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Make your own eco-friendly shower tub and tile spray

Updated on September 12, 2014
ecogranny profile image

An environmental enthusiast and activist her entire adult life, Kathryn shares her secrets to reducing waste and living greener.

Homemade shower, tub and tile spray in re-purposed bottle
Homemade shower, tub and tile spray in re-purposed bottle | Source

Save money and the environment with this super-easy, eco-friendly bathroom spray

If you found this page, you are probably looking for a more green way to keep your shower curtain, tub and bathroom tile sparkling clean. Well, I can tell you, I found one, and it's amazingly simple. In fact all you need is a spray bottle and equal parts white vinegar and water.

I did not figure this out on my own. Years ago, somewhere along the way, I read about it in a book, or saw it on a public television show. I'm not sure where I found the formula. I've been using it for a long time now.

Replaces the multi-chemical commercial sprays I used to buy

Mind you, I'm not one of those women who spends hours every day doing housework. I like the tools and cleaners that require little or no elbow grease and that keep my hands out of buckets. Before I found this formula, I employed those shower sprays that keep hard water deposits and soap scum from building up on tile and shower curtains.

As my green consciousness grew, however, I could not continue buying one-use containers filled with toxic chemicals. My cleaning agents of choice today are baking soda and vinegar. They are amazingly effective and versatile. So it's almost a no-brainer that a dilute solution of vinegar would be enough to keep mildew and soap scum at bay in the shower and tub

This spray does not erase the need for periodic cleaning and scrubbing, especially here in San Francisco where mold seems to be as endemic as the ants in these ancient, musty buildings. But it does mean I need scrub only once a month or so, and with far less effort than I would without the spray.

Here, with photographs, a quick how-to for making your own shower curtain, tub and tile spray, beginning with the materials you will need.

Quick poll

What are your primary reasons for using environmentally-friendly cleaning agents?

See results

What kind of vinegar you use matters - Plant derived, or petroleum product?

I use organic white vinegar because it is made from plants and not from petroleum distillates. It's that simple. The fewer fossil fuels my choices involve, the better, and even a little decision like this makes a difference, over time.

Surprised to learn that vinegar is sometimes made from petroleum? I was too. Shocked, I might add. Several articles discuss the subject, but the one I like best at the moment is this one, on the blog Tiny Choices: Is vinegar made from petroleum?

Spectrum Naturals Vinegar Whte Distld Org
Spectrum Naturals Vinegar Whte Distld Org

I trust the Spectrum brand--so far, and their bottles are made of glass, so are especially good for those of us trying to eliminate one-use plastic containers from our lives. As a greenie, I do have mixed feelings about this because I go through a lot of vinegar and Spectrum does not offer gallon sizes.

 

It's important to label your bottle

Especially if more than one person is likely to use your shower, it's important to label the bottle so everyone knows this bottle has vinegar in it.

Vinegar is a mild acid and, if mixed with chlorine bleach produces a deadly, odorless gas. Always label your home cleaners so there is no mistake what is in them.

You probably have everything you need in your cupboards right now

In addition to the vinegar, you will need the following tools and supplies, all of which you probably have in your cupboard.

  • A clean, reusable plastic spray bottle; re-purposed bottles are fine, but be sure whatever chemicals were in them previously are completely washed away; some chemicals react dangerously when mixed with vinegar.
  • A peel and stick label so you can label your bottle
  • A Sharpie permanent marker to mark the label
  • Heavy duty, clear plastic packing tape to seal the label
  • A funnel that fits the opening of your bottle
  • A one-cup or more measuring cup

Re-purposed spray bottle containing homemade shower spray
Re-purposed spray bottle containing homemade shower spray | Source

Eco-friendly shower, tub and tile spray - Keeps soap scum and mildew at bay

This spray is so easy to make and so inexpensive that it will take you longer to read this page than ever it could possibly take to measure out the two ingredients and fill the bottle.

For safety purposes, I put a homemade label on my spray bottle so guests and my sweetheart don't mistake it for something else, and also to remind them never to mix this solution with bleach.

As you may know, chlorine bleach and vinegar can combine to make a deadly, odorless gas. Whenever I make a cleaning solution involving vinegar, whether it's dish soap for the kitchen, homemade window cleaner, or this spray cleaner, I label the bottle so everyone who picks it up knows not to use it with bleach.

Time required: 5-10 minutes, including making the label

Difficulty: easy

Cost: <$1.00

Materials:

  • Repurposed plastic spray bottle (or new if you want one that matches your bathroom décor)
  • Large removable label
  • Clear packing tape
  • Organic white vinegar

Tools:

  • Indelible ink pen
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Funnel that fits bottle opening

This handwritten label includes the following: 1. Description/Name; 2. The formula; 3. The safety warning
This handwritten label includes the following: 1. Description/Name; 2. The formula; 3. The safety warning | Source

Instructions:

1. Print or hand-write a label as shown in the photograph. Include the name you want to give your homemade product. I call mine "Shower Tub and Tile Cleaner."

