DIY Tub & Shower Cleaner (& Toilet Cleaner, too)

Recently, I totaled up how much it cost me to purchase household cleaners. I was astounded. So yes, I am currently following the bandwagon of homemakers who are making homemade cleaners...but as my experiment with homemade laundry detergent taught me, homemade isn't always more frugal. Would the cleaners I tried work? And would they save us money?
Tub & Shower Cleaner #1:The first cleaner I tried was a tub and shower cleaner recipe I found at (of all places). I figured I needed a really good DIY cleaners because, um, my tub was really dirty.

Ick. That's a couple of weeks worth of soap scum and dirt (worsened by the fact that our tub was resurfaced by the previous owner and therefore seems to attract dirt much more than an ordinary tub).

Normally I use Scrubbing Bubbles, but in addition to cost, I can't seem to find the traditional version of this product locally, and the newer version is terribly noxious.

So, I whipped up some homemade cleaner.

What You Need:
A 24 oz. (or larger) spray bottle (You may use one from an old bottle of cleaner; just wash it thoroughly first.)

1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) white vinegar (for the best price, buy it in the largest bottle you can find)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Dawn liquid dish soap (again, buy it as cheaply as you can, which usually means buying a bigger bottle)

How to Make It:

1. Measure out the vinegar in a Pyrex (heatproof) measuring cup. Heat it in the microwave until it's warm. In my microwave, that took about 60 seconds, but your microwave may vary, so heat it 30 seconds at a time until it feels warm.

2. Carefully pour the vinegar into the spray bottle.

3. Measure out the Dawn, then pour it into the spray bottle.

4. Put the lid on the bottle and shake gently to mix.

How to Use It:

1. Spray onto the tub, shower, sink, and/or fixtures.

2. Use a scrubbing sponge, scrub the surface.

3. Rinse clean.

4. If there are particularly dirty areas, you could let the cleaner sit for several hours, or overnight. I didn't find this necessary.

Conclusion: My tub and fixtures were sparkling clean after using this homemade cleaner. It worked at least as well - if not better - than Scrubbing Bubbles. It even had a pleasant scent (not chemically, nor very vinegary). It was very bubbly, however, so I suggest using less cleaner than you normally do.

But was it cheaper? My homemade cleaner cost $1.32 for 12 oz., while Scrubbing Bubbles (at Walmart) is $2.47 for 12 oz. - saving me $1.15 a bottle. I also used less of the homemade cleaner, so my own concoction is clearly a better deal - and I don't have to worry about noxious chemicals.

Tub & Shower Cleaner #2:

Two weeks later (but with a tub that wasn't nearly so disgusting), I tried a super-simple homemade cleaner: Ordinary baking soda.

How to Do It:

1. Sprinkle the baking soda lightly over the bottom surfaces; you don't need much.

2. Wet your sponge and used the scrubbing side to clean the tub or bottom of the shower.

3. To clean the vertical parts of the tub or shower, sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge, then scrub.

4. Rinse.

Conclusion: This worked very well, although it took a little more scrubbing and the tub didn't shine as it did with the Dawn mixture. Too, baking soda isn't as effective at killing germs as vinegar (although it does have antifungal and some antiviral and antibacterial properties, according to Wikipedia).

Was it cheaper? Most definitely! A 4 lb. container is $2.88 at our local Walmart, and I used just a couple of tablespoons. That means I'll get at least 32 cleanings from of that one box of baking soda. (For those who are concerned about chemicals, please note: Arm & Hammer baking soda is aluminum free.)

Toilet Cleaner:

Before I busied myself with cleaning the tub with baking soda, I tried another trick I've read about: Using baking soda in the toilet.

How to Do It:

1. Measure 1 cup of baking soda and dump it into the toilet.

2. Let it sit for 1 hour, then flush.

Conclusion: This didn't work at all. However, after I flushed, I used a toilet brush, and the toilet cleaned very easily - more easily than if I'd used Scrubbing Bubbles. I will use this trick again!

Is it cheaper? Oh definitely. Baking soda is very inexpensive. (See Tub & Shower Cleaner #2, above.)


  1. I use baking soda for everything. And I sometimes add vinegar on it so that it will bubble and wipe away with very warm water. I do that on my stove when there are terrible spills.

    I also have a bath cleaner that adds baking soda, lemon juice, any type of dish soap and sea salt. It is foamy and I love it. Although I am not sure if it doesn't cost more than what I was using before. Our former cleaner was just so strong that I felt sick while cleaning the bathroom -_-

  2. I love your honesty--like the baking soda alone didn't clean the toilet well, and it needed extra scrubbing--and your DIY laundry detergent--that's wonderful feedback. Off to clean my tub with #1 experiment--thanks! Perfect timing!

  3. you know I read before that Dawn is good to clean anything that has been soiled by grease, including human sweat and dirt. I will definitely use it next time to clean my shower and tub instead of the white powder I use now.

  4. I never thought of heating the vinegar! I am going to try that recipe tonight, thank you!

    For the toilet, you will have really nice results if you combined vinegar and baking soda. And if you can, let it fizz, swish the toilet with the brush, and let it all sit overnight (so do this at the end of the night)...your toilet will be disinfected!

  5. Thanks, Lyzz! I had planned on trying baking soda and vinegar mixed together - I just didn't have a spray bottle for it this time.

  6. I don't use a spray bottle for the toilet...but that would probably be easier, ha! I will try that too, but for now, I just pour both in, then swish everything with the brush like you would clean the toilet most other ways. But the spraying would help more on the tops of the bowl. Thanks for this article, now I am inspired after a long day!

  7. I was thinking the spray bottle would make it easier for cleaning the tub :) I liked using baking soda in the tub, but would like the disinfecting power of vinegar. I'm a little concerned about the scent, though. My hubby LOATHES the smell of vinegar.

  8. Do you have any essential oils? Adding some helps with the scent ALOT. You only need a little bit and lemon or orange will cut grime, not make your tub greasy.

  9. I saw this on Pinterest and have been wanting to try it...though I would feel silly buying one of the ingredients!

  10. I've seen that, too, Lyzz. But I can't get organic citrus around here, and I don't want to spread pesticides around my house. I haven't really looked into commercial essential oils, either. Maybe I need to do that.

  11. I get very cost efficient oils that are good quality on Amazon and Vitacost. Let me know if you have any questions about eo's. I don't sell them or anything and I am not an expert, but I do know which ones work for the home and where to get deals! Just shoot me an email if you want to, I don't want to hijack this wonderful post you made!

  12. I used this recipe today and it worked so well.. i blogged about it and linked to your page...

  13. I'm glad it worked for you, Chrissy! And thanks for sharing a link back to Proverbs 31 Woman :)