Ditch the harmful chemicals, and make this non-toxic scouring powder with 2 simple ingredients. Use it on sinks, tubs, stainless steel, and more!
Don’t you love how bright and sparkly a brand new stainless steel sink is? It captures the light in all the right places, and really makes your whole kitchen feel spotless.
But after a while – and lots and lots of coffee, tea, and spaghetti sauce being splashed around in there – that sink can really start to look dingy and unsightly.
So 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 my homemade non-toxic cleaners, and started experimenting. I tried a few different combinations, and have once again confirmed that simpler really is better.
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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 at least once a week. Just shake some right into the sink, and scrub away, then rinse. I’ve also started adding a squirt of dish soap, after sprinkling the powder, to help the sponge slip and glide more easily, and it works so well!
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?
Non-Toxic Scouring Powder
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup salt (regular table salt, cheapest you can find)
- a jar with holes in the lid
- liquid soap ( (any kind will do))
- Add baking soda and salt to the jar, and mix/stir very well until combined, then cover with lid.
- Start with a wet surface and wet sponge.
- Sprinkle powder liberally on surface. Add a squirt of liquid soap on the wet sponge, and scrub away.
- Rinse with water.
Peroxide – to help whiten and brighten
Borax – to remove stains and odors
Washing soda – for degreasing and removing stains
Does it matter how old the baking soda is for cleaning purposes? The boxes always say to replace every 30 days for smell-removal or cooking, which I understand, but does this impact its cleaning properties?
Such a great question, Jordan. You’re right, it matters if you’re using it for deodorizing purposes, but for the scrubbing action of this cleaner, you’re fine to use it even if it’s old.
I’m just discovering your blog, Sarah, I love it! Can’t wait to try some of these recipes! I have a question too – what’s best for cleaning the toilet? Especially inside the toilet bowl? Thanks!!
That’s great, Darla, it’s nice to have you! I have a couple of new toilet bowl cleaner recipes in my new book coming out early 2021, but as a basic recipe, you could use the All-Purpose Cleaner and some borax. Basically, spray the heck out of the inside of the bowl with the AP cleaner, then sprinkle some borax on the inside walls of the bowl. Scrub and flush, and you’re good to go. I usually keep some borax in an old parmesan cheese shaker so I can control where it goes. If you’re not comfortable using borax, you can also use baking soda, but the coarser granules of the borax do a great job at scrubbing. Hope that helps!
Hey! I am this salt and a piece of lemon, baking soda is a good idea, let’s try.
This concoction worked like a charm on my stainless steel sink! I used to use Softscrub with bleach to clean my sink, but I could never get the sink completely clean. Today I came across this website and mixed this homemade cleaner, and my sink came as close to sparkling as I have ever seen it.
So glad you loved it, Angie!
Is this cleanser safe to use on stainless steel pots and pans? Is it like bon ami, or Bar Keepers Friend? Is it safe to use on eating surfaces?
Yes! It’s just baking soda and salt – both of which are food safe. Depending on the salt you use, you might want to spot test first to make sure it doesn’t scratch the surface (that’s if you’re scrubbing the outside of the pots). But other than that, it’s totally safe to use. I would caution, however, about using the borax on eating surfaces.
Borax is fine to use on dishes and utensils. Borax is used in natural remedies to remove fluoride from the pineal gland. You drink 16 oz. water with 1/8 tsp. Borax, once per day.
Amy, House Cleaning Sydney
Thanks, i didn’t know about Boosters. I have been using baking soda and water but now i i will try these boosters for sure.
This may be a little off topic but when I was researching companies or products that do animal testing, Comet was on the list. Most companies that sell cleaning products still do animal testing. I don’t know if you want to post my comment. It’s the reason I found your site and I will be trying your non-toxic cleansing powder ASAP!
Thanks Lisa, yes unfortunately many cleaning companies still do test on animals. 🙁
A perfect combination of baking soda and salts. Will give a try for sure.
I need a desinfacting solition for work I’m a nail tech and I need a all natural to clean pedicure stations and nail table.
Magi, I would hesitate to offer advice on this because I’m sure nail techs have to follow specific sanitizing/disinfecting procedures based on your country/state. I do believe you have to use an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant. I would look to see if isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide is on the EPA list, and then follow their guidelines for immersion/contact time for proper disinfection. Best of luck to you!
Borax is toxic. This is the second American blog I’ve seen recommend borax. Here in the EU, it has to come with a warning label as it’s dangerous.
