Make Your Bathtub Shine with Just Two Ingredients

My trusty cleaning supplies

While on the GAPS diet (or for anyone, really) it’s important to reduce the number of toxins you are exposed to.  I switched to just using baking soda and vinegar for all my cleaning a little over a year ago in an attempt to reduce the number of chemicals around me and to save some money.

Overall, it has worked really well.  I clean my countertops, mirrors, and sinks with a 50/50 blend of white vinegar and water.  I use baking soda to scrub the toilet or soak pans with baked-on food.  I mop my floors with vinegar and water.  Vinegar is my usual choice of fabric softener in the laundry.  It’s so nice to not breathe in noxious fumes while getting my cleaning done.  Plus, baking soda and vinegar are extremely inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of green cleaners which I had been previously using.

The problem I have been noticing the most over the past year, though, is that my bathtub was getting dingier and dingier.  It seemed that no matter how much I scrubbed it, it still looked dirty after I was done.

I recently picked up The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen from the library.  It sounded interesting, but I wasn’t specifically looking for any cleaning tips.  It turns out they had a few very helpful ideas!

First of all, they add a little bit of castille soap to their vinegar/water solution for the kitchen to help cut through grease.  I still need to try this out, but I’m thinking it will be even more effective than my current method of just vinegar and water.

The next big thing that stood out to me was that they use baking soda for scrubbing their tubs and sinks.  How did I miss that?!  That makes a lot more sense to use than vinegar and water.  I’m switching to that now and saving the vinegar/water solution for countertops and mirrors.

Magic Soft Scrub

The trump card, though, was their recipe for “Magic Soft Scrub” to use on tubs, sinks, and other items with soap scum build up.  It’s amazing!  You just mix about a half cup of baking soda with castille soap.  You keep adding the soap until the mixture resembles frosting.  I then spooned it onto my scrubbing brush and started scrubbing away.  I can’t believe how well it worked!  My bathtub and sink both look so much better now.  Plus, my scrubbing brush looks brand new again and it was getting pretty disgusting.

There’s a great quote in the book that I totally get now.  “It is so pleasant to use (especially if it smells like peppermint, like ours does), you might end up wandering around looking for more things to scrub.”  Mine happened to smell like lavender since I was using Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castille soap.  But I definitely felt the same way.

How do you clean your home?  Do you have any other great tips and tricks to use when cleaning with using baking soda, vinegar, and castille soap?  I’d love to hear about them, but first I think I need to go scrub my kitchen sink…

This post is part of Real Food WednesdayPennywise Platter ThursdayFight Back Friday, and Monday ManiaSimple Lives Thursday.


  1. Justina says:

    Awesome! I use vinegar and baking soda for everything too, but have had to use a magic eraser for the tubs since the soda/vinegar just didn’t hack it. Where do you get castille soap?

  2. Mindy says:

    You can get Dr. Bronner’s brand at Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, and Alfalfa’s. I would guess that Sunflower has it to, but have never looked there. Have fun!

  3. Kelsey says:

    I also use vinegar and baking soda for most everything, but castille soap is for sure my favorite thing. I put a little of it in my vinegar/water solution like you said they do in the book, and I just generally love it for everything – it gets everything so clean and sparkly! I’ve never done the baking soda/castille soap thing though, I’m definitely going to give that a try (especially since my tub could for sure use a scrubbing). Does the mixture keep in a glass jar, or do you just have to mix it up each time? Thanks!

    • Mindy says:

      I’m going to mix up some of the vinegar/water with castille soap today. Can’t wait to try it out!

      I’m not sure if the baking soda/castille soap will last or not. I wonder if it would dry out. If you try keeping it, let me know how it works out!

  4. Kelsey says:

    P.S. I’ve bought Dr. Bronner’s at Fred Meyer’s, and I saw it for even cheaper at a GNC store in the mall, which is where I will be buying it from now on. It should be pretty easy to find.

  5. Elisabeth says:

    I mix baking soda and salt together for a scrub on tubs and sinks. It’s really cheap and the salt acts as a great abrasive getting my tubs really clean and white. I keep it as dry as possible when scrubbing kind of like how you would with Comet or a product like it. Then I rinse the tub or sink out with vinegar and its sparkling and sanitized. And no chemical smell. :)

  6. Rebekah says:

    The castile/baking soda paste worked really well! I find that a stainless steel scrub is perfect for my soap-scummed bathtub.

  7. I use Vinegar for most things too and baking soda when scrubbing sinks, tubs & toliets AND giving the drains a good rinse out! I use Hydrogen Peroxide for cleaning the grout in my shower though – we have hard water and it works it’s magic on it like a charm. I now keep some in a spray bottle next to the shower and after each night of showering, give it a spritz down :)

  8. Mindy says:

    I’ll have to try hydrogen peroxide on our grout. How handy!

  9. Meghan says:

    I HATE cleaning my bathtub. I use baking soda on it but it still seems to take serious scrubbing. (Although part of that is undoubtedly because I leave it too long between cleanings…) I will have to try the baking soda/castille combo and see if that makes it any easier. Thanks for the suggestion! I already have bottles of castille soap because I use it for all our hand soap.
    I also use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning. With vinegar it’s a good way to sanitize things. Keep vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in two separate bottles and then spray separately onto whatever surface you want to sanitize. I am not really scared of germs in general but we do use this whenever we get raw meat onto a counter or other surface.
    I get my Dr. Bronner’s castille soap through Azure Standard – best price I was able to find.

