Cleaning a shower is actually fairly easy, especially if you can take steps to avoid it getting too dirty in the first place! The key is to use the right cleaner for the right part of the shower. Here is a brief guide to how to clean your shower.
If you’re using an old-school shower, clean your tiling regularly
If you’re still using an old-school shower, then ideally you should clean your tiling every time you use your shower. Obviously, in the real world, that’s never going to happen, but you should really clean it at least once a week and once a month is an absolute bare minimum.
An effective way to clean grout is to make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and rub it in with a toothbrush. Pro tip, use an electric toothbrush to make your life a bit easier, obviously remember which brush/head you use and don’t use it on your teeth. Unless you have allergies it won’t actually do you any harm but it will probably taste vile. Leave the paste for about 30 minutes and then rinse off.
If you do this regularly, it should be enough, but the first few times you do it, you may need to repeat the process, possibly more than once, to get it properly clean, especially if you’re using light grout.
In addition to cleaning your tiling, by which we really mean the grout in between the tiles, you’ll need to maintain it. Flakey grout is a major cause of leaks, which can cause serious (read expensive) damage to your wall.
We hate to be the ones to break this to you, but you really need to clean and maintain all the tiles and grout, even the ones high up towards the ceiling. You can clean the tiles with a mop. Cleaning the grout may be more of a challenge. Frankly our best advice is to save up and invest in a shower cabin as soon as your budget allows.
If you’ve invested in a shower cabin then you can cheerfully skip this step and move on to the next part (which is a whole lot easier).
Keep your toiletries tidy
This isn’t so much a cleaning tip as a tip to help reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do. If you keep your toiletries in once place then any leakage will be kept to that one place rather than spread all around the cabin. Shower cabins with shelves can be helpful here and you can always buy shower organizers.
Choose the right approach for the right bit of the shower
For the purposes of cleaning, both old-school showers and modern shower cabins basically have six main components. There’s the shower head, the enclosure or cabin itself, which is usually a combination of glass, paint and metal, held together, partly, with silicone, and the tray (with the drain), which is generally made of acrylic. You need to take a bit of a different approach to each part.
NB: only clean a shower when it is fully cool, this is partly for safety and partly because applying cold water to hot glass could lead to cracks.
Clean the shower head
If you clean a shower head regularly then it’s an easy job, in fact you don’t even need to take it off the shower. Just pop it in a bag filled with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and leave for 30 minutes. If you have a brass shower head, you must take it out at this point. If you don’t, you can leave it in for longer to give it a deeper clean, for example overnight. When you’re ready, remove the bag and give the shower a quick run to get rid of any residual vinegar mixture.
NB: if you live in a hard-water area, you’ll need to use filtered tap water to avoid getting your shower head clogged by limescale.
If your shower head had built-up grime then your best option is to soak it first as above and then remove it and use a toothbrush to try to shift it. This may take a few goes, but could make a real difference to your showering experience. Remember to run the shower for a few minutes after you’ve finished to make sure all the vinegar is gone.
Clean the drain
The best way to avoid problems with your drain is to install a hair trap, which stops a lot of debris from going down the hole. For extra cleaning power, however, throw a handful of baking soda down the drain, then chase it with hot water. Then pour a cup of neat vinegar down the drain and let it sit while you clean the rest of the shower, preferably at least 30 minutes. Then chase again with hot water. If you do this regularly, you’re unlikely to need to use chemical unblockers.
Clean the chrome (-finished) areas
Most chrome areas can be cleaned with just soapy water (or even plain water). You do, however, need to pay special attention to valves and taps. Get some cloths, soak them in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water (again, if you’re in a hard-water area, use filtered water), wipe over the surfaces and then wrap the cloths around the taps valves, making sure to cover the gap where they meet the cabin wall/tiling and leave them to soak while you do the rest of your cleaning.
Remove surface dirt
There really won’t be that much in the way of surface dirt in the average shower, just scum from toiletries, so a cloth or sponge and elbow grease should be enough to do the job. Then rinse and dry.
Scrub the silicone
Depending on your situation, scrubbing may be a bit of an overstatement. If you’ve used proper sanitary silicone, then it’s going to be highly mould-resistant (that’s the basic definition of sanitary silicone), but even then it benefits from a regular clean. If you haven’t used proper sanitary silicone (or you’ve inherited a shower which was installed with regular silicone) then you are probably going to need to scrub.
In either case, you need to do what it takes to keep your silicone free of mould as it causes damage and is a health hazard, especially to people with respiratory conditions.
Clean the glass properly
The glass should now be free of surface dirt but it’s unlikely to have that shiny sparkle which looked so good when it was new. To get that back, clean the glass in your shower enclosure like you would clean a window.
You can use a standard glass-cleaning product, but a mix of 50% white vinegar and 50% water is every bit as good and chemical-free. If you’re in a soft-water area, plain tap water is fine, if not, then you’ll want to filter it first to avoid getting limescale streaks.
Spray it on, remove the excess with a window-wiper (or a sponge, but a window-wiper will do a quicker job) and then buff it up with a soft cloth.
Clean the general metal work
When it comes to showers and shower cabins, “metal work” basically means aluminium and chrome (or chrome finish).
Aluminium has a very high tolerance for oxidization (rust), hence why it is used in showers, however it is not completely rust-proof. If you wipe it over regularly then you’ll probably keep the rust nicely tamed. If, however, you spot a build up of rust, a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water should clean it off. Again, if you’re in a hard-water area, it’s recommended to use filtered water to avoid issues with limescale.
Clean the painted areas
For the most part plain water and a sponge will be fine here, but if, for some reason, they are really dirty, then add some washing-up liquid.
Clean the tray
Usually the best way to clean a shower tray is to use plain water and if a bit of extra cleaning power is needed, add some washing-up liquid. In either case, use a soft cloth or sponge. Shower trays are designed to resist solid loads (like an adult’s weight) not cuts.
If you have an old-school shower your pain-point will be the tiles, or, more specifically, the grout. Other than that, showers are pretty easy to keep gleaming as long as you clean them regularly. Basically a lot of the time you can let vinegar do the work for you. If you really struggle to manage regular cleaning, you might find a product like Showerguard makes your life a bit easier.
If you live in a hard-water area, you’re going to want to use filtered water for your cleaning, otherwise you may just spread limescale spears around your shower instead of getting it sparkling bright. You may also want to fit a water-softener to your shower itself to protect its workings from limescale and extend its useful life. Please be aware that limescale damage is highly unlikely to be covered as part of any manufacturer’s warranty.