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Frugal Friday: Putting Dawn & Vinegar-Soap Scum Killa to the Test

Pinterest has been a valuable resource for finding and keeping track of all the various frugal cleaning concoctions I stumble across.  So when I found this blog post about a from scratch cleaner that promised to make cleaning soap scum from your tub and shower so easy, I had to try it.  Plus I thought the name was cool, too.

Confession time:  I hate cleaning the bathroom.  I hate it.  It’s gross.  The sink and mirror aren’t so bad.  Being the only female in a house  with a male who pees standing up and doesn’t always have good aim is testing the limits of my gag reflex.  And the tub…well, let’s just say I don’t enjoy cleaning it because there is so much of it.

And it hurts my knees to kneel on the floor.

It also hurts my back to kneel on the floor and bend over the tub.

I’m getting old.

Anyway, I was all over this like Kim Kardashian on a millionaire athlete.  The post promised that if you made this stuff and you let it sit, the scum would just wipe away.

All I needed to make this was vinegar, Dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue kind.  It has to be the blue kind), and a spray bottle.

And a funnel.  A funnel helps a lot.

You take one cup of vinegar and you heat it up.  The instructions said to nuke it about 2 minutes in the microwave.


Trust me.  It needs to be heated, not boiling and ready to explode.  When the two minutes were up, I had boiling vinegar.  Which stinks.  Literally.  It probably makes a good natural decongestant.  But when your sinuses are not plugged up, boiling vinegar is not a pleasant smell.

And even though I was careful in handling something so hot, I ended up with steam burns on my fingers and spilling a bunch of it as I was trying to pour it through the funnel and into the spray bottle.

I just added enough new vinegar to make one cup.  It didn’t cool it off much.

So, you add this one cup of hot vinegar to your spray bottle.  Then you add the equivalent amount of Dawn (the blue kind).  Because I don’t use Dawn dishwashing liquid for regular washing, I bought the smallest bottle, which is how much you need to make this Soap Scum Killa.

After you add the Dawn, put the spray nozzle on your spray bottle. THIS IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DON’T FORGET THIS STEP or you will have a big mess on your hands.  Then you shake the bottle to mix the vinegar and Dawn. If you want to shake it like a Polaroid picture, that is entirely your call.

Take this concoction and spray it all over your tub/shower. I sprayed most of the bottle.   Leave it sit for awhile.  The author of the blog post left it on for two hours, I’m too impatient.  I left mine on for about an hour.

It’s going to stink.  Hot vinegar stinks.  Even though the scent of the Dawn is there, it’s not enough to cancel out the pungent smell of hot vinegar.

I am happy to say that the soap scum did come off.  I should have left it on for another hour because I had to scrub in some spots.

This hot vinegary soapy concoction passed the test.

I don’t know if you can use this cold.  I may have to try it, but I’ve heard that part of the cleaning power of this has to do with heating the vinegar.

If you want to try this, I can vouch that it does work.


  1. I totally hate cleaning the anything, but I will try this awesome new find. I love vinegar, mix it with Dawn and it will be heaven. Thank you for all of your amazing support, my lovely friend!

    • Any time. :)

  2. I too found the recipe for shower cleaner on Pinterest.  I use my vinegar/Dawn solution cold and it works just fine! I’ve found that regular use of it really keeps our shower looking great.

  3. I take a spray bottle of plain vinegar, cold, just the 5% solution straight from the store, put it in a spray bottle and squirt happily all over. 15minutes later I wipe hings down, if there is still scum I spray again on whatever scum is left and walk away. I love only WIPING, not scrubbing. WHY do they have you add dawn to perfectly good vinegar???

    • I don’t know, but it works.

  4. Just tried this! I used green dawn because its what I had on hand and I only put 1 tablespoon. I did heat the vinegar which stank to high heaven!! I left it on for 20 minutes and all the soap scum and hard water stains were gone!!!! I have tried plain vinegar on my shower before and it never worked as well.

  5. Like everyone else on Pinterest, I tried out this concoction many months ago. It was okay. The fumes (even after the solution was cooled down before using) still gagged me. I think it was the fine particles.

    I have since moved on to some commercial Trader Joe’s cleaner (the one with sage and cedarwood scents). The smell is much more pleasant and cleaning feels better to me.

    But the one thing that made me not hate cleaning the tub/shower any more: A large towel. It used to gross me out that I would use a towel knowing that I had once used it to clean the tub. Even though I bleached the hell out of them and used very hot water. But using a large towel to clean instead of a tiny sponge quickly changed my mind. Tub cleaning takes only a few minutes because there is more surface area on the cleaning tool. Cleaning is no longer a chore.