8 Simple Steps to a Sparkling-Clean Shower

An easy-to-follow guide to make your shower shine.

The shower is your space to wash away the dirt and grime of the day. But is it as clean as you are? If you’re not on top of routine cleaning, hard water spots, limescale, soap scum, and even mildew can take over your space. It’s not our favorite task either, but there’s good news: it’s not hard or complicated. With these easy-to-follow steps, and some of our favorite shower cleaning hacks, your shower space can be as relaxing as you deserve it to feel.

Best shower Cleaning Equipment

Not all showers are created equal, but no matter what you’re working with, you likely don't need a closet full of expensive equipment to make it shine. Before running to the store, take stock of what kind of shower you’re looking to clean. Here’s what you’ll need, divided by shower type.

Cleaning supplies for ceramic tile shower

  • sponge or non-scratch scrubber
  • soft-bristled brush or a (clean) old toothbrush
  • rubber gloves
  • cleaning rag
  • squeegee
  • grout cleaning solution: 1 part bleach, 2 parts water in a spray bottle
  • cleaning solution (we prefer: 9 Elements vinegar-powered cleaner)

Cleaning supplies for fiberglass shower

  • sponge or non-scratch scrubber
  • cleaning rag
  • squeegee
  • cleaning solution: 9 Elements vinegar-powered bathroom cleaner

Cleaning supplies for stone shower

  • microfiber cleaning cloths
  • squeegee
  • cleaning solution: 1 tablespoon gentle dish soap like Dawn in 1 quart warm water in a spray bottle

The best way to clean a shower

No matter what type of shower you have in your home, the steps for cleaning are generally the same. We will start with ceramic tile and fiberglass showers, before moving into specialty showers like natural stone.

How to clean ceramic tile showers

Step 1: Get the junk out

We know, cleaning the shower isn’t the most thrilling activity, so you’re wanting to get it finished as quickly as possible. You’ll be tempted to skip this step, but you shouldn’t. Removing the army of soap, shampoo bottles, and body scrubbers that have invaded your space is important. Get them out of the shower so you have an empty space to clean. This ensures no dirt or scum stays hidden out of sight.

Step 2: Heat it up

Let the shower run, on high, for 2-3 minutes. The steam will help to loosen the dirt and grime on the walls, and the water will begin washing away any particulates that have gathered on the floor. Yes, you still have to scrub… but not yet. If you have a detachable shower head, use it to wet down all the walls before cleaning.

Step 3: Bottle wipe down

While the shower heats up, take a moment to wipe down your shampoo and body wash bottles. Living inside your shower, they get just as much scum build-up as the walls and floor. At this point, likely all you need is your cleaning rag, a little hot water from the sink, and some elbow grease. You don’t eat candy after you brush your teeth… so don’t put dirty bottles back into your newly cleaned shower.

Step 4: Mildew eye-spy

Turn the running shower off, and examine your space for the presence of mildew, beginning with the grout between tiles. This porous material, especially if it wasn’t sealed, can be a problem area. Finish by checking the corners of the shower, and don’t forget to look up, as well as down. Anywhere you find mildew, spray it with a generous helping of your grout cleaning solution (1 part bleach, 2 parts water) and let it soak for 10 minutes.

Hint: when you use bleach, turn on the fan or open a window… and never mix bleach with other cleaning solutions, especially ammonia.

Step 5: Brush it clean

After allowing the bleach to do its work, clean your grout lines with a soft-bristled brush (or toothbrush), removing the mildew. Rinse the areas with hot water.

When working with bleach, it’s best to keep it off your hands by using rubber gloves.

Step 6: Spray it down

Now that the grout lines are clean, it’s time for everything else. Apply a generous coating of cleaner to the tiles, walls, and floor. It’s time to wait… again. Let the cleaner sit for about 10 minutes. This gives it time to cut through the dirt and grime—meaning a cleaner shower, with less scrubbing.

For cleaners, we prefer 9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner for removing soap scum, hard water stains, limescale, and the crud that builds up in the shower. It’s powered by vinegar, with no harsh chemicals, and comes with the EPA Safer Choice Label.

