Homemade Lemon Soft Scrub

Sometimes the best recipes come along by accident and this homemade lemon soft scrub is proof of that.  Why?

Because I broke one of my own rules . . . and now I’m glad I did! Because when I combined two things I don’t normally combine I ended up with a homemade soft scrub that turned out to be one of the best things I’ve used yet to get rid of soap scum on my sinks and showers.

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

That Fizzy Baking Soda Reaction

Normally I’ve made it a rule not to combine baking soda with something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice.  If you’ve ever made that favorite childhood project of a homemade volcano, then you know that combining baking soda and vinegar makes a mixture that does a lot of bubbling and fizzing and foaming.  From some of the research I did, I came to the understanding that when all the bubbling and fizzing is over, the baking soda and vinegar have kind of neutralized each other and we’re left with a diluted solution of sodium acetate in water, which I decided didn’t sound that powerful for cleaning. (you can read more here about combining vinegar and baking soda).

So when I come up with homemade cleaning recipes, I’ve always avoided combining those ingredients, thinking that they had more cleaning power apart than mixed together.  That is until several months ago when I did it by accident.

Lemon Sounds Good!

I’ve been making my own homemade soft scrub for several years now, but awhile back I decided I wanted to jazz up my plain recipe a little bit.  I decided that a lemon version might be nice and used a lemon dish soap in my mixture. But then I wanted to give it just a little more lemon scent so I had the bright idea to add some lemon juice to the mixture too, totally forgetting what reaction would happen as I was only thinking about the nice smell of lemons.

And as soon as I dumped the lemon juice into my baking soda/dish soap mixture, the bubbling and fizzing began.  Of course! I should have known! { but I forgot }

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

So now I had a dilemma.  I had this lovely pale yellow soft scrub that not only looked nice, it smelled pretty good too. But would it still work good for cleaning or had I neutralized my ingredients? Being the thrifty soft of person that I am, I didn’t want to throw out my mixture and decided to use it anyway.

And the rest is history.  It worked fine.  In fact I was somewhat amazed at how great it worked! I’ve been continually impressed at how well this mixture works on soap scum in my bathroom sinks and shower stalls.  I can’t say that I totally understand the chemistry, but it’s working wonderfully so I’m going to keep using it. . . and I think you’ll like it too!

This is also a simple recipe that you can make with ordinary ingredients.  For the dish soap, I always use the lemon scented Ajax brand that I buy at the dollar store.  For the lemon juice, I sometimes use the bottled stuff because that’s what I have around, but a fresh lemon works very nicely too and seems to give a little more potent lemon scent to the mixture.

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

How To Make Lemon Soft Scrub

To make your homemade lemon soft scrub, begin by placing 1/3 cup of baking soda in a small mixing bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon dish soap and stir to combine.

Next add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Either fresh or bottled lemon juice will work.  Half of a lemon will usually yield the one tablespoon of juice needed for this recipe if you are using a fresh lemon.

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

When you add the lemon juice the fizzing will begin.  Keep stirring and eventually the bubbling will end and you will have a smooth creamy mixture that’s a lovely pale yellow color and has a fresh lemon scent.

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

Store your mixture in a covered container. I usually use a small plastic ziploc container that has a tight fitting lid.

To use – Get a little bit of the soft scrub mixture onto a damp sponge by dipping a corner of the sponge into the scrub. Then use the sponge to rub the mixture around on the surface you want to clean, and then rinse it away with water.

I’ll also mention that this mixture does have a tendency to separate when it sits for awhile.  I usually just give it a little stir again when it’s time to use it and it works just fine (and most of the time I just use my finger to stir it up too!)

Homemade lemon soft scrub - It's easy to make your own!

I also prefer to make this mixture in kind of a small batch, however the recipe can be easily doubled if you would like to make a larger batch.

Homemade Lemon Soft Scrub

This homemade soft scrub features the fresh scent of lemon and is great for cleaning soap scum too.
Author: Beverly


  • 1/3 cup Baking Soda
  • 2 Tbl Lemon Scented Dish Soap (I use Ajax)
  • 1 Tbl Lemon Juice (either fresh or bottled)


  • Place the baking soda in a mixing bowl and add in the dish soap. Stir to combine
  • Next add in the lemon juice. (If you are using fresh, the juice of half a lemon will give you about the tablespoon you need). There will be some fizzing and bubbling. Continue stirring until you have a smooth creamy mixture.
  • Store the mixture in a covered container.
  • To use – Get a little bit of the soft scrub mixture onto a damp sponge by dipping a corner of the sponge into the scrub. Then use the sponge to rub the mixture around on the surface you want to clean, and then rinse it away with water.

You might also like to try:

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  1. Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful diy cleaners with us. You are very much appreciated by myself and I am sure many others.

