Make Your Own Antibacterial Soft Scrub Cleanser

homemade soft scrub

I have been so excited about this post I could hardly wait for today to come! That is either a sign that it’s a really great idea…or that I really need to get a life! lol.

Either way…I think you are going to LOVE this one! Once again, I had to ask myself…why haven’t I thought to try something like this before!?!  I really have no good answer for that. I guess I wasn’t a big user of Soft Scrub to begin with…so it didn’t really occur to me to make a homemade version of it. But now that I have TRIED the homemade version….I’m a FAN! I think you will be too.

A big “Thank You” to Emily at Live Renewed for sharing this homemade solution I never knew I always wanted to try! :-)

Before I tell you how to make it…I’m going to have to eat my words on any past disparaging remarks I have made about liquid castile soap. A couple of things I’ve tried in the past that I didn’t particularly like involved castile soap…so I let that “sour” my opinion of it. I have actually had a big bottle of the stuff under my kitchen sink that has been unopened for MONTHS…until I finally cracked it open for today’s post.


Well, I don’t know what happened before….because I LOVED the way it worked in this recipe. As a matter of fact, it has me re-thinking the Liquid Dish Soap I posted a week ago….more on that later.

I did make one tweak to Emily’s recipe and added some Tea Tree Oil for its’ antibacterial properties.

Homemade Antibacterial Soft Scrub Cleanser:


homemade soft scrub


In a medium sized bowl, combine the baking soda and castile soap. Add the water and tea tree oil and stir with a fork.

After the first 3 ingredients are well combined, SLOWLY add the vinegar. The mixture will bubble up because of the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar.

Stir until you achieve a paste-like consistency. (I had to add a little more baking soda at this point until it was the “perfect” consistency.)

Transfer to a repurposed dish soap container (or any other container you prefer), grab your sponge and start cleaning!


homemade soft scrub


I had the perfect “challenge” for my new cleaner. My white ceramic kitchen sink, that was NOT looking very white at the time. ugh. It gets so nasty looking! I used to use Ajax and Comet cleanser on it before I discovered Barkeeper’s Friend (a more eco-friendly choice, but still spendy.) Not anymore!  The results below speak for themselves.


homemade soft scrub


This stuff worked every bit as good, if not better! And I LOVED knowing that all it contained was my beloved baking soda, some vinegar, essential oil, and my new friend….castile soap. :-)

Can’t wait to give it a try in the bathroom! (Yep, I definitely need to get a life!)



UPDATE – 10/10/12:  There have been some concerns raised about this recipe retaining its’ effectiveness over time. I just wanted to add a postscript this morning (3 weeks later) to say…IT DOES!  Just got finished scrubbing the kitchen sink…again….and it worked every bit as well as the FIRST time I used it.  Plus, I LOVE the smell. :-)  So there ya go.


homemade soft scrub


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  1. Jennifer says

    I like Castile soap for its ingredients but didn’t like the way it felt. It made my skin feel dry or almost sticky so I stopped using it very often. I started using it again after mixing it with baking soda for a face cleanser/exfoliant and loved how it felt. The baking soda helped with everything I didn’t like about it and left my skin feeling soft and refreshed. I’ve also seen that you can’t mix vinegar with it because of the base/acid reaction but I’ve seen lots of people use it successfully. I have yet to experiment and mix the two together myself…maybe I’ll do that today.

    • says

      I have had the same issues Jennifer. Things I have used it for in the past that were hair and skin related were not my favorite. Going to have to continue to experiment….

    • Joan says

      Bronners needs to well diluted to use, I put 3/4 water or more to soap and put it in a foam dispenser I recycled.

  2. Linda Linke says

    Jillee….I just LOVE your blogs….I have also turned my sister on to you….she is now also a fan!!!!! My whole family is accusing me of turning Amish with all the home-made cleaners etc. that I have been making lately, thanks to you!!! I think you are awesome!!!

  3. Jessica says

    Love your site. Thanks for another great idea. But what’s the deal with Castile soap? Why can’t I just use less pricier dish soap instead? Like Dawn or such.

    • says

      Jessica….there’s no reason you couldn’t use another soap. A lot of people like castile soap because it’s a “greener” way to go.
      I say go ahead and try what you have and let us know. :-)

      • Ali says

        I tried this with Dawn cleans wonderfully but is a bit sudsy. A little bit goes a long way. I’m going to experiment with different ratios of baking soda and dawn. I couldn’t find castile soap anywhere where I live and saw this comment and immediately tried the blue dawn.

      • Carol says

        It is not just ‘greener’, it is much safer, and less toxic. Pure Castile soap, like Bronners, is made with olive oils as it’s base. The other ingredients are also non-toxic, safe, natural and organic. (the lye is gone after the process is over, and you can’t MAKE soap without lye)
        Dish soaps have many ingredients, many of which are extremely toxic and harmful to you AND the environment. Just read the labels of Dawn or other mainstream dish detergent and the label of a Bronners bottle ( only the ingredients, read the entire label and you’ll be days doing it! ;-)
        If you want healthy, non-toxic, green and safe, don’t use dish detergents.

  4. Katie Toledo says

    Jillee, I made this in about 3 minutes! It really doesn’t get any easier than that! And it cleaned my kitchen sink better than the Bar Keepers Friend I normally use! AMAZING RESULTS!!!! Thanks again for such a great recipe to save both time and money!

  5. Angela says

    Since the vinegar and baking soda have had their reaction during the mixing process, what is the purpose for the vinegar? Is it still effective after being stored?