Step 7: Scrubba dub-dub

After giving the cleaner time to work, scrub the walls down with a sponge or non-scratch scrubber. (Never use hard bristles or metal scrubbers, as these can scratch the tile.) Start at the top, and work your way down, keeping an eye out for any spaces that need special attention. Once the space has been wiped down, use the showerhead to rinse the area (from top to bottom) with hot water.

Step 8: Squeegee dry

Use a squeegee to wipe dry all wet areas, preventing water spots from forming.

How to clean fiberglass showers

Fiberglass showers are quick and easy to clean. Begin with steps 1-3 above, ensuring your shower is empty, wetted down, and the bottles are clean. When you’ve done that, move on to the quick steps below.

Step 1: Spray down

Coat the walls and floor of your shower with your preferred cleaning solution, giving it 5-10 minutes to work. Beginning at the top and working downward, wipe the walls and floor with a sponge or non-scratch scrubber. If your shower has built in ledges or shelving, focus on these areas, as scum can build up along the edges.

Again, we reach for 9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner for this step. Because it’s a vinegar-based cleaner, it’s tough enough for soap scum, hard water stains, and limescale, but gentle enough to be used around the family and pets.

Step 2: Squeegee dry

Starting at the top, dry each wall with a squeegee. This will ensure no water spots form as your clean shower dries.

How to clean specialty showers

How to clean stone showers

Marble, granite and limestone make for a beautiful shower scape, but stone surfaces require a different (and specialized) cleaning method. Again, not too complicated.

Note: Never use vinegar or harsh chemicals on stone surfaces as they can do permanent damage to the stone’s surface.

Step 1: Clean and wipe

As in the steps above, empty your shower of all loose items—shampoo and soap bottles, razors, etc. Take a second to wipe down all these surfaces with some warm water and a cleaning rag.

Step 2: Spray down

Give your shower a generous coating with a gentle cleaner. You can find stone cleaners commercially, but we love a good homemade solution of one tablespoon Dawn dissolved in one quart of warm water. Identify any problem areas and give them some extra attention, wiping down everything with a microfiber cloth. When finished, rinse all surfaces with warm water.

Step 3: If there’s mildew

Do a quick spot-check for mildew. If you see any growing, treat it with a mixture of one part bleach, one part water. Spray the trouble area and let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub clean with a soft bristled brush or old toothbrush. Rinse bleach away with hot water.

Step 4: Squeegee time

Give all surfaces a once-over with a soft squeegee, ensuring no water spots appear in your completed (and beautifully clean) shower.

Step 5: Seal it up

About twice a year (or following your installer’s guidelines), natural stone requires an added barrier of sealant to maintain its beautiful appearance. Keeping water and bacteria from penetrating the stone, these sealants can be obtained from your installer or at home improvement stores. Be sure not to apply seal until the stone is completely dry, following the directions on the sealant’s packaging.

How often should I clean the shower?

Now that you know the most effective way to get your shower clean, how often do you actually have to do it? The answer to that question is based on how frequently your shower gets used and your personal preferences. We’ve found a shower deep clean, using the steps outlined above, should be done at least once weekly, especially when used by more than one member of the household.

That being said, a few helpful hacks, outlined below, can make your weekly shower cleaning quicker (and buy you some extra days between cleanings. Shhhh, we won’t tell.).

Daily shower maintenance tips

  • After each shower, use a squeegee or bath towel to do a 30-second wipe down. Drying the shower will significantly slow down mildews, water stains, and the buildup of grime.
  • After each use, check the drain and remove any hair that may have gotten caught. Trust us, you don’t want to put this off. If you’re experiencing stinky shower drains, try these easy fixes before calling in the pros.
  • Shower pressure not what it used to be? It’s a good idea to periodically clean your showerhead. This will prevent hard water build-up from robbing you of the shower you deserve after a long day.
  • Don’t forget the shower curtain and liners—whether they're vinyl, plastic, or fabric, they get just as much use as the shower itself. Every other month or so (for a total of 4-5 times a year) they should be cleaned to keep your shower in tip-top shape.

Showers are meant to be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. With a little routine time and attention, your sparkling-clean shower can be a place where you actually want to spend time.

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