GIY Soft Scrub with Dr. Bronner’s (Video)

This GIY trick is the magic of chemistry right before your eyes!

Soft scrub is a great aid to clearing away soap scum, ring around the tub, mold, stubborn water spots on glass.  It’s a great way to shine up your kitchen sink.  You’ll probably find that you keep this bottle just as handy as your Dr. Bronner’s All Purpose Spray.

This soft scrub will remain blended in your cabinet, so you don’t need to remake it every day.  Unless of course, you use it up.  Which you will.  Because you’ll love it, too.

Here’s the recipe from the video all written out:


1 c. (240 mL)  Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap OR ¼ c. (60 mL) Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
3⅓ c. (800 mL) baking soda
1 c. (240 mL) water
¼ c. (60 mL) white vinegar

In a big bowl, combine the baking soda with the Castile Soap OR the Sal Suds.  Mix it with a fork until well blended and no lumps remain.  Add in the water and mix thoroughly again.  Add in the vinegar and keep stirring until no lumps remain.  (If you’re wondering about the vinegar with the soap, check out the video for an explanation!)  Pour the solution into an empty quart bottle, using a funnel.

To use this, squirt it over the surface and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth.  Rinse with a wet cloth.

(And remember: since these ingredients are totally safe and non-toxic, kids can use them, too!  Hand this bottle over to them and let them scrub away!)

49 thoughts on “GIY Soft Scrub with Dr. Bronner’s (Video)

  1. I’ve been using this for a couple of years now! I just fill up an old dawn bottle and leave it in my shower. It’s perfect! Scrub it and rinse while I’m waiting for my 5 minute conditioner to work on my hair! 😁

    • Hi Iretha- Excellent tip! A good use of time – and way to re-purpose that old bottle too.

  2. I’m curious if this could also be used as a toilet bowl cleaner? I know that you’ve put together a separate recipe for toilets, however given i’ve already pre mixed the soft scrub recipe (with castile soap) for showers/sinks, I thought it would be nice and easy to fill up an extra squirt bottle of this to use for toilets. Curious what your thoughts are on this?

    • Hi Julie- You sure can! It’s safe in the toilet bowls and gives an extra souring boost.

  3. Will this work in a spray bottle or should we stick to a squirt type bottle?

    I have just recieved my first order of castille soap and sal suds, look forward to going green!

    • Hi Lisa – Welcome to the world of green! The soft scrub is pretty thick and won’t work in a spray bottle. If you don’t have a squirt bottle handy, you can put the scrub in an old pickle or mayo jar and scoop it out with a spoon. And hang on to those Castile and Sal Suds bottles – they’ll make great squirt bottles for your next soft scrub batch!

  4. I forgot to mention — I used ‘HDX All Purpose Cleaning Vinegar’ — I thought the acidity would be the same, but maybe it isnt. I can try the recipe again using regular white vinegar.

  5. I followed the instructions and my batch of cleaner turned out perfectly. I put it in a spray bottle and 2 days later I returned to something that was rock hard and definitely couldn’t be sprayed from the bottle. Where did I go wrong with the mixture. Can I salvage the rock hard mixture by adding more vinegar or water??

    • Hi Tiffiny – I’m sorry that happened! Unfortunately, there’s not a way to easily re-make the soft scrub. Try making it with regular ol’ white vinegar as the HDX cleaner could very well have a different acidity. If needed, you can add a little more water too. If you’re not already, give it a try in a squirt bottle. Let me know how it goes

  6. I had the same issue with it that a few others have mentioned. It separates and is very watery on the top and very thick on the bottom. I put it in a squirt bottle. Made it yesterday, using Sals Suds, and I have to shake, whack it on the counter, shake again to get it remixed. Added some more water to it – same result. Wondering if its something with my very hard water here?

    • Hi Connie – It could be the hard water. Or your vinegar concentration could be different than mine. Add a bit more vinegar and see if that does the trick.

  7. Can you make this in a stainless steel or plastic bowl or does it have to be glass?

    • Hi Heather – Stainless steel or plastic is fine. There is no reaction.

  8. I am so happy I found this recipe! The video is very helpful. I will try it soon, it sounds perfect! I might make a batch for my son to take back to his college apartment, too!

    • I was so happy to find it too this year, Marjorie, and I love the fact that it cleans well and it is sooo natural!

    • My local stockist is out of Sal Suds, will it work without or do I need this both SS and DB?

    • Hi Jacqui – I’m sorry I didn’t see your question last month. This recipe works great with just the Castile. But I hope your stockist gets the Sal Suds soon!

  9. My GIF Soft Scrub got really hard and I cannot get it out of my bottle. Do other people have this problem? Please advise. I do love this product!

    • Hi Anne – Try putting some warm water in there and letting it sit for a bit. Then give it a vigorous shake and see what happens. How long after you made the batch did this happen and how much was in the bottle?

    • I have the same problem. The soft scrub firms up and won’t come out of the bottle. I have to add some water and shake it up each time, which is a nuisance and seems like it weakens the soft scrub. Can I put less soda in it and still have the proper proportions to work well?
      Mine had firmed up when I went to use it a couple weeks after making it. It firms up every time, even after adding water the previous time.
      I really like the soft scrub, it’s just a hassle.

