There is no doubt that keeping the bathroom spotless is one of the greatest cleaning challenges — and the biggest culprit is the shower screen.
Virtually the only time a shower screen is spotlessly clear is when it is new. After that, it inevitably seems to collect grime that no amount of elbow grease can shift.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is simply that because it is made of glass, any blemishes are easy to see.
Second, however, it is the chemical reactions happening in the shower and on the glass surface. When you take a shower, the shower screen is doused with a cocktail of fatty acids from your skin, salts from your sweat, other inorganic salts from dirt, a range of organics from any cosmetics on your skin, soap and detergent molecules, and minerals from the water.
The most dangerous of these are the insoluble salts that form when soap molecules combine with calcium and magnesium from the water to form soap scum. This then sticks to the glass like chewing gum to a blanket and forms an unsightly white film when it dries.
The reason that this is dangerous is that it can chemically attack the glass if left there for long enough. Glass is a remarkably resilient material and will resist chemical attacks from most things. When you buy chemicals from a chemical supplier, most liquids are stored in glass for this reason.
But its Achilles heel is alkaline solutions. Any chemist knows that if you store caustic soda in glass for any period of time (a day), it will take on a frosted appearance (in fact, this is the process that is used for creating frosted glass finishes on ornamental products).
Soap scum is alkaline, so if it is left there for a few months without being cleaned, it will etch into the glass.
This creates a very odd effect when you try to clean it. You could use a high-quality acidic cleaner on it (Easy-Off BAM Power Cleaner or OzKleen Shower Power are good ones) and it mightn’t appear to make much difference — it seems a little cleaner but the coating is still there.
In fact, the coating has been removed and you are now looking at the etched glass surface. So where a hill was, there is now a valley, of exactly the same size and shape. Once this happens, the best that you can do is to polish it with Mr Sheen and hope that it masks the etch marks.
Regular coats of Mr Sheen is the way to protect your shower from chemical attack. Clean the soap scum off regularly, then blast it with Mr Sheen (at least fortnightly). This will cause the water to bead up and run off, and provide a protective film that will minimise any etching effects.
Three tips for looking after your shower screen:
•Keep a squeegee in the shower and wipe away droplets after every shower so they don’t get a chance to dry.
•Spray it with Mr Sheen on a regular basis — it’ll add a silicone coating that will help protect the glass.
•Use Dove or some other non-alkaline soap. It’ll help protect your shower screen and it’s better for your skin anyway.
© The West Australian
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