DIY Soft Scrub (and Ingredients to Avoid When Making It)

This Easy Homemade Soft Scrub gets two kinds of ick out of your house--toxic chemical "ick" and bathroom "ick."

Cleaning bathrooms is not my favorite household chore--are you with me on that? I mean bathrooms are icky in and of themselves for reasons we all know, but when there's a bathroom that only the "men" (or little boys, if you get what I mean...) in the house use, then it can get even ickier.

Unless you have a bathroom neat freak for a husband or son, I'm sure you can sympathize with my struggle.

diy soft scrub and sponges with text overlay for social media

Especially when you have 3 "men" showering and using the bathroom (need I say more??), there's ick in the toilet, ick in the bathtub and shower--and even ick on the floor.

Some of the ick can get cleaned up pretty easily with a basic homemade or store bought natural all purpose cleaner, but sometimes you need some more power behind you for those tough cleaning jobs.

That's when this Homemade Soft Scrub made without any toxic ingredients comes in oh-so-handy.

Bonus--it's an easy, affordable way to keep your home clean and sparkling. This soft scrub made with all natural ingredients is a gentle yet effective cleaner that works wonders on stubborn dirt and grime.

All you need is baking soda, liquid soap, and some optional essential oils. The combination provides enough abrasive action to tackle tough spots without damaging delicate surfaces like those found in sinks or bathtubs.

You might think you need more than that, but you really don't--and there are even reasons why adding other things might not be a good idea.

Read on to find out why....

castile soap, baking soda, essential oil bottle, water, and sponges and scrub brush in blue basket

Ingredients

Following is a VERY short list of things you will need to make this scrub. For all the information, including amounts, please scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Directions

Following is a brief description of how to make the scrub. For the full information, scroll down to the handy dandy printable recipe card.

Place all ingredients in bowl. (Photos 1 & 2)

baking soda in a bowl and baking soda and castile soap in bowl collage

Mix completely--use more liquid soap as needed to make thick paste. (Photo 3)
Spread the mixture where you want to clean. Rub in to clean.
Store in airtight container. (Photo 4)

essential oil in bowl and homemade soft scrub in a small jar collage

Uses

Making your own soft scrub is a great way to save money and be kinder to the environment.

AND there are all sorts of places you can use this around the home:

  • showers
  • bathtubs
  • kitchen counters
  • countertops
  • tile floors
  • tile grout
  • stove top
  • kitchen and bathroom sinks
  • bathroom and kitchen faucets and knobs
  • microwaves (inside and out)
homemade soft scrub in a jar

How To Use

Put a small amount of the scrub on a damp cloth, damp sponge, toothbrush (a toothbrush is particularly good for cleaning small areas like tile grout or around the base and crevices of sink fixtures) or scrub pad, apply to the surface, then scrub in a back and forth or circular motion.

You can also put some of this all natural diy soft scrub cleaner on the area you want to clean, the scrub with a cloth, sponge, pad, or brush.

This Tub and Tile Scrubbing Tool is a great option for tackling tough jobs - and I wonder if you could use your own scrubbing pads to replace the ones it comes with!

diy soft scrub in a jar

Do Peroxide or Vinegar Make This Scrub Work Better?

You might notice that some DIY Soft Scrub recipes on the internet have hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in them.

While those sound like both of these ingredients would add a more powerful punch than just plain old water, there are good reasons why I didn't include them in this recipe, or rather why they're just alternative.

Why Vinegar Shouldn't Be Used for This Scrub

Vinegar reacts with baking soda, so if you choose to use vinegar instead of water for this scrub, you'll want to make only small batches and use the scrub immediately. If you don't, the result will not be any more potent than just using water, so you might as well save your money and just use water.

Why Hydrogen Peroxide Shouldn't Be Used for This Scrub

Peroxide mixed with baking soda makes carbon dioxide so it's possible by storing this mixture (or the vinegar and baking soda mixture) you could break your container.