  2. Our tub is difficult to clean due to the previous owner using abrasive cleaner, removing the top gel coat. We have tried everything in our attempt to get this tub clean. In a last ditch effort I mixed up a batch of this and WOW!! The dirt came off so quick it was like magic!! Thank you for a wonderful product recipe!!!

  3. I never actually leave a comment on things, even if they work, so that tells you how Extremely excited I was about this soft scrub. Our tub/shower walls needed a good deep cleaning before our little girl had her first big girl sit-in-the-tub bath, and let me tell you, Wow. It did take me a while to scrub everything down, whoever designed this house totally cheaped out with the bathrooms and installed one of those super cheap plastic shells, but this soft scrub made Such a difference. Our tub/shower is a thing of beauty! So pleased with the outcome 🤗

    1. I love a good success story and I’m so glad this lemon soft scrub performed so well for you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Can you tell me if it is safe to use on glass shower doors? My thought is to use it using a magic eraser for a sponge (an idea I saw in the internet), however I don’t want to use anything that etches the glass. We have very hard water so I have to stay on top of it.

    1. I think you might have better luck using a vinegar/water mixture for hard water spots on your glass shower door. This homemade soft scrub is mildly abrasive because of the baking soda so if you try it on the door, test it in a small area first.

  5. Thanks so much for this! I added essential oil to mine and love it! I was wondering how much do you try to scoop out? I have 2 sinks and was thinking 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp each. ?? Thank you!

  6. I love this on my shower tile and grout. Works like magic. But I have a tip to share. We use electric toothbrushes and a few years ago my husband suggested saving the old heads to use to clean the shower. This works really well. I just dip the tip of the brush into the mixture, then place it on the grout and turn it on. Cuts the job in half.

  7. It cleaned my porcelain bath tubs and sinks. However, it didn’t touch the built up soap scum on my bathroom tiles. We purchased a house built in 1969. It’s lovely, but a lot of the fixtures, etc, are ancient…not that 51 is ancient….but, the people who lived here the last 20 years never seemed to keep up with the cleaning…..So, I’m going to have to go to an alternative. Hope that the tiles will come up…..but I love how it cleaned my porcelain sinks. Thanks!

  8. This sounds amazing. I just want to confirm that this homemade lemon soft scrub is safe for tile and grout.

    1. Yes, I have used the homemade lemon soft scrub on my tile and grout with no problems, and it is safe to use on those surfaces.

  9. thank you for your wonderful recipes! I like Soft Scrub but it is SO expensive. FYI I use this combo on my granite countertops: 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, few drops of dish soap, and fill to the top of about 20 oz spray bottle with water. Wha La! God bless you and thanks again for posting.

  10. Do you RUB ON (with your hands)/RINSE OFF?? I can’t seem to find your specific instructions for applying? I’d assume just rubbing it on with hands, but maybe you use a sponge or cloth?


    1. Thanks for pointing that out Kim. I’ve now added that extra info. To use, I get a little bit of the soft scrub mixture onto a damp sponge by dipping a corner of the sponge into the scrub. Then I use the sponge to rub the mixture around on the surface to be cleaned, and then rinse it away with water.

  11. I just made your recipe for the shower cleaner and it works fantastically. Now im trying your sofr scrub. Im sure I will love it just as much. I just wanted to thank you for posting your recipes.

  12. I LOVE THIS!! Thanks so much…I make a home made cleaner with alcohol and dawn dish soap, and can’t wait to give this a try…I kept. Ice cream topping container, and put the mixture in that, and it works great because you can squeeze it out like a soft scrub bottle…Thanks again..have a bless day!!!!

  13. Thank you for providing such a great idea. I made the cream cleanser today and love what a great job it does of cleaning my stainless steel sinks. How long will the cleanser keep for in a bottle with a tight fitting lid? Just wondering if a liquid preservative is required? Thank you.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying this scrub Maureen! I know it will keep for two or three months with no problems because that’s how long it usually takes me to use up a batch and it stays fine throughout that time. So I don’t believe any kind of a preservative would be needed.

  14. Hi there. Do you think lemon essential oil would work in place of the juice? Maybe it wouldn’t fizz or at least not as much? The oil might help cut through grease better also. Just a thought. 🙂

    1. That substitution might work, but I think this mixture works so well because of the chemical reaction that happens between the lemon juice and baking soda. Using essential oil instead would eliminate that reaction, so I’m not sure if the scrub would clean as well or not.

  15. Good morning,
    Since becoming a penny pinching housewife (33 so far) I’ve been making my own cleaners. Cheap, easy and they work great! My only question about it all is, what kind of cookies do you eat while doing number crunching? If they are magic cookies do you think they will help me with the house work? My cleaners are great but they refuse to work without me. 🙂

    1. Yes Minnie, those darn cleaners won’t work without us 🙂 And while I’m number crunching on how much money I’m saving, I eat Voortman cookies, the brand my husband sells. {haha . . . shameless plug} I hope you enjoy the homemade soft scrub if you give it a try too!