Cleaning a Shower Without Scrubbing: Tips for Seniors

by Reader Contributors

Cleaning a Shower Without Scrubbing photo

Cleaning a shower can become difficult for seniors, especially reaching those low places that require scrubbing. Our readers offer tips that can make it easier to keep a shower clean and recommend tools to help you get those low or high places in the shower or tub.

Cleaning tub and shower tile and grout can be tough enough, but it can be almost impossible if you’re unable to reach or squat down to scrub it. We received the following email from a reader facing this challenge and asked readers for ideas on how to keep a shower clean without scrubbing.

I have read all your suggestions on cleaning showers. Here’s my problem: I am 70+ and don’t bend down so well. Also, my shower stall is apparently either some kind of stone or tile (not the smooth shiny kind either). So the grout is getting mildewy and a bit dark, but I haven’t found anything that I can spray on, let sit, then rinse. I can’t bend down to scrub anything. So if someone has any ideas for this old, and stiff person, please let me know.

I’ve tried tons of stuff out there, both mixed and bought, and none of it removes the mildew without scrubbing! I just cant do it anymore. I’ve switched also to the liquid soap. I also need to get the glass clean, too.

I can’t do it much anymore, but can’t afford a housekeeper, so I have to try to keep up myself and it ain’t easy!

Thanks folks. Appreciate it.

Read on for the many suggestions our readers had to share.

Use a Magic Eraser Mop for Cleaning the Shower

I recently bought a Magic Eraser mop from Dollar General. It is amazing! It’s basically a very large version of the magic erasers typically used to clean with on the end of a mop pole. I bought mine to clean the underside of the awning on my camper which gets grungy by the end of the camping season. I can’t easily get that far up on a ladder to reach, but my magic eraser mop is just the ticket to get it clean without a ladder.

I suspect that this reader might find the mop to be handy to clean her shower with too. It may even help her to clean the walls without stepping inside the shower. One caveat is that she made need to find a shorter pole or have someone cut it down in size to fit inside the shower better.
Terri

Try a Long-Handled Brush

Have you tried using a bath brush to scrub your shower? I mean the kind of brush with a handle that allows you to scrub your back. Even a brand new toilet brush might allow you to scrub your shower. I bought a brush with a long handle in the cleaning supplies department of a store. If you don’t see one there, ask a clerk because sometimes different stores put things in different places.

Do you know anyone you might strike a bargain with? Perhaps you know someone who would scrub your shower weekly in return for some home cooking, dishwashing, clothes mending, or other household job you can perform.
Bonny

Use a Telescopic Fuller Brush

I purchased a brush from Fuller.com: It is the Tub & Shower E-Z Scrubber Heavy Duty Scrub Brush & Telescopic Handle.

I, too, cannot clean my tub as I’m recovering from a fractured sacrum. I think it will work even better in a tiled shower. It’s a little pricey but well worth it. It has a telescopic handle that screws into a heavy-duty brush.
Elaine

A Recommendation from the Arthritis Foundation for Easier Shower Scrubbing

For the elderly lady who can’t bend down and scrub her shower tile, the Arthritis Foundation recommends getting a mop or broom (some kind of scrubber with a long handle) to clean bath tubs and such.

Call your local Arthritis Foundation and see if they still publish their magazine. When my aunt was alive, she got it mailed to her (I think it was free or low cost), and it was chock full of all kinds of tips and tricks for workarounds when you’re stiff and sore.
Lynn

Let a Tool Do All the Scrubbing

I also have trouble bending anymore to clean my shower. I purchased a rechargeable shower scrubber from Amazon. It changed my world. It is the Electric Spin Scrubber 360 Cordless Bathroom Scrubber. It has three replaceable cleaning shower scrubber brush heads and an extension handle.

Hope this helps.
Tina

A Simple Toilet Brush Might Do the Trick

For years, I have used cheap old-fashioned toilet brushes to clean bathtubs and showers. I don’t use them for toilets, of course. The long handles make it easier to reach corners and the far walls.

For someone who finds it hard to bend down, sitting on a stool that can be moved around to reach various areas helps. I also recommend wiping down the shower after each use either with a squeegee or a small towel. This will prevent mold and soap scum in the first place. If necessary, wrap the towel around the toilet brush to reach the difficult spots. Hang the towel indoors in winter to add moisture to the air and outdoors in the summer to keep the house drier.

Waxing the walls — NEVER the floor — of a tub or shower also helps water sheet off and helps to prevent mold and soap scum.
Barbara

Wet It and Forget It

There is a product called Wet It and Forget It that is used for cleaning the outside of a house. This item might work for a stone shower. I have used it on siding and concrete foundation with success.
Annette

Editor’s note: There is a Wet It and Forget It product specifically for showers.

