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A Full Guide To Bathroom Cleaning

The Family Handyman 2023-01-24 Aby Garvey

I've written extensively about cleaning your home and keeping it tidy. With bathrooms, I want the fastest path to clean.

I asked my longtime friend Becky Rapinchuk, an author and owner of the Clean Mama website, for her advice on bathroom cleaning. Rapinchuk is a natural-cleaning expert, so I knew she would have the best knowledge and hacks.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bathroom?

In general, you should clean your bathroom at least weekly. If you have a large family and one main bathroom, you'll need to clean more often. And, of course, a daily-use bathroom will require more frequent cleaning than one for guests.

Start by following the Weekly Bathroom Cleaning Routine below, and see if you're comfortable with how clean and tidy your bathroom stays. If it isn't clean enough, add in some of the Daily Bathroom Cleaning Tasks. If your bathroom has been neglected for a while, start with our Deep Cleaning Tasks.

Ready to start? Let's do it!

Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

Start by assembling the following tools and supplies:

  • Handled microfiber duster: If you have tall ceilings or high-hanging light fixtures, invest in a telescoping pole.
  • Cleaning cloths: Have at least one for each type of cleaning product you're using, plus a few spares. Rapinchuk recommends her cleaning cloths kit because it includes window, all-purpose and scrubbing cloths.
  • Streak-free glass cleaner.
  • A scrubbing agent: Bar Keepers Friend, baking soda or Rapinchuk's recipe for Sink Scrub works anywhere you need a little scrubbing power — tubs, showers, sinks and toilets.
  • Large plastic cup: For rinsing.
  • Multipurpose spray: If hard-water spots are a problem, Rapinchuk recommends a spray with vinegar.
  • Stone countertop spray: If necessary.
  • Disinfecting spray or wipes: Or try Rapinchuk's green disinfecting hack, a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Toilet brush and holder: Put a brush and holder in each bathroom so you don't have to carry them from room to room.
  • Commercial toilet bowl cleaner: Or for a greener option, use Castile Soap and Oxygen Whitener.
  • Large scrub brush: For tub and shower. Grab a grout brush, too.
  • Commercial daily shower spray: Or try Rapinchuk's DIY Daily Shower Spray of one cup water, 1/2-cup vodka or rubbing alcohol, and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil.
  • Shower squeegee.
  • Vacuum cleaner.
  • Microfiber deep clean mop: Cleans and disinfects floors with just water, which saves time.
  • Cleaning caddy: To transport supplies from bathroom to bathroom.
  • Dish soap.

Weekly Bathroom Cleaning Routine

© Image Source/Getty Images

Clear the decks

Start by clearing all flat surfaces. Remove items from the counter, top of the toilet, bathtub surround, etc. Place towels and bath mats in the hamper or drop them right into the washing machine.

Note: At least one appliance repair pro says bath mats should only be washed in coin-operated washing machines.

Dust

Before cleaning with water, remove dust, hair and powder from bathroom surfaces with your microfiber duster, working from high to low. Dusting first will make cleaning easier, plus you'll keep makeup and hair from going down the drain.

While your duster is out, check your fan vents, registers, light fixtures, walls and baseboards. Dust as needed.

Clean the mirror

Clean the mirror with glass-cleaning spray and a cleaning cloth. Then set the cloth aside.

Clean the sink and counter

Scrub your sink with your scrubbing cleanser and a cleaning cloth. Rinse with your plastic cup. Next, spray your countertop with a multipurpose cleaner or countertop spray and wipe clean using a third cloth.

Clean the fixtures

Shine faucets and handles with glass cleaner, then sanitize with a disinfecting spray or wipe.

Clean the toilet

Spray all surfaces of the toilet with your multipurpose cleaner and wipe clean. Next, open the toilet seat and cover and squirt toilet bowl cleaner up under the rim of the toilet. If your toilet needs whitening, sprinkle oxygen whitener in the bowl.