  10. SulaBlue says:

    I use a mixture of water, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oil to clean just about every surface in my home. Like you, I find that it’s not quite enough to get my counter tops and plastic tub sparkling white so. Every now and then, I do resort to a diluted bleach solution since our apartment complex decided that white countertops in the kitchen would be a smashing idea (It’s not, folks, really. You painted the walls taupe, off-white would have been great for the counters, too!).

    Wardeh of GNOWFGLINS has a video on making it, with the proportions, here:
    Probably not great for glass/mirrors, due to the soap.

  11. Elise says:

    I’m going to try this. My bath tub always seems dingy and I hate it! Thanks for the tip! :)

  12. Victoria says:

    I use a vinegar/water/hydrogen peroxide/tea tree oil spray to clean everything! I used to put castile soap in too but then I read this…
    I’m going to try the tub scrub right now.

    • Mindy says:

      Thanks for the tip about mixing castile soap and vinegar. I’ve never mixed them, but I’m glad to know that I shouldn’t! Hope you enjoy the scrub!

  13. Hilary says:

    So, another recipe I found that originally used Dawn and vinegar could work with with castille soap, too. Warm a cup of vinegar and place it in a spray bottle with equal parts liquid soap. Spray in scum caked tub/shower and let sit for a few minutes before wiping off. It’s amazing. I’ve done the vinegar and castille before, but the vinegar and castille required much less scrubbing for me. It’s all fun, thoug, and I love the absence of fumes!

  14. Sarah S says:

    We also only use natural cleaners and primarily baking soda, castille soap and vinegar. My mom always used Bon Ami when I was a kid and it is still like $.95 for a can, it is powdered sodium bicarbonate I believe. But I know it is natural and works well, so I store a can of that in each bathroom and our kitchen and it scrubs the sinks and tub very well! Hope that helps! :)

  15. Carla McGee says:

    Add a little pure lemon or other citrus oil with the baking sods and vinegar.

    • Mindy says:

      That’s a great idea. I need to order some more essential oils, time to add a citrus one to the list. Thanks!

  16. Brandis says:

    OMG, I can’t believe I didn’t know about the baking soda/castille soap mix! I’ve been scouring my sink with just baking soda and a wet rag for ages (it works great!), but I just kinda ignore my bathtub. Now I may actually try to scrub it!

    Another thing I used to do- I used a parmesan container (the cheap parm kind- plastic jar with green lid) and mixed several drops of EO with some baking soda to get a scented scouring powder. I have just been to lazy to do this lately:)

    • Mindy says:

      You’re going to love it! It’s perfect for those weeks I want to spend just a little more time to make my bathtub look extra nice.

      Love the idea of mixing in the EO with the baking soda. Thanks!

  17. Leanne says:

    I use straight baking soda on the shower stall. After the last shower, I sprinkle it on and leave it for a couple hours. The moist baking soda sort of melts the grime; the minerals in the baking soda dissolve the dirt. I’m guilty of leaving the shower for too long between cleans, so I was used to lots of scrubbing even with expensive commercial cleaners.

    The other thing I learned, from the unlikeliest quarter, is that scrubbing shouldn’t be hard. A scrub brush will clean way more effectively when used with a light touch. I learned this great tip via a dental tip that showed pressing very lightly with a toothbrush was far more effective at cleaning and polishing teeth than pressing hard. Same with any other scrubbing action!

  18. susan says:

    another 2 tips for cleaning the bathtub
    1. wax the sides (obviously, do not wax the bottom of the tub) with plain old car wax and it’ll repel dirt and grime easier
    2. use liquid rather than bar soap and there is much less soap scum and grime generated. switching from bar to liquid soap made a huge difference in how clean my tub stayed.

  19. Joanna says:

    I find I use vinegar where an acidic component is required; loo (toilet) brushes, stainless steel oven and disinfecting things.

    I use baking soda and castile soap in combination to make an all purpose cleaner: 150g baking soda, 50mls castile soap & 50mls cool, boiled water, a drop of essential oil will give a nice smell, the cleaner works well on the bath, shower, sinks, kitchen sink.

    Cleaning need not be toxic, thankfully, I have kept my house sparkling for years this way.. now if only there was a magic tidying recipe!

  20. Doina says:

    Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing that magic soft scrub. I just cleaned our tile shower and it looks like new! It even cleaned the grout. Wow! I’m impressed. :)

  21. Beth says:

    I am excited to try the soft scrub recipe. I wanted to add that my new favorite and easy way to clean my sinks and tub is with the seventh generation baby wipes. They ate amazing at getting the soap scum off the sink without a lot of elbow grease. I just keep the wipes on the bathroom and wipe the dink down every few days. So fast and no chemicals or fragrances. It’s like having the convenience of the Clorox cleaning wipes without the toxins. Plus the baby wipes are WAY cheaper than buying cleaning wipes. Seventh generation makes actual “cleaning wipes” but you get like 75% less for the same price as the baby wipes. I have twin boys who are 6 so you can imagine how fast their bathroom can get disgusting.

    • Mindy says:

      I hope you love it. : ) What a great tip for keeping your sinks and tub clean easily. I can only imagine how dirty twin boys can get everything!


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