Homemade Scouring Powder: Recipe and Review

My homemade scouring powder

For some time now, I've desired to use more natural household cleaners, but finding solutions that are easy to employ and (in my opinion) actually work well has been an ongoing task.

A couple years ago, I resolved to not purchase any more commercial cleaning supplies (even when they're a great "bargain") in an effort to use up what I already had and then force myself to find better solutions. I knew if I had "back up" supplies, I'd never stop procrastinating about changing!

So, one thing at a time. As my various supplies have run out, I've started experimenting. I had a number of bottles of Comet scouring powder that had been given to me (along with Cameo and a few other scouring powders) and about a year ago, I used the last of those.

My initial idea was to just use baking soda as scouring powder, since I can get it cheaply and it's safe, abrasive, etc. I used baking soda for a number of months but was not thrilled with the results. It wasn't abrasive enough and required a lot of scrubbing but still didn't produce results comparable to the commercial scouring powders I had used.

Then my friend Abigail sent me a booklet titled "200 Fabulous Frugal Uses for Baking Soda" by Vicki Lansky.* In it was a recipe for homemade scouring powder. Since I already had the three ingredients it used, I figured it was worth a try.

Kitchen sink: left side has been scoured with the homemade scouring powder

Homemade Scouring Powder

1 cup baking soda
1 cup salt
1 cup Borax powder**

Mix all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Use as you would use commercial scouring powder.

Kitchen sink: left side has been scoured with homemade scouring powder
(Left side of sink has been scoured, right side has not)

Mixing up a batch of the scouring powder took just a minute or so. First I used it on my kitchen sink (porcelain). Wow! I must say I was very very impressed. This scouring powder works wonderfully. While it does require scrubbing effort, I definitely didn't think it required any more scrubbing than Comet did. I could see results almost immediately, which was a shock to me since I didn't have high hopes after my previous experiences.

I was even more delighted when it came time to rinse the sink I had just scoured. The sink was rinsed in less than a minute, without the gritty residue that Comet always left. I can remember rinsing, rinsing, and rinsing my sink after scouring with Comet, and when it dried, it still had residue on it. For that reason, I would scour the bath tub before my shower rather than before the childrens' baths, since I didn't want scouring powder residue in their baths, and it seemed almost impossible to rinse away completely.

Freshly scoured bathroom sink

I also scoured my bathroom sink (plastic). Again, I was pleased with the results. I am so excited to have found a simple, natural, frugal solution for scouring powder, and of course the "old-fashioned" part of me is happy that it's "homemade". ;) Just one less thing I need to worry about buying now! I never did like having those metal + cardboard containers to get rid of when I used Comet.

*I'll be sharing more ideas from this booklet as I try more new things, so stay tuned!

**A box of Borax powder costs about two dollars and can be found in the laundry aisle. I already had some on hand because it is used in my homemade laundry soap. Is Borax safe for use in homemade cleaning supplies?

5 Easy Frugal Recipes for Household Products: Laundry soap, deodorant, and more!


Great idea. I too have had less than perfect success with plain bicarb. soda so am looking forward to making up this recipe. Thanks.

Kate in Melbourne

Thanks for posting that recipe! As you know, I have been experimenting with homemade cleaners myself lately. I'll be sure to try this one soon! It is nice to know that it really works before you try it. = )

I am so glad to run across your post about this Tammy. I plan to try this scouring powder for sure! We have hard water and it leaves awful stains in my sinks. This is definitely worth a try.

I've wanted to try and use more natural cleaners too but haven't really pushed myself that way. I hate how some of the cleaners almost knock you out. :0

Do you think that solution would work mixed in warm water or do you just have treat it as a scouring mix?

Just remember that Borax is still toxic (even in small doses, ESPECIALLY to infants) so keep cleaners like this behind child locks!

Thanks Tammy, we'll be trying this too. We've
tried baking soda and like you, we've been a little unhappy. I'll try mixing it and see what we come up with. One more thing, my oldest daughter had the great idea of using an empty parmesan cheese container as a shaker for our homemade cleanser...it works great.

Thanks again for all your helpful information!


I did this too for a while, then we moved to a house with such rusty water that nothing nontoxic worked.