You also don't want to mix vinegar with peroxide. It will turn into peracetic acid which is corrosive and potentially harmful to you, your kids, and your pets. So don't do that either. (source)

Other Ingredients to Keep Out of Your DIY Soft Scrub

Just in case you're tempted to use other strong ingredients like bleach or isopropyl alcohol, those fumes aren't great for you either, so it's best to skip them too.

homemade soft scrub in a small jar with text overlay

Storage

You definitely want to store this homemade scrub in an airtight container. A glass jar like a shallow mason jar or jelly jar works well and that's what I like to use (basically because they're cute--am I right? I mean, it really is true that mason jars make everything better), but you might choose a plastic container to avoid glass breakage in the bathroom.

These jars are for holding yogurt, but they'd be so cute with homemade scrub in them. Truth is, they'd be cute with ANYTHING in them.

Other DIY Cleaners

If you're looking for other ways to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in your home, try these homemade cleaners on for size.

shower cleaner scrub in glass container

Homemade Soft Scrub

This Homemade Soft Scrub gets your bathroom (and more) clean and sparkly without all the chemical toxins!
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Equipment

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup baking soda (slightly heaped)
  • 1/4 cup castile soap (or more to make a thick paste)
  • 3-10 drops essential oils (optional but recommended)

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Mix completely, using more liquid soap as needed to make a thick paste.
  • Spread the mixture on the area you wish to clean.  Scrub in back and forth and/or circular motion with a rag, sponge, brush or scrubbing tool.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Now It's Your Turn

Do you make homemade cleaners for your home? I'd love to hear what ones and how they work for you!

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64 Comments

  1. Glad to know it works! ๐Ÿ™‚ And that I have all the ingredients on hand. My son is 13 and has yet to clean his own shower. This weekend he takes the plunge. He'll thank me later.

  2. I make my own cleaning products too! I kind of use the same thing, but I made my own "comet" cleanser.
    It is just baking soda and (optional) essential oils, in a canning jar with holes poked in the lid. I shake it on and the scrub, I also use it with my vinegar based glass cleaner, So basically I shake on baking soda spray on a little vinegar and water and scrub.
    I have no doubt your soft scrub recipe works, because what I do works amazingly well too! It will scrub off gunk and grime you didnt even see was there until you started scrubbing and saw that the "white" sink was not actually white at all until the layer of scum was scrubbed off. The scrubbing too takes very little elbow grease.
    Baking soda is awesome for scrubbing off stuff like that!
    Also I had no idea about acidic things and castille soap, that is really interesting!

  3. I haven't made this before, but we do the baking soda/vinegar cleaning for most everything. I recently started using table salt to get some of the tougher stuff off the tub, it seems to work pretty well. But, I think I will have to give this a try!

      1. Yes! It works quite well. I also use it for unclogging drains, and cleaning the toilet. Plus, my kids like to watch it all bubble up ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. That's interesting seeing all the comments about the vinegar and castile soap canceling each other out. I think my father-in-law was right...the acid base combo unsaponifies the castile, causing the gunk.

          1. I made that mistake when I first started "natural" cleaning, thinking I was getting the best of everything. I made a batch of an "all purpose" cleaner that had vinegar and dr. bronners, and when I came back to it the next week, it had all separated. So I tend to stay away from mixing too many things now. But I stick baking soda in an old parmesan cheese container and sprinkle that, spray with white vinegar, and scrub scrub scrub ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. borax and your favorite dish soap mixed to the consistency of frosting and add some essential oils to your choosing! my favorite recipe!! try it

  5. Hmmm, I've just been using baking soda and my homemade knitted scrubby sponge which works fine. Do I need to add in the castille soap?

    1. I don't know.....we did a little testing here and it seemed that this worked better. Maybe give it a try and let me know what you think :).

  6. I Love this idea and I love that you are willing to say, "I was wrong!" I've been buying handmade soft scrub cleaner from Etsy, and I am so into it! But, I really want to give this a try. If I do, I'll be sure to come back and let you know how it's working!