Hi Rachel, there is quite a lot of debate on the borax issue, which mostly stems from a misconception that sodium borate (Borax) is the same as boric acid, which is untrue. Boric acid is toxic at a much lower dose than Borax. Sure, if you dump a box of Borax in your mouth, eyes, or nose, it can cause some serious irritation, but the same can be said about vinegar and baking soda.
Bottom line: Borax (sodium borate) is safe to use in cleaning products, but I wouldn’t use it in anything that would be ingested or rubbed into the skin. Boric acid, on the other hand, is dangerous, but it is not the same thing as Borax.
Hope that helped clear it up a bit for you.
I use good old washing powder on a stainless steel sink, just shake some washing powder all over the sink fill with boiling water and leave overnight, in the morning just pull out the plug and bingo nice clean sink and no scrubbing.
Interesting, I never would’ve thought of that. Thanks for sharing, Sharron!
Can I use baking soda and salt to clean wood counter tops too
I don’t personally have experience with wood countertops, but after a quick Google search, I couldn’t find anything that says not to use either of those on wood counters. And several people swear by it! So I would go ahead and try it, but if you’re super hesitant, I would definitely do a spot test in an inconspicuous spot first to see how it does. Hope it works for you!
This is a great idea, and I’m planning to try it! Here is another idea, although it takes more time. I make calcium powder from eggshells. This powder is not just a great supplement, I also use it to clean my sink! 🙂 I have an article about it online too. I love your blog!
Heidi, that’s a brilliant idea! I’ve crushed up egg shells to add to the vegetable garden before, but never thought to use them like this. Thanks for sharing!
Use ‘Bar Keepers Friend’ scrubbing powed. Wet sink … spead generous amount of Scrubbing powder and scrub with a sponge with a greeen scouring pad on one side. When finished scrubbing …. rinse and terry cloth dry sink! Note; …. if sink has grain lines … scrub with the direction of the grain.
Love this suggestion! I’ve struggled with my steel sink for awhile (like you found that plain ol’ baking soda wasn’t cutting it). Not that you really need more comments on this, but here’s a recent discovery I wanted to share for in-between cleanings: I swipe the bottom of the sink with citrus peels or tissues on their way to the compost. It takes off that brown residue before it builds up and means you can go longer before you need a big scrub.
Thanks for all the great material on this site!
Love the citrus peels idea! Thanks!!
I’m using salt and a piece of lemon, baking soda is a good idea, let’s try. Thanks Sarah!
Baking soda and salt rule! I like that you are also going toxic-free. The two most effective toxin-free agents out there. I also like mixing them with vinegar or lime for some extra strength. Overall great advice – thanks!
Omg, I’ve just tried this and it’s just brilliant! I hope more people read this! I’m so much into nature friendly lifestyle and I was looking for something like this!
Please be additionally amazed: after you’ve done your bit with salt and baking soda (I love them too) use a Mr. clean Magic Eraser sponge over your stainless steel sink! KABLAMMO! Get out your sunglasses. Something in the “magic” takes even more grunge away. Works safely on enamel sinks too. You don’t HAVE to use any cleaner first, but it’s super-wow if you combine your favorite trick, and the Magic Eraser.
Vinegar and lemon juice
I need desperate help its a little different to the kitchen sink. Mine is I carnt get the glass of my shower with water stains on it. Ive tried everything you can think of to buy. Meaning ajax, shower power and so on. Any ideas please would be great.
Hi, I had the same issue. I used a tub of The Pink Stuff by wetting my sponge and then dabbing it in the jar and scrubbing on the shower screen. Left it for 5 minutes and rinsed with water and cloth scrubbing lightly. Bingo!!! It was sparkly clean!! ..and I am talking about 5 years of grime ..yuck!!
PLEASE do not use bleach products on Stainless Steel! (This includes Ajax and Comment) This may cause the stainless steel to darken, and it cannot be fixed. I highly recommend a product called “Bar Keeper’s Friend”. It is like a Comet Cleanser, very cheap and very effective. If you want to stay all natural, Cream of Tarter works great! Also I polish mine with just a bit of olive oil from time to time! I cook a lot, so it is more important for me to keep the sink clean and disinfected than it is to worry about the looks. Bar Keepers friend would also work wanders on the white sinks.