Sometimes I would doctor my baking powder/borax mixture with cinnamon and orange oil. Mmmm, smelled so good! I found some large glass creamers with sprinkle top lids at a thrift shop and used them to store my homemade cleaners in so I could 'sprinkle' just like with scouring powder.

and I love it too! It works great in the bathtub (NOTHING else seemed able to get off the ring left by red South Carolina clay!) and it is wonderful at getting crayon off of nearly anything...I know this from experience... ;). I loved the parmesean container idea Tracy! I'll definitly keep that in mind as we empty our parmesean container :). I also use a homemade all-purpose spray cleaner:
1 tsp. Borax
1/2 tsp. Washing Soda
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid soap (dish soap)
2 cups very hot water
Mix everything but the water in a spray bottle. Very slowly add the hot water and shake until all of the dry ingredients are dissolved. I also add several drops of mullberry scent to the bottle, it makes cleaning the bathroom something to look forward to ;), it smells sooo good! The store bought cleaners all give me a headache.
I make our laundry soap too (a powdered one) but I'm thinking of trying your proven recipe now that we're working on switching over to cloth diapers.

I read this yesterday and filed it away in my memory. Then I went home and saw a pot that I've been soaking for several days due to burnt cheese/milk on the bottom. I was planning on just boiling water in it to loosen things up, but I also threw in a generous amount of baking soda and salt as an abrasive - only about an inch of water. I boiled it (turning it down after it bubbled to the top - the baking soda makes it really bubbly and then turning it back up again).

After about 10 minutes, I rinsed it in cooler water (to cool it down) and then used the scrubber side of the sponge. It looks beautiful! I have stainless steel pots (non-coated) - don't use this method with the coated ones, I'm not sure what it will do to the non-stick coating.

I forgot to mention that I think undiluted vinegar works best for removing lime/calcium deposits. We get mineral build-up around our faucets and an old toothbrush or stiff scrub brush with some vinegar is still the best solution I've found for that problem. This homemade scouring powder may help but it would require a lot of elbow grease! :) Also, I am not sure which sorts of stains this scouring powder will remove. I usually try something mild first and only resort to the harsher, fume-rich chemicals if there's a persisting stain or problem. Our tap water doesn't have a lot of iron, so I haven't tried this with iron stains. Lindsey, I haven't really tried water with this, but I think the selling point is the abrasiveness. :) I know there are other recipes for non-toxic (or more natural) liquid cleaning solutions out there though. :) (Also, see Shelby's comment above!) Catherine, thanks for the tip! :) Tracy, great idea! I usually hang onto my parmesan containers for spices, but had thrown the last one away after having it for some weeks and not having a use for it. :) Now I'm just waiting on the next empty one! :) D.H.-- Cinnamon and orange oil... sounds wonderful! Do you just drop a few drops of oil into the container of scouring powder? I have clove oil I could use. :) Shelby, thanks for the liquid cleaner recipe! I will definitely be trying that one! :) Is your powdered laundry soap recipe similar (ingredients) to my recipe, or different? If it's different, I'd love for you to share that, also! :) Anonymous -- After several days of soaking, I imagine you were glad yo get that pan cleaned!! :) Sounds like it worked well for you; thanks for sharing! :)

That stuff really works! Yesterday I went out and bought some Borax just to see what it would do, and I used the mix to clean our bathtub. Nothing else has worked as well as this. I was SO pleased with the result. I love the orange oil/cinnamon idea, and the parmesan cheese container. I will definitely try them.

We also had some pans that had stains we had despaired of ever getting out. They had been soaked, scrubbed, and put through the wash more times than should have been necessary -- and still the stains remained. But thanks to Borax/baking soda they are completely gone on two of the pans and *nearly* gone on the third. I'm sold.

I have a friend who has tried all sorts of cleaners in her guest bathroom shower.She has a white film that could be described as a crust on her bathtub and now matter how hard she scrubs it won't go away.She has used some very harsh cleaners and made herself sick using them to no avail.Anybody out there got any ideas?

Try the Barkeeper's Friend

If she's tried everything else, including vinegar, I would try baking soda and vinegar. I make my own cleaning spray with vinegar, water, and a small squirt of dish soap. The acid in the vinegar will react with the baking soda and make it fizz.

Sprinkle some baking soda on, spray with the vinegar until the baking soda is pasty. Wait until it is done fizzing (and maybe even let it sit for an hour or so.) Then try to scrub it off using plastic scrubbie. The fizzing is a physical reaction that might help; another trick is to put white uncooked rice in an old sock and use that as a scouring pad.

I've also had good luck using ammonia and baking soda (again, I make a diluted spray of ammonia/water, basically DIY windex).

You might also try a MagicEraser from Mr. Clean - just be aware that these can be toxic too and should never be given to children and wear gloves (it doesn't smell much but will give chemical burns).

