By Natalia Hook
Getting the worst cleaning out of the way means tackling the bathroom. As with most tasks, breaking it down makes it much easier. These tips will show you how to clean a bathroom step-by-step using some of the best bathroom cleaning products and a little bit of elbow grease.
Find some old clothes that you don’t mind getting grimy. If you have long hair, put it up. Rubber gloves will protect your hands, and safety glasses will keep cleaning solutions from spattering in your eyes.
Before deep cleaning your bathroom, take a minute to assess your tiles, sink, and tub. Marble and stone are porous, and they shouldn’t be cleaned with acidic products that can damage them. Some surfaces may scratch or dull if scrubbed with abrasive cleansers or cleaning tools. If you’re not sure about the best care for your bathroom fixtures, try the manufacturer’s website, or check product labels to see if they’re safe for specific surfaces.
Gather Your Materials
If you have tried and true products, or homemade cleaner recipes, by all means, use them. If you’re looking for recommendations, or want to go eco-friendly and aren’t sure about products, try these:
- Mrs. Meyer’s Tub & Tile Cleaner
- Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner
- Baking soda
- Method Good for Wood (only needed for wooden vanities, towel racks, etc.)
As far as tools, these basics will cover most of your bases.
- Broom & dustpan
- Grout brush
- Scrub brush
- Rags or microfiber cloths
An old toothbrush and a shower squeegee are the only other items you may need.
Clear the Room
Remove anything that isn’t a permanent fixture and take everything out of the shower/bathtub. Open the door and window to get good air flow. No matter what cleaning products you use, it’s best to keep the space well ventilated.
Dry Clean First
There’s no sense in wetting down dust. Use a clean microfiber cloth or rag on smooth surfaces, and a dry brush for rougher surfaces, like the grouted edge of a tile backsplash. For small areas, like switch plates and the back edge of the sink, use an old toothbrush. After dusting all elevated surfaces, sweep the floor.
Tiled tub and shower spaces are often the grungiest areas of the bathroom. Months of steamy winter showers and often neglected weekly upkeep make the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, not to mention soap scum build up. Ewww!
My go-to product for deep cleaning porcelain and glass bathroom tiles is Mrs. Meyer’s Tub & Tile Cleaner. First, wet down the whole area by running the shower for about thirty seconds. Next, spray Mrs. Meyer’s on one wall in the shower, starting at the top of the tiled area and working your way down. Let it sit for a minute or two, then start at the top with your grout brush.
If your tiles are two inches wide or more, the best way to clean shower grout is to scrub the around each individual tile. Believe me, this will move a lot faster than you think. For narrower tiles, scrub the entire tiled area in the direction that covers the most grout (for horizontally laid tiles, scrub across, for vertically laid tiles scrub up and down.) Next, scrub in the opposite direction. Your goal is to get those sudsy bristles in contact with all the grout to remove mildew and mold.
Once that’s done, you can use either the same brush or the scrubby side of a sponge to do the tiles themselves. No need to respray; there’s plenty of cleanser on the wall already. If you have narrow tiles, guess what? You already scrubbed them while taking care of the grout, so you get to skip this step… unless your tiles are especially grungy. Then it’s best to go over them one more time.
The last step is, of course, rinsing. Start at the top and wash all that scurvy mold and mildew down the drain. What a difference! Now, move on to the next wall in the shower, then rinse and repeat until you’re done.
Glass doors look fantastic when they are clean, and awful when they are not. Figuring out how to clean a shower door of hard water stains and soap scum may be the toughest part of bathroom cleaning. But don’t worry. Your glass is going to be as glistening as your tile in short order.
Spray Mrs. Meyer’s Tub & Tile on the shower door, again letting it sit a few minutes. This time, give your grout brush a break and grab a rag or microfiber cloth. Using a circular motion and some elbow grease, rub your cloth all over the shower door, really working those suds across the glass. For crevices around handles and hinges, use a soft old toothbrush. Remember that abrasive tools can scratch or dull glass doors.
Next, rinse with clean water, and follow that up with a squeegee to dry (make sure your squeegee is clean.) After you do the inside of the shower door, move to the outside, and repeat the process. Now, stand back and admire the result. You can get the same shine on your mirror with just a spritz of the Tub & Tile cleaner on a microfiber cloth — no rinsing required.
If you have a shower curtain instead of a door, read the care instructions on the tag before laundering. Most can go in the washing machine, but drying instructions vary.
