Clean Your Shower or Bathtub Simply

Clean Your Shower or Bathtub Simply

Written by Sherrie Cook, Contributing Writer

Cleaning the bathroom can be one of a homemaker’s most daunting tasks.  There are so many cracks and crevices…and the battle against invisible germs and obvious spores seems never ending. My least favorite obstacle in the bathroom is the shower/tub. (Yes, I would rather scrub the toilet!)  It’s just so big and has a ton of surface area.

However, a few years ago, I took up cleaning houses to make extra money for my family. It was during that time that I learned a few tools of the trade and have since adapted and incorporated into my standard cleaning routine at my own house.

Tip #1: Clean the tub/shower while you are IN the tub/shower.

Pick a wall and scrub it before you wash yourself. The next time you shower, clean the next wall and so on. Your tub will always be getting clean and you get to rinse off when you’re done! (Granted, I never did it this way when I was cleaning other people’s houses!)

Tip #2:  Keep your tools handy– ideally in the shower.

Cleaning Supplies

The supplies you need are practical and if you can be either tolerant of seeing them every day or creative in hiding them, they can easily be kept in your shower for easy, daily access.

  • a scrunchy-scrubby-thingy (top right-most dollar stores sell these 2 for $1)
  • an old toothbrush (emphasis on “old” – you won’t want to brush your teeth with this one ever again! Mine has a magnet in the bottom which comes in handy)
  • natural shampoo or baking soda – whichever method you use for cleaning your hair
  • old cup (not pictured)

Another item I love is a squeegee (not pictured). This is great for ridding your walls and floor of standing water which encourages mold and mildew. Not a necessity, but it can be priceless asset to your supply stash!

Tip #3:  Use your tools appropriately.

The scrunchy should be used for flat surfaces. The toothbrush should be used in corners, cracks and seams. If you have tile in your tub area, I suggest using the scrunchy first because it will get some of the ick out of small places, but the toothbrush is a necessity for getting into the nitty gritty spots.

Simply add a squirt of shampoo or body wash or sprinkle on the baking soda and wipe and scrub as needed. (Note:  More scrubbing may be needed in the beginning, but as you make washing a tub wall a daily habit, it will become a lighter job.)  Add more of your cleaner occasionally as you start a different sections of the wall.

Tip #4:  Rinse thoroughly and squeegee if you prefer.

This is where the cup comes in handy. Fill the cup with the running shower water and rinse your working area. This helps you to see how thorough a job you have done and puts a bit of a spotlight on those areas still needing a once over.

(Be aware that filling and emptying a cup of water in the shower is not a silent process and should not be attempted while your husband is sleeping in the next room. Not that I’ve tried that…just sayin’.)

The cup is also a great holder for your tools. If you decide to squeegee the walls and floor, it is advisable to do so after you are done washing yourself and are almost ready to exit the tub. (Also, turn the water off first otherwise, you could find this job never ending.)

That’s it! You’re done! Using only products that already touch your body on a regular basis! (OK, well, maybe not the squeegee…)  No foul odors or hazardous fumes, just good clean tubs and showers.

Below you can see my success with this method. The first shot is the “before” and the second picture is the “after”. This scrub session took less than a minute and I left a lot of gunk behind to make my point. The grout will probably need a little bit more work, but I’m told this particular mold had been growing for over 2 years. I purposefully left the mold on the left to show the drastic change. (This may or may not be my own 35 year old shower in need of cleaning and repair, but regardless no friendships were harmed during the writing of this post.)

Tub wall before Tub wall after

How do you clean your bathtub or shower? Have you ever cleaned it while in it?

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  1. I scrub mine while in it, but I’ve always used powdered laundry detergent with a green scrubby-pad (like scotch-brite.) It works GREAT, but I’ll have to give baking soda a try.

  2. I agree…cleaning the shower right before she shower is the easiest. Or cleaning the bathtub and then rewarding yourself with a nice soak in the freshly cleaned tub.

  3. Encourage family members to squeegee the walls after their showers. This helps keep the shower looking clean. Especially with hard water.

  4. I also clean my shower while right before I take one! Just last week I tried cleaning it without being in it, in my regular clothes and got soaked. I thought to myself, “How or why could anyone do this?!” Either way you’re going to get wet, so you may as well make it worth your while and enjoy a long shower 🙂

    Love the squeegee tip, Heidi!

