Homemade Tilex Recipes for a Cleaner Shower for Less
by Reader Contributors
Daily shower sprays can help eliminate tough scrubbing but they are costly. Try these homemade shower spray recipes and tips from our frugal readers to keep your shower clean for less money and less effort.
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Do daily shower sprays really help to keep your shower clean, and more importantly, are they worth the cost?
Even better, does anyone have a good homemade recipe that does the same thing? I really could use some inexpensive homemade Tilex® recipes (or other brand of shower spray) to keep my shower cleaner with less scrubbing.
A.V. in MA
Do You Have a Homemade Tilex Recipe to Share?
We asked our frugal readers if anyone knows how to make Tilex. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to making homemade versions of costly store-bought cleaning products.
Read on for the many inexpensive, simple-to-make shower spray recipes and solutions they shared. You are sure to find one that meets your homemade daily shower spray needs, whether store bought or homemade.
A Few Homemade Shower Spray Solutions
If you look at the ingredient panel of daily shower sprays, you can note what the ingredients consist of. In Tilex for Showers, the ingredients are basically alcohol, a cleaner and fragrance. I mixed up a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol, 8 oz. of cleanser (I used liquid TSP), and added some water to make a gallon. I then placed it in a trigger bottle. I prefer to wipe, but one can let air dry.
Another combination is 1/4 to 1/2 bleach to 1/2 or 3/4 water. Put in spray bottle and spray away. I usually use the ratio of 1/4 bleach to 3/4 water. Remember, though, not to mix bleach and ammonia as it produces toxic fumes. And always label your bottles as to what is in them.
Buy a small spray bottle, add about a tablespoon of clorox to it and spray when needed. This will clean all mildew away.
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Use a Squeegee Instead of a Shower Spray
I say save your money. We built our house 5 years ago and never have had to scrub the walls! Every time we finish with the shower we use a squeegee to wipe the water off of the walls. It may take a couple of minutes a day, but it sure beats the scrub brush.
To help keep water spots off the glass you can try Rain- X. It works great on car windshields so why not inside?
Steve from Indiana
A Cheaper Store-Bought Shower Spray
Not to tout a particular brand, but we use Melaleuca Tub N’ Tile. I spray once a week. It comes extra concentrated and you make it up in 1:8 ratio. The company claims it is non-toxic, too (if you have little ones). I’m not sure about toxicity though since the vapors are a bit tough to take if you have asthma as I do. It works and it’s cheap (about 5 cents per use).
I have tried one of these sprays and the main ingredient was simply rubbing alcohol!
A Simple DIY Tilex Recipe
I have tried the commerical product and, yes, it does work. It is expensive. I found that one bottle lasted two weeks at the most. However, I was selling my house and it kept the shower clean without much extra work.
A formula I found on the Internet (don’t remember the source) is 1/2 tsp. shampoo with 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 cups water. Sponge on tub or shower and let sit a few minutes. Scrub off. Sorry but the directions did use the scrub word. With the commercial products, you do not have to scrub and there will be no mildew because the soap scum doesn’t build up.
Try This Laundry Solution in the Shower
From my experience, the commercial spray does work, but you have to use so much of it that it doesn’t seem to be worth the price. As an alternative, I’d like to share some shortcuts I used when I used to clean houses for a living. For the shower, first clean the shower thoroughly, wipe it dry, and then spray a layer of Spray and Wash (yes, Spray and Wash, the laundry stain cleaner). Buff it in with a dry rag, and the next time you take a shower, you will notice the water beading and running off the walls instead of clinging to the walls and grout (you will also notice your tile and glass is a bit shinier than usual).
When it comes time to clean the shower again, just spray some more Spray and Wash and wipe off the scum with another dry rag (no scrubbing needed). This works great on all parts of the shower, even glass doors. We don’t know why this works, but we suspect there is a wax in the product that creates a barrier between the tile and the water. The only place I wouldn’t spray it directly is the bottom of the shower as it might make it a bit slippery.
If you have a mold problem in the bathroom, the best cleaner I have ever used for this is a quaternary cleaner found at local janitorial supply stores (just ask for a quarternary cleaner and they will know what you are talking about). This is the same product hospitals use to keep their bathrooms and sick rooms clean. This works great because instead of just killing molds and odor causing germs, it actually PREVENTS them from re-growing. Since it’s packaged for commercial use, you will probably have to buy a gallon and the price might shock you at first. But it’s highly concentrated and a couple of ounces will last you a lot longer than a retail product, therefor saving you money in the long run (I paid $18 dollars for my gallon jug and after a year I haven’t even used up my first mix of 2 ounces to a gallon of water).
I have recently discovered Don Aslett and his products. While the simple act of wiping down the shower with a towel after use will prevent the need for most cleaning, he has a product called Showers-n-Stuff that literally melts away hard water stains. I used this a couple months ago and have just kept the shower wiped since then and haven’t had any hard water build up again. The product smells wonderful so I have used it before company comes over and it doesn’t hurt to freshen up again.
Another Squeegee Fan
You don’t need a homemade Tilex® recipe. For simple shower cleaning, buy a small hand-held squeegee and just go over the tiles and doors and this will keep it shiny and clean. What your doing is keeping the soap scum from building up. You should clean with a disinfectant 2 or 3 times a month. I’m referring to the shower only! But without all that build up, you can just wipe it down and you’re done!
Try Clean Shower Instead of Tilex
Clean Shower is the best product I have used. I hate cleaning the bathroom and this works great for me. I have used it on other things like the sink and floor. If you don’t start with a clean shower, it does take awhile to get it real clean, but if you start with a clean shower, it stays clean as long as you remember to use it. And kids can do it too. My 3-year-old gets a kick out of spraying it on the shower curtain.
