Vinegar Cleaning Gel (Great for Showers and Tubs)

3 Materials
10 Minutes

Do you love cleaning with vinegar, but need a product that will more easily stay on surfaces such as shower walls? All it takes is two ingredients from the kitchen to make this gel cleaner.


Here are the ingredients that I used:

  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil (optional)
Choosing the Best Thickener

After researching, I found that there are 2-3 ingredients that are perfect for thickening vinegar to make it into a gel:

  • Cornstarch
  • Tapioca powder
  • Xanthan gum

While you are probably familiar with cornstarch, tapioca powder and xanthan gum are not as well known. They are predominantly used in gluten-free recipes. So I chose not to use those two ingredients because they cost more than cornstarch, and they are likely not to be in your pantry.

How to Make
  1. Add the vinegar and cornstarch to a saucepan and stir together.
  2. Using medium low heat, constantly whisk the ingredients in the pan for about 7-10 minutes.
  3. When the mixture suddenly starts to thicken and cling to the whisk, remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Stir in essential oils a minute or two after bringing it off the heat.
  5. Store in an air-tight container. I chose a small canning jar, but you could use a squeeze bottle for short term storage.
Why Use a Vinegar Gel?

I love spraying vinegar cleaners throughout my home just like anyone else who loves homemade cleaning recipes.

(Especially using this  DIY Sage Spray or  All Purpose Kitchen Cleaner.) However, there are times when a liquid solution doesn't work so well.

Often you have soap scum, grime and maybe even mildew or mold on places that need a cleaner to stick and soak. Such as surfaces like:

  • Shower walls
  • Shower doors
  • Faucets
  • Any vertical surfaces

Sure, you can spray liquid on these surfaces. But it will start to drip down immediately. Which means you don't get the long lasting cleaning benefit of having a product stay on the surface and dissolve soap scum and grime.

Helpful Tips
  • Do not add cornstarch to hot vinegar. It just clumps and becomes messy. It's similar to adding cornstarch to pan drippings for Thanksgiving dinner to make a gravy. You need to add the thickener to water (or in this case, vinegar) before adding it to something hot, otherwise it doesn't dissolve.
  • This cleaner does leave a bit of a residue. Which is no worries in the shower or tub when you are rinsing well anyway. But if you use it on a countertop or in place of any other liquid cleaner, you might be surprised at the need to wipe it up more.
  • When storing in a glass jar, my vinegar cleaning gel stayed decently moist and usable for at least a week. It was much more soft, though, right after making it. So you can store it and it will work well, I just wouldn't make a big batch in order to store for long.

For even more helpful tips on creating this easy green cleaner that cost only .25 cents to make, visit my blog post linked below!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 18 questions
  • Sharon
    on May 22, 2020

    Is it okay to use on ceramic wall tile?

    also......will it help with remove rust stain where shower sprays on tub surround?

    • Patricia
      on May 28, 2020

      Personally, i would use Bar Keepers Friend scouring powder on the stains. It's not DIY but I've had good luck with it.

  • Mary Coakley
    Mary Coakley
    on May 23, 2020

    Thank you I.prefer.natural.products.will check.your.other.ideas What is in Europr

    • Toni
      on Dec 15, 2020

      We use corn starch instead of flour for making gravy as a thickening agent. It comes in a white powder.

  • Lad29894227
    on May 24, 2020

    How long do you leave gel on to remove mildew or rust?

    • Toni
      on Dec 15, 2020

      I tried this and I left it on for ten minutes and then lightly scrubbed the area and then rinse.

Join the conversation

4 of 37 comments
  • Rachel's Trash~2~Treasures
    Rachel's Trash~2~Treasures
    on May 24, 2020

    Heating the vinegar will make the acid dissipate just like cooking with alcohol. I just make a paste out of vinegar and salt. I doubt putting gravy down the drain is good for your plumbing!

    • Gabrielle Falk
      Gabrielle Falk
      on Jun 12, 2020

      Hi. Being an 'eternal worrier' about drains clogging up in the kitchen, and elsewhere; every time I boil the jug to make a cup of coffee, I always put more water in than I need for the coffee; and then when the water has boiled, make my coffee, and pour the rest of the boiling water down the sink. Every time. I clean the drains - bath., kitchen laundry weekly (or fortnightly-when I remember), by putting some bi.-carb. soda on the drain surface - say 1/2 cup, or more, pour a good glug of cleaning v. down the drain (which fizzes up just like Vesuvius in Italy), and then pour boiling water down the drain after a few minutes. I boil pots of water on the stove; though be careful, that you don't trip. Sometimes a jug (kettle) full of boiling water will suffice. I however, avoid as much as I can about letting anything go down the kitchen drain that can harden/set; because as you know, it doesn't take much for anything to get caught up on the slightest snag in the drain. pipes.

  • Donna A.
    Donna A.
    on May 26, 2020

    Thank you, I love this idea and will definitely give it a try. I struggle with harsh chemicals and their odors make it difficult to breath while cleaning so this should work much, much better.

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