liked what I saw, you trying to be scientific with your experimentation, but you seriously need to go to chemistry class!

    pH of 0-6.9 is acidic, 7.0 is neutral and 7.1 to 14 is alkaline!! SHEESH!

    And as for not seeing any scratches on the glass…what science class did you take in school?? I guarantee they are microscopic. And each and every time you do this, you will contribute a little more to the damage. As they say, a lot of nothing adds up to something-ever hear that? Well, one day, if you don’t move any time soon, you WILL see the scratches becoming visible.

    And this is why they say not to use abrasives in your coffee pot. Even though your coffee pot is tempered glass, the abrasion cuts the glass and breaks it down until your coffee pot breaks one morning just from tapping it or using hot/cold water.

    And whatever you do, do NOT mix bleach and ammonia or lye, or certain other chemicals together unless you want to take a great risk in permanently damaging your lungs and/or killing yourself (and in a very slow and painful way).

  • Van E. T.

    I’m so late to the party I think everyone left and a found a new party. But I’m going to use that Bar Keeper’s wotsit . Thank you!

  • Sally Stewart

    Very much enjoyed your piece…thanks for putting these products to the test, now I’m off to purchase Bar Keeper’s Friend :)

  • Stephanie Cordova

    I know this thread is very old but I would like to come to vinegars defence. You have to heat the vinegar to almost boiling for it to work and it has to be scrubbed on. Best for horizontal surfaces. I have granite counter top with a surface mounted faucet…get horrible hard water stains but hot vinegar removes it very well.

  • Michael Jannise

    Miracle Scrub Surface cleaner is the best thing by far I have ever tried for cleaning glass showers with soap scum and other deposits. It will bring it back to brand new pretty darn easily and it also works on other bathroom surfaces etc. Also, their other products help keep it from getting that way in the first place. They are expensive and, as far as I know, you have to get them from their online store or possibly Amazon.

  • JMJ8679

    Wow, so this is an older post, but guess what, people are clearly still reading it. I just wanted to say thanks as I am looking for something to clean the bathtub with. We have hard water and nasty soap scum and I cannot find anything that works and I didn’t want to go buying many different cleaners, nor expensive ones, only to find they don’t work. I have never heard of Bar Keepers Friend, but I will look for it and try it. I don’t mind spending the money if it works :)

  • Karen Wescott

    I just read this article after ready tons, OK maybe not tons but seriously a lot, there was so much info out there! Your article had the best information and with the pictures, as a viewer, I could see for myself, the results. I am going to go get the BKF and tackle the shower that was left in really bad shape by my renter who just moved. I’m not sure if it’s ever been scrubbed thoroughly in the last 5 years so your article is an answer to my prayers!!!! Thank you!

  • Daniel Scott

    Regarding the vinegar, I’ve used it very successfulyl to descale electric kettles. I found that it barely did anything until you switch the kettle on though – once it’s hot it dissolves thick lime scale right before your eyes.

    I’ve seen some tips around the Internet that also suggest heating it up (in the microwave) before using it to clean scale off shower glass (it’s also been suggested to mix a little detergent in – I assume to help the vinegar “stick” to the dissolved lime scale and drag it off the glass, since detergent is a surfactant).

    None of the Internet “heated vinegar” receipes I came across suggested how hot you should get it, but in the kettle I found it had to be almost boiling before the real action started. At those temperatures I wonder how a spray bottle would last? :)

    I usually use CLR and it does ok, but it’s never gotten rid of *all* of the lime scale (the lime scale where I live now seems to be especially nasty). Will have to see if Bar Keepers Friend can be found here in Australia! :) My partner swears by shower power though.

  • pph57

    Bar Keeper’s Friend works every time. I found an old art deco pedestal sink in a junkyard that looked like new after using BKF!

  • Who me?

    Thanks for the reflective research. I think barkeepers friend works great on porcelain. Wasn’t thinking about using it on the shower doors I just took out. Was opting to use vinegar which I’ve been reading was the secret. Sounds like a waste of time. Apparently people that use vinegar or whatever else actually have different water problems that it takes different cleaners to clean. Thanks.

  • sally

    thank you!!!

