Is Soap Scum Making Your Clogs Worse?

4 May 2018
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Having a drain clog periodically is not abnormal. Dealing with a drain clog every week, or even more frequently than that, is a sign that something more sinister is going on. While hair, grease, and pet fur can contribute to frequent clogs, there is another culprit that is ignored all too often: soap scum. Here's a closer look at soap scum and how it can contribute to drain clogs.

What is soap scum?

If you have ever noticed the film of sticky, yellowish scum that accumulates around the base of your shower and has to be scrubbed away, that is soap scum. It forms when the soap you use interacts with the minerals in water. Some water contains a lot of dissolved minerals, and so a lot of soap scum forms. Other water does not contain as many minerals, and so less scum forms. Water with a high mineral concentration is typically called hard water, whereas water with fewer minerals is soft water.

How does soap scum cause clogs?

If you see scum forming in your tub, shower, or sinks, you can bet that it is forming in your pipes, too. It would take years and years for the layer of soap scum alone to become thick enough to clog the drain. However, since the scum is sticky, it tends to grab onto anything else that flows down the drain, from lint to hair. Soon, you have a big ball of sticky soap scum intermixed with small particles, and that ball stops water from flowing down the drain.

How do you get rid of a soap scum clog?

You can free this clog like any other. Plunge the drain, and if that does not work, turn to an enzymatic drain cleaner. (This is a lot easier on your pipes than a drain cleaner that contains caustic chemicals.)

How can you keep the clog from coming back?

This is the key! Once the clog has been cleared, you need to take action to keep another one from forming. Here are a few tips:

  • Use liquid body washes and hand soaps since these tend to form less soap scum than bar soap.
  • Avoid clay-based soaps as these create a very substantial residue.
  • Pour some vinegar down the drain each week to help fight soap scum.
  • Install a water softener to remove dissolved minerals from your home's water.

Tackle the soap scum issue, and your drains should stay a lot cleaner. Contact companies like Leo's Sewer-Drain Plumbing for more help.