The Complete Guide to Cleaning the Bathroom

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The bathroom should be among your top cleaning priorities. A dirty bathroom can not only smell bad, but also can spread disease. Knowing some bathroom cleaning hacks and tips can help you to efficiently and effectively tackle a dirty bathroom and maintain a clean one.

This article will cover a quite a bit of information, including some bathroom cleaning hacks to help organize your cleaning schedule and a bathroom cleaning checklist.

Cleaning bathrooms might not be pleasant, but it doesn’t have to take all day and hopefully this collection of bathroom cleaning hacks will see to that.

Make a Bathroom Cleaning Schedule

There are a lot of steps in cleaning the bathroom, and keeping a schedule is the first bathroom cleaning hack to stay on top of all of them. The bathroom gets dirty quickly, so you should clean it weekly. This could mean doing specific tasks through the week instead of all at once.

One way you could split up you cleaning would be by which products and tools you need. For example, the same products can be used to clean the faucet on the sink and the bathtub faucet.

Another way to split up tasks could be by area. For example, clean the shower and bathtub one day, the toilet another, the sink and mirror another, and the floor on another day.

Make a schedule that makes sense to you and that will have a manageable amount of cleaning to do. Not everyone has time to clean the entire room in one day–especially if you have more than one bathroom. 

Get the Cleaning Supplies

You will need some tools for the following cleaning hacks for the bathroom. No matter what kind of schedule you use, you’ll need to gather these bathroom cleaning products.

There is debate as to what the best cