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Keeping Your Shower Door Clean With Hydrophobic Coatings

Water on glass
8 min read

Shower doors are a beautiful way to accent your bathroom and they are completely customizable. Whether you choose a frameless door, or maybe a sliding door, glass is usually the material of choice when it comes to showers. With such constant and continued use, how can we keep these shower doors pristine? Over time, hard water build up and soap scum can take a toll on those shiny shower doors. Did you know though, there is an easy way to prevent this from happening? Something as simple as a hydrophobic coating can keep those shower doors squeaky clean and visually appealing.

What is a Hydrophobic Coating?

Hydrophobic Shower Glass

If you aren’t familiar with hydrophobic coatings, you’ll be presently surprised. It turns out, these coatings can be used on a whole slew of glass products, including shower doors. Hydrophobic means, “To be afraid of water.” A hydrophobic coating won’t make your shower door scared of water, but it will repel it. These coatings are commonly made with silica gel since it can be applied to multiple surfaces. Alternatively, it can also be made with oxide-polystyrene; however, the manufacturing cost is high leaving this option the less popular used of the two.

Removing Hard Water Stains

Glass naturally contains tiny pores. Over time, these pores can fill with hard water, soap, bacteria, dirt and a host of other grimy substances that can make your shower door lackluster. Before applying a hydrophobic coating to your shower glass, you’ll need to super-clean the glass to remove any hard water stains. 

To do this, you’ll want to be armed with microfiber towels, high-quality glass cleaner, and a hard water spot remover. 

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The Advantages of a Hydrophobic Shower Coating

When applied to a shower door, the hydrophobic coating creates a smooth surface by filling in these microscopic pores. The coating’s smooth surface repels the water, not allowing water drops or dirt to fall into the glass pores. This not only keeps the glass relatively free of grime, it also allows for easier and less frequent cleaning.

Less frequent cleaning means, fewer cleaning chemicals, such as bleach, are washed down the drain. This makes for a healthier environment in streams, oceans and rivers.

In addition to a healthier outdoor environment, these coatings can also make for a healthier and safer showering environment. Hydrophobic coatings can cut down bacteria, mold and mildew growth. The coating causes the bacteria and fungi to roll down the shower door, not giving it a place to thrive since those tiny pores are filled up. This can create a cleaner and safer shower space.

Installation Options

Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

If you’re the do-it-yourself (DIY) type of person, then you may wish to install a coating yourself. The coating products are typically sold as kits. The kits should include detailed instructions and everything you need to complete the coating job. Follow the instructions closely, or you may risk sub-optimal results.

Remember, prep work is key, so additional products such as glass cleaner, and hard water spot removes may need to be used prior to the coating process.

Keep in mind, DIY coatings don’t typically last as long as a professionally installed coating. However, there will be less upfront cost and they can last many months, or even years, with proper care. They will still be useful in reducing hard water spots and the frequency with which the glass must be cleaned. 

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Talk With Your Shower Dealer

Did you know hydrophobic coatings are commonly applied by your local shower door dealer? That’s right! Many dealers offer options to coat your shower doors when you buy them. Coating in the factory allows for the coat to go on at the door’s cleanest phase and in a controlled environment, ensuring you get the best quality. Your Glass.com affiliate can tell you what kind of coatings they offer and details specific to their coatings. 

Hydrophobic Shower Coating Frequently Asked Questions

After deciding a hydrophobic coating is the way to go for your shower door, you may find yourself asking a few questions. How can you ensure the coating stays on? Or maybe even, do I need to clean the coating? Here are some factors you may find helpful when deciding:

  • The durability of shower door coatings: An important factor to consider will be how long your coating will last. When maintained according to conditions set by your shower door dealer, some of these coatings last a lifetime. Most come with a warranty, so if for some reason it’s not as durable as advertised, your dealer can remedy the problem.
  • Cleaning shower door coatings: In order to extend the life of your coating, most dealers recommend wiping down your shower door after each use. Some dealers even recommend simply spraying the door with a water and vinegar mixture and then squeegeeing it clean. One thing to stay away from is cleaning the door with harsh chemicals. These chemicals will actually break down your hydrophobic coating and leave your shower door unprotected. These are important factors to note in order to get the most out of your coating.
  • Safety: While these coatings are extremely helpful, they will be used in a sensitive place. Before choosing to coat, be sure it is not toxic and safe for use around you and your family. Sprays made with oxide-polystyrene may not be the safest choice to have around children. If consumed, the spray is highly dangerous, so always use with caution and keep out of reach of children. Talk with your dealer before you decide to go with a coating. They will know how to use the coating effectively, and safely.

