Looking for nontoxic alternatives to harsh chemicals? Trying to steer clear of bleach and other products that emit hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? You’ll love the effectiveness and safety of pumice!
Pumice for Cleaning
Pumice is my go-to when it comes to household cleaning. I use it on tile and toilet bowls. I add powdered pumice to baking soda for extra scrubbing power and even use dental-grade pumice powder for tooth polishing!
The word pumice is derived from the Latin word pumex, meaning foam. Pumice is a volcanic rock with a high content of water and gases resulting in a light, foam-like material.
Pumice is commonly used in construction materials such as concrete block. The porousness of pumice makes it an ideal soil conditioner. Pumice can be added to washing machines to create stone-washed jeans!
Steve Halladay sells Powerhouse Pumice on Amazon.com. He agreed to answer a few questions about pumice and its effectiveness.
1. How is pumice useful around the home?
The biggest use is for cleaning hard-water stains from porcelain. These stains can be very difficult to remove, and chemical cleaners don’t seem to work well. It is important to be careful when you use pumice to clean—it is an abrasive cleaner. So I usually test what I am about to clean in some small hidden area to make sure it won’t scratch the actual surface.
Besides porcelain, I have used it for cleaning steel on my BBQ, golf clubs, and rusty hand tools. I have found pumice very helpful for cleaning the baked-on stains on Pyrex (the glass-looking baking pans). I have cleaned stains off my concrete driveway and I use it for sundry things around my garage and workshop. I have even recently learned that a car dealership near my home uses pumice to clean pet hair from the interior of the cars they work on, by gently passing the pumice over the seats, etc.
2. What is one thing people don’t typically know about pumice?
There are different types of pumice. Natural pumice is volcanic and usually forms when silicon gets heated by lava. Some areas mine this natural pumice and use it for a variety of applications. However, the pumice I sell is synthetic. The main ingredient, silicon—or sand—is the same in both natural and synthetic pumice.
The synthetic pumice works better for cleaning because its properties are more consistent, and synthetic pumice is not as massively porous. Synthetic pumice is often made from recycled glass. The manufacturer “foams” the glass to a specific density.
For my uses, I want high-density pumice. I believe this lets the pumice last longer and doesn’t seem so crumbly. However, it is important not to get the pumice too dense because then it will scratch the surface.
3. How did you discover pumice and what drives you to keep offering it to customers?
My wife and I live in the mountains in an old silver mining community. As a result, the water is very hard. Difficult stains build up in just a couple of weeks. For years, I would spend hours every month trying to make sure I kept the stains under control. After my wife heard about pumice, she gave me a piece to try. I think I remember kind of rolling my eyes and thinking that she just didn’t understand how nothing works on these stains. Two minutes later I realized how wrong I had been. The stains were gone and I couldn’t believe it.
I wasn’t completely satisfied with the products that were then offered. They were too crumbly and I wanted something that was sturdy. I looked at the reviews of the various products and noticed that other people were complaining about the same thing. So I set out to try to develop a pumice cleaning stick that would be just what I want.
I love getting emails from customers who consider me to be their new best friend for solving their hard-water stain problem.
Sources of Pumice
- Pumice Cleaning Stone with Handle (Steve’s product)
- Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover
- U.S. Pumice Heavy Duty Scouring Stick
- Pumie Scouring Stick
- Pumice Powder
Pumice Cleaning Tips
As mentioned above, be sure to test a small area before cleaning with pumice. Some homes are constructed with fiberglass or plastic fixtures instead of porcelain. Pumice can scratch or dull these surfaces.
I have noticed the durability of the synthetic pumice when it comes to cleaning toilets. The handle is an added bonus for accessibility. After cleaning the toilets I use a DIY Toilet Cleaner Bomb for added benefit. (Find the recipe here.)
Pumice works well for surface mold (see Got Surface Mold? 10 Natural Solutions) and on grout, as seen below.
