This summer, I became a bit of a boat girl. My boyfriend got a boat and suddenly, I was learning about fishing, docking, navigating, and the uniqueness of marina culture. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned, though, was about soft scrub. I’d never used it before, but this abrasive cleaner became a deeply important part of my life as a boat girl, as it enabled us to get salt water and fish guts off the vessel’s deck and exterior with ease. Slightly gritty, it made scrubbing easier than if I’d had to use plain old soap and water, and it allowed me to use a long-handled broom to tackle messes I’d rather not get within elbow-grease distance of.
Excited by this new revelation, I sought to buy some for my own personal, non-maritime use, but I couldn’t justify the cost of adding another bottle of product to the cleaning shelf in my small apartment.
Thus, I set out to learn how to make some myself. After reviewing a number of DIY recipes and considering the best uses for soft scrub in my own life, I found the perfectly cheap and effective method.
Most DIY soft scrub recipes call for a similar combination of products: something abrasive like baking soda, a gentle soap, and an oil for scent and ease of use. You combine these with water to create a slightly gritty concoction that will scrub away grease, grime, and dirt across countertops, sinks, toilet bowls, and other surfaces.
Before making any purchases, I consulted my own cabinet. After all, saving money is my main goal here. I had baking soda, basic dish soap, and baby oil. The most important element is, obviously, the baking soda, so I added one cup of it to a bowl along with ¼ cup of soap and a few dashes of baby oil. (Essential oil is commonly recommended here, but whatever you have works in a pinch. Just don’t expect an overwhelming smell from anything other than essential oil.)
Once I’d mixed it all together a bit, I added ¼ cup of water, but for me, that was too thick, not reminiscent of the soft scrub I learned to love during my unexpected stint as a first mate. I added more water until I liked the consistency (shown below). Be advised that creating this concoction will result in some bubbles as the soap and water mix, which can make it harder to add water if you’re measuring by sight. Just take it slow.
I focused on an area of my sink that had some water rings and unidentifiable gunk. Using a paper towel, I scrubbed at them and, as I suspected, the baking soda did its job. The combination of grit, soap, and oil made it easy to remove the mess without having to do much physical labor, which is not usually the case when it comes to cleaning up after my cooking adventures.
What I like about this method is that baking soda is relatively tame. If I were using store-bought soft scrub, I would be concerned about scratching or weakening surfaces, but baking soda is just right. After I went over the area with a fresh paper towel dipped in water, there was no residue remaining. My sink was gleaming. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is find some essential oil to enhance the smell.
As it stands, this was a great, cost-effective way to scrub around the house without needing to buy and store yet another product.