Salt as a cleaning agent: An Affordable and Natural Solution

Salt is one of the most common and versatile household items, with a wide range of uses beyond just seasoning food. Salt has long been recognized for its powerful cleaning properties, making it a valuable and eco-friendly alternative to many commercial cleaning products. From scrubbing stubborn stains to deodorizing surfaces, salt can be an effective and affordable cleaning agent for a variety of household tasks.

In this article, we’ll explore the many ways you can harness the cleaning power of salt around your home. We’ll discuss the science behind salt’s cleaning abilities, provide practical tips and recipes for using it, highlight some of the key benefits of incorporating salt-based cleaners into your routine, and even showcase some commercial salt-based cleaning products you can consider.

Salt as a cleaning agent

The Science Behind Salt’s Cleaning Power

At its core, salt (chemically known as sodium chloride) is a crystalline mineral compound composed of sodium and chloride ions. This simple molecular structure gives salt some unique properties that make it well-suited for cleaning tasks.

Abrasiveness – The crystalline nature of salt gives it a gentle abrasive quality, allowing it to effectively scrub and scour surfaces without being overly harsh. The small, sharp salt crystals can help lift and dislodge stuck-on grime, grease, and other stubborn buildups.

Absorptive Qualities – Salt is highly absorbent, meaning it can soak up liquids, oils, and odours. This makes it useful for blotting up spills, deodorizing, and drawing out impurities from surfaces.

Disinfecting Abilities – Salt has natural antimicrobial properties that can help kill bacteria, mould, and other microorganisms. This makes it a useful disinfectant for sanitizing surfaces around the home.

Versatility – Salt’s chemical composition also allows it to be combined with other common household ingredients, like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, to create effective, customized cleaning solutions.

Affordability and Accessibility – As a widely available and inexpensive pantry staple, salt is a budget-friendly cleaning option accessible to most households.

By leveraging these properties, salt can be employed in a variety of cleaning applications around the home. From the kitchen to the bathroom and beyond, here are some of the top ways to use salt as a cleaning agent.

Cleaning with Salt: Practical Tips and Recipes

Kitchen Cleaning

The kitchen is likely where you’ll find the most opportunities to utilize salt’s cleaning powers. Here are some ways to put it to work:

  • Scrubbing Pots and Pans – For stubborn food buildup on pots, pans, and baking dishes, make a paste with salt and water and use it to scrub away grime. The abrasiveness of the salt will help cut through grease and baked-on messes.
  • Deodorizing the Refrigerator – Place a small bowl of salt in the back of your refrigerator to help absorb odours. Replace the salt every few weeks.
  • Cleaning Cutting Boards – Sprinkle some coarse salt on your cutting board and use a damp cloth to scrub it in a circular motion. The salt will help remove stains and kill bacteria.
  • Polishing Stainless Steel – Make a paste with salt and olive oil and use it to polish and clean stainless steel appliances and sinks. Buff with a microfiber cloth for a streak-free shine.

Bathroom Cleaning

Salt can also be a powerful ally in the bathroom. Try these salt-based cleaning methods:

  • Scrubbing Tiles and Tubs – For tile floors, tubs, and sinks, make a paste with salt and baking soda or vinegar and use it to scour away soap scum, hard water stains, and grime.
  • Unclogging Drains – Pour a mixture of salt and baking soda down a clogged drain, followed by vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes before flushing with hot water to clear the blockage.
  • Deodorizing the Toilet – Sprinkle some salt into the toilet bowl, let it sit for a bit, then scrub with a toilet brush. The salt will help eliminate odours.

Laundry and Fabric Care

Salt isn’t just for hard surfaces – it can also be a helpful laundry aid:

  • Removing Sweat Stains – Make a paste with salt and water and apply it directly to underarm stains before washing. The salt will help lift and absorb the stain.
  • Brightening Whites – Add a cup of salt to the wash cycle to help keep white clothes looking brighter and prevent them from turning dingy over time.
  • Removing Ink Stains – Blot the stain with a mixture of salt and water, then launder as usual. The salt will help draw out the ink.
  • Freshening Carpets and Upholstery – Sprinkle some salt onto carpets, rugs, or upholstered furniture, let it sit for a while, then vacuum it up. The salt will help absorb odours.