I recently tried pumice on the bottom of our favorite Le Creuset pan. I find pumice to be more effective than steel wool for something like this.
I can’t say enough about synthetic or natural pumice when it comes to household cleaning projects. There are no hazardous fumes, and given the affordability and effectiveness, pumice makes an excellent addition to your cleaning regimen!
- 63Trying to use fewer chemicals in your home? Are you frustrated with the higher prices of healthier options? Switching to natural cleaning and personal care products need not be expensive. Consider adding these five products to your regimen and enjoy the savings. Five Natural Cleaning Products 1. Vinegar White vinegar…
- 58Every Saturday morning I grab this tote and scour the bathrooms using chemical-free, inexpensive products. I'm free of hazardous vapors and my bathrooms still sparkle! I use this mesh shower tote to allow breathing room, but any tote will work. Here are the products it contains: Baking soda. Keep the…
- 54DIY Magnesium Balm is a simple and effective way to add magnesium to your daily health regimen. Transdermal magnesium bypasses the digestive tract, making the nutrient more bioavailable without the danger of overdoing it. (See The Health Benefits of Transdermal Magnesium.) DIY Magnesium Balm requires magnesium oil, which is simply…
Emily @ Recipes to Nourish says
Pumice is awesome stuff! My mom used to use it when I was growing up. I need to get some. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Savoring Saturdays gluten free linky party. Hope you’ll join us again this week.
can pumice be used to clean itchy skin?@
Andrea Fabry says
Pumice is great for exfoliating skin, so I would think it might help the itchiness. Not sure on that one!
I am looking for a “natural product” to clean the scum off of my bathtub. At the end of every day I soak in Epson salts in my tub to relax and to clean myself before I hop into bed. All I use is my fragrance free bar of Jason soap and the Epson salts and yet there is a tough-to-clean scum ring left on my tubs surface.
Would the pumice work for that? Does the pumice you talk about in the blog post come in a “power” form? I do worry that the pumice “bar” might scratch my tub’s surface… Or maybe you have another toxic free suggestion for me. I have used Barkeepers Friend power but worry that it might not be safe enough…
I recently discovered your site as a result of being on the FB mold site. Your kind and intelligent demeaner on your blog is SO appreciated. Thank you so much for the work you do!!
Andrea Fabry says
I so appreciate that encouragement, Donna! Pumice does come in powder form and yes, you can probably control it better. I have had no scratch marks in all my experience, but have not tested it on all tub materials. Bar Keepers seems like a pretty safe product, honestly. The other combination I like is castile soap and baking soda. It makes a nice soft scrub and it’s what I use most often in the tub.
Should I try it on glass shower doors covered with hard water stains?
Andrea Fabry says
You can try a spot perhaps. I’m not sure. That’s a great question!
I am wondering what is in your synthetic pumice. I always want to know the ingredients in anything I use. I ordered some and was really shocked to see that you did not have any of the information required on products sold in the US. Well, anyway I think it is required. It doesn’t even say where it is manufactured?? A little strange. Please give me this information. Thank you,
An informed Consumer
Andrea Fabry says
I’m not sure on this, Victoria. I would contact the company directly through Amazon perhaps.
Mary Siegismund says
What type of pumice can be used to clean the inside of an oven?
Andrea Fabry says
A pumice stick would work great! I’ve used it on occasion.
Thank you for posting your article. I am trying to get some tile grout clean. Should i use the pumice stone dry or wet? Thanks
Andrea Fabry says
I find it works either way, Chan.
I’m a dental hygienist and i was researching using a pumice stone on my grout and found your blog. Please do not use it on your teeth. When we polish teeth with pumice it actually removes enamel. You don’t want to use this regularly. As your remove the white enamel your teeth will become more yellow (and more sensitive) as you get closer to the next layer of tooth. Anyway, the stones were great on toilets and I was hoping to try it on my grout.