Rhubarb Vinegar Stain Remover

by Ben N on July 16, 2013

I don’t know about you, but modern chemicals drive me crazy! Why does EVERYTHING have to be scented, flavored, and colored to such an extreme that it’s toxic!?!

The worst one is bathroom cleaners! The typical modern chemical bathroom cleaner is so powerful that I SIMPLY CAN NOT go in the bathroom after it’s been treated! And that’s bad, because we only have the one bathroom!

However, at our house, we have very hard water. There’s just an extremely high mineral content. Even with a water softener, the calcium and especially iron really build up fast, discoloring the shower, sink, and toilet bowl.

Which got me thinking, “What’s in those industrial cleaners anyways?” I did a ┬ásearch and found out the the important ingredient in “Kaboom”, “CLR”, and other cleaners is something called oxalic acid. Hmmmmm… That sounds familiar for some reason. Er, now I remember. That’s the same stuff that’s in rhubarb, which is why you don’t eat the leaves or roots, or make pie at certain times of year.

Well heck, I have a rhubarb plant in the back yard. Could I make a bathroom cleaner  to rival the power of the industrial ones, but from a natural source, and WITHOUT all the extra chemicals? YOU BET!

I headed out to my back yard, and lopped a large rhubarb leaf off its stem. Back in my kitchen, I shredded it up by hand into small pieces. I put the pieces into a mason jar, and the poured household white vinegar into the jar to the top. The idea is that tearing open the leaves frees up the juices inside, which contains the oxalic acid. Soaking the shredded leaves allows the acid to dissolve into the vinegar.

I put a lid on the jar, and set it off to the side to soak for a few days.

After that, I strained the mixture into a spray bottle, and composted the leaves. I now had a ready-to-use spray cleaner, but would it work?

My shower is white tile, with light-colored grout. OK, at this point, it’s orange-ish tile, with even orangier grout. I sprayed on some of the cleaner and let it just soak for a minute. I then gave a light scrubbing. WOW! The mineral stains came right off!

But then I also wondered, was it the cleaner, just the vinegar, or even just the scrubbing action? So, I set up an experiment. I ran two strips of masking tape down the wall of the shower, to divide it into three sections. In one, I just used water and light scrubbing. In the second, I did the same, but with plain vinegar, and in the third I used the rhubarb vinegar.

The results were pretty impressive. The rhubarb vinegar really did clean considerably better than the other two alternatives. That, and I no longer have to avoid the bathroom for hours on cleaning day!

Like this eco-tip? Let me know, and share it with your friends!

PS: This IS a bathroom cleaner. Do NOT drink the stuff. No joke. Properly label it and store it with your other household cleaners and chemicals. (Not your fridge!) This stuff isn’t salad dressing. You might want to wear gloves too!

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Not Far From The Tree
June 7, 2016 at 12:18 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaqulyn Culp September 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

OMG!!!!! You are SO fantastic!! I make my own household cleaners also. I’ve done citrus, lemon/mint, orange/tarragon, even tried mango!!! All this with vinegar added to the jar, just as you did. I AM going to try this today!!! I just picked the fall rhubarb from a friend’s house, to can; so now I’m gonna ask for some leaves!! Plus I can make her a batch to give back for the rhubarb lol.

2 Sophia July 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I was just wondering if it would be possible to add essential oils for a better smell?

3 Scrapiana May 18, 2017 at 3:14 am

This is a fantastic tip! I’ve been soaking a shredded rhubarb leaf and am all set to try it – as soon as I can locate an empty spray bottle – as I live in a very hard water area too. Thanks. PS Have you tried that old rhubarb (stem) remedy to remove rust stains in clothing etc? I’m also giving this a shot. It’s a little counterintuitive, because rhubarb can also stain. So, will be interesting to see how that works.

4 admin May 23, 2017 at 9:50 am

I have NOT tried it on clothing. Maybe I’ll give it a shot sometime on some work clothes I don’t care about, just in case it doesn’t work or stains itself.

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