Include the recipe on the bottle for other household members who may need to refill it when you're not around. My spray bottle holds two cups liquid, so I fill it with one cup each vinegar and water, and I mark that on the label. Adjust for the quantity your bottle holds.

Also, be sure to include the warning not to mix with bleach. This is an important safety issue.

Label affixed and covered completely with clear plastic packing tape
Label affixed and covered completely with clear plastic packing tape | Source

2. Smooth the label onto your bottle and completely cover it with clear packing tape, making sure the edges are well sealed. This will keep it looking nice a long time.

Pouring measured water into the bottle through the funnel
Pouring measured water into the bottle through the funnel | Source

3. Measure equal quantities water and vinegar, enough to fill, and pour through a funnel into the spray bottle. That's it!


Misting the tile and shower curtain liner with the dilute solution
Misting the tile and shower curtain liner with the dilute solution | Source

4. Spray the dilute solution on your shower curtain liner, tub and tile after every shower.

Running a squeegee over the bathroom tile to remove excess moisture
Running a squeegee over the bathroom tile to remove excess moisture | Source

5. Follow with a squeegee to remove excess moisture, and dry your chrome fixtures with a towel.

Frosted White Shower Curtain Liner, Non-Toxic, Odor Free, Heavy Duty Peva, Machine Wash and Dry
Frosted White Shower Curtain Liner, Non-Toxic, Odor Free, Heavy Duty Peva, Machine Wash and Dry

This eco-friendly shower curtain drapes beautifully like cloth, repels water like plastic and is made of non-toxic material

 

Don't forget to spray your shower curtain liner

Spray your shower curtain liner too, especially along the bottom. In the past, to prevent mildew build-up, I had to wash my shower curtain liner every two or three months.

Once I started using this spray, that frequency dropped to once or twice a year, or more accurately, about every eight or nine months.

The shower curtain liner in my bathroom is the same as the one you see here. I've had it for several years. We spray it with this solution every time we shower, and it still looks nearly new. I buy this one because it is made of eco-friendly, non-toxic PEVA and does not off-gas like vinyl liners do.

OXO Good Grips All-Purpose Squeegee
OXO Good Grips All-Purpose Squeegee

After you spray, give your shower a quick rub-down with a good squeegee to keep it squeaky clean

 

Couple your spray with a good shower squeegee - To give your shower that just cleaned sparkle

After I spray my shower curtain, tub and tile with my diluted vinegar solution, I use a squeegee similar to this to remove excess moisture from the tile. I also wipe down the chrome fixtures with a towel to keep them shining like new.

Because vinegar is an acid, I would not omit these steps, just in case over time it might have an effect on the grout or chrome. I've been using it for years with these added steps, and my shower fixtures and grout are still as good as they were when we moved in to this apartment several years ago. See the photographs below.

Living in moldy San Francisco isn't always easy - But our tile and grout aren't bad

Click thumbnail to view full-size
We have to be diligent to keep the mold at bay here, and our spray bottle and squeegee help keep our shower looking nice, don't you think?I wipe the chrome fixtures down with a towel after every shower, to keep them sparkling. It takes just a few seconds.When spraying the shower curtain liner pay particular attention along the bottom edges and corners, where moisture hangs on the longest and mildew is most likely to start to grow
We have to be diligent to keep the mold at bay here, and our spray bottle and squeegee help keep our shower looking nice, don't you think?
We have to be diligent to keep the mold at bay here, and our spray bottle and squeegee help keep our shower looking nice, don't you think? | Source
I wipe the chrome fixtures down with a towel after every shower, to keep them sparkling. It takes just a few seconds.
I wipe the chrome fixtures down with a towel after every shower, to keep them sparkling. It takes just a few seconds. | Source
When spraying the shower curtain liner pay particular attention along the bottom edges and corners, where moisture hangs on the longest and mildew is most likely to start to grow
When spraying the shower curtain liner pay particular attention along the bottom edges and corners, where moisture hangs on the longest and mildew is most likely to start to grow | Source

Thank you

Thank you for checking out this greener-living tip. I'd love to hear some of yours, if you'd care to share.

© 2014 Kathryn Grace

Have you tried a vinegar and water spray in your shower? - What do you think?

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    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      I had similar problems before switching to homemade cleaners, using mostly baking soda and vinegar. What a relief!

    • faythef profile image

      Faythe F. 2 years ago from USA

      Vinegar is a great cleaner..and safe..Other cleaners cause me to have trouble with my lungs from spraying

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, Margaret. I love how much time it saves, so I can spend more time writing, cooking and playing with the grandkids!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      I'm definitely mixing up a batch of this ASAP! And thanks so much for the info about some vinegars being petroleum based (ugh!) and the toxic fumes caused by bleach coming into contact with vinegar (and vice versa). Terrific article!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      You're welcome, @Besarien. I am sorry to learn of your aunt's suffering, and grateful she survived.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      Thanks! I had no idea that vinegar could be made from petroleum. I checked and had bought Heinz but generally I just buy whatever is cheap. Or I did until now. My aunt mixed ammonia and bleach and damaged her lungs. It took her years to get past that. I don't even use household bleach anymore. Great hub!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @JayeWisdom, I imagine from your comments that you know just how much it can mean to a writer like me to receive such praise. Thank you. Many of our parents and grandparents knew the value of vinegar in their day. Lucky we are, that some of them passed along their knowledge so we might re-learn it just when we need it.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Great hub, ecogranny!