A Person Attestment to Hydrophobic Coatings

A hydrophobic shower spray can be the difference between a pristine door and an eyesore. My parents have had a glass shower door in their master bath for almost two decades. For years I thought it was a tinted glass shower door, considering it’s more foggy than clear.

Turns out, it’s a tempered glass shower door that has just never been coated. My mom has used ordinary cleaners on the door, but even that has not stopped years of buildup from showing itself. If that strikes a chord with you at all, consider a hydrophobic coating for your shower’s glass. A glass door is meant to highlight the beauty of the shower, not years of nasty gunk.

 

Transcription of Hydrophobic Shower Coating Options and Maintenance Video

Daniel: For the homeowner, now that this is finished and this is theirs, what can they do to keep the glass cleaner over time?

Dustin: So that’s a great question. You can typically do a couple of things. One, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind using a squeegee, you can jump in here every time you’re done and squeegee it off. Super clean. The glass will truly last you forever.

The other option is there’s a hydrophobic coating that’s now taking place in our industry and there’s a couple of versions of it. There’s some that actually go on with the tempbering process. And then there’s some other pieces that your glazing contractors can actually put on.

Daniel: And it kind of smooths out the pores of the glass because even though we can’t see it or feel it, glass is somewhat porous, right? So the hydrophobic coating smooths that right over and makes the water just repel right off of it.

Dustin: That’s exactly right.

Daniel: Do you still need to squeegee glass if it has a hydrophobic coating?

Dustin: I would say it’s probably still an option. You’re still going to have some water molecules that are still attached. Again, it’s not maintenance free. But for the most part it becomes a whole lot less to keep.

Daniel: And then as far as using cleaning products on hydrophobic coatings, are you able to use some of those harsher cleaners that you would normally use? Or are there special cleaners to use on hydrophobic coatings?

Dustin: Some of the brands have special after care products. But for the most part, just don’t use anything with an amonia in it. It won’t strip it down, it won’t tear it off. And most things have a reasonable life span.

Daniel: Awesome. Alright, well let’s get this cleaned up for the homeowner.

Dustin: Awesome, sounds good.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, Glass.com earns from qualifying purchases.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Brown

Katie Brown is an author for Glass.com

More Articles from Katie Brown

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  • Thanks for explaining that hydrophobic coatings are commonly applied by the companies that sell glass shower doors. My husband and I want to help our bathroom feel more spacious by having glass shower doors installed soon. I’m glad I read your article because now I know I should ask shower door dealers about extra coatings and protection for the glass.

  • Your advice on where to buy shower door coatings does not make sense. If like in my case my dealer/installers did not apply a coating at the factory. So you do not address that. Where do I buy a coating product?

    • Hi Doug,

      Sorry for the confusion! To clarify, if you already have perfectly good glass installed and are looking to add a hydrophobic coating, a good shower door dealer can typically help with applying aftermarket coatings as well.

  • I had a new clear glass shower installed yesterday. Is there a hydrophobic coating available for diy application? (I’ve heard that coatings applied by the glass door companies are extremely expensive and cost as much as the glass door itself). I’ve read about a Rainex product, but it has some very bad reviews. Any suggestions? Don’t want to ruin a $5000 investment.

  • I have 5 year old shower doors which I think has a hydrophobic coating called Clearview. Unfortunately it has broken down so that the doors are clear when wet but patchy opaque when dry. The supplier gave us ShowerGuard to try and clean the glass but it didn’t work? Can you help?

    • Hi Dr. Catchpole,
      Thanks for reaching out with your question regarding your shower coating. It sounds like some of the coating has worn off over time, and some coating still remains on the glass. This would explain the splotches that you see. Some coating products carry warranties so you may want to inquire with Clearview to see if the coating is still under warranty. If not, they may be able to provide guidance about how to remove the remainder of the existing coating.

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