Soft Scrub Can Clean a Shower Without Scrubbing

I’ve tried all the remedies with bleach on cotton and making pastes too, and found that Soft Scrub with bleach a life saver for those mildew heavy and moldy tile grouts! I squirt the Soft Scrub on the spots generously then wait a couple of hours. Come back to the bathroom and rinse off with the hand-shower and voila…it’s gone.

Occasionally, I’ll scrub it if I know the spot was particularly heavy, but this keeps it looking pristine until I have another lapse in cleaning. Thankful my 75-year-old mom told me this trick two years ago.
Karen

Mop the Shower or Tub

In response to the older woman who can’t get down on the floor to clean the grout, I have a suggestion. My husband sawed off the plastic attachments on the sponge part of a sponge mop. This left the bristle brush behind. Because it wasn’t working in tandem with the sponge, I can use the corners to get into the grout without bending over. It’s not perfect but works pretty well.
Lynda

Try a Broom

Use a broom as the scrubber. No bending.
Jodi

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Consider Home Assistance

Please contact your state’s Department on Aging. You may be eligible for at home assistance. My husband’s grandmother was eligible to have a visiting nurse once a week set up her meds because she was legally blind, while there, they also took her vitals. A person came every other week to clean — she did the bathroom, kitchen, vacuumed, mopped and changed the sheets on her bed. His grandmother did her own laundry but couldn’t bend to change her bed. She was also eligible for Meals on Wheels. The nurse was there less than 15 minutes and the person who cleaned was there about a half hour. Just these little things kept her in her own home several more years and out of a nursing home.

Every state is different but all have their own Department on Aging. In our state they run the county Senior Centers which also offer many services such as free transportation, tax service, legal advice, and abuse assistance — such as financial or emotional which is rampant and mostly unspoken — and ours has a food bank, which is important because many seniors are afraid of becoming targets and have been followed home after a visit to a regular pantry.

My husband retired from our states Department on Aging. It is an important but pretty much unknown service provided to the aging community. Please contact your area Senior Center and see if they have a pantry and consider donating. Ours also has a gift shop where donated items are sold to support other services, such as weekly bingo and educational classes. I have found several items and donated. If you like small items like jewelry or figurines, it’s the place to go, as well as for craft supplies.
Hope this helps.
MJ

Use a Swiffer and Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

I am in the same position as the dear soul who wrote in about having difficulty cleaning the lower part of the bathtub. What I have done to help me is I use a Swiffer with a clean pad. I keep a bottle of diluted Dawn dishwashing liquid and squirt it directly on the lower part of my tub and use the Swiffer to spread it around. I leave it sit, wait two minutes and then use very hot water to rinse it off. It works better than most products.
Donna

Some Final Tips for Cleaning a Shower Without Scrubbing

As an official old person with really bad knees, I offer my suggestions, because I feel your pain:

There will be some scrubbing required on vertical walls, especially if there is build-up.

First you have to get “caught up” and get the shower back to an acceptable state. Maintenance will be easier once that is done, because you can just wipe the shower walls down with a towel or a squeegee after showering, and spray the surface lightly with a bleach solution to keep it from getting bad again.

Consider this approach: How to clean your shower the smart way: With power tools!

This works very well, and the cost of the equipment is less than the cost of hiring a cleaner for one week. As with many things, the right equipment will increase your ability to live independently for a long, long time. Read the comments about reversing the drill direction, to prolong the life of the brushes. Also, once you have let the CRL sit, you will not really have to push hard. Just lightly hold the brush against the wall and let it do the work (kind of like how you use an electric toothbrush – just sit it on the surface, don’t grind down.)

Right now, you will need to scrub, but you have to realize (and celebrate) that you can do the shower clean-up in sections, and not necessarily on the same day. That way, it does not become too onerous.

When you are doing the lower parts of the shower, sit on a shower stool, and remember to keep breathing while you work. A lot of people hold their breath when they are leaning over, and that really makes everything a lot harder.

I have had good success with this product, CLR Mold and Mildew Clear. The trick is to spray it and leave it for 15 minutes or so, before you come back and scrub. If the build up is really bad, you may have to do it two or three more times.

Finally, control the moisture in the shower and bathroom. Towel or squeegee the shower dry after showering and leave the glass surround opened, and open the bathroom door, to vent moisture. If your shower surface permits it, use a light spray with 10% bleach solution after you shower, which you allow to dry on the surface and will go a long way in preventing mildew/mold growth. Vinegar dissolves grout, so I no longer use it, because that creates an expensive problem down the line.

Make sure NOT to mix any cleaning products while you tackle this problem.

Hope this helps!
Bri

Reviewed August 2022

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