      I've been 'greening up' my life for quite a few years, both for my own health and for that of the environment. Vinegar is an absolute wonder substance for cleaning, and the ironic thing is that my late father-in-law realized that fact decades ago. He used it to clean everything. (He also was ahead of his time with regard to antioxidants and lived to be 93.)

      I figure the money I save on cleaning and personal products (the ones that are full of toxic chemicals) help me afford to buy the ONLY brand of toothpaste I can find that has no harmful ingredients--Miessance, from Australia. I've learned to prioritize needs (not just wants).

      Voted Up+++ and shared

      Jaye

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @teaches12345, me too! I share all such tips every which way I can--Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and the like. A lot of times it's just a matter of making the information available to a wider audience. I'm heartened to discover so many people avoiding harsh chemicals in their homes and taking up these easy cleaning solutions. Just five years ago, if we mentioned vinegar on our blogs, and people thought we were nuts.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Yes, your shower looks very nice! Thanks for the tip. I love using natural and ecofriendly products. Wish everyone did!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @My Bell, hooray! Nothing tickles me like finding out I have shared something useful.

    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Wonderful hub! I already use vinegar to clean my wood floors but will now expand that to the bath thanks to this article.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Adventuretravels, I had a college professor who mixed vinegar and bleach and barely survived. Rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, she nearly died. Weeks later, she was still quite ill.

      Please be sure never to mix these products. The State of New Jersey has published this short pdf-format fact sheet about the dangers of mixing common household items, including bleach and vinegar. I urge you and everyone who sees this to read it: Common Cleaning Products May Be Dangerous When Mixed at http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/cehsweb/bleach_f...

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, @MarleneB. Let me know how you like it.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      All I can say is, "Wow!" Never in a million years would I have thought a simple vinegar and water cleaner could work for so many household cleaning tasks. And, yes I am totally surprised to learn that vinegar is sometimes made from petroleum. I must have been sleep during that class. Anyway, thank you for sharing your recipe. I will definitely be mixing up a solution of this really soon.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 2 years ago from London UK

      OMG! I did not know about vinegar and bleach -I'm frightened now! I only buy vinegar to clean my house with - except for bleach which I use sparingly to keep things white - especially in loo! i am sure that I have mixed these two thing several times - I hope I haven't caused my family any lasting damage! I shall never, ever do that again. Great hub BTW

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @marcoujor, you just totally made my day. Thank you for giving it a try. Do let me know if you have any questions along the way.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I love this ecogranny and will start up immediately...every reason on your poll is a 'yes' for me so why not.

      Thank you so much! Voted UP and UABI and sharing! Hugs, Maria

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @LisaDH, my thoughts exactly! Thanks for stopping by.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 2 years ago

      Vinegar is a great cleaner, and it's much cheaper than the chemical alternatives!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @bravewarrior, thank you for your kindly welcome. Always glad to find another vinegar and baking soda fan. I wish I could get organic vinegar by the gallon in glass jars. Until I can, I'll have to buy the quarts. There's a tradeoff, of course. It takes more fuel to ship the heavier glass jars. Still trying to suss that one out. You're right about vinegar being a good weed killer in driveways and between cracks on sidewalks. Good tip!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Kathryn, I use white vinegar and baking soda in my home also. I buy vinegar by the gallon. It also makes good weed control where grass grows up in driveway and sidewalk cracks.

      I had no idea some vinegars are petroleum based! I'll have to look at my bottle to see what it says. I also love the idea of a squeegee. I hate scrubbing the shower walls. A squeegee will certainly make that job less of a hassle.

      Welcome to Hubpages! You seem to be off to a great start.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Tamara14, you are welcome. Always delighted to meet another green-minded hubber!

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 2 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      I use white vinegar a lot in my home and it is just a perfect fighter against mold and lime. Thanks for spreading this valuable green ptactice.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thank you, Tano. From your response, I take it you've already discovered this inexpensive way to keep your shower clean, which makes me happy. Thanks you for your continued encouragement re my "green" lenses. I deeply appreciate it.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 2 years ago

      Yes it works really well! I'm glad you're sharing this information and other excellent eco-friendly ideas in other lenses you've made.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Ibidii: I haven't had much success with vinegar solutions to keep the ant population down when they come streaming out of the walls. I'd love to hear more about your method.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 2 years ago

      I have and my daughter and I use it all the time for cleaning and especially for the ants!

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