Homemade Shower/Tub Cleaner Gel Recipe

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Yesterday, I attacked my standup shower in full vengeance. This well water really does a number on our plumbing fixtures. And the red mud that we always seem to track in sticks to our tubs and sinks like glue, and is nearly impossible to scrub off.

And the soap scum… forget about it!

I’ve tried baking soda, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, with minimal luck. Scrubbing Bubbles is the only that that has given decent results. But I hate using that stuff. The fumes are so strong, I have to hold my breath while spraying, then run out of the bathroom to gasp for fresh breath, then run back in to scrub a little… it’s ridiculous.

There must be a cleaner that I don’t have to worry about inhaling that actually works!

And then I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked promising, so I mixed it up and gave it a try.

Bathtub and Shower Cleaning Gel

  • 1 cup white vinegar; hot
  • 1 cup blue Dawn dish detergent

Place both in a squirt bottle (I used an empty shampoo bottle), and shake to create a gel. Squirt the solution all over your tub, and allow to sit for a few minutes. You can even let it sit overnight if you have some really hard to clean spots. Wipe off with a sponge or rag, then rinse.

Check it out:


YAY!!! It worked SO well. I wish I could say that it made my shower doors just as clean, but it seemed to make them worse. I’m still on the hunt for a good shower door cleaner, if you have one.

One of the best things about this recipe (besides it being safe to breath in!) is that it’s much cheaper to mix up yourself than buying expensive store-bought tub/shower cleaners. Not only can it save typical households a lot of money over the course of a year, but businesses like gyms, housecleaners, and even school cleaning services could benefit from tightening their purse-strings and giving this diy scum buster a shot!

Anyways, I was excited about finding this recipe. I like the gel solution, ’cause it drips down and spreads easily. And a little really does go a long way.

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About Kendra 1103 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. I’m a professional housekeeper.
    To rid your glass doors of hard water spots, etc…use a product called “Never Dull”. You can purchase at any big box store, aka, Walmart, Target, Kmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, etc…
    A little elbow grease if the deposits have been there for years, but for the most part, very little exertion is needed.
    Good luck!!

  2. I used Dawn and vinegar to soak my plastic blinds in the bath tub, using hot water. It worked well but I agree to check out using vinegar on some faucets it ruins them. My daughter and I found this out the hard way. Too strong of a formula will eat the finish.
    This also works on glass shelves from the refrigerator taking off the white film that builds up. Also used it to clean up white tiles on the floor. I put it in a spray bottle, wet the floor and scrubbed the floor with a cement floor brush on a long handle. Keeps you off your knees. Let it soak for an hour then mop up the dirt, rinsing with clean water often. Vinegar is a very good bacterial killer, I use it as a household cleaner and too clean my washer out and in the rinse water, especially on smelly clothes.
    My son in law fought two types of cancer and the nurses told my daughter to rinse all fruits and veggies with one part vinegar to nine parts water to kill bacteria and now the restaurant I work in uses this rather then expensive fruit wash.
    Even fruit with peels you take off should be washed first, the bacteria gets on your hands then into your mouth.

  3. Cleaning shower screens – Need to get soap scum off shower screens – Window Cleaner + 2 microfibre cloths – one normal, one window style – just make sure they are absorbant types – if they are too synthetic they will smear. spray window cleaner on shower screen, clean the rest of the bathroom, clean worst of the scum off with a wet normal microfibre, rinsing the cloth as you go, then window cleaner again with a dry window cloth & should be crystal clear.

  4. One question.. do the shower/tub walls have to be wet or dry before you spray on the cleaner? Does it matter or does one work better than the other?

  5. This is awesome. We have so much mineral build up from our well and this did take a while to sit but my husband was so impressed! Thank you! I love it.

  6. Sounds really strong, and I’m definitely going to try this. So far, I’ve used 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, and maybe 1-2 TBS dish detergent (I don’t have dawn). Dawn is known for being very effective on grease, so I am thinking that using an inexpensive (Suave) clarifying shampoo would be equally effective in either your recipe or the one mentioned in my post. I sometimes find my 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mix a little strong. I’m wondering if the preferred mixture depends upon how dirty the shower is before attempting to clean. I definitely find it easier to clean routinely than to wait for it to get really dirty.

  7. Spray a bit of lemon furniture polish on a cloth and wipe down your door, but ONLY your door. It works kind of like rainex, and like your wiper blades,a squeegee helps.

  8. So, I tried this without heating and with and have squirted both on my shower. However, it never turned to gel. Should it become a gel-like substance? Our bathroom tub from clean-out to drain is horrible! Several squirts a day everyday of CLR loosens SOME of it, but the scale is SO THICK only a knife could scrape it off. It is a vertical area so very hard to clean. I’m letting this formula run down it currently, but am puzzled that it would not gel. Is it supposed to?

    Praying it works; it’s been my nemesis for SEVEN YEARS! 8/

  9. I’m going to try your recipe. I chuckled when I saw your request for something to clean your shower doors. I hated cleaning out the shower door tracks, especially since we have hard water – it gets nasty! – so we converted back to a washable fabric shower curtain. No more nasty doors and tracks to clean with a toothbrush. Yay!! :0)(I also have a lovely Waverly floral fabric outer curtain that my mom envys every time she comes for a visit.)