    • Hi Nancy and Anne – I don’t know what the shelf life is of this mixture. I use it up as fast as I can make it. Perhaps make smaller batches so it doesn’t sit around. The proportion of baking soda to vinegar is important. If there isn’t enough baking soda for the vinegar to react with, it will then react with the soap and nullify it. So you can’t reduce the amount of baking soda.

    • Nancy and Anne, I put my scrub in a large open mouth container, like a wide-mouth mason jar, so I can stick my hand in. I’m currently using an old glass small cookie jar, and it’s perfect as it has a nice seal around the lid.

      I know you may think it’s a hassle, but let me tell you something, sometimes, when you start something new that isn’t as convenient as the old, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get used to it, it stops being a hassle and turns into pure joy. You may have to just stick with it a little longer. What I do is reach into my jar and grab a lump of the soft scrub, and work it into the area, adding a bit of water to it as I’m doing it. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be glad you’re no longer using the alternative chemicals which have longterm effect that you won’t know or be able to track, once you do become ill. Wishing you well.

    • My soft scrubs was soft for about two weeks then the bicarb solidified, I also added water and after some vigorous shaking I had a volcano eruption, luckily I was in the shower cubicle so it just went all over the shower !
      But I also wondered about ratio as I converted from US to AUST I wondered if I had too much bicarb?
      I will try making half bottle next time but would welcome other ideas? I

  10. Hi Lisa, I love the GIY soft scrub. Just wondering why the vinegar is necessary. Does it just add additional cleaning power to the soft scrub?

    • Hi DJ – The vinegar is really there to create the structure of the soft scrub. As it reacts with the baking soda, it creates bubbles within the soap which stay trapped, giving the soft scrub that foamy texture.

  11. I have white tile and white grout and you can imagine the challenge to keep things clean, specially the bathtubs and the kitchen sink. Soft & Scrub is about the only bad cleaner I have had to use because it removes stains and mold that really show on white. I feel guilty using it, use rubber gloves, open all windows and do worry a tad that the bad chemicals stay in my house affecting our health (read about it in a medical journal gazillion years ago).
    Thank you Lisa for the how to video. I loved it! I made it, really enjoyed whisking it together (maybe as much as you did in the video); I also rushed to one of my tubs and put it to use right away. I am so happy for your wonderful alternative and I keep thinking this is just soooo good! Muchas gracias!

    PS: I just started using Dr. Bronner and bought quite a few things per suggestions on your blog. Great stuff!

    • Hi Margarita – I’m so glad to hear it! And I’m glad you found us. Let me know if you have any questions as you get to know the products.

    • Hi Leon – I love how closely you’re reading my blog! Yes! Castile and vinegar don’t mix. Or rather, they do mix, far too well in that the vinegar unsaponifies the soap. But as you supposed, in this soft scrub formulation, there is also baking soda. So the vinegar has to choose, because it really likes mixing with baking soda as well and making all that nice froth we remember from our volcano science experiments in grade school. That’s exactly what happens here: the baking soda snags the vinegar first so that the vinegar doesn’t have time to mess with the soap. Crazy chemistry at work!

  12. I just bought my 1st bottle of Dr. Bonner liquid Castile thinking I could make my own dishwashing soap. I found it did not suds at all & left a film on my dishes. I think I do have hard water. Any solution to this or am I just stuck with a product that I can’t use?

  13. I love that! Looking forward to making. Thank you!! Happy 😊

  14. This was fun to make Lisa – I actually had a hard time resisting the urge to taste it!

  15. Since this has vinegar in it, can it be used with porcelain grouted tile? Or is the vinegar neutralized with the baking soda, thus making it safe for tile. I will be using the sals suds when I make this. thanks

    • Hi Laura – The acidity of the vinegar is neutralized by the baking soda, as you mentioned. With the Sal Suds, be prepared for a lot more foaming.

    • Hi Jacqui- I’ve never had this go bad, but then I go through this stuff pretty quick. At least a month, but probably longer.

  16. Lisa, do you know if you can use this cleaner on a travertine tile floor in the shower? I’ve read that you shouldn’t use vinegar on natural stones, but am wondering if the vinegar changes chemically enough because of the baking soda and is rendered “safer”?

    • Hi Linda – The caution against vinegar with travertine is pH. Travertine doesn’t do well with acid, which vinegar is. You’re right that the pH of the vinegar would be neutralized because of its reaction with the baking soda, but I am also wondering if this might be too abrasive for travertine. It is a scouring agent, and I wouldn’t want it to etch your tile. If you do give it a try, use it on a discreet corner spot first and see how it goes.

    • Thanks Lisa, I will try it very cautiously!

  17. Hi. I haven’t tried it yet with Sal, but when I mixed it with the Castile soap, it separated, never quite blending in with the vinegar. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Adianez – I really mixed and mixed and mixed the castile with the baking soda, and then again when I added the water. It became a pretty thick paste. Then when the vinegar went in, it was pretty easy to blend. If you do try it with the Sal Suds, it’s going to foam a whole lot more. Which is kind of fun.

  18. Hi Lisa
    This sounds great. How long is the shelf life after it has been made up?

    • Hi Rosemary – I’ve never had it go bad on me, but then I use this stuff up pretty quick. Maybe after a month it might lose it’s structure??? Honestly, I don’t know for sure.

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