All-Natural Homemade Scouring Powder

homemade scouring powder recipe with natural ingredients

There is something nostalgic about using a product that your parents and grandparents used, and I believe that we can often find a lot of modern wisdom from the way things used to be done. One of the products I remember seeing in both of my grandparents houses growing up (and my mom using when I was little) was a scouring powder like Bon Ami.

A Natural Cleaner?

When I first had multiple toddlers crawling around, I started to become aware of potentially harmful substances in cleaning and household products. I began researching (and often getting rid of) favorite products if they weren’t safe to use around my kids. Bon Ami is one cleaner that stumped me for a while and that I still don’t think is a terrible option. Here’s why…

It works with a physical action to scour away dirt and other stuck on substances. Rather than relying on a chemical reaction, this scouring powder actually scrubs the dirt and grime away with just a sponge or brush. Unlike most cleaners, it doesn’t contain chlorine, dyes or artificial fragrances and it earns an “A” rating from the Environmental Working Group. It also works really, really well. Our grandparents were on to something. I used Bon Ami for years and would still consider it at the natural end of the spectrum for store-bought cleaners.

At the same time, there are a few sources that claim that Bon Ami may cause respiratory irritation and at one point, I ran out of the bottle I had and was looking for another option. Since I already keep bulk ingredients on hand for making beauty and cleaning products, I experimented with ingredients I already had to see if any of them would work in a similar way. I eventually settled on a three-ingredient version that I absolutely love and now use this when scouring powder is needed.

Homemade Bon Ami Alternative Scouring Powder

Note: This recipe has been updated to remove borax. As I explained in this post, borax is a controversial ingredient and it gets very mixed reviews on safety with most recent reports claiming it may be harmful. While all of the actual research I’ve seen shows that its cousin, boric acid, and not actually borax powder (sodium borate) is the problem, I’m erring on the side of caution until more research emerges. Additionally, Bon Ami powder is still a really budget-friendly green option that does not contain borax (and which has a higher safety rating than Borax on EWG) so if it doubt, I’d stick to that over borax for now.

I use this easy recipe for homemade scouring powder because it cleans everything from stuck on floor messes to tile goo. I feel safe letting my kids use it to help clean and it takes about a minute to make.

It is inexpensive to make and cleans better than store brands without the vague smell of chemical warfare. I use this all the time to clean our bathroom, and especially our kids bathroom which tends to be covered in dirt and stuck on soap/grime after just a few baths. In fact, this was my testing ground when I was experimenting with homemade versions.

homemade scouring powder recipeI knew that this stuff worked well, but to put it to the test, I restrained myself from cleaning the bathroom for two whole weeks (meaning I was incredibly busy and didn’t get time to clean it for two weeks). It was bad… really bad. I also knew that my kids would be soaking in said freshly cleaned tub that night and didn’t want them to lose any skin pigment from the cleaners I used so I turned to this natural homemade powder.

Did it work?

Oh yeah… I  cleaned the tub one half at a time so I could see the difference. Even with my less than exceptional camera, you can probably tell which side got cleaned first. (Top side, if you can’t tell with my camera)

All natural homemade tub cleaning scouring powder

So, how do you make it? The recipe is very easy and very inexpensive:

Scouring Powder Ingredients

Scouring Powder Instructions

  1. Pour ingredients into jar or bowl.
  2. Mix or stir until well mixed.
  3. If you want to make a shaker, put in a pint or quart mason jar and poke some holes in the top (carefully) with a sharp serrated knife or use the top of a parmesan cheese container!

Notes

  1. Lightly wet surface with water or undiluted white vinegar (for really bad messes)
  2. Sprinkle powder on and let sit 5 minutes
  3. Scrub with sturdy brush until clean
  4. Rinse with water or vinegar (for really bad messes)

Is your tub clean? Have a way to get it cleaner naturally? Please tell me about it below!

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Reader Comments

  1. I’m sorry if you have answered this before, but what is a good source for buying baking soda in bulk? Thanks.

    • hi sarah, just browsing and noticed your question.  I buy my baking soda from a local restaurant supply. hope that helps 🙂

    • I am wondering if this cleaning recipe works also on acrylic bathtubs. They are more easily damaged and scrached?

      • My tub turned yellow and I tried everything and searched on line and and tried all suggestions. Today I cleaned my tub with comet, as the person who refinished my tub suggested and the bottom 2″ were still yellow. I just put in more water and poured a gallon of white vinegar in the tub and let it set for several hours and when I let it out it looked a lot better. I thought I was going to have to have the tub redone again. I did wipe the a tub with a dry towel after. I think I will go it again soon.

      • salt WILL scratch, baking soda will not.
        also I found out that borax does not scratch. I would mix up a batch with Borax and baking soda

    • I suggest that you inquire at your local feed shop or country supply store. In my area, baking soda is about 1$ per box (454g), but at the feed store, 50lbs is 30$. It is food grade for livestock, so is great for these projects.

