Considering what we put them through each day, sinks, showers, tubs and toilets deserve special cleaning attention. Thankfully, modern plumbing fixtures are designed to make the job of bathroom cleaning as easy as possible.
We asked home-efficiency expert Cynthia Townley Ewer, author of Houseworks, to explain the best way to clean and disinfect bathroom fixtures.
From toothpaste dribbles to overspray from hair products, the lowly sink endures a daily barrage of dirt and grime. Keep it sparkling back at you with regular cleaning.
Right for the job. Use all-purpose bathroom cleaner to remove light soil and film. For more hardened deposits, abrasive or soft-scrub cleaners may be used, as they will be easy to rinse from ceramic (vitreous china) surfaces. Cleaners formulated with bleach will remove toothpaste dribbles and sanitize surfaces, too. Keep bathroom cleaning green by using homemade cleaners. They’ll make your bathroom sparkle and shine without harsh chemicals — or a harsh price tag.
On the edge. Clean the rim and fixtures with a disinfecting spray glass cleaner or all-purpose bathroom cleaner. Buff fixtures shiny and dry with a fresh cleaning cloth.
Soap scum, bath oil, hair products and body soil combine forces to assault the shining surface of the shower and tub, while tub rims, fixtures and faucets provide hiding places for moisture, mold and mildew. Put the job off and deposits harden and ossify, and mildew and mold take up residence in dark corners. Harness time and cleaning power to make short work of cleaning the shower and tub.
Spray and stand. Before cleaning the rest of the bathroom, spray the tub area with a generous layer of all-purpose bathroom cleaner, and allow the product to stand while you clean elsewhere. The standing time helps the cleanser to dissolve oils and soap scum, so you’ll need less elbow grease to remove it.
Get scrubbing. Use abrasive scrubbing pads to remove bathtub rings or deposits on shower floors. Tile brushes scrub tile grout and reach into cracks and corners, while the handle protects knuckles from accidental contact with the tub. A cleaning toothbrush does a quick job of removing buildup deposits around tub fixtures or faucet.
Rinse clean. A detachable showerhead allows you to rinse off cleaner quickly and cleanly. If you don’t have one, stock your cleaning tote with a removable rubber showerhead that attaches to the bathtub tap. Commonly used for shampooing hair or bathing pets, they’re inexpensive and make it easier to rinse tub and shower walls after you clean.
These surfaces need special treatment. Clean them with a nonabrasive cleaner such as an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, pine oil or baking soda. Avoid abrasive cleansers or scrubbing pads because they may scratch or dull the finish.
Cloudy glass shower doors may be cleaned with full-strength white vinegar or a commercial lime and scale remover. Use good ventilation and protect skin and clothing when using these products.
Cleaning the toilet isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but where would we be without it? I’ll tell you: back in the outhouse. Try these ideas to keep it clean and inviting:
Take your time. Place granulated or liquid toilet bowl cleaner into the bowl, and let the cleaner go to work. Standing time is necessary to dissolve deposits and kill germs, so don’t cut the time short.
Brush up. A good bowl brush is a must. If yours is flattened or mashed, replace it; you need those bristles bristling to do a good job. Curved bowl brushes reach up and under the toilet rim to scour away hidden deposits.
Scrub up. If the toilet develops a stubborn ring that regular cleaning won’t cure, bring on the pumice stone! This natural stone is porous and crumbles. Rub the stone directly on the ring to remove the deposit.
Disinfect. Use a disinfecting spray cleaner or all-purpose bathroom cleaner to spray toilet rims, seat and lid, tank and bowl exterior. Be sure to check the label for the recommended standing time; antibacterial cleaning products require a certain amount of wet exposure to kill germs. Wipe clean and dry with fresh cleaning cloths.
Drips and dribbles. These are a predictable hazard in a home containing boys — of any age — and can cause odor problems and floor damage if urine is allowed to stand at the base of the toilet. Use disinfecting cleaner and the cleaning toothbrush to rout out stray dribbles — or assign the job to the manly offenders.