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Beginner Guide to Cleaning Shower Door Glass

Has your shower glass lost the shine and appeal it had when it was new?  The problem can usually be blamed on a combination of hard water and soap scum.  In Connecticut hard water is a problem, like much of the US.    Western Connecticut, including New Haven and Fairfield county have among the hardest water in the state.  168 PPM in Bridgeport and 194 PPM in New Haven both considered high by USGS figures.

Why do shower doors and enclosures get dirty?

The combination of hard water and soap creates soap scum.  If this settles and builds up on the glass it can become difficult to wash off and create a less than desired look.  People often don’t realize that glass is a porous material, minerals seep into the glass over time and need regular cleaning to prevent a build-up.   This build-up has two stages:

Stage 1:

Presents as a cloudy appearance.  Scum can be removed from the surface.

Stage 2: 

Sodium and calcium bind to the surface of the glass, tiny pockets/ridges can form and the minerals start to eat away at the glass (corrosion).  This can be harder to deal with but can be recovered from.

Stage 2 occurs when there is too much alkalinity in the water and on the glass, a problem made worse by soap scum.

If hard water deposits and soap scum are allowed to build up on the glass it can progress from wipe-away stains to harder to deal with abrasions that need specialist techniques to smooth and buff away.


Cleaning common stains and scum

Ask a dozen people and you’ll get a range of answers.  There’s endless ways to clean your shower door glass.


When you have less time

If you don’t already have a coating on your glass then this should be your first consideration.  It’s an initial investment however it will mean that you won’t need to clean your shower anywhere near as much.   Glass coatings provide a transparent layer which helps to repel water and stop scum hard mineral deposits from building-up as easily.  These coatings are often referred to as self-cleaning glass.

These coatings can last from between 3-10 years.


White Vinegar and water

The very simplest solution involves just two ingredients.  It’s super easy and cheap.

Mix 1 part water with 2-3 parts vinegar in a spray bottle.

Spray onto the glass and leave for 5 minutes.

You don’t want the solution to dry out too quickly so spray more if you need to.

Finally rinse with warm water and dry with a rag or non-abrasive towel.


Need a tougher solution?

Try 1/2 cup of baking soda and enough white vinegar or water to form a medium to thick paste.

Spread the paste on your shower glass and leave for 10-15 minutes, then rinse and wipe away with a non-abrasive cloth or towel.

Another easy solution is to create a kind of brush with half a lemon dipped in salt grounds.  You can then brush the lemon over the worst areas and wipe clean to finish.


Preventative measures

The simplest preventative measure is to use a squeegee to wipe down your shower glass each day after your shower.  Try not to leave it too long after each use as you don’t want the water to dry on.  Use long strokes downwards so that the water falls away from the glass.



Quick tips

  • Leave the door open – This helps to evaporate water before it dries onto your glass.
  • Use your vent extractor – If you have one, or consider installing one if you don’t.


Simple solutions not working?

If you have tried the above cleaning solutions and the glass is still looking dirty then you may have stage 2 corrosion.  It’s possible still to recover your glass from this stage either with a metal polish or very fine sandpaper (5000-7000 grit sandpaper) be very careful and always test first with an inconspicuous area.