How to Make Your Own Scouring Powder

A cleaning solution that's free from harsh chemicals

ingredients for making scouring powder

The Spruce / Michele Lee 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

There comes a time in every household when stuck-on food or grime just won't come up without a little encouragement. That's why scouring powders like Comet, Ajax, Bar Keepers Friend, and Bon Ami were developed and are sold on the cleaning aisle. Each commercial powder contains abrasive ingredients and cleaning agents ranging from oxalic acid to bleaching agents.

You can substitute baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in many instances as a gentle abrasive to scour sinks, soap scum, and stovetops. Learn how to use baking soda for cleaning and what you can add to it from your pantry or laundry room to boost its cleaning power.

How Often to Make Homemade Scouring Powder

It is best to make homemade scouring powder in small batches to prevent clumping. Commercial cleaners contain anti-caking agents to keep them loose that homemade products don't. How often you clean or the size of your cleaning jobs will determine how frequently you need to make more powder.

What You'll Need


  • 1 Baking soda
  • 1 Borax
  • 1 Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Soap flakes
  • 1 Dried herbs or citrus peels
  • 1 Essential oil
  • 1 Label
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Airtight container
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Small bowl


How to Use Baking Soda as a Scouring Powder

using baking soda as a scouring agent
The Spruce / Michele Lee
  1. Sprinkle and Scrub

    When you need extra scouring powder while cleaning, sprinkle dry baking soda on a damp sponge and gently scrub.

  2. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse the area or item with water. Dry with a lint-free microfiber cloth.

using baking soda as a scouring agent
The Spruce / Michele Lee

How to Boost the Cleaning Power of Baking Soda Powder

  1. Mix with Water

    For tough stains, create a paste by mixing three parts baking soda with one part water in a small bowl. Apply the paste to the stained area and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing with a damp sponge. This is particularly effective for dark stains on stone countertops.

  2. Add Some Distilled White Vinegar

    Adding a few drops or spritz of distilled white vinegar to the dirty surface will cause a gentle chemical reaction with the baking soda that helps loosen the bond between the dirt and the surface. All the surface to bubble and fizz and then scrub away. Be sure to rinse the surface well.

  3. Add Borax

    Combine one tablespoon of borax with one-third cup of baking soda. Apply to dirty surfaces with a damp sponge.


    If you mix more borax and baking soda cleaner than you need, store the extra powder in an airtight container. Be sure to add a label.

  4. Add Soap Flakes

    To make a sudsy scouring powder, stir together one-half cup of soap flakes and one cup of baking soda. Keep the mixture in a labeled airtight container.

    Soap flakes (Zote or Ivory Snow) are found in the laundry aisle. If you prefer, you can grate a bar of basic soap (Zote, Ivory, or Fels-Naptha) using a box grater to create the flakes.

grating soap into baking soda
The Spruce / Michele Lee

How to Add Fragrance to Homemade Scouring Powder

You can add scent to plain baking so or any of your homemade scouring powders. Adjust the amount of scented ingredients you add to each batch to suit your sense of smell.

baking soda on marble
The Spruce / Michele Lee
  1. Use Dried Herbs or Spices

    Whether you use herbs from your garden or your pantry spice shelf, they must be dried and pulverized before adding to the scouring powder. Use a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or an old coffee grinder to create a powder. A suggested amount for fragrance is one tablespoon of herb powder to one-half cup of baking soda.

    Suggested scents:

    • Rosemary
    • Mint
    • Basil
    • Cloves
    • Cinnamon
  2. Add Dried Flowers

    Just as you would dry flower petals for potpourri, you can dry them for scouring powder fragrance. Pulverize dried petals and add one tablespoon of flower powder per one-half cup baking soda.

    Suggested scents:

    • Rose
    • Peony
    • Lavender
    • Dianthus
    • Scented Geranium
  3. Add Dried Citrus Peels

    Save the outer zest from citrus fruits—lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit—when you are preparing meals. Grate the rind and allow it to dry on a paper towel overnight before adding it to your baking soda mixture.

  4. Add Essential Oils

    Use a few drops of your favorite essential oil alone or combined with one of the dried additions to enhance the scouring powder. Do not use too much or the baking soda will clump. Stir very well before storing in an airtight container.

    scented items to add to scouring powder
    The Spruce / Michele Lee
Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler

Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process