What is the way to keep a bar soap in the shower?

Quick Answers

There are a few key things you can do to keep bar soap from getting mushy and gross in the shower:

  • Store it on a soap dish or rack so it can dry out between uses
  • Look for bar soaps formulated to be more water-resistant
  • Avoid letting the bar sit directly in water between uses
  • Allow it to dry out completely before using again if it does get overly wet
  • Consider using a soap saver bag or product to prolong the life of your bar

Why Does Bar Soap Get Mushy in the Shower?

Bar soap gets mushy, slimy, and soft when it’s exposed to excessive moisture. Most bar soaps are made from a combination of fats or oils, water, and an alkali like lye. When you use soap, some of the oils and fats get washed away, while the water gets deposited into the bar. Over time, the moisture content builds up as the soap bar is used repeatedly in a wet shower environment. Too much water causes the solid bar structure to break down, giving it a mushy or gooey texture.

If the bar is left sitting in a puddle of water or not allowed to dry out completely between uses, this process happens even faster. The waterlogged bar becomes overly soft and dissolves more quickly with each use. Bacteria and mold can also start to grow if the soap remains wet, leading to potential health hazards as well as an unpleasant appearance and texture.

Tips for Keeping Bar Soap Hard and Fresh

Luckily, there are some simple solutions for avoiding the dreaded mushy soap scenario:

Allow It to Dry Out Fully

After each use, make sure your soap bar has a chance to dry out completely before using it again. Give it at least 24 hours for the moisture to evaporate. Remove any pooled water in the soap dish and prop the bar up on its narrow edge so air can circulate all around.

Store on a Draining Soap Dish

Choose a soap dish or holder made from a material like porcelain, wood, or plastic that allows water to drain away from the bar. Metal tends to keep moisture trapped against the soap. Look for racks or dishes with slats, raised bumps, or an open design without a solid bottom. This prevents the bar from sitting in any collected water.

Don’t Let It Sit in Water

Avoid leaving your soap bar sitting in a puddle of water in the shower between uses. Give it a dedicated spot up out of the direct water stream. You can even take it out of the shower entirely to dry out if needed. This helps stop that buildup of excess moisture that leads to the dreaded mush effect.

Opt for Water-Resistant Formulas

Some bar soaps are formulated to be more water-resistant than others. Clarifying clay, for example, helps absorb and control water. Extra fats and oils also create a more waterproof barrier. Glycerin attracts moisture, so avoid soaps with high glycerin content. Look for buzzwords like “hard milled” on the label.

Use a Soap Saver

A specialty soap saver product, like a mesh bag, is designed to dry out your soap between uses and extend its life. Simply place your soap bar inside the bag, lather up through the mesh, and then hang it to dry.

Let It Dry Out if Overly Wet

If your soap does become soft, mushy, and overly wet, don’t throw it out! You can likely revive it by letting it dry out. Remove from shower and let sit out on its side on a towel for several days. Letting air circulate around the whole bar is key. Once dried, it should regain its firmer texture.

What Causes Soap Scum?

Soap scum refers to the greasy film and soap residue that can accumulate on shower walls, floors, and fixtures. Soap contains fats, oils, and other ingredients that don’t dissolve completely in water. These components build up over time, especially in hard water areas. Hard water makes soap form insoluble precipitates like calcium and magnesium salts that cling to surfaces.

Body oils, dead skin cells, hair products, and mineral deposits from the water all get trapped in this sticky soap film. Mold and mildew can then start growing in the scummy buildup if moisture is present. Besides being unsightly, soap scum also makes shower surfaces slippery and hazardous.

Preventing Soap Scum

You can help minimize soap scum buildup:

  • Rinse soap off surfaces thoroughly after bathing
  • Use a squeegee to wipe down walls and doors
  • Choose soaps labeled “anti-soap scum”
  • Use bath and shower sprays to help dissolve scum
  • Clean shower regularly with vinegar, baking soda, or scrubbing
  • Install a water softener to reduce mineral deposits

Different Types of Shower Soap Holders

There are many different styles of soap holders and dishes to choose from for your shower. Consider the design, material, drainage, and number of bars held when selecting the best option for your needs.

Suction Cup Soap Dish

This basic soap dish sticks onto tile walls with a suction cup. Usually made of plastic. Holds 1 bar of soap. Allows soap to dry between uses. Suction may weaken over time.

Mesh Soap Pocket

A mesh bag with suction cups to hang in the shower. Holds 1 bar. Mesh allows drainage and drying. Convenient, inexpensive option.

Corner Soap Shelf

Angled shelf that fits into the corner of shower. Typically holds 1 bar of soap. Allows air circulation. Sticks on with adhesive.

Vertical Standing Soap Rack

Free standing rack with multiple slots that props bar vertically for drying. Holds multiple bars. Base weighted to stay upright.

