There’s nothing more frustrating than having a shower door that won’t close properly. If you are used to having a hot, steamy shower, a bad door seal may cause an unpleasant draft. You might also risk dripping water onto your bathroom floor. Aside from the possible damage to the flooring, this could create a slippery surface and make your bathing experience unsafe. 

Fortunately, this is a relatively easy fix. With a little examination and a few simple tools, you can make your shower door close properly again.

Figure Out What’s Wrong

Sometimes, a shower door seal might not be working because the door is out of alignment. Improper installation or use over time can cause the door to be even slightly askew, which means the magnetic strip won’t make proper contact. Here are a few things to look for:

#1 Check the Alignment

Take a step back and look at the door for alignment problems. Use a small level, like one used for hanging pictures, to see if the angle on the side of the door matches the door frame that it latches to. Ideally, both should be level.

#2 Tighten Loose Bolts and Screws

Screws or bolts at the hinges will cause misalignment if they become loose. Use shims at the bottom of the door to set it back into alignment before tightening screws or bolts.

#3 Go Easy on Glass Doors

Be especially careful in realigning your glass shower door. If you need to tap anything into place, use a rubber-covered mallet rather than a standard hammer with a metal head. If you are working on screws that fasten directly onto the glass portion of the door, be very careful to not over-tighten. That level will come in handy for this step too.

#4 Proceed with Caution

If your glass shower door was installed prior to around 1980, it may be standard glass rather than the tempered glass that is required in shower doors today. The difference raises a very important safety concern. Regular glass will break into dangerous, sharp shards, while tempered glass is stronger, and breaks into smaller, pebble-like shapes without sharp edges. Either way, always exercise caution with any repair to a glass shower door. If your shower door is older, taking this opportunity for an upgrade to a safer product is a great idea. 

Cleaning the Magnetic Strip

a person cleaning the shower door
Clean the magnetic strips with cloth and a cleaning solution.

If a magnetic strip gets — well — gunky, fixing your problem could be as simple as a little cleaning. Although any bathroom cleaner will probably do the job, you can start simply with a mixture of 1/4 cup vinegar to two pints of water in a spray bottle. If you live in an area with hard water, you may need a cleaning solution that works on lime or rust build-up, like CLR. For a stronger cleaner, don’t forget to wear gloves to protect your hands, and always following the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t mix cleaning solutions and make sure the room is well ventilated

When It’s Time to Replace

If realignment or cleaning hasn’t improved the seal on your shower door, it’s probably time to replace the magnetic portion. Depending on the clearance you have, you may be able to glue a newly purchased magnetic strip over the old one. If you must replace an ineffective strip, follow these steps:

#1 Remove the Older Magnetic Strip

You may need to remove a screw or two to access the old magnetic strip. Using a utility knife or straight-edge razor blade, carefully remove the magnetic strip.

#2 Clean Up Before Moving On

Thoroughly clean away any residue from that space. The smoother the surface is, the better your adhesion to a new strip. To help it stick better, wipe down the area with a little isopropyl alcohol before applying the new magnetic strip.

#3 Measure Twice, Cut Once

Use the strip you have removed as a template to cut a new magnetic strip. (Magnetic strips or tape are available at hardware stores, many craft stores, or at numerous internet retailers.) If you are using a magnetic strip with an adhesive backing, double-check that you have a spotless and dry surface.

#4 To Glue or Not To Glue

Most magnetic strips come with strong adhesive backing, so hopefully, this decision will be made by the product you purchase. If you feel that you want the added assurance of gluing, no one is going to stop you. Just know that cleaning the surface is still very important.

a super glue
Use a suggested glue to secure the magnetic strip to the shower door.

Here are some adhesives that will work with magnetic strips:

  • Super Glue or Crazy Glue — Both of these products are widely available. They will do the job but may take a little time to set up. If there is the slightest bit of dirt of debris on your surfaces, you may have a problem with everything staying in place over the long term. 
  • Gorilla Glue — This is another product that can be found in most hardware or home improvement stores. There are several formulas available depending on the materials you are gluing and the different colors of the finished product, so make sure you read the labeling to get the right one for your project
  • Two-part epoxy glue — If you haven’t used a two-part epoxy product, you may want to practice using it before applying it to your shower door project. As the name says, this product has two substances that, when mixed, combine to form an incredibly strong bonding agent. Carefully read the label to understand the timing, otherwise, you may have epoxy that hardens before you’re ready. Some two-part epoxies come in an easy application tool that looks like two syringes stuck together. If you have to manually mix the epoxy, consider using a paper plate and a plastic utensil or popsicle stick for mixing. Epoxy can also give off a strong odor when those chemicals are combined, so good ventilation is important.
  • Liquid Nails — Just like the name implies, Liquid Nails is a powerful adhesive that can sometimes substitute for, or improve upon, standard construction joining methods (like nails or screws). They make interior formulas that combine water resistance and strong adhesion. The container is usually pretty large and works best with an applicator gun. If you don’t have other more immediate uses for this product, you might prefer to use something in a smaller size for the simple job of replacing your shower door magnetic strip.

Whatever product you choose for gluing, make sure to have some damp paper towels on hand to wipe off excess glue as you install the new magnetic strip. I also suggest wearing disposable gloves to keep you from gluing fingers together. (If you get glue on your skin, try removing it with an oily substance, like olive oil, coconut oil, or even peanut butter. If that doesn’t work, try paint thinner or nail polish remover — though these can be harsher on your skin.)

Once your new magnet strip is secured (and the glue has dried), you’re ready to reinstall the handle and any screws that were removed to access the strip. After taking the time to check alignment one more time, you should hear a satisfying “click” as your shower door closes. Enjoy those steamy showers and no more worrying about leaks!