  • David Strole

    Great post. Very helpful. I found a great acidic detergent product for lime and soap deposits, it is called “Showers n’ Stuff.” It is available online from many places. About $6.00 for a quart. It works very fast, with minimum scrubbing. You must rinse with water after using to remove the film remaining on the surface.
    But…I made the mistake of using it on our stone shower. Anywhere it was not rinsed right away with water left a white dot or a white smear. The bottle instructions said not to use on natural stone. But I read the instructions afterwards…duh.
    I need some advice, if you know what I should do. I did fix most of the problem by reapplying it, one tile at a time and rinsing immediately with water and drying it. But when I tried to clean up some of the lines left by drips, the cleaner left a white smear that gets worse when you try again. When the tile is wet in those areas, the marks disappear. I tested a small area with sealer, to see if the marks went away, but the mark reappeared when the sealer dried.

  • Miranda

    Thank you! I tried everything – literally- home remedies, every available product in the surpermarket/hardware shop including oven caustic cleaners, rust and lime removers – everything, but nothing removed the ingrained water marks. Whilst the glass looked clean if you got up close you could still see water stains – it was really bugging me! After Google searching how to get rid of them I came across posts for “Bar Keepers Friend”(including yours) I decided it had to be worth a go. I had to order it online and it worked! Unbelievable! I had to scrub the glass 2 times, and the second time I added a spray of “oomph” (from Bunnings) just for good measure before scrubbing with Bar Keepers Friend (the powder mixed into a paste). It took a fair bit of elbow grease but it worked! No more water stains! I am very happy! Now I just have to work out what to do with all those other useless cleaners I bought! This is the only product (and as I said I’ve tried loads!) that has worked.

  • janierainie

    I found through experimentation that the little bottles of dishwasher spot cleaner works well when used with an “eraser” type sponge. No brand name just dollar store brand or generic grocery store stuff. I like your idea of barkeepers friend though, because it’s a cream and will sit on the surface. Maybe there won’t be as much scrubbing. I really hate scrubbing. Really. Hate. !!

  • Cheryl Kay Buchholtz

    Thank you so much….you must be a scientist!!!!!

  • Jennifer G.

    The bar keepers friend is a great product. Does anyone have a suggestion on making a paste with the powder? It seems wasteful to buy another bottle when I already have the powder version at home.

  • Tom Gabriele

    I just tried Brasso, which seems to be the lower-rent cousin of Bar Keeper’s Friend, and got similarly impressive results.

  • rarely

    The wrong toilet bowl cleaner was used. Lysol (black) for hard water or The Works toilet bowl cleaners work on hard water buildup in tile, grout, porcelain, virtually every surface. Make sure to apply the bowl cleaner on DRY surface. For some reason wet surfaces don’t produce the required results as well. Thanks

  • Julie

    I don’t know how you got it to work for you? When I used it on my glass door it did absolutely nothing, it is still the same as it was beforehand, it was a waste of money.

  • Kelley

    AWESOME!! What did you use to scrub? (Sponge? Cloth? 3M green sided sponge??)

  • Chuck Roadley

    Great Post – I also have a trick for you guys that are tasked with the glass problem and have an orbital buffer on hand. 3M super duty rubbing compound (#5954) – something I had in my shop for the car. This will clean off ALL the scum on glass in 2 shakes. Looks brand new!!!! Then treat glass with CRL Surface Protector (TPC16), kind of like Rain X. The water will bead away. Finally, buy a small squeegee and hang it in the shower to swipe the remaining water once bathed. This method will keep your glass clean for 6 months or so with very minor buildup. Thanks for the tips – I’m off to scrub tile!!! (PS. Make sure the bathroom is well vented for using the compound. The lubricants will give you a nose full)

  • peggy

    I moved into a house in CA that had auto sprinklers that hit the windows every night for a period of time. The water was hard, and when I moved in nobody had lived there for over two years. The windows were solid white on the outside…so I got a gallon of white vinegar, rubber gloves, and a box of magic eraser sponges…soaked the sponge in warm vinegar and wet the window down, then went back from top to bottom and cleaned them with a circular motion…rinsing off before they dried (do not use in direct sun or hot part of the day). The windows were beautiful in no time at all.

  • Virginia Barrett

    Amazing post! Exactly what I was searching for! Cheers from Canada!!

  • Travis Sturzl

    Bar Keepers Friend makes a spray bottle version. Its pretty similar to the powder but its not abrasive. I usually use it to clean stainless steel, my range top and oven. Its similar to CLR or Lime Away, its an acid based cleaner. I use the powdered bar keepers friend to clean cookware and dishes, where its abrasiveness works really well to get off food and discoloration on my stainless cookware, and silverware wearing off on plates and bowls.

