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How to Prevent Soap Scum Build-Up in Drains

22 May

If you’ve ever experienced a clogged drain or slow drainage in your shower, you’re not alone. Soap scum build-up is a common problem that affects many households, leading to frustrating clogs and potential damage to drainage systems.

This stubborn residue forms when the fatty acids in soap combine with minerals in hard water, creating a thick, sticky film that adheres to surfaces and accumulates inside drain pipes. Over time, this soap buildup can significantly reduce water flow and lead to complete blockages, requiring costly plumbing repairs.

To avoid these issues and maintain a functional bathroom, it’s essential to take proactive measures to prevent soap scum build-up in your shower drains. In this article, we’ll explore five proven methods to keep your drains clear, free of clogs, and flowing smoothly.

What is Soap Scum, and Where Does it Commonly Occur?

Soap scum is a white, chalky, or greasy residue that forms when certain types of soap interact with minerals in water, particularly in areas with hard water. This residue can accumulate on various surfaces, including bathroom fixtures, shower doors, and, most notably, within drain pipes. As soap scum builds up inside pipes, it can create stubborn clogs that impede water flow, leading to slow drainage or even complete blockages.

One of the most common places to encounter soap scum build-up is in the shower drain. As water drains from the shower, it carries with it soap residue, dead skin cells, hair, and other debris. Over time, these substances can combine with the minerals in hard water to form a thick, sticky layer of soap scum inside the drain pipe.

This accumulation narrows the pipe’s diameter, restricting water flow and increasing the likelihood of a clogged shower drain.

In addition to a clogged shower drain, soap scum can also accumulate in other areas where water frequently comes into contact with soap, such as:

  • Bathroom sinks
  • Bathtubs
  • Washing machines
  • Kitchen sinks
  • Dishwashers

To minimise the occurrence of soap scum and maintain efficient drainage, it’s crucial to clean and maintain these areas regularly, paying special attention to the drains where soap residue is most likely to accumulate.

Ways You Can Prevent Soap Scum Build-Up

Use a Drain Strainer

One of the easiest ways to prevent soap scum build-up and clogged shower drains is by using a drain strainer. These simple devices fit over your shower drain opening and catch hair, soap chips, and other debris before they can enter the drain pipe.

Strainers come in various designs, from basic mesh screens to more advanced models with built-in hair catchers. By regularly cleaning your drain strainer or shower drain hair catcher, you can significantly reduce the amount of soap scum and debris that accumulates in your shower drain.

Drain Strainer To Stop Blockages

Flush Drains with Hot Water

Regular flushing with hot water is another effective way to prevent soap scum build-up in your shower drains. The water’s high temperature helps dissolve and flush away soap residue before it has a chance to harden and form blocked shower drains. Make a habit of running hot water for a few minutes after each shower or bath to keep your drains clear and flowing freely. For an extra cleaning boost, you can also pour boiling water down the drain once a week to help loosen and remove any stubborn soap scum build-up that might otherwise clog drains.

While liquid detergent itself isn’t the main culprit for blocked shower drains, its interaction with minerals in hard water can create a film that attracts hair and soap scum. This buildup can eventually lead to clogs. Regularly flushing with hot water can help prevent this issue before it starts.

Clean Drains with Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you’re looking for a natural and effective way to remove soap scum from your shower drains, look no further than your kitchen pantry. Baking soda and vinegar are a powerful cleaning combo that can help to break down soap scum and other debris, leaving your drains clean and clear.

Here are the steps for using baking soda and vinegar to clean drains, presented in a dot-point format:

  1. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  2. Add a cup of white vinegar to the drain.
  3. Allow the mixture to foam and bubble for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Flush the drain with hot water to rinse away the loosened soap scum and debris.

Repeat this process once a month as part of your regular drain maintenance routine for best results.

Baking Soda And Vinegar Mixture

Use a Plunger or Drain Snake

If your shower drain becomes slow or clogged due to soap scum build-up, a plunger or drain snakes can be a useful tool for removing the blockage. Start by placing a toilet plunger over the drain opening and plunging vigorously for 20-30 seconds.

If the clog persists, try using a drain snake or plumber’s snake to manually remove the blockage. Simply feed the snake into the drain until you feel resistance, then twist and push the snake to break through the clog. With a little patience and persistence, these tools can effectively clear most soap scum build-up and restore proper drainage to your shower.

Plunger For Soap Scum Blockage

Choose the Right Soap

Finally, one of the best ways to prevent soap scum build-up in your shower drains is by choosing the right type of soap. Bar soaps, particularly those with high-fat content, are more likely to contribute to soap scum formation than liquid soaps or gel-based body washes. If you prefer the convenience of bar soap, look for brands that are specifically formulated to minimise soap scum build-up.

Alternatively, consider switching to a liquid soap or body wash, which is less likely to leave behind a stubborn residue in your drain pipes.

Clear Drains, Clear Mind!

Preventing soap scum build-up in your shower drains is essential for maintaining a clean, functional bathroom and avoiding costly plumbing repairs. By using a drain strainer, flushing with hot water, cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, using a plunger or drain snake when necessary, and choosing the right type of soap, you can keep your drains clear and free of soap scum build-up.

Remember, regular cleaning and maintenance are key to preventing clogs and ensuring proper drainage in your shower. If you continue to experience slow drainage or persistent clogs despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber to assess your plumbing system and recommend the best course of action. If you are in the Gold Coast area, speak to our expert plumbers for fast and effective methods to clear your blocked drains!

Preventing Soap Scum FAQs

How to prevent soap scum in the drain?

To prevent soap scum from accumulating in your shower drain, consider switching from bar soap to liquid soap or body wash, as they are less likely to contribute to soap scum formation. Install a shower drain cover to catch hair and debris before they enter the drain, and clean it regularly.

Flush your drain with hot water for a few minutes after each shower to help dissolve and rinse away soap residue. Additionally, if you have hard water, installing a water softener can help reduce the minerals that contribute to soap scum build-up.

How do you stop soap suds coming up the drain?

Soap suds coming up the drain can indicate a clog in your drainage lines. To stop this from happening, start by pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by hot water to flush away the debris. If the problem persists, use a plunger or a drain snake to remove the shower drain clog. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help prevent hair clogs and soap scum build-up, reducing the likelihood of soap suds backing up into your shower.

What is the best drain cleaner for soap scum?

While commercial drain cleaners can be effective in removing soap scum, they can also be harsh on your plumbing system. A safer and more environmentally friendly option is to use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.

Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam and sit for 15-20 minutes before flushing with hot water. For tough clogs, you may need to use a plumber’s snake or a drain snake to manually remove the blockage.

Does vinegar dissolve soap scum in pipes?

Yes, vinegar can help dissolve soap scum in pipes.

The acetic acid in vinegar acts as a natural solvent, breaking down the fatty acids and minerals that form soap scum. To use vinegar to dissolve soap scum, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

Follow this with a flush of hot water to rinse away the loosened soap scum and debris. For best results, use this method regularly as part of your drain maintenance routine to prevent soap scum build-up and standing water in your shower.