K.W., Williamsburg, VA
Just Add Air
The easiest way to keep your shower clean is to prevent mildew growth in the first place. If you have a window, make sure to ventilate your bathroom during your shower if possible. If you have a ventilating fan, keep it going during your shower. At the end of your shower, take a regular squeegee and simply squeegee the walls of your shower stall down. This cuts down on mildew incredibly and you will find yourself not having to wash your shower stall nearly as often. Best of all, the squeegeeing takes an extra minute tops, so even if you’re in a rush it’s not too much hassle.
I don’t understand all the hype about these cleaners. My practice is to wipe down the shower walls with a dry towel when we’re all done showering in the morning. Without the moisture, the mold/mildew doesn’t have a chance! And no soap scum builds up. It takes a few seconds to do this and I never have to scrub grout, etc.
C.H., Gig Harbor, Washington
A Chemical Analysis of Daily Shower Sprays
We’ve been using Clean Shower or one of the related products (from Lysol, I think) for a few months and have been very pleased with the results. We did not pre-clean the shower, though it was not terribly dirty. The manufacturer states that it takes a few weeks of use to actually clean a dirty shower, and that’s true. However, results happen within a day or so, and are quite dramatic. It’s especially good for preventing mildew and removing other stains. It’s only “so-so” for cleaning soap scum, but it may be good for preventing soap scum.
As for homemade brews, I doubt you can easily make one. The ingredients lists says something like surfactant, which is a fancy word for soap or detergent (you could possibly find a substitute) and chelating agent (a chemical like EDTA or EGTA, which you’re not likely to find over the counter). This chemical will bind or scavenge metal ions (like calcium, magnesium, nickel, etc.), which prevents “bugs” from growing and can get rid of them with continued use. I believe this chelating agent is the primary active ingredient. EDTA is present in some over-the-counter medical solutions (saline or eye-drops) and is used as a preservative in pharmaceuticals and laboratories due to its anti-microbial, anti-enzyme properties. I’m not aware of an easy to get, cheap source of this chemical. It’s fairly expensive for the lab-grade chemical.
A List of Shower Cleaner (and Bathroom) Recipes
Magic Formula – Generic Glass Cleaner
1/2 c Ammonia (sudsy or clear, Your choice)
2 c Rubbing alcohol
1 tsp Water
1 tsp Dishwashing Liquid
In a gallon container, put in the ammonia and rubbing alcohol. Fill almost to the top with water. Add 1 tsp dishwashing liquid and mix. Top off with water. Use like Windex or any other general purpose spray cleaner.
Consumer Reports rates this to work better (and much cheaper!) than most commercial window and kitchen sprays. Alcohol is the secret ingredient, and what commercial window washers use. Safe on most but not all household surfaces.
Tile and Grout Cleaner
1/2 cup baking soda
1/3 cup household ammonia
1/4 cup white vinegar
7 cups warm water
Combine the ingredients in a one gallon plastic jug, cover, and swish to mix. For small jobs, fill a pump bottle with the solution, spray directly onto the tile surface, then wipe with a damp sponge. Yield: 2 quarts. Do not mix this cleaner with anything containing bleach.
All Purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup household ammonia
1/2 cup washing soda
7 cups warm water
In a gallon plastic jug, combine ammonia, washing soda and 1 cup of the warm water. Cap the jug and shake briskly, then add the rest of the warm water. To use, mix one cup of this cleaner with about 1 gallons hot water. Yield: gallon concentrated cleaner. Before using on delicate surfaces, test on a small, inconspicuous area.
Copper and Brass Cleaner
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup powdered detergent
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup warm water
In a large glass bowl, mix the flour, salt, and detergent. Pour in the remaining ingredients and stir. Store in glass quart jar. To use, shake, then pour some of the cleaner on cookware and rub gently with a dishcloth. Rinse with clear water, dry, and polish with a soft cloth.
4 cups powdered laundry detergent
12 cups hot water
4 cups pine oil
Mix the laundry detergent and water in a bucket and stir slowly until detergent is dissolved. If it foams, skim off the bubbles or wait until they melt. Gradually add the pine oil and mix well.
To use, dilute the disinfectant with water, except when cleaning toilet bowls. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
1/4 cup dried sage
1/2 cup crushed bay leaves
1 cup witch hazel
In a large jar, mix all the ingredients. Cover and let sit, at room temperature for 3 days. Strain out all the herbs and pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle. Yield: 1 cup.
Camerin L, Tiburon, CA
Less Scrubbing by Using a Chamois Cloth
After the last person takes their morning shower, he/she runs a squeegee down the shower walls and doors, then dries it with a synthetic chamois cloth. I can’t remember the last time I needed to clean the walls and doors because of this method.
Liquid Soap in Place of Bar Soap
Use liquid soap instead of bar soap or even bubble bath in a liquid soap dispenser. You will practically never have to use a cleaner on your shower again.
Richard & Jean
Dawn and Vinegar a Team
I too had a problem with overpriced shower cleaners. But right there under my very nose (for years) was the “wonder-cleaner”….. Dawn dishwashing liquid. I have a plastic tub and have always struggled with getting soap scum off. Dawn works better than any harsh (on your lungs and skin) cleaners – better than bleach. It leaves a wonderful shine and virtually no scrubbing.
If you want a wonderful deodorizer to use with your Dawn, throw in about as much white vinegar as you can handle (in my opinion, you can never have too much vinegar). I clean the sink, counter, tub, toilet, stove, dishes, just about everything with my Dawn and vinegar mixture. It’s wonderful!!! I’ve only used Dawn, so I don’t know if other dishwashing liquids work well or not.
Reviewed August 2020
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