Miscellaneous Cleaning Uses

The versatility of salt extends beyond the kitchen and bathroom. Here are some other ways to use it around the house:

  • Polishing Silver – Make a paste with salt, water, and lemon juice and use it to polish and clean tarnished silver.
  • Absorbing Spills – Quickly pour some salt onto a fresh spill on the floor or counter to help soak it up before it sets in.
  • Cleaning Windows – Mix salt with water in a spray bottle and use it to clean windows and mirrors, then wipe away with a microfiber cloth.
  • Removing Rust Stains – Make a paste with salt and lemon juice and apply it to rust stains on sinks, tubs, or concrete. Let it sit for a bit before scrubbing.
  • Neutralizing Odors – Place small bowls of salt around the house to help absorb and neutralize unpleasant odours.

The Benefits of Using Salt-Based Cleaners

Incorporating salt-based cleaning solutions into your routine offers a number of advantages over commercial cleaning products:

Natural and Non-Toxic
Unlike many store-bought cleaners that contain harsh chemicals, salt is a naturally occurring, non-toxic mineral. This makes it a safer, more eco-friendly option, especially for households with children or pets.

As a common pantry staple, salt is an inexpensive cleaning agent, especially when compared to the price of specialized commercial cleaners. This makes it an accessible option for households on a budget.

The diverse cleaning applications of salt allow you to use it to tackle a wide variety of cleaning tasks around the home, from scrubbing pots to deodorizing fabrics. This versatility can help reduce the number of different cleaning products you need to keep on hand.

Gentle Yet Effective
While salt is an effective abrasive for cutting through grime and buildup, its gentle nature means it won’t damage or scratch surfaces like some harsh chemical cleaners can. This makes it safe to use on a variety of materials.

Relying more on natural cleaning agents like salt reduces your household’s overall consumption and waste of disposable commercial cleaning products, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.

By combining salt with other common household ingredients, you can create custom cleaning solutions tailored to your specific needs and preferences. This allows for a higher degree of control over the products you use in your home.

Incorporating Salt-Based Cleaning into Your Routine

Ready to start harnessing the power of salt around your home? Here are some tips for seamlessly integrating salt-based cleaners into your regular cleaning regimen:

Start Small
Begin by replacing just one or two of your go-to commercial cleaners with a salt-based alternative. This allows you to gradually adjust to using the new products without feeling overwhelmed.

Make Multi-Purpose Mixes
Creating versatile, salt-based cleaning solutions that can tackle multiple tasks can help streamline your cleaning process. Try mixing up batches of salt scrubs or sprays that you can reach for across different areas of the home.

Label and Store Properly
Be sure to properly label any salt-based cleaning products you make at home and store them safely, just as you would with any other household cleaner.

Experiment with Combinations
Don’t be afraid to get creative by combining salt with other natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, or essential oils. This allows you to customize the cleaning power and scent to your preferences.

Prioritize High-Impact Areas
Focus on using salt-based cleaners in areas of your home that see the most dirt, grime, and odour buildup, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and high-traffic floors.

Start Slowly with Delicate Surfaces
When using salt-based cleaners on more delicate surfaces like marble or hardwood, start with a small, inconspicuous test area first to ensure it won’t cause any damage.

By following these tips, you can easily integrate salt-based cleaning solutions into your regular household routines, allowing you to enjoy the many benefits of this versatile, natural cleaning agent.

Commercial Salt-Based Cleaning Products to Consider

If you’re looking to incorporate more salt-based cleaning products into your home but don’t want to make everything from scratch, there are several commercial options worth exploring:

Morton Salt Scrub– Made with pure, coarse sea salt
– Gently exfoliates and scrubs away dirt and grime
– Can be used on countertops, sinks, tubs, and more
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lemon Verbena Scrub Cleaner– Contains sea salt and lemon verbena essential oil
– Effective on tough messes like baked-on food
– Safe for use on a variety of surfaces
Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner, Beach Sage– Formulated with sea salt and plant-based ingredients
– Kills 99.9% of bacteria
– Leaves a fresh, essential oil-based scent
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda & Salt Scrub– Combines the cleaning power of baking soda and salt
– Gently scrubs away stuck-on grime and stains
– Safe for use on kitchen and bathroom surfaces


From scrubbing pots and pans to deodorizing carpets, salt’s diverse cleaning capabilities make it an invaluable, eco-friendly addition to any household’s arsenal of cleaning supplies. Whether you’re looking to reduce your reliance on harsh chemicals or simply want to tap into a more affordable, customizable cleaning solution, salt deserves a permanent spot in your cleaning caddy.

By harnessing the abrasive, absorptive, and antimicrobial properties of salt, you can tackle a wide variety of household cleaning tasks with ease. With the option to combine salt with other common ingredients or explore pre-made salt-based cleaning products, the possibilities for creating effective, personalized cleaning solutions are endless.

So the next time you reach for a commercial cleaner, consider reaching for the salt instead. Your wallet, your home, and the environment will thank you.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.