Recently i decided to clean up our Stainless Steel Kitchen sink, I spray on a Cleaner Liquid called, Bar Keepers Friend, Available from Lakeland Home wear store. I leave for 4 or 5 minutes, then i use a dish scrubbing sponge and scrub all parts of Sink Vigorously, making sure to get into all nooks and crannies.Then i rinse the Sink surface off with Warm water This gets you a real Sparkling result, I also do a Similar clean to the chrome type Taps, Wow, The Tap comes up Gleaming, A great job which took less than Ten Minutes to complete, I Highly recommend using Bar Keepers Friend to get a Super clean on a SS Sink, Also it is capable of Cleaning Various surfaces, Read instructions on side of Spray pack before use, Tip To bring up a Good shine, allow surface to Dry, Then use a Dry Micro Fibre cloth or some Kitchen roll and wipe surface to achieve a Lovely Shine on Surface. Patrick.
Those waxing their sinks to retain the just cleaned look may want to consider wash n wax http://bit.ly/1rlhfft totally biodegradable, and really kind to the environment from all aspects – no chemicals whatsoever, which is promoted for waterless washing of vehicles, but also good for boats, caravans, work surfaces etc.
Ajax works just fine on stainless steel and porcelain. It is so fine, it doesn’t scratch and leaves a nice clean smell. That’s what I’ve used for years on everything. Gets rid of water spots too. No need to mix and measure. You don’t have to invent the wheel all over again. My mother and grandmother used ajax too. 🙂 Tried Comet, but it will stain your caulk green. Stick with Ajax, it does work wonders.
Ajax is too toxic.
After you get the sink clean, you can dry it well and squirt some baby oil in it. I use my hands and rub it in well, all over the stainless, including faucets. Walk away and let it soak in. It will stay shiny for days and repels new stains. Learned this from a friend that worked for a dentist. It was required by him for office sinks. Makes them look like new!
wet those sponges with water n a little lemon juice n sanitize them and clean your microwave all at one time, 30 to 45 seconds does it, microwave wipes clean n germs on sponge gone!!
Great tip, thanks!
You could just use steel wool, works just fine, and you don’t need salt OR baking soda. Even better tip I must say.
Thanks for sharing, Eric. I don’t usually have those on hand, but I’ll keep it in mind. 🙂
for cleaning stubborn black stains out of your showers and bathtub this is amazing, so simply and amazing. Make a paste from comet and oven cleaner, spray oven cleaner on bottom of tub or shower, sprinkle comet and start in circle motion to form paste. While your cleaning the rest of bathroom let stand for 10 minutes depending on stains let it start to dry and then just rinse away. stains are gone.
Oven cleaner is NOT green! Oven cleaner has a lot of REALLY toxic stuff in it. I wouldn’t have it in my house!
I recently started cleaning homes and had a client tell me how to clean her stainless steel. Im sure some of you will say this is not green way but for a quick and no scrubbing required clean your stainless steel with WD-40. spray on cloth and watch the smears and scratches disappear. The odor disappears quick;y.
I use Soda & Vinegar to clean clean but I spray with 1/2 Vinegar & Water daily..
I have a white sink that cleans up with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser! It works great on any surface and no scratches!
Sounds like a very good useful tip to clean on stainless steel sinks. Thanks!
Brilliant work av done it and its amazing
I’ve been using borax and vinegar on my sinks and it works really well too! I will try this tho, sounds awesome!
We are moving in less than two weeks and with my husband painting and using our kitchen sink as a rinse station, it was getting grimy and gross so I just tried this and it came out so shiny and clean! This will for sure be the first thing I do when I get into my new place. Thanks for sharing!
I have a cast iron sink that had that awful brown staining on it. I scrubbed it with everything I could think of (including baking soda), but nothing worked. Finally, I tried the following: 1-2 inches hot water, a splash or 2 of vinegar (probably 1/2 cup or so), a squirt of liquid dish soap. I let that sit in the sink for 30 minutes or so and then scrubbed with my green dish scrubber (didn’t take too much elbow grease). Like new! Just thought that might be helpful for those with cast iron sinks!
That is amazing. Baking soda is an handy item that can also be used in many area including countertop.
Do you know that you can use baking soda for your stains on your granite counter top? You simply mix the baking soda with some soapy water into a paste, and cover up the stains for at least 12 hours. Then simply rise off the water, and you will notice the stains disappear, or at least dimenish.