  • Susan Marton Tomlinson

    You rock! Just what I was looking for, a tried and true experiment!

  • Water Chemical

    Nice post.
    Thanks gan informasinya, ditunggu postingan2 berikutnya.
    Water Chemical Solution
    Super Descaler

  • Tracy K

    Another great tip I learned when I was a Chief stewardess on a yaght, after the glass is free of hard water stains and soap scum, treat it with an application of Rainex and the water will bead off the glass and you won’t have to scrub it again. I would do this about every 4 months.

    • Tracy K

      Yacht!! Typing with my phone and no glasses !

  • Ann Nonymous

    For glass shower doors, use lemon furniture oil on a rag. Then rinse away! For mold around metal parts of shower doors, use used Bounce sheets. They are the best for removing mold.

  • bether

    Thanks for this!!! You need a Pinterest board!

  • Dianna Rodgers

    Thanks. This worked, granted I am not very strong, so I spent 1.5 hours scrubbing one door. My build up was as bad as yours and seeing your results was motivation enough for me to keep on scrubbing! I used the liquid soft cleanser from BKF. If you have rust on your stainless steel fridge it works too.

  • Jalena Reschke Nielsen

    I’d be interested to see how Zep would compare to others in this experiment. It is currently rated as the number one hard water cleaner on Google. If you ever run this experiment again, perhaps you could add Zep running against your current top winners.

  • Richard Baker

    My shower/tubs are 30 years old and fiberglass gelcoat. The only way I have been able to cut through the soap/scum is with automotive cutting compound, be careful. followed with The Original Gel -Gloss Kitchen & Bath Cleaner & Polish,16oz all using a Harbor freight automotive polisher at 200 rpm – overkill, yes but it works on sinks, cultured marble, kitchen counter, bath counters and SS sinks. – and you can even use it in the car.

  • Kaeli Tully

    Awesome post! Thank you for the research

  • Will Homelsy

    any cooktop cleaner will do the trick….it’s all the same stuff.

  • MikeS1961

    To prevent future hard water stains, you can apply some lemon oil to the glass with a soft clean cloth, then wipe dry with another. I put large 4″ speaker magnets on my incoming water supply line to the house, and that helps to keep the hard minerals from building up anywhere. The magnet charges the particles so they don’t stick to each other and go down the drain. For good measure I also taped one to the shower head tube, and put one on the cold water line to my water heater. Works like a charm.

  • Grinder

    Here’s a real hint the writer here never considered, if anyone’s still interested. Don’t go by brand names; go by active ingredient(s). For example, CLR and Lime Away are the exact same product, only two different manufacturers. Read the label. BarKeeper’s Friend is good, but strong and even damaging for many surfaces. It’s basically oxalic acid. The writer here should have instructed as I was instructed years ago — start with a weak product (dishwashing soap) and move on to stronger and stronger…if need be. Don’t start right out with a strong acid or even a bleach-based cleaner such as Tilex. For example, if you use Tilex on a terrazzo shower base, you’ll etch away the portland cement base. Again, start with weak and go to strong and be aware of what will permanently damage certain surfaces.

  • Steve Vise

    Hi Mark, well done! I own a glass company, and have long know the benefits of Bar Keeper’s Friend. However, sometimes I have to clean water spots on automotive glass, and water spots from acid rain tend to stick a lot better than those found on shower glass. In those cases, I use a product called Nu Glass

  • Kratzer Family

    Thank you for your experiment. It led me to Barkeeper’s Friend which will be saving me time and a lot of sore muscles. I have a large job and after a day of working with CLR with unsatisfactory results, I have been testing Barkeeper’s Friend. With the amount of buildup in the bath and tile surround of the hall bathroom in our new (old) house, I have combined an initial scrub using Barkeeper’s friend foam and a Scotch-brite sponge, a set time of 15 minutes then alternating scrubs using the scotch-brite and 400 grit wet sandpaper. I am actually getting down to the tile surface and a shine. This is going to save me the $1070-1470 refinishing cost.

  • Jessica

    I have to say, I never leave comments but I just had to. I was looking for a shower cleaner to make my life easier. I came across your experiment and then I found Bar Keepers Friend in the local grocery store. I can home eagar to try it! Wowza! I did to rounds but the film came up quite easy. Thank you for doing this.

  • Julia

    Best tip EVER!!!

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