If she gets the film off, to keep it from coming back, get Spray N' Wash and spray it on the sides of the tub (not the bottom! It's very slippery!) Just rub it in, let it set for an hour or so, and rinse. You'll never have to scrub a ring again, although you might have to reapply it every few months. I've heard JetDry will work also but I haven't tried that one. Been doing the Spray N Wash thing for 5 years now, though.

Mama Says

Anonymous, who liked the scouring powder -- yay! I'm glad it was a blessing to you! :) About the white film/crust on the bath tub, I was going to suggest straight distilled white vinegar. If it's lime/calcium, vinegar will help. Mama Says, thanks for the suggestions of various things to try! :)

I tried the scouring mixture on my bathtub and love it. I was wondering if anyone had a natural solution to clean and disinfect granite countertops? Thanks for the advice.

Hi, anonymous! So glad you like the scouring powder! :) I've not had experience with granite countertops.

However, I recall reading that Borax (an ingredient in the homemade scouring powder) was a disinfectant. So if the homemade scouring powder didn't harm granite, it might work.

If you wanted just a disinfectant (no scouring), you could try straight vinegar. (Again, only if it doesn't harm granite -- I have no idea if it would, and it probably wouldn't, but I just want to be on the safe side when giving advice!) ;)

I looked all over the web to find out the secret of cleaning my granite counters without having to use something abrasive. I found out that if you use your regular liquid hand soap, it does the job very well and does not harm it. I was amazed, it's such a simple solution, and really does work.

I stirred up a batch of your powder this past weekend. It did wonders for the kitchen sink. Too bad I cleaned the bathtub before I made it! ;-) Oh well, I've got YEARS left to test it out! I was very pleased and it was so simple!

I just came across this post - I apologize for my late comment on it. But I had to share my homemade scouring powder that I'm really excited about! I use baking soda mixed with just enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. I have a cast iron sink that is horrible to get to clean - but this stuff works wonders and really makes it shine. Plus - it's really inexpensive!

- Brittany

Vinegar is acidic and eats the finish on granite. I would recommend rubbing alcohol with a few drops of dish soap (ex. Dawn).
Thanks for all the ideas!

I know this subject is older, but I just found it on the site and wanted to let everyone know a great homemade product I've found for scouring powder. Mixing baking soda with hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste is great. I use it on my cast iron sink (which is incredibly hard to get clean!). It's the only thing I've found that works - store bought or other wise. It works well on soap scum and mildew as well. Oh, and also getting black marks off floors.


Hi, I'm from Denmark so maybe my spelling is not so good.
I always use ordinary vinegar for the zink, bathtub and wc.
I just put in on a cloth, and whipe it on let it sit for
5- 10 minutes. rinse with water and just take a dry cloth and whipe it dry.
In wc I put some toiletpaper on the inside and carefully pour some vinegar over it until its soaked.
let it sit for 5-10 rinse and use the wc-brush
I once learned that when you scroub you strach and the dirt have a good place to stay...at last you won't be able to get it shiny.
I really enjoy reading your blog.


"Whoso loves, believes the impossible."~ Elizabeth Barret Browning
Heres a good tip for those with glass shower doors. Use a softner sheet to wipe down glass doors or walls and soap scum will NOT build up on them. My mom does it all the time. She has 5 bathrooms.

Here's my version:
• Baking Soda
• Vinegar
• *Liquid Soap or Detergent
1. Pour 1/2 cup of Baking Soda into a bowl.
2. Mix in 1 Tablespoon at a time of *Liquid Detergent until the mixture resembles thick icing.
3. Add One Tablespoon of Vinegar, (mixture will become frothy) Stir.
4. Use mixture to clean tubs and sinks.
5. Keep leftovers in tightly sealed container away from any heat sources as the heat might cause it to dry up.

Not sure who made this up but let me tell you if you splurge and use Dr. Bronner Organic Liquid Soap in the almond scent it smells WONDERFUL!!!!!! Although that brand is pricey it is Fair Trade and natural!

Lisa @ http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/

I had almost zero hope for this. I was amazed at how well it worked. Thanks!

Awesome! Thanks I'm going to try it:)!

I finally tried this and actually use it for my flat top stove cleaner!! Works and scours great and saves me money by not buying the expensive cleaner in the stores!

2 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 TBSP of Dawn dish soap
1 cup borax

Mix till a paste. Add more of lemon juice and Dawn to make wet paste. I use it on my glass top stove and on sinks. Works amazing and smells great! Thanks for all the recipes.

This is really nice, as I take baths as often as I can. I hate the idea of cleaning the tub with harsh or nasty cleaners right before I fill it with water to soak in. So I made this and use it and rinse it down with a little white vinegar and its great! Thanks for the recipe!!!

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