Tackling the Tub
When the question is how to clean the bathtub, my answer is good old-fashioned baking soda. Its mildly abrasive texture is great for grimy surfaces. Porcelain/ceramic, acrylic, and fiberglass can all be cleaned with baking soda, although for acrylic, it’s best to use a soft sponge instead of a brush. To clean a marble bathtub, skip both the baking soda and the brush. Use a non-abrasive, non-acidic cleaner, like Simple Green, with a soft sponge.
When using baking soda on the bathtub, dampen with a quick shower spritz, then sprinkle the soda generously on the bottom and sides. Use your trusty grout brush to scrub nooks and crannies like caulked edges, spa tub jets, and hardware. Follow up on all surfaces using a larger brush, or textured sponge, adding more water to the baking soda if needed. When you’re finished, rinse thoroughly so the baking soda leaves your tub smooth and clean without any residue.
After the shower and tub, I switch gears and move to Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner. It’s safe for a marble sink (or tub,) as well as most other surfaces, including tile and painted walls, and it’s incredibly eco-friendly. A kit comes with a gallon of concentrate and a spray bottle, with directions on how to mix different ratios for different jobs. I have found that the 10:1 water: concentrate solution works perfectly for most jobs.
For the sink, give a good spray and let it sit a minute or two, then wipe clean with a soft sponge. If your sink’s material can withstand abrasives, go ahead and use a scrubby or a brush, otherwise, stick with the gentler sponge and elbow grease. Just like with the shower door, use a soft toothbrush for tight areas, like around the faucet. Simple Green doesn’t require full-scale rinsing. Just run the sponge under warm water, squeeze it out, and damp wipe after cleaning.
Wall to Wall
From the sink, I move onto the bathroom walls. Start at the top of painted or tiled areas with a sponge and bucket of the same 10:1 Simple Green solution used on the sink. This moves faster for large areas
For mold or mildew, let the solution sit for a few minutes before damp wiping. On tile, you can scrub with a brush or scrubby, but be gentle on painted surfaces — just put more pressure behind a soft sponge, using circular motions. Don’t forget the door frame and window trim, and be sure to damp wipe all surfaces with a clean sponge or rag when you’re done.
Simple Green is, in my opinion, the best bathroom floor cleaner, especially because I have a pebbled floor. It can’t be cleaned with acidic detergents and has more grout than you can shake a sponge at. I clean the entire floor with Simple Green using the grout brush, starting at one end and working my way across in a circular motion. This method also works well for floors with small tiles.
For floors with large tiles, scrub the grout around each tile, then use a larger brush or scrubby sponge to do the entire floor area. A quick way to damp wipe afterward is with a sponge mop, or you can do it by hand with an old towel. For slate or marble flooring, play it safe and get the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.
Take on the Toilet
Cleaning the toilet is everyone’s least favorite task for obvious reasons. If you don’t keep up with weekly cleaning, Simple Green can help, along with these toilet bowl cleaning tips.
Start by cleaning all the outer surfaces: the tank, the base, and the top and underside of the seat. Be sure to get into the crevices around the screw caps and the seat hinges where grime collects with a grout brush. A sponge can be used for the rest, scrubby side for stubborn spots.
When you’re finished, dump the bucket of Simple Green solution down the toilet. This will bring the water level way down, allowing you clean the bowl. Mix a stronger solution, the 2:1, and spray the entire inside of the bowl, including under the rim. Let it sit for 1-5 minutes, scrub vigorously with the toilet brush, and then flush. Ta-da!
If you have a wooden vanity or towel rack, don’t forget to show them some TLC as well. Wipe all wooden surfaces down with a slightly dampened rag or microfiber cloth to remove surface dirt. Next, apply Method Good for Wood polish and conditioner. Spray it onto a dry cloth, and buff it into the wood with a circular motion. For dusty corners and detail work, spritz a cotton swab. A cotton swab can fit into those tight little spaces that a cloth can’t. Finally, wipe with a clean cloth to remove any residue. Beautiful!
Checking the bathroom off your to-do list is a great feeling, and if you stay on top of this chore and do it regularly, it won’t take nearly as much time and labor to clean it the next time. You can enjoy a fresh and clean bathroom every day by simplifying bathroom cleaning and using the same products every time you clean it.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Natalia Hook and www.shutterstock.com