Ditch the harmful chemicals, and make this non-toxic scouring powder with 2 simple ingredients. Use it on sinks, tubs, stainless steel, and more!
Remember when kitchens were bright and bubbly, and didn’t shy away from a little color?
That short, mustard-yellow fridge, the matching stove and dishwasher, and the small, round breakfast table – off to the side, but still close enough to compliment the rest of that groovy kitchen…
Ok, so maybe I don’t remember that kitchen from my own childhood (born in the ’80’s!), but I’ve had enough pop-culture references to help me feel like I was there, and that’s all that matters, right? Right.
But today? Today, our kitchens aren’t nearly as groovy as they were back in the day, but they do look pretty darn cool, eh? Stainless steel has this power to just make everything look like it’s shining and sparkling in just the right twinkle of the light.
So slim, and so sleek. It’s really beautiful…
But you know what’s not cool? Not cool at all?
Dirty stainless steel.
Dirty, grimy, greasy, and stained. Fingerprints. Water marks. And those sticky, red splash spots from that one time you dropped a jar of spaghetti sauce, and it went everywhere. Yep, still there…
But one really great thing about stainless steel is that it cleans up fairly easily – as long as you clean it regularly and don’t let dirt and grease build up on the surface. (One of our old rentals had this problem from a previous tenant, and there is nothing in the world that could take off those old stains – nothing!)
In our house, my mom used Comet® cleaner, which means that I started using it too after I got married and moved out, and had a home of my own to clean. But Comet® contains ingredients that don’t pass my personal guidelines for a non-toxic product, namely
- Calcium Hydroxide (scores “4” on SkinDeep®)
- Fragrance (scores “8” on SkinDeep®)
- Sodium Linear Alkylbenzenesulfonate (a moderate skin and eye irritant)
- Trichloro-s-triazinetrioneodium – a strong chlorine bleach (severe eye and respiratory irritant)
See? I don’t want that stuff anywhere near my family, and neither do you.
But what do you do when your stainless steel sink greets you with that dreadful, brownish tinge just staring back at you, reminding you of your abandonment and neglect? You’ve tried scrubbing it down with a soapy sponge once a day, but your efforts have gone completely unnoticed, because just look at it…
Not pretty. And honestly, kind of embarrassing!
So I got to work. I brought out all the cleaning ingredients that I usually keep on hand to make homemade non-toxic cleaners, and started experimenting. I tried a few different combinations, and confirmed that simpler really is better.
This non-toxic scouring powder uses just 2 ingredients!
Baking soda and salt. They work so well together!
I’ve actually tried scrubbing the sink with just baking soda, but it always left a white film behind, unless I scrubbed it again as I was rinsing it. And call me lazy, but I barely feel like scrubbing once, let alone a second time.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
But when baking soda marries with salt, something pretty awesome happens… They compliment each other so nicely, because while the salt gives some extra scrubbing power, it also helps scrub away that annoying, gritty film that baking soda likes to leave behind. Perfect!
To make this non-toxic scouring powder simple and practical (read: so easy that I’ll actually use it), I just mixed the baking soda and salt together, and added it to an old cheese shaker. You can also repurpose an old spice jar, or DIY it by drilling a few holes into a jar lid.
I keep that jar right near the kitchen sink, so I can remember to scrub it down every once in a while. Just shake some right into the sink, and scrub away, then rinse. Sometimes I’ll add a couple drops of dish soap after sprinkling the powder to help the sponge slip and glide more easily, but it’s not necessary.
But I didn’t stop there.
Although baking soda and salt is the default for this non-toxic scouring powder, sometimes you just need a little more cleaning action. And that’s where all that experimenting I did earlier comes in handy.
So now I have a small group of “cleaning boosters” that help boost the cleaning power of this simple scouring powder (make sure you wear gloves if you’re cleaning with any of these).
- Peroxide – to help whiten and brighten
- Borax – to remove stains and odors
- Washing soda – for degreasing and removing stains
Worried about the salt scratching your surfaces?
Just leave it out, and you can replace it with one of the boosters from the list. The only times I’d really worry about using the salt would be for acrylic or fiberglass surfaces (like some bathtubs). But I’ve used this on stainless steel and porcelain tiles with no problem. But of course, you should always spot test if you’re not sure!
What do you use when you’re cleaning and you need some extra scrubbing power?
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup salt (regular table salt, cheapest you can find)
- a jar with holes in the lid
- Add baking soda and salt to the jar, and mix/stir very well until combined, then cover with lid.
- Start with a wet surface - either with water or this homemade all-purpose cleaner, for tougher jobs.
- Sprinkle powder on surface, and scrub with brush or sponge.
- Rinse with water.
- Peroxide - to help whiten and brighten
- Borax - to remove stains and odors
- Washing soda - for degreasing and removing stains