All-Natural Homemade Scouring Powder

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homemade scouring powder recipe with natural ingredients
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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!


  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!

Scouring powder is great to use on tubs, sinks, and other hard to clean areas of your home. This recipe is easy to make, and non-toxic.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


133 responses to “All-Natural Homemade Scouring Powder”

  1. lavinia chirita Avatar
    lavinia chirita

    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

  2. Patricia Haro Avatar
    Patricia Haro

    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.

  3. Corinne Avatar

    Thanks for recipe. Does this work on stainless steel? Thanks

    1. JenniferNY Avatar

      Connie, I just used this on my stains steel sinks and it worked great. It even left them shinier than the Comet Cleanser that I use to use, plus with the added Orange EO it smells MUCH better than the Comet!!

  4. Merri Avatar

    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 ( 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!

  5. Sue Avatar

    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.

  6. Patrick Graham Avatar
    Patrick Graham

    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.

  7. Danielle Avatar

    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…

    1. Barbara Avatar

      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!

    2. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      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!

    3. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      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

    4. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      The only thing that gets rid of the stains and black color is 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

      1. Jean Avatar

        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!

    5. Tessa Avatar

      If the caulking is moldy, it is literally impossible to remove…unless you are talking about the surface scum that builds up next to it. Replacing the caulking is surprisingly easy and quick and makes the shower connection look new again. I learned by watching a couple of videos.

  8. Marj Dickson Avatar
    Marj Dickson

    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.

  9. Cari Pitner Avatar
    Cari Pitner

    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!

  10. sara Avatar

    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!

  11. Catherine Peisher Knight Avatar
    Catherine Peisher Knight

    Just made this and it worked well. NOW if you could come up with a homemade daily shower spray so I don’t have to scrub the tub, I would consider you a genius!

  12. Michelle Albanese Avatar
    Michelle Albanese

    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!

    1. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      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.

      1. jemma Avatar

        hi when you sprayed it on your shower walls do you leave it for a few minutes then just wipe away? thankyou

        1. Jean Tierney Avatar
          Jean Tierney

          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!

    2. Galia Avatar

      For that reason I would think using Borax in bathrooms, or any surfaces that are mostly kept wet or washed regularly, would be the safest option. Because the Borax would be washed away and would have little chance of forming into dust if left on surfaces!

  13. James Avatar

    Will this be safe on glass stovetops?  I usually use Bar Keeper’s Friend but the smell is harsh.  

  14. Jennifer Scott Avatar
    Jennifer Scott

    What kind of salt do you use? Iodized? Thank you for sharing your recipes!

  15. Michelle Albanese Avatar
    Michelle Albanese

    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). 

    1. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      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?

    1. Elle Anthis Avatar
      Elle Anthis

      You are so right.
      BORAX is toxic and if someone wants to go all the way healthy and is using borax then you might as well just use regular toxic cleaning products. Borax is even an ingredient that’s in the poison that kills mice. I would never use it in my home with my 2 young kids.

      1. Samantha Stark Avatar
        Samantha Stark

        Borax is not toxic, it is not boric acid. Do you really think they are selling this in the laundry aisle and recommend using it to make homemade laundry soap.?? It would tear up fabric if it was toxic.

        1. Jim Carver Avatar
          Jim Carver

          It’s not extremely toxic, most common household cleaners are much more so. I have dusted it all over the floor to kill fleas and it works. Boric acid is a little more toxic, but if you take reasonable precautions it isn’t that bad either. It’s a good roach killer. Just don’t breathe the dust, or make a solution of it and spray for bugs.
          My Prof. in college was allergic to borates, so some people are and they should be more careful.
          Practically anything can cause problems if used carelessly.

          1. Samantha Stark Avatar
            Samantha Stark

            But yet people do lots and lots of drugs, but people don’t seem to complain about that as much as they complain about 20 mule borax.

  16. Linda Avatar

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

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It shouldn’t hurt anything, but Borax can be really strong, so I tend to dilute with baking soda or salt just to make it less abrasive

      1. Jean Avatar

        Borax is not abrasive just like baking soda is not abrasive. I have found that salt however is abrasive and scratches

  17. Red Avatar

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

    1. rachel mendez Avatar
      rachel mendez

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

    2. Helen Kuttel Gorman Avatar
      Helen Kuttel Gorman

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

      1. Pat Avatar

        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.

        1. Andrew Avatar

          Bleach mixed with water also works well for bleaching out tub stains.

      2. Jean Avatar

        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

    3. brigitte Avatar

      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.

    4. laurel Avatar

      Does anyone have a good solution for a stain remover
      for the laundry?

      thank you

      1. Cheryl Avatar

        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

        1. Jean Avatar

          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.

      2. Jan Avatar

        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!

    5. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

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

    6. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      I buy mine at a local BJ’S or Sam’s club
      13.5 pounds for $6.99

    7. Jean Tierney Avatar
      Jean Tierney

      I buy the 13.5 pound bag for $6 at my local BJ’s club or Sam’s club.

    8. Andrew Avatar

      Hey, I just found two large sizes of baking soda right at Walmart in the bulk section. See if your Walmart has a bulk section. There was a 1.5 pound box and a 3 pound bag. If your Walmart doesn’t have the large sizes, you can order it online at the Walmart website (with free pick-up). You may want even larger but you can get the 1.5 and 3 pound sizes at (or at least through) Walmart. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight!

    9. Heidi Avatar

      Hello. I’m trying to find non-toxic cleaners to use around the house because my girls help clean and also because I get awful reactions with chemicals and smells. My throat closes up. My most problematic place to clean is my white tile shower. I hate it. So today I started by spraying it with distilled white vinegar, undiluted, and then shaking the scouring powder over it. Felt I was going to die from the fumes of the vinegar. I know it’s not toxic, but I couldn’t breathe in there. Kept on having to get out of the shower to take a breath. What should I do? I do need something strong because my white tile shower is in a desperate state right now.

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