      • I use a combination of blue dawn and hydrogen piroxide ratio of 1:2 gets grease, blood and tomato out. I haven’t been able to figure out a really good option without dawn yet

        • I use blue dawn and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio and spray on shower walls and tub. Just leave on for about 30 minutes, and use water to wash away soap scum from tubs. I’m sure it could be used elseware.

      • go to the Dollar Store and buy “Awesome”. I haven’t found anything that it will not remove. 1 quart costs $1.00
        Just spray it on ‘anything’ . . spray direct on clothing, walls, floors- carpet or tile. Blood, ink, food stains, etc. . .
        You will find it at the back of the store with their other cleaning supplies. I keep a bottle beside the washing machine, in the kitchen and in every bathroom. Unbelievable!

    • I get baking soda in bulk from Sams Club or BJs buying club.much cheaper than regulate store. $5.99 for 13.5 lbs

  2.  I used just borax the other day, and it worked really well.  Is there any reason you know of NOT to do this?

  3. I used pretty much the same thing for scouring powder. I also make a lemon cleaning oil by taking a quart jar and filling it almost full with white vinegar. Then I collect all my lemon peels and seeds and put them in the jar and let it soak for about 6 weeks. The vinegar draws the oils out and it makes a great cleaner. It smells like lemony vinegar (so a little better than straight vinegar). 

    • Okay about the lemon peels
      Do you separate the peel from the inner part of the lemon? The reason I ask is.we use a lot of lemons. And I’d like to make the lemon vinegar.
      So do you scrape the lemon peels off first or cut it off before you squeeze the Lemons to make it easier to then put just the peels into the vinegar?

  4. Borax is not toxic, but you do not want to inhale the dust or ingest it. I still use gloves to clean with it. It is anti-fungal. I have horses and it has been used as a natural treatment for thrush of their hooves.  I have heard of people getting a rash after using borax, so use gloves and be on the lookout. Our well water is hard and turns sinks and tubs blue, but borax cleans it perfectly!

    • Thank you!!!! I have also used Borax to kill mildew in the bathrooms and use it mixed in water in a spray bottle to use on the corners of tubs and tile shower walls to prevent mildew from coming back. You mix or dissolve
      1 cup of borax to a gallon of warm water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle to use.

        • When I spray the borax water on the corners etc…to prevent the mildew from coming back I leave it there do not wipe it away because the water will evaporate leaving a borax protective barrier. that’s what keeps the mildew away!

  5. I tried this for the first time and my shower/tub has never been cleaner. It got off stuck on scum that even the “natural” clorox cleaner made from “plant extracts” could not budge. Thanks for the post!

  6. Hi this is great! I was wondering what the salt does? And if you know if the salt is too abrasive for the newer plastic tubs? Also I found a cheese shaker and sugar shaker at the dollar store, these work great for shaking out the cleaner. Yeah!

  7. ok, I just made some up and used it clean the burner pans on my electric stove. It is amazing!! I have used oven cleaner (oh the chemicals and smell) and comet and Bar Keeper’s Friend and none of them worked. My burner pans practically look new and they were REALLY bad. Thank you for sharing this, going to clean my bath now.

  8. Know of anything that will kill and get rid of the mold stains in the tub calking? I have tried hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixed into a paste sitting overnight, but that didn’t do much…

    • Dr. Oz had a lady on his show that had some great uses for epsom salt. It was on his website but I am not sure if it is still there. You could Google besu uses for epsom salt in the home and you will probably find it. It used epsom salt, dish washing liquid (I used Dawn) equal parts. I do not remember anything else then you mix it into a paste. You can make it ahead and keep it under your sink in a container for when you need it. You put the paste on and leave it for a while then come back and use a brush on it. She had a dirty, ugly, mildewy tile and grout and it cleaned it perfectly. I do not have tile on my wall only on the floor so I was not in need of the kind of cleaning she demonstrated. Good luck!

    • I did google that and found that borax kills mold and mildew. Use 1 cup borax to a gallon of warm water. You apply it and let sit a while. Maybe a 1/2 hour. Then you use a brush to remove the moldxand mildew. It kills it but doesn’t remove the stain you’ll need bleach to do that. Then you sprat the area with the sane borax mixture to leave a film the wards away the reoccurance if the mold and mildew. I live in FL and I choose this method and it has nor returned! Praise God! The same borax mixture that you spray on. After the water evaporates the borax leaves a barrier to ward off the reoccurrence if mild and mildew. Hasn’t come back here!