  5. I have cleaned the shower while in it but it’s been awhile. I will start doing that again! We do have a squeegee but I’ll need to dig it up from the basement somewhere. Great tips! Thanks so much!

    Ruth Ann Bowen
    co-founder, Nurturing Naturally

  6. how have I never thought of this? I do try to clean after someone has been in there so theres a bit of moisture and steam to loosen the dirt, but I’d never thought to do it while showering! I need to go natural because the baby has come out in hives twice now after going in a freshly cleaned bath where I used a regular ‘bathroom cleaner’ so there is obviously some chemical sensitivity for him. thankyou, the timing of this was perfect for me.

  7. I used to clean the shower curtain while I was in the shower. I used an old scrub brush, even now I just have a washcloth in the shower, but the spongy thing is a great idea.

  8. I toss baking soda around and sometimes flood it, if it’s bad…and let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Then I use a sponge and just wipe it down! I also have a spray bottle of Seventh Generation shower/tub cleaner that I use every now and then, but baking soda usually does just fine. Maybe a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s too.

  9. I remember Flylady saying once it doesn’t matter what you use to clean your tub, just use whatever you have handy. I’ve kept a scrubby pad with a handle in the shower and have squirted shampoo I didn’t like on it and scrubbed when in the shower, but not on a daily basis (I REALLY struggle with routine and things that require regular maintenance…). That makes more sense, along with the baking soda…although I’m not sure I could use the pouf to clean the shower…I’m just scatterbrained enough to forget and use it on me!

  10. When we started using a squeegee I was very surprised at how well it actually worked. Using it regularly means that I rarely have to scrub the shower. Which I like 🙂

  11. Glad I’m not the only one who does this! It makes a wonderful excuse for a long, hot shower 🙂 Ditto to keeping the cleaning supplies *in* the shower with you–and I like the idea about using shampoo! I’ve been using baking soda.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping the mold off of a regular-width shower curtain when you have a stall-sized shower? The curtain has so many folds in it that it gets mildewy before I see that part. Should I cut it in half? 😉

    1. @Diana, I’d cut it. I use those thick vinyl ones and they’re much easier to clean. While I’m in the shower, I sprinkle some baking soda on and scrub with an old scrubby pad, then rinse. I do this every 1-2 weeks and haven’t had any trouble with mold since I started doing it.

    2. @Diana, I would also cut it. I have a fabric polyester one (since I read that the vinyl ones outgass a lot and I try to avoid that where possible). I spray mine down with vingear/water (1:1) when I clean the tub and shower and that helps. I don’t have nearly as bad an issue with it now. Just sometimes, mainly if I don’t do the vinegar thing. Then about every 2 months I toss it in the wash with some powdered hydrogen peroxide “oxygen bleach” and hang it back up (without drying it).

  12. I clean while I’m in the shower also. It works so well and I don’t have to worry about accidentally splashing myself or making a mess in the floor! And since I only use baking soda I don’t have to worry about being in an enclosed space with a toxic chemical!

    I haven’t quite figured out how to effectively clean the kids’ shower, though. It doesn’t need cleaning as often as the master so I’m thinking maybe I should just plan on showering in there once every few weeks so I can scrub it more effectively!

    1. I also clean the shower while in there, as for the kids shower, I use their shower once a fortnight to give it a really good scrub.

  13. What a great idea! I will definitely have to try this next time I shower because I definitely dislike cleaning my shower. It takes forever and it’s difficult to reach every spot since my bathroom is so small.

  14. I just cleaned the shower while in it for the first time today, then came downstairs and found this post waiting in my reader–talk about timing! All of your tips are great, and I will definitely be trying the one wall a day tactic, as I HATE cleaning the shower. I used a some white vinegar while I was at it today, as the mold had gotten a little out of control. I’d love to hear more about keeping mold at bay naturally! Thanks!

  15. I do this too! A great excuse for a nice long shower!

    How do you keep shower curtains clean? Do you leave them pulled shut all the time? Maybe I just need to buy a replacement more often? I hate that it gets so grungy 🙁

    1. @Kris, I use a fabric polyester one, so I wash it now and then about every 2 months, in the washer with oxygen bleach (safe). I also spray it down with vinegar/water when cleaning the bathroom. That helps it seems to ward off mildew.