    • JeanneS says

      Vinegar cuts grease and has antimicrobial & deodorizing properties, so I would imagine that’s the point of using it in a cleanser. I use vinegar-and-water spray for a kitchen & bathroom cleaner specifically for those reasons. (Plus, of course, it’s completely safe to use in food-preparation areas and it’s really cheap!)

      The vinegar-and-baking-soda reaction is great for cleaning drains that you can’t get to and scrub out, but since this is for surfaces you’ll be able to scrub, I would assume the baking soda is added because it’s gently abrasive and helps remove stains.

      • Becky says

        I don’t think that this would store very well because once the vinegar and baking soda have reacted you are basically left with water.

      • Cayla says

        I think it’s hydrogen peroxide that turns to water when it’s exposed to light, not vinegar. H2O2 is the ingredient in the miracle stain remover.

      • Becky says

        Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base. They will neutralize each other. It is the same reason that you shouldn’t mix castile soap with vinegar.

      • Allison says

        Vinegar and baking soda create water and carbon dioxide. You can leave out the vinegar in this and add a tablespoon of water and get the same result. Once combined, vinegar and baking soda lose their effectiveness after several minutes. You won’t get any of the cleaning benefits of vinegar in this mixture. It’s still a great cleaner! (I make a version of it myself.) The vinegar just doesn’t do anything. Google it.

  6. melissa says

    this sounds great….it sounds like our product Vim up here in canada. my question though is this castile soap. i have chemical sensitivities, hence the reason i cant use Vim but i love how well it cleans.

    anyways, how strong is this castile soap and has anyone with the same or close to the same conditions i have used it before? my hands dry out and hurt after a prolonged use of dish soap, most hand soaps and cleaners. the only one i can use without a huge problem is ivory soap, and even that will cause problems after awhile.

    • Katherine says

      I also get contact dermatitis if I use soaps, we have a product here in Australia called QV which is a soap free cleanser which is fine on my skin. I just mixed up a batch of this cleaner using QV and used it on the shower and toilet…it still works!!

    • Cindy says

      Hi Jillee~ this is my first time to comment though I’ve been starting my day with your blog for about 2.5 weeks now. I love it all- Great Job!! :)

      Hi Melissa~ I think you would be pleased with the Dr Bronner’s soap. I also have chemical sensitivities and can use this even as a body wash. Here are the ingredients (from the site) for the baby mild and you can always try the 2oz trial size: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
      ** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin

      Other choices will have added oils, but I have still found them to be friendly with my chemical-sensitivities. Hope that helps:)

    • Sarah says

      I have similar issues with many soaps, but have done great with castile soaps–no reaction, itching, dryness, etc. I use castile soap as my face and body wash, and plan to refill my hand soap dispensers with it when they’re empty. I always use gloves when cleaning, even when it’s with a more friendly cleaner like this.

    • Karen D. says

      @ Melissa
      I have a sensitivity and/or allergic reactions to almost everything I swear, but I can say from MY experience that the castile soap is very gentle. Effective yet gentle!! I use Dr. Bronner’s lavender on my face, hair, & body and my body’s never been happier! However, baking soda itself CAN be a little bit drying…hence it works really well on grease stains. So you may want to wear gloves anyways, no matter what soap you choose to use.

    • AngieMama says

      Melissa, if you can use Ivory soap, you’ll have no problem with castile soap, which is made from vegetable. My daughter and I have terrible eczema and contact dermatitis and we use castile soap with great results.

    • Wendy says

      I don’t know if you’re still looking for an answer, but I just found this post.
      I have developed skin sensitivities over the past few years, and haven’t had any problems with Castile Soap. My best friend also uses it daily – her hands are so bad now that she has to bring a little bottle of Castile soap with her in her purse wherever she goes to avoid reactions from other soaps. I hope this helps!

  7. Meghan says

    will definitely try this!
    does it matter if it’s white vinegar or apple cider vinegar? (are these interchangeable in most circumstances? don’t really understand the difference in the first place aside from one being made from apples)

    • says

      Meghan…..White Vinegar has a higher acidity than Apple Cider Vinegar, that’s why it is more often used for cleaning. Plus, Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV) has a yellow-brown coloration because it’s usually sold unfiltered with the ‘mother of vinegar’ settling at the bottom of the container. That makes it less desirable for most cleaning recipes. But it has GREAT health benefits! :-) Just my .02 cents on the subject!

      • Amanda says

        Another thing about apple cider vingear-it attracts gnats (fruit flies). So you definitely do not want to be scrubbing your house with the stuff! I use apple cider vinegar in a jar small with tiny holes poked in the lid to catch and then trap the gnats (especially during summer when they are everywhere!).

  8. KarenDF says

    @Jillee, you did it again … I love this & love all of the ingredients for cleaning. I sprinkle my tub or sink with baking soda & squeeze liquid soap before scrubbing. Must try your recipe since I miss Soft Scrub!

    Does it keep well or do you make it in small batches?

    I’m so glad that you’re embracing castile soap … I love it. Don’t get me started! For one, I refill foaming hand soap dispensers in my kitchen and bathrooms with diluted peppermint or almond castile soap. The peppermint is great for the kitchen to tackle the scents our hands come in contact with when cooking (i.e., onions, garlic, raw fish, meat, etc.).

    • katdarcy says

      Hey can i substitute olive oil soap or fels naptha for the castile? i wanted to make it today but the weather is crazy here and i don’t want to go shopping.