It really is amazing, isn’t it? Thanks for the granite tip, Karine! I don’t have granite, but my mom does, so I’ll be passing this on to her. 🙂
Hi Sarah! I am new to your site…I am writing down all the great tips to try this weekend. Question – do you think the baking soda paste might work to remove hair dye stains on my vinyl shower floor?
Hi Maryanne, welcome! I’m not sure if it will work on hair dye – that stuff can be pretty stubborn! I would try adding some peroxide and maybe even a little dish soap to your paste, and see how that works out for you. Good luck and let me know if you find a solution!
This is an amazing tip! I was cleaning my kitchen, scrubbing the sinks down and I made this face because I noticed how ‘brownish’ the bottom of my steel sink was. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t come off. So I went to good ol’ Pinterest and I found your tip! Thank you, it worked wonderfully!
That’s awesome, Amy! You’re very welcome. LOL, I know that face 😉 Glad it worked for you, and thanks for coming back to comment!
I didn’t think my sink could even BE this shiny!!!!! I used your laminate floor cleaning solution yesterday and decided to try this one today and I might be in love with you now. Lol Thanks for the tips! 🙂
Just tried this and it worked. Thanks so much for the great tip 🙂
Yay! Glad it worked for you, Michelle! Thanks for commenting and letting us know 🙂
I love your website! I’ve found lime juice, salt, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great for cleaning stainless steel.
That sounds wonderful, Kendra! Thanks so much for sharing – I’m off to check out your site now 🙂
Hey sarah just wondering- have you ever thought of doing tiny tip thursday as a blog carnival? i would totally join every week if you did, I like the idea of one quick useful tip and Id like to join and see others’ tips as well. Just a thought. 🙂
Hey Nicole, I actually have thought of it! I was just waiting for my readership to grow a little before I felt confident enough to get one started 😉 I think we’re getting there, but your comment has given me an idea – I’m going to check with my Facebook fan page peeps to see how many of our fans have blogs and would be interested in linking up every week- yay!
I’ll keep you posted 🙂
Do you think this will work on stainless steel appliances as well? We have a stainless steel dishwasher and the outside of it is always covered in nasty fingerprints and fur from the animals rubbing against it.
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I wouldn’t use this on your appliances for fear of scratching the surface, but check out my laminate floor cleaner post. That’s what I use on my stainless steel appliances and it works like a charm 🙂
wd -40 you wont believe it, don’t spray on the floor ( slick)
Just wanted to say I so appreciate the traffic I’ve been getting because of you linking to me (or so says my blogger stats page! 🙂 ) and just how cute your blog is in general I linked to your post about dandelions on my current post about the same and I also added you to my homemaking blogroll. I cant promise you as much traffic as you’ve sent my way but just wanted to let you know. Blessings. 🙂
Oh yay, that’s exciting! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, that means a lot 🙂
Hi baby thank God I have stainless steel and its still new but yes I’ll try this later maybe when u come over lol
Haha! Sounds good, Mom 😉
Well unfortunately, Sarah, I have this ugly old white acrylic sink that some goofball installed in our condo years before we bought it, and it is a nightmare to try to keep clean (seriously… WHO installs a WHITE sink? I’ll tell you the answer: someone who never uses it!). So far the only thing I’ve found that works is bleaching it once a month. I’ve tried *everything* natural but the surface is just so darn pourous and damaged from years of wear and tear that I just fill the sinks up with hot bleach water once a month to get it back to at least beige (its never really white anymore). If the Lord ever blesses us with enough money to get a new sink, stainless steel ALL the way, baby! Thanks for sharing this tip today. 🙂
You know, I always wondered who the heck would purposely get a white sink..for the kitchen?!? And now I know…people who don’t use it LOL 😉 Well, here’s praying that you’re blessed with a new sink sooner, rather than later 🙂
P.S. Like the new name 😉
Have you ever tried plain ole peroxide on your white sink? Just pour in, spread around to the sides and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Your sink should get white fast!
This works on tile grout too! If really dirty leave standing on it for longer. Scrub with a brush. Leave a little longer then mop it up with clean water!
i have just learned about all the things you can do with peroxide,and this was one of them. it is almost as good as baking soda, no as good as! all these years and now i’m in my sixty and just learning all this good stuff!
Try baking soda and white vinegar paste. On the white sink or anything porous.