Use your toilet brush to scrub the toilet, starting from under the rim and working your way down. When you're finished, flush a second time to rinse the toilet brush. Finally, place the brush under the toilet seat to dry. When dry, spray the brush with disinfecting spray and place in the holder.

Clean the tub, shower stall and shower door

Moisten shower surfaces with your multipurpose spray and let it sit for a few minutes. Then sprinkle a little of your scrubbing powder onto any stains and scrub with your large brush.

Use the smaller brush and more scrubbing powder on the grout. Rinse all surfaces with water from the shower and/or a plastic cup.

Clean the floor

Vacuuming the floor and baseboards to remove dust, hair, etc. (Yes, it's OK to run the vacuum cleaner in the bathroom!) When done, run the microfiber mop head under tap water and ring out the excess. Attach the mop head to the handle and clean the floor.

If the mop head gets dirty before you're finished, remove it and run it under water a second time. Repeat the process until you're finished.

Sanitize surfaces

Sanitize all the places people touch — door handles, sink handles, switch plates and the toilet — with your antibacterial wipes or spray.

Finishing touches

Return items to the counter and put out fresh towels and a clean bathmat. Drop cleaning cloths in the hamper, empty the trash can and step back to admire your sparkling clean bathroom!

Daily Bathroom Cleaning Tasks

© Ekaterina Sidonskaya/Getty Images

To keep the bathroom clean between cleanings, Rapinchuk recommends the following steps:

  • Check/wipe counters.
  • Put toiletries away after using them.
  • Clean the toilet seat and give the bowl a quick clean, if needed. For the bowl, just drop in a scoop of oxygen whitener, walk away for a few minutes, then give it a quick scrub or flush. This will naturally clean and whiten the toilet.
  • Use your daily shower spray to keep soap scum and mildew at bay and to simplify your weekly shower cleaning. Or, after each person showers, ask them to grab a squeegee to remove excess water. This prevents water spots on tile, glass and fiberglass doors.

Deep Cleaning Tasks

The tasks below are recommended as needed. If you follow the weekly and daily cleaning tasks outlined above, you won't need to do these very often. (Can I get a woo-hoo on that one?) But if it's been a while since you've cleaned your bathroom and it needs some attention, these tasks are a great place to start.

Shower doors

If you have a lot of soap scum, start by wetting the shower doors with all-purpose spray or water. Sprinkle with a little bathroom scrub (baking soda and Castile soap work great) and scrub the glass with a brush. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Shower heads

Pour white vinegar into a ziplock bag, place the shower head in the bag and seal with a rubber band. Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Then remove it from the bag, scrub with a brush and rinse.

Caulk

According to Rapinchuk, if your caulk is damaged, cracked, peeling or moldy, it's time to replace it. Carefully cut out all the caulk with a utility knife. Then clean and dry thoroughly before re-caulking the area.

Hard water stains

White vinegar removes hard water stains and water spots. Pour the vinegar on a soft, clean cloth and wipe on the stain. Rinse and buff dry.

Light fixtures

Remove globes from light fixtures and hand wash with dish soap. Let the globes air-dry completely before reinstalling.

Shower curtains and window treatments

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for washing shower curtains and window treatments. Many shower curtains and liners can be tossed in the washing machine and dryer for easy cleaning. Replace standard shower curtain rings with double rings to make this task easier.

Walls, baseboards and doors

Wash with a multipurpose cleaner and a cleaning cloth.

Declutter

Clean out and organize bathroom cabinets, letting go of anything that's too old or you no longer use. Pitch expired makeup along with beauty products you tried but didn't like (i.e. self-tanner, hair products, etc.) Drop off old medicine at the pharmacy.

Store countertop items in trays, baskets or bins. This makes your counter look tidier and clear faster at cleaning time.

Storage containers

Use dish soap and hot water to wash your toothbrush holder, soap dishes and shower caddy. Clean trays and acrylic organizers with a multipurpose spray or glass cleaner.

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