2 Simple Homemade Softscrub Cleaners

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Here are two quick and easy recipes for making an effective soap scum buster on the tub surround or a gentle cleaner for around the kitchen and bathroom.

SoapThe first is a basic mixture while the second adds a lavender scent using essential oil and powdered milk for making a smoother paste.

Use these on surfaces where you need some extra power that is more gentle than an abrasive powder.

Recipe #1:

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup liquid dish detergent
1/8 cup – 1/4 cup vinegar

  • Mix the baking soda and dish detergent first, then add the vinegar.
  • Adjust the baking soda or vinegar amounts until you have the consistency you like working with.

Tips:

  • Just use whatever’s on sale or a generic brand of dish detergent and you’ve got yourself some super cheap, yet very effective, homemade softscrub!
  • The liquid dish detergent is what you would use for hand washing dishes, not dishwasher detergent.
  • Use the amount of vinegar that gives you the consistency that you prefer. Vinegar’s a great grime buster–so don’t be shy with it.
  • If you just want to do some spot treatments and don’t need a large amount of softscrub, give the spot a light squirt of dish detergent, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on top and gently rub. You won’t need to bother with the vinegar for small spots like this.
  • Try heating the vinegar in the microwave first before mixing it in with the other ingredients. You don’t want it super hot, but a warm temperature that’s comfortable to work with.

Lavender Recipe:
*Source: The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier

3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/8 cup (one-eighth) liquid castile soap
5 drops lavender Essential Oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a squirt-top bottle and add enough water to make a smooth paste. Shake or stir to mix.
  • Apply to surface, then wipe area with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse well.

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Published: July 12, 2007
Updated: August 18, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
22 Comments to “2 Simple Homemade Softscrub Cleaners”
  1. Sarah says:

    Found the dish detergent to make this recipe too soapy… I was hesitant to use it to clean my child’s bathtub for fear of it making the tub slippery. I would just leave the detergent out.

    • Ruby says:

      I, too, found it too soapy. But by reducing the soap, I have found the best cleaning product I have ever used. It has cut grime and soap residue quickly. I even use it for the drip pans under burners and baked-on food in pans without a non-stick surface. If there is grit or soap remaining, I spray the surface with water and white vinegar and wipe it down. Thank you, Tip Nut. I like to add Peppermint for a fresh smell.

      • Stacie says:

        if you leave the soap out, you’re basically cleaning your tub with salt and water – which I guess works! The vinegar neutralizes the baking soda, so omit one of those.

  2. Jennie says:

    I wouldn’t leave the soap out entirely, but add just a little at a time until it has a little foaming power, but isn’t hard to rinse off.

  3. Derenda says:

    Vinegar really does work good on soap scum. I it to clean my vinyl shower curtain by throwing it in the wash with a couple of towels, a cup of vinegar, and some detergeant. It comes out looking like new!

  4. Charlotte says:

    I tried this cleaner on my shower, which had soap scum and hard water build up. It worked great!! I did find it too soapy, it seemed to take forever to rinse all of the bubbles away. Next time I make it I’m going to try and decrease the soap by half and perhaps add a bit more vinegar.

  5. Craig the chemist says:

    This recipe does not make chemical sense. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a mild alkaline substance. Vinegar is 5% acetic acid, obviously a mild acid. Mixing the two together will form a neutralization reaction. You will get a foaming of carbon dioxide, which has no real cleaning power but the advertising people make it sound good. Perhaps this formula works, but I would guess substituting another liquid for vinegar such as water might work just as well.

    • Darlene says:

      The vinegar is used to get rid of mildew. It also works well to rinse soap residue away, which I’m sure as a chemist you would probably understand. Mixing together the baking soda and vinegar is the part that I would question too. But using the vinegar separately would help remove the mildew and soap scum in the final rinse. It should be a two step process.

  6. Kit says:

    Has anyone tried this on a glass stove top? Does it work? If not any ideas on a homemade cleaner for one?

    • Jamie says:

      If you’ve made any of the homemade dishwasher soaps (powdered) here, that can be used as well on glass top stoves. I use it on mine all the time and it works great.

  7. PAT HERRMANN says:

    I rue the day that I got a white stove top(glass). It is the worst thing to keep clean. Help.

    • Diane says:

      I LOVE mine! Try Bar Keepers Friend…it works great on the glass top and also on stainless steel pans. I sprinkle that on, then use a plastic covered sponge (Dobie..also HEB) to scour with. It’s actually very gentle on the glass top. If you have burned on stuff, use a razor blade to scrape up excess first, the use the BKF. Hmm..student teaching teacher :)

  8. Laura Depuy says:

    I have made this several times now. It works very well but I cut down on the dish soap. I only use a tablespoon or two at most. It works great and is easier to rinse off that way. :)

  9. Tressa says:

    The apartment we live in has a white shower surround. The people who lived there before left us with some nasty surprises to have to clean. I think they used a oil to try to keep soap scum/hard water stains from clinging to the surround, but it has left a gross yellow residue that won’t really go away.

    I’ve scrubbed with bleach, scrubbing bubbles, this soft scrub, and we use the after shower spray after every shower!

    Help if there are any more ideas to get the shower surround back to white and no more residue! Thank you!!!

    • Suzetmarie says:

      BEST tub shower cleaner

      1/2 cup distilled vinegar
      1/2 cup dawn dish soap

      mix in spray bottle spray tub/shower let sit 1/2 hour and scrub with sponge. Rinse. Works better than tilex. Smells really strong but at least the fumes are not toxic (I hope). Saw this on pinterest and tried it. I was shocked!!!! No you don’t dilute it. At least I did’nt.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Tressa, try applying a liquid dishwasher detergent (like Cascade) to the affected areas. The gel will cling to the surface and the enzymes and bleach in it will help remove the surface stains. Let sit for awhile and then wipe/scrub off and rinse thoroughly. Test first in an inconspicuous place. This involves bleach so remember to avoid using ammonia in the same area at the same time.

  11. Melissa says:

    I.wash my tub with plain baking soda. Works great!

  12. Anna says:

    I have made the second recipe with the castile soap a couple of times and it works so well to remove grime from the tub and sinks (and there’s a lot with 4 young kids who love the dirt!). I ran out of castile soap one time so used dish detergent instead and it was much harder to mix b/c of the bubbles. I’ll stick to making it with the castile soap. I bought almond liquid castile soap from Vitacost for a good price. This is also a great way to use up stale tasting powdered milk you might’ve bought for making hot chocolate mixes for Christmas gifts :)

  13. Connie Blair says:

    What is the milk for? I dont understand the purpose of it


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