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!