What is soap foam? (with photos)

A bar of soap.

Soap scum or limescale is a thin layer that forms around showers, sinks, bathtubs, and other areas where soap and water are often present together. It is caused by the minerals that are naturally present in the water. When these minerals combine with soap, they create a sticky mixture that adheres to surrounding surfaces, slowly creating a buildup of scales that can also include body oils, dead skin, hair, and dirt. For many people, soap scum is a boogeyman of regular cleaning, especially if they live in areas with hard water.

Water and soap.

Ordinary soap suds are white to gray in color, but generally act as an ideal substrate for algae and fungi, and can develop a rainbow of colors along with some unwanted odors. When limescale builds up to this point, it can also become very difficult to remove. Only heavy rubbing and a strong cleanser will penetrate the layers.

A baking soda paste can be used to remove soap scum.

Most people are less interested in what soap scum is and more interested in knowing how to get rid of it. The best way to deal with this is to clean it regularly, preventing the buildup from sticking too tightly. Cleaning bathtubs, showers, sinks and tiles at least once a week can often keep soap scum to a minimum, especially if ammonia or vinegar is added to the sponge or cloth used to clean, as these substances cut through the layers. Detergent can also remove it. Cleaning the bathtub after using bath oils is also highly recommended.

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Using vinegar with a sponge once a week is a good way to prevent soap scum.

Some people use wax and other products designed to increase water resistance to reduce soap scum, preventing water from depositing on the walls of showers and bathtubs. This can be effective in some cases, but the wax can also get very dirty and need to be removed and reapplied routinely.

For heavier cleaning, a commercial degreaser is often very effective against soap scum. People can also use specially formulated cleaners or lemon juice, vinegar, or ammonia. A paste of baking soda and water can also work, with the baking soda acting as an abrasive to remove the layers. When using heavy cleaning products, people should leave a window open and wear gloves so that the cleaning products do not irritate the lungs or hands.

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