  16. I love cleaning my shower while I’m in it! I just picked up a toothbrush for dentures. It is harder than regular toothbrushes so it really cleans my grout well.

  17. I love this post! Very practical! I always clean my shower while i”m in it. It is the only way!! However, I never thought to use shampoo! Does that really disinfect??? What about mold and mildew in the grout? I feel like I need something stronger.

    i bought some Method Daily Shower cleaner and have been encouraging my whole family to spray down their showers after each use.

    1. @Elizabeth, Unless you’ve had to clean off a kid after a diaper blowout or tummy-bug eruption, your shower doesn’t really have a lot of nasty germs in it–just plain old dirt. And I’ve heard several mold-removal contractors say that plain dish soap and hot water are sufficient for cleaning up small patches of mold and mildew. So you’re probably just fine using shampoo, etc. If you’re still nervous, you could try something like white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide–both are mild disinfectants, but much safer than chemicals like bleach.

  18. Great post! Very practical! I always clean my shower while in it — there is really no other way!! However, I never thought of using shampoo. Does that really disinfect?? i have some mildew growing in my grout. Will shampoo really take care of that?

    I recently purchased some Method Daily Shower cleaner and have been encouraging my family to spray their showers each day.

  19. That’s how I do mine, too. Except not every day! And I use shampoo on the scrunch scrubber. It helps for soap scum and makes some difference on the calcium deposits. If we’ve forgotten to put salt in our softener tank for a while, I need to use vinegar to clean off the calcium scum.

    Annie Kate

  20. This is basically what we do too. Even my husband! We do squeegy the shower after the last person is finished. Thanks for spreading the word!!

  21. I came back over to ask a question after trying this method this morning. I have a small patch of mold that won’t come off, even though its only been there a very short time. How did you get that one that was growing for so long off? CAn you describe in detail what you used (baking soda or shampoo, toothbrush, etc?) I did find that some of the gunk came off easier than when I normally clean the tile when I clean the bathroom. So that was great. I think I will keep doing it this way. I was so motivated I then cleaned the rest of the bathroom! LOL

  22. Just thought I’d give my shower curtain cleaning tip… since we’re on the subject 🙂 Instead of scrubbing the curtain down, did you know that you can put it in the washing machine? Yeah, even the cheap vinyl liners. Just throw in two white towels with the curtain (or curtain liner), fill with warm water, add detergent as usual and 1/2 c. baking soda, and wash. To keep the mold and mildew at bay, add 1 c. white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Then hang it back on the rod to dry. Works like a charm every time!

  23. I too clean while in the shower. we have a shower-bath combo and I use a body/face exfoliating mitt (i buy them at the $ store). works perfectly for the walls, tub and corners-best discovery ever!

  24. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I almost never clean my shower–sort of. Each time I shower, I spray it afterward with Seventh Generation daily shower cleaner (no wiping/scrubbing required), and that works so well that I only have to do a proper scrub once every month or two. When it’s time for the scrub, I just spray the whole thing with straight vinegar, wipe down with a microfiber cloth, and use an old toothbrush on the odd spot of dingy grout. Super-easy!
    When I have to scrub the tub (about once a month), I just pull out the vinegar again but this time use with a big, coarse cleaning brush.

  25. Omigosh! I thought I was kinda lazy because I do the exact thing! I use one of our old scrubbies and shampoo or body wash to scrub the shower. Except that my shampoo/body wash is not natural, its the cheapest you can get…does that mean my shower’s not as ‘clean’ as I think it is? I also try to do the same in my jetted tub while its draining and I’m still in it. It gets so icky at the water line! Kind of a side note, a few weeks ago, I sat on a folded up towel while in the tub to make it more comfortable on my backside, and when I ran the jets, I got bubbles! Then when I emptied the tub, the most disgusting looking brown film stuck to the sides of the tub! Eeww! I’m either using too much laundry detergent or I need to set my machine to an extra rinse! I am big on recycling, but needless to say, I am so far from being a ‘green’ house cleaner — baby steps! Thanks for all the great posts! I’m a new follower and I know I’ll glean some valuable advice here. (o;

  26. Yes! Other ladies that clean while in the tub. Thats the only way not to break your back. Another great trick…I repurposed a micro fiber car wash mitt to wash the tubs large surfaces & use Dr. Bronners liquid soap that I use on my own body. Your hand fits into the mitt & the soap suds & smells real nice (no need to use a ton of it either).

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