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How to Clean Your Bathroom

It’s the one room you shrink from scrubbing. No more! 6 ways to make your bathroom a sparkling, sanitary sanctuary.

Clean weekly and daily

Daily Wipe up toothpaste blobs in the sink right away (yeah you); don’t let spit splatter sit on the mirror; clean up spilled powder or post blow-dried hair; and discreetly eliminate any unfortunate toilet tarnish. This is where a packet of wipes or paper towels and cleaner under the sink come into play. When supplies are on hand, the cleanup is easy and quick.

Weekly

A total scrub-down is essential, but it takes way less time if you’ve done your daily.

Don’t just clean, de-clutter

Ditch any products that don’t work (the skin cream that promised to erase stretch marks); you never use (the pricey hair gel you were guilted into buying); or are too old (caked mascara and that half-used bottle of Pepto-Bismol from 2002). Pay attention to your collection of OTC meds. Using them after the expiration date probably won’t harm you, they just won’t help you, as medicine loses its effectiveness over time. Use shallow baskets, trays, or totes to organize items under the skin and on the vanity counter. Keep items you use often within reach and less-used ones out of sight.

Be patient

We don’t have lots of time to read the fine print, but pay attention to the directions that come with cleaners. Most need time to stand to effectively dissolve dirt and kill germs. If the label reads, “let stand for 10 minutes,” we suggest you heed the manufacture’s advice.

Organize your stuff

If you arrive well armed to battle the germs in the john, the job will go by quicker and more efficiently. Carry your tools with you (or store them neatly under the sink) in a plastic bucket or portable tray.

Cleaning products

Pare down your cleaners to these four:

- Multisurface cleaner spray (keep some premoistened wipes on hand too)

-Toilet bowl cleaner

-Tile and tub spray cleaner

-Powdered abrasive cleaner

Cleaning gadgets

More is more:

-Cotton cleaning cloths to wipe fixtures dry

-Double-duty sponge with one absorbent side and one abrasive side

-Rubber-lipped squeegee for mirrors and glass

-Tile brush with thick bristles for the shower and tub

-Toothbrush for tiny but nasty spaces

-Wide mop for the floor (we like ones with premoistened, disposable pads, but an all-purpose cleaner will do)

-Rubber gloves -- a must to keep manicures intact

-A heavy-duty apron to protect clothes (we love the cleaning apron at TheCleanTeam.com)

Tip: Get one with pockets for small tools or your iPod. We would never get through a scrub-down without a specially designed cleaning playlist.

Battle the biggest bathroom offenders often

We’re not talking about your husband or potty-training toddler. The shower or tub and toilet are your chief enemies.

The shower stall gets it all: mineral deposits from hard water, splashes, soap scum, mold, mildew, body soil, and shampoo residue -- not really sounding like an easy place to get clean. It gets inundated with moisture and residue every day. No wonder mold likes to live in your grout and doorsill runners. The last person to shower should make a habit of giving the tub a quick spritz of an ammonia-based after-shower spray so the area stays free of mineral deposits and mold. (It also helps to use a squeegee after every shower to wipe the walls and shower door dry.)

What do you think is the most germ-ridden area? We say the toilet brush, but that’s just part of it. It’s the whole commode! Regular use of antibacterial wipes can help keep toilet seats, rims, tops, and floor spaces clean (yes, it’s so grimy you need to clean bacteria traces off the floor and around the bowl as well as the exterior of the loo on a regular, if not daily, basis). And there’s no way around the brush that so many of us find offensive. Use a sturdy, bristled model and replace when it looks limp. In addition to scrubbing, stubborn rings can be eradicated with some rubs of a pumice stone -- yeah, the kind for rough feet. Use it gently though as it can scratch the toilet.

20 minutes to clean.

1. Remove the wastebasket and place it outside the bathroom; squirt cleaner in toilet and let stand; spray shower and bathtub walls and let stand; then sprinkle powdered cleaner in tub.

2. At the sink, dust light fixtures; spray and squeegee mirrors; spray and wipe towel racks and toothbrush holder; spray faucets and counter and let stand; scrub and rinse sink, making sure to get around fixtures between the rim of the sink and the counter.

3. Wipe and rinse counter and faucets; spray all toilet surfaces and scrub inside bowl; rinse and wipe surfaces dry.

4. Scrub shower walls and tub, then rinse clean; mop floors; dust baseboard; and empty and replace wastebasket.

Five Dirt-Destroying Products We Love
For the tub: Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser, $2. This classic non-scratching powder is all natural and rids the tub of unsightly rings.
For the shower: Method shower daily clean tub+tile, $5. A daily post-shower spray makes that weekly cleanup an absolute breeze.
For quick cleanups: Caldrea Surface Cleaner Wipes, sweet pea scent, $10. We made messes on purpose just to use these handy scented cloths.
For the toilet: Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, mint scent $5. This thick liquid clings to the rim and the unusual smell is a refreshing change and is not overpowering.
For everything: Fantastik Multi-Purpose Cleaner, $4. Use it all over the house to dissolve dirt and freshen any surface.

Nestpert: Cynthia Townley Ewer, author of Houseworks: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos

-- Alonna Friedman

See More: Cleaning & Organizing