  10. For shower doors use pure lemon oil found in the Furniture polish just make sure not to get it on the tub it will make it slippery. I squirt it on a cloth and just wipe it down.

  11. I’ve had issues with my teenagers and their hair dyes on my bathroom sink. I tried cream cleansers, And all different things. What took it off? Sifted Hard wood ash from the fire place. Go figure. That stuff is amazing! I clean SO many things with it. Just be sure to sift it free of coal to prevent scratching. That hasn’t been a problem, though.

  12. Just want to say a big thank you for the shower cleaner recipe of Dish Soap and Hot White Vinegar! Wonderful! With a well, clean is never really clean – but this worked!!! On a prior kitchen sink, I used a brand that was so caustic, it completely ate away the plastic drain bottom of the kitchen sink – just ate away an outer circle and the whole part fell off. Naturally, that meant a plumber, who did a great job of fixing it, but I vowed NO MORE CAUSTIC CHEMICALS TO CLEAN!! Thank you, and I have no idea how I found your site, but have SAVED it. Have a great day!

  13. Be careful with what you use on your faucets. Vinegar and mild soaps are fine but some things will ruin the finish. Check out some faucet manufaturers websites (like Delta). My plumber was the one who let me know.

  14. When we had shower doors, I used a magic sponge to get the junk off. Then I prayed them with WD-40, and buffed them. After a shower, wipe the shower doors with your towel after drying and they won’t get the film again.

    Baking soda on a sponge works well, too. And so do the green scrubby things.

  15. We moved into our new home last September.. just two weeks later the hard water spots had clouded our glass shower door/walls and were almost impossible to get off. I tried everything on the market that didn’t have overpowering chemical fumes (I’m very sensitive to fragrances). Wasted a LOT of money & still had cloudy doors. I accidentally came across this solution ~ baby bath/shampoo!! ~ when I spilled some on the wall while washing my hair. The ones with citrus/fragrance base work the best but they all work. I buy the store brand so it’s really inexpensive too. Just squirt it on a scrubby & wipe the wet walls down when you first get into the shower, let it sit while you’re showering and when you’re done rinse out the scrubby & wipe them down again ~ this time with just water. Smells fresh & clean, takes little elbow grease & is economical to boot 🙂

  16. I’ve made a homemade soft scrub out of castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s lavender I think?) and baking soda. Whip up with a hand mixer until fluffy, add a smidge of water if need be. It’s not magic on super hard buildup (takes time and many, many times of scrubbing), but it works and I can let the kids scrub with it. 🙂

    Anyway, for a glass shower door/partition? My grandma just had a squeegee in the shower. When you were done, you used that sucker on the door to get the water off so it wouldn’t build-up (she was on well water, all she’d had for a good 60 years before she died). Or she’d remind you. And remind you. I got pretty good at it by 10yo. 😉

  17. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I have been using 1 cup HOT vinegar + 1 Tbs. Blue Dawn + 1 cup HOT water. This works wonders on the stove top!!

  18. I just started doing this a couple of weeks ago too. I didn’t heat the vinegar though just shook it really well and applied to the shower walls and it really works! I found it on Pininterest.

  19. We just started using this last week. The difference in our bathroom is night and day. Before I was using baking soda, vinegar, and elbow grease. Worked ok…this had much less elbow grease involved and worked much better!

  20. Hi Kendra! Thanks again for the great recipe! Our fave cleaner that works on about everything here, including shower doors, is Shaklee’s Basic H2. You put 2 drops w/16oz of water to do windows, or use it straight with a bit of water for tough jobs like shower doors. It’s amazing! Organic and only a barely detectable scent, I hardly have to scrub when using it straight. My only complaint, it’s a little spendy at the outset (seems like it was $20 or so for a 16 oz bottle) but you only have to use just a little bit,even for the tough jobs, so we’ve had this bottle for about 3 years and only used about a fourth of the bottle. Great alternative to the scrubbing bubbles, etc.

  21. I just tried this for the first time last week and loved it! I had also read that it helps to heat the vinegar first and did it that way.

    The only difference with me is that I didn’t have Dawn (and wasn’t about to drive 20+ miles round trip to get it!) We had run out of dish soap and my sister had picked up the ONLY bottle on the shelf at the store that’s on her way home from work! It was some cheap-y, thin, yellow off-brand. I was worried that it wouldn’t work as well as the Dawn, but was so desparate to find SOMETHING that worked on soap-scum mixed with the hard-water deposits from the well water that I tried it.

    Maybe the Dawn would have been better, but this was SO much better than anything else I’d used (baking soda, Magic Eraser, etc) that I did a happy dance!

  22. I tried this when I saw it on Facebook or somewhere. It definitely works. I used it in kitchen sink to on faucets. We live in town but we must get a mix of city water and well because it gets so yucky in the sinks.

  23. I use a mix of baking soda and castille soap as a scrub. It works great. For glass I use 1 part vinegar, 1 part water and lemon juice. If you want a great sink bleacher, use the lemon rind 🙂 Hope it works for you!

  24. I’ve been using this for a bit. WHat I do is heat the vinegar to boiling before mixing with the Dawn – I find that I can use about 1/2 cup of Dawn. When you spray it on in a spray bottle you can coat the shower and door better and I leave it for up to an hour. Maybe it’s the heat that helps it clean – I’m not sure, but it cleaned my stained shower and door up. First time was the hardest, but after that, it’s been doing a great job! Good luck!

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