I had An Older Enamel Sink In A Old House We Lived In, And The Only Thing That Would Clean It Was Bleach & A Magic Eraser. It Was A Job That Took Forever & Had To Be Done All The Time, Until One Day After Cleaning It I Got The Idea To Use Car Wax On It! I Used Old Fashioned Turtle Wax & Followed The Directions On The Package Just Like I Was Waxing A Car! It Sealed The Pores & Scratches & The Wax Would Last Sometimes For Up To Two Months!
Exactly! used it on the sink, and on my stove, fridge etc. ( not on glass)
I have to try this. We bought a house in the country a few years back and it was not very well taken care of. The old enamel sink has seen better days. It was and is nearly impossible to get really clean though I scrub and scrub. A day or two after cleaning it looks nearly as bad as before the cleaning. I’m off to buy some Turtle Wax. I hope it works as well for me as it has for you. Thanks so much for the tip!
I also use Turtle wax not for the sink but for our stalls it stops the build up of soap sum on the shower walls for a long time and I even use a elec. car buffer to really bring it to a shine.
rain x lasts for about a year…also use on sinks windows, not on tub bottoms tho, can be slick
It’s been more than a year since this blog post but I’m just reading it today. This is off the topic but I noticed how you have every word capitalized. How do you do that? Just manually? Seems like a lot of extra finger maneuvering. Very unique. Just curious. 🙂
I would use some cleanser, a scouring pad, and using a bit of muscle power to scrub the old white porcelain sink with. And so after that, I would repeatedly rinse with clear water to remove all residue. Then, wipe dry with a cloth to get it to feel somewhat smooth, spotless, and to appear clean-looking. That is the only method I would use on how to clean those types of old-fashioned sinks.
Mine is white and I find borax works well. I just sprinkle some in when it’s damp and with some elbow grease it comes quite clean.
After trying the baking soda and salt try using a Magic Eraser.
I wondered why no one had thought to suggest the magic sponge. I buy mine at the dollar store and they work just as good as the expensive ones, and it works really well. I couldn’t live without magic sponges in my cleaning arsenal.
Try using Comet w/ Bleach or Ajax w/ Bleach. I know they aren’t Natural, but they are the only thing I’ve found that works on that kind of porous material. I use it on my Antique Bathtub.
Also, use SOS Pads for the Stainless Steel, including the Stainless Steel Sinks. It works really well.
if you use the peroxide tricks, pour it on an old cloth/towel and let that soak on the base of the sink – so you are not pouring your peroxide down the sink…. 😀 my stoppers never worked properly on those yukky old acrylic sinks I had them in my bathroom, but replaced them.
bar keepers friend will take all marks off a white sink, find it near comet in the cleaning isle.
Buy a cheap tube of toothpaste.. I use toothpaste and baking soda on everything.. Works great.
Try toilet bowl cleaner on your white sink
Use Bar Keeper’s friend. I’ve been using it for over 20 years in my cleaning business on white sinks with great success. Be sure to use a non scratch scrubbing sponge or microfiber cloth. It isn’t going to harm you and no strong odor.
Alfred Lamar Carter You g
I have a white stove, two Dutch oven pots and Braiser that also have a white enamel coating.I use clear ammonia & water and I cover with plastic wrap for 8hrs or more, a day if needed. Pour it out or use a mall shop vav, rinse and wipe but as to the stove I wipe several times with a moist tough towel. To get everything to sparkle, I use a microfiber towel and a dab of water.
I hope that this helps you.
Unsurprisingly, I clean mine exactly like you do 😉
What can we say? Great minds think alike 🙂
have you tried wetting your sponge with vinegar and scrubbing quickly with that? It comes clean so fast! lots of fizzy bubbles too – I use a brush on a handle tho’ sponges can really hold onto germs – nylon scrubbies are better – then you can let them run under hot water, or soak in a water/vinegar solution to make sure you are not spreading germs ;D
run the scubbies in the dishwasher – – sanitized by the hot water and soap
This is such a great tip! Thanks for posting it! Off to scrub…
I’ve been doing baking soda and a little soap – works amazing. Didn’t think about adding salt, I will try that next time. Thanks for the tip.
after I do the dishes I just wipe my stainless steel sinks with a paper towel with baby oil on it. That removes stians and repels water marks. I do it about once a week. I just use the baby oil from the dollar store
Add a cup of bleach foll with hot water let sit for a bit. Clean no effort no scrubbing at all.
Bleach works the best for stainless steel and your right; no scrubbing!
too toxic fir me.
I agree with you, Dot. Suppose a family member doesn’t know what you are up to and accidentally sticks their hand in the sink. Yikes!