Horizontal Soap Rack

A horizontal rack that holds multiple bars laying flat. Usually has slats for drainage. Mounts with suction cups or adhesive.

Ledge Soap Dish

An angled soap dish that mounts on the shower ledge or wall. Holds 1 bar. Allows excess water to drain off.

Ceramic Soap Dish

Traditional style mounted dish made of ceramic. Typically holds 1 bar of soap. Glazed finish. Decorative accent piece.

Soap Holder Pros Cons
Suction Cup Dish – Inexpensive

– Easy to install
– Suction wears over time

– Only holds 1 bar
Mesh Soap Pocket – Good drainage

– Dries soap thoroughly
– More frequent replacement

– Can’t easily adjust placement
Corner Shelf – Space saving

– Angled for drainage
– Fixed position

– Adhesive doesn’t always last
Vertical Rack – Holds multiple bars

– Allows full drying
– Trickier to mount securely

– Takes up more space
Horizontal Rack – Holds several bars

– Mounts flat to wall
– Bars lay flat so dry slower

– Can obstruct shower space
Ledge Dish – Angled for drainage

– Keeps bar handy
– Typically only holds 1 bar

– Needs a ledge or lip to mount on
Ceramic Dish – Decorative accent

– Classic mounted style
– Doesn’t always drain well

– Bars dry slower

Tips for Mounting a Shower Soap Holder

Here are some tips for securely and effectively mounting your shower soap holder:

  • Clean surface thoroughly before attaching suction cups or adhesive. This helps create a tighter seal.
  • Try wetting suction cups first to improve suction on tile. Be sure to press firmly when mounting.
  • Choose adhesive strips made specifically for wet bathroom environments. Apply pressure for 30 seconds or more.
  • For adhesives, rubbing alcohol helps scrub away any residue if removing. Be gentle to avoid damaging tile.
  • Avoid hanging soap baskets directly under the main showerhead spray. The constant water will defeat the purpose.
  • If mounting on a ledge or shelf, place towards the end leaving most of the space open to allow air circulation.
  • Make sure rack, stand, or holder you choose is designed to handle weight of wet bars without tipping.
  • Consider drilling a small screw into shower wall stud to hang heavier soap racks with wire or string over suction cups.
  • Place out of the way of kids and pets who may inadvertently knock over standing soap racks.

Making Your Own Shower Soap Holder

You can even craft your own custom soap holder using simple household materials:

PVC Pipe Soap Rack

Cut notches in a length of 1-2″ diameter PVC pipe to hold bars vertically. Glue end caps. Hang with suction cups or screws.

Wire Soap Basket

Bend a coat hanger into a square shape. Cut wire mesh to size and attach into wire frame. Hang with string, wire, or suction cups.

Draining Soap Tray

Cut a wood block with slats. Drill large holes in a small plastic tray and attach underneath to catch water. Adhere tray to shower wall.

Ladder Soap Rack

Use twine or thin strips of wood to make “rungs” across two small wooden dowels. Adhere or hang in shower to hold multiple bars.

Repurposed Container

Reuse an old mug, can, or jar – anything that will hold a bar upright. Affix to wall with waterproof adhesive.


How often should you replace a shower soap holder?

The lifespan varies, but expect to replace a shower soap holder every 1-2 years on average. Adhesives and suction cups have a tendency to wear out over time. Look for signs of rust, declining stickiness, or instability. Replace immediately if holder is coming loose from shower wall.

Where is the best place to put soap in the shower?

The ideal spot is near the shower controls within easy reach. Mount the soap holder towards the upper half of the shower to avoid excess direct water contact. Consider placing it on the back wall if your shower layout allows.

Can you use superglue to mount a shower soap dish?

Standard superglues are not designed to withstand wet environments and moisture over time. Opt for specialized waterproof bathroom adhesives made for showers and tubs. Alternatively, use silicone sealant or epoxy adhesives formulated for permanence on wet surfaces.

What kind of screw to use for shower soap dish?

Stainless steel or chrome plated screws are ideal for durability in a damp bathroom setting. For mounting into tile or a stud, a #8 or similar size panhead screw works well. Use appropriate anchors for any hollow drywall mounting.

How to clean soap scum from shower soap holder?

Use a damp cloth with diluted vinegar or bathroom cleaner sprayed on. Baking soda can scrub off stubborn buildup. Avoid harsh abrasives. For plastic holders, apply non-gel toothpaste and scrub gently with a soft brush.


Preventing your bar soap from turning into a mushy mess in the shower is easy with the right accessories and habits. Drying it out completely between uses, keeping it off direct water, and using ventilation and drainage to your advantage are key. With a little trial and error, you can find the ideal soap holder setup and placement for your shower. Stop dealing with slimy soap and enjoy the benefits of bar soap without the hassle.

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