    1. Thanks!!! It's rough to have to come back and admit it, but I sure don't want you all getting the icky film. Bleh.

  7. I just always use straight baking soda..it's my go to cleaner now, it gets all the yellow hard iron well water gunk off the tub every time. I use an old shower scrubby just for this purpose. No chemicals no fragrance. Although I would love some essential oils smells, just don't have any right now. I also use baking soda for my sinks and smooth surface cook top. It's a great cleaner and cheap:)I was an old Flylady follower..she always said "it's not the potion but the motion"..always stuck with me.

  8. Don't beat yourself up. Similar formulas are all over the web, you're just the only to fix the mistake. Same goes for vinegar + baking soda. You mix them and get an inert something. But I think almost every diy site has that formula. Keep up the good work!

    1. As I understand it, the explosive reaction of vinegar+baking soda neutralizes a lot of the chemical properties of each ingredient (for example, the germ-killing power of vinegar) BUT the bubbling action can be useful in a mechanical sense.

      For example, you can clean out a gunky drain by dumping baking soda into it and then adding vinegar--the bubbling will knock some of the gunk off the pipe and either push it up out of the drain or cause it to slide on down. But if you mix the soda and vinegar in advance, it won't work because the bubbling is over.

  9. No there is just a lot of incorrect info in general that others post. They believe it because someone they trust (blogger, friend, etc) told them it was true. My fear is that people will find it so complicating to make their own products that they won't try and they'll go back to the toxic store bought stuff. It isn't as hard as others make it seem. It is simply a matter of understanding why certain ingredients are added or how they work. And using the tap water is a major issue. You should never use th
    at for cleaners. It can contain chemicals, minerals, or even drugs that could transfer or cause reactions in homemade cleaners. That's all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I know you will but just to ease my mind I have to say please do lost of research before believing everything everyone posts here. And don't use blogs. They just repeat the same incorrect info over and over. We've spent a lot of time and money investigating all of these "claims" and most turn out to be very misguided. I only look to the pros: chemists and environmental engineers.

  11. This is not completely accurate. Not every recipe that includes vinegar and castile will cause problems. First, it depends on the other ingredients and second it depends on the amounts. Another factor is how long it sits. Then I always ask if it really matters considering the fact that oil is what removes dirt, oil, and scum no matter if it is saponified or not.

    I have one recipe for an all purpose cleaner that includes both and people comment all the time saying it won't work or whatever yet, it's been tested in three different labs (for a book I'm publishing) and all have said it works great and there are no problems. The only data I received back was for balancing the PH to make it safe for all surfaces. Which, I've done. And then another report stating to change the order in which they are added. Chemistry is an amazing thing. Simple changes make things work when they wouldn't have previously.

    Also, let your readers know they should never use tap water to make homemade cleaners. The reasons are too many to list here but it is very dangerous. You should only use water that is filtered and distilled.

    I have no idea whether this particular recipe would work. I just wanted to comment about the other particulars of the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Amy!! Did you figure out the proportions that will work? I am assuming you did, but this is just fascinating to me. My first cleaner seemed to gunk up pretty fast. Will this all be in your book? And if it's true that it should remove the scum, I can't understand why the film remained on my shower. It was pretty icky. When does your book come out?

      1. I hadn't really looked at the recipe before. I was commenting about the castile and vinegar being mixed. But, now that I look I can make some recommendations. First, through trial, error, and lots of testing we've discovered that a lot of these home remedies work wonders if you use them. Even if you mix some things that typically shouldn't be mixed. Why? Even if the mix is neutralized some of the components come out stronger and even if it doesn't water in and of itself is a strong cleaner. Also, the main component for a good cleaner and germ buster is the PH balance.

        What I will teach in my book (after all the rigorous recipe testing) is how to formulate your own recipes based on your preferences. All of the cleaners work as well as or better than their evil counterparts as long as a good rinse with vinegar is done after cleaning or if used with essential oils. That is for killing germs, bacteria, etc.

        Aside from PH balance a basic understanding of what cleans what comes in handy. Oil removes oil. Soap is oil. So if you need a degreaser you use an alkaline or oil/soap based cleaner. If you have stuck on food you need something acidic to remove it so a vinegar based cleaner is best.

        Finally, sometimes it all boils down to the right tools and some elbow grease. For jobs like showers and bathtubs a rag just isn't enough (unless you plan to clean it every day). Tests prove that the tools make the most difference in cleaning. You must use a soft bristle brush. In that case, the recipe you've shared should work.

        For my showers and bathrooms I now just use a bar of castile and a dry scrub (similar to Bon Ami). I wet the shower and the soap, wipe the brush across it, then sprinkle the dry scrub on it and go to town. I rinse it all off when I am done and then spray it down with vinegar and let it air dry. It takes about ten minutes to clean the whole thing and there are no scrubbing bubble armies that come out and help but it gets it done and I know it is really clean. Before, when I used a rag, it took me nearly 20-30 minutes to get a clean. Using the brush helped shave off a lot of time.

        1. I have a kitchen scrub brush but I felt it might have been a little abrasive for our shower...maybe not. But the "soft scrub" recipe I shared worked even with a rag so I was really pleased! Thanks.

        2. Hi I'm just starting to make all my own homemade products and you said you had a book with tried and true recipes. Could you give me a link so I can look at at it. I think I would like to buy it as I dont want to waste time, material and effort to make cleaners. thank you

  12. I found the same thing about 15 years ago after talking with a chemist. Vinegar and soap DO NOT mix. That's why we use it in the rinse cycle when washing clothes....it breaks down and removes any residual soap. Also, I don't mix up the baking soda/soap mixture anymore....The baking soda loses it's properties quickly after mixing up anyway. I keep a box of baking soda under the bathroom sink to use for cleanup and the Dr. Bronner's is always there by the tub anyway, as well as a bottle in the shower - it's what we bathe with. I don't need the soda every time tho, as I have found that the best thing to remove soap scum is.....well....oddly enough....soap. The Dr. Bronner's removes it quick as a wink.

    Keep up the good work!!

    1. Are you serious? I was thinking the baking soda was just for a little abrasion. What property does it lose? Now I am going to have to write another post? Yikes!

  13. This might sound like something obvious, can this be mixed ahead of time and stored until it's time to clean the showers? Looking at the recipe, I don't know if it's something I 'm suppose to put together right before cleaning. I like to have cleaning products already mixed up and ready to go so I can clean with minimal effort. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. This is the same recipe I love using only I don't ever measure it ๐Ÿ™‚ I just dump some baking soda in a bowl and add enough castile soap to make a good paste. I also add a few drops of tea tree oil. Works wonderfully for showers and tubs as well as sinks and to get all the burned-on gunk on my glass top range.

  15. I know! I first discovered it when I tried to use castille soap and water in my liquid soap dispenser for my bathroom. I thought it was strange when the soap started separating... Now I know! I wish we could get a whole house filter too, but we live in a rented condo and some things have to be approved by the landlord. (we found out we can't get our ducts cleaned for this reason too.)

    1. I bet you could get those ducts cleaned if your doctor says it's medically necessary. Not to allow it could be a potential violation of the fair housing act especially if it's disability related. I have severe dust allergies that I know duct cleaning helped with.

      1. I don't think you can get a doctor to do that. I tried to get whatever I could recommended by a doc but they are really strict. It's your choice what house to buy.

        1. I'm lucky I have a good landlord. I asked and they (owned by a couple) gave me permission and reimbursed me.

  16. Not only that, but sometimes castille soap will separate if you put it in water. I found this out the hard way. Between my hard water and all the chlorine my local water treatment plant adds, it causes the castille soap to desaponify in the water. So Emily's all purpose cleaner did not work for me. (I mixed some natural dish soap with water in a spray bottle and it works great for an all purpose cleaner.) So I guess my water must have some pretty nasty stuff added to it... ๐Ÿ™