    • I used 1 cup of borax dissolved in 1 gallon of warm water. You apply this and let sit for about half hour. Borax kills it but doesn’t remove the dark color. After a half hour you take a brush and scrub it off. Then you rinse .apply bleach to get rid of the color. Then rinse. Make a new batch of borax water mixture put in a spray bottle and spray the surface. When the water evaporates the borax film is still there to protect against the re occurance of mold and mildew. I live in FL and I did this and it has never come back. Regulate sprays with borax water will keep it at bay and also make cleaning easier

    • The only thing that gets rid of the stains and black color is bleach.you only need to use the bleach one time though.
      Borax mixed with water will kill it And will prevent mildew from coming back.
      I live in FL so I fought that fight and won it! Won’t come back because of borax spray. The water dissipated and the borax leaves a protection barrier to prevent mildew from coming back
      So use borax to clean and kill and bleach to get rid of color and stains. Then use borax spray to prevent

      • you need to use bleach. I use borax to kill mildew but it does not get rid of the black stain. only bleach does.
        I mix up 1/4 cup of bleach in a spray bottle fill the rest of the way with water. Spray the bleach water onto the black spots and let sit till the black disappears. after the black is gone and you rinse the area well to get rid of the bleach. then you mix up 1 cup of borax in one gallon of very warm water. put this in a spray bottle. spray on all the areas you want to deter mold from coming back. the water evaporates and the borax leaves a protective barrier to prevent mildew from coming back this works for me and I live in FL where you always have to look out for mildew!

  9. I made some of this yesterday and tried it today. I had to experiment with the amount of water used in step 1 but the product works great. Thanks for sharing. I will continue to use the scouring powder around the house, and I will share this article with friends and family and on my blog.

  10. My homemade cleaner tip is that
    I have found that a lid from a parmesan cheese container fits a regular size canning jar (pint or quart). It already has the holes in it. That way you don’t have to cut your own holes in a canning lid.

  11. Just made this ( just happened to have all the ingredients,whoa!) and it works wonderfully. I added about ten drops of Eden’s Garden Sweet Orange Essential Oil (amazon.com) to one jar (shaken,not stirred) and added some fresh lemon zest to another. I clean homes on the side and I have noticed in the last ten years or so, that my clients want me to use more biologically sound products. This is a nice addition to my hoard of products! Thanks for posting!

  12. I save large bulk spice and Parmesan cheese containers to use as shaker containers. I do not care to use my canning jars for anything except food.

  13. Can i mix this powder with some water & make a paste ? I need to apply it on the walls in the shower ( i have tile all the way up to the ceiling ) Thank you

  14. Sweet Wellness Mama, I’ve spent so much time reading all your blogs that I feel like we are friends. I thank you for all your hard work in researching info & sharing your great wealth of information! I have one comment/suggestion though. Sometimes I jump from one subject to another & often get “lost” & can’t retrieve the site I wanted to return to :(. I think it would be most beneficial if you had a way to type in what one may be looking for & be able to go back to it that way!! I’ve been seeking an accompanying recipe all afternoon & still haven’t been able to locate it. Have greatly enjoyed your blogs & am thankful for all I have learned! How does someone so young & busy as you become so wise? Anne

  15. Our daughter in law just had their baby and she is looking for a good natural nipple cream for nursing. Thought you might have one . Love your stuff, Thanks Penny

      • My solution is simple & proven after 48 months of experience & trying commercial products. Wipe away any saliva from nipples & dry, Next express a few drops of breastmilk & rub all over nipples & areola (sp?) & allow to air dry. Nature knows best.

        • Yes! This is exactly what I did. Only needed relief the first month or so, but the breast milk seemed to help. Make sure to let it dry so nipple pads, bra, shirt, etc. don’t stick. That hurts! 32 months breastfeeding-whoa I just figured that up! Best thing I did for my son but glad to be done?.

  16. The scouring powder worked very well on a tub and surrounding tile. Thank you! It’s wonderful to feel refreshed after using scouring powder… not blown away by chemicals. Using vinegar as a rinse on tough areas worked!

    Thank you to all the helpful commenters above too.

    • use triple OOO steel wool pads (extra fine found at hardware store) – scrub with this. Doesn’t hurt the glass and comes off very easily. No cleaning solution needed. You could use a cleaner afterwards to wipe down. Little pieces of steel wool will fall – just vacuum up.

  17. Thank you so much for all of the great recipes! I have so much fun whipping up lotions and such for friends and family. Noticed today that my tub was especially gross. Did a quick search, found this recipe, mixed it up, applied, let it sit about 5 minutes, added a little water to make a paste, scrubbed and viola! Tub looks fantastic…no more soap scum! Thank you!!

  18. Hi katie, im Verenice from Nigeria. I love what you are doing, GOD will increase you in wisdom. Please what is borax and what department of the store can i get it from? And is it the normal bakeing powder? Thanks.

      • I am living in Botswana. I looked all over the cleaning aisle for Borax, but didn’t find it. One day I found a tiny container of it in the baking section, right next to the baking soda. I don’t know what they use it for here, but if in Africa, look in the baking section too. Hope this helps someone.

  19. This scouring powder us the best! And using the vinegar made it that much mire effective. Thank you, for all your work and sharing with the rest of us! 😀

  20. To make shakers, I use a drill and put a number of holes in the lid. It’s easiest to do it while the lid on the jar. The size of the holes (i.e., the size of the drill bit) and the number of holes depends on what I’m planning on shaking. I do this with canning jars and their lids for all sorts of things, not just cleaning.

  21. Hi Kate, I want to know if there is any other chemical I can use to replace borax. Thank you

    • For you and anyone else who doesn’t have or doesn’t want to use borax for any reason, I just cleaned my bathtub with 1 part baking soda and 1 part salt, and it worked beautifully. I imagine it may have gone a little easier with borax, but it DOES work without it. I have hard water as well as a very annoyingly textured bathtub, and I thought I’d never get it clean. I had to scrub a lot because of the texture, but salt and baking soda did the trick. I’ve never gotten it that clean with store bought cleaners before. It’s completely white now!

      • awesomeness! thank you! Is your tub porcelain or the new kind of plastic which is a one piece unit? cannot think of what they call it because I have one tub surround that I don’t want to scratch thank you

  22. I live in a home with really hard water. This worked like a charm to get rid of the soap scum and mineral residue. Thanks so much!

  23. I remember during Home Economics class here in Nigeria, we were taught to make scouring powder using dried egg shells that have been ground mixed with detergent.

  24. Ahhh the magic of Bicarbonate of Soda.. Another use is to mix equal volumes of soda and white vinegar ply the paste onto any burnt pot/saucepan leave for 15/30 minutes … Away comes the burnt residue. Polish.

  25. This is not about the cleaning powder,but rather a question concerning the dryer sheets. I have gone with the recipe but I find that when the clothes are dry I do not smell the lavender that I mixed with the vinegar & I really want the scent?

  26. I used just baking soda with lemon juice and let it sit for awhile before scrubbing. I think salt is more abrasive and may scratch fiberglass tubs after awhile. Of course, Bon Ami is easier.

    • I totally agree with you about salt being more abrasive. When you have a porcelain tub and tile the salt won’t mind BUT anything else I would stick with omitting the salt. I proved to myself that baking soda (which as you know is cheaper than Bon Ami) does not scratch anything. I proved this by using a paste of baking soda and water on a sponge and cleanewd a grease build up on my stainless steel toaster. The grease came off very easy and the shine was clear and NO scratches. Can never go wrong with baking soda.It cuts grease.

  27. Greetings!

    I have a special sink that is a composite and Barkeeper’s Friend is the only recommended cleaner. Would this work safely on the sink?

    • I totally agree with you about salt being more abrasive. When you have a porcelain tub and tile the salt won’t mind BUT anything else I would stick with omitting the salt. I proved to myself that baking soda (which as you know is cheaper than Bon Ami) does not scratch anything. I proved this by using a paste of baking soda and water on a sponge and cleaned a grease build up on my stainless steel toaster. The grease came off very easy and the shine was clear and NO scratches. Can never go wrong with baking soda.It cuts grease.

  28. I just cleaned my acrylic tub & surround with a natural mixture I made.
    My husband works in a metal industry & so showers twice a day, & a hot soak every day for sore muscles, so you understand what I mean by grungy! Especially when I don’t get to it as soon as I should.
    We also make our own soap & get build up.
    I have a set of 5 books I got through Indigo called Grandmother’s Household Secrets that give you hints on what you can do with: Honey; Lemon; Salt; Bicarbonate of Soda; & Vinegar.
    So I sprayed pure white vinegar on the worst spots first & let it sit for a half hour. I closed the door because it’s quite strong. Then I mixed 2 good squirts of dish soap with vinegar in a small spray bottle & sprayed the rest of the area.
    I then used Mr. Clean Magic Eraser & it came sparkling clean!

  29. We love using Thyme essential oil for cleaning products. Great properties, smells fantastic (especially in the kitchen)!

  30. Fantastic site!!!! Thank you so much for all the information provided.
    I just wanted to leave a quick feedback regarding this scouring powder. I just finished making a batch (which took 2 minutes) and tried on my sink. It worked extremely well, and now I’m sitting here, enjoying the lovely fragrance (I used organic lemongrass essence)!
    Word of advice: if using essence, do stick with the recipe. 5 drops is plenty for the batch.

    thanks again!!!

  31. This even worked great on my refrigerator door where the bottled sauces etc. left marks. I was afraid it would scratch but my refrigerator is old so I tried it and was very pleased. Everything was sparkling clean. Love it for the tub too especially because my handcrafted soap leaves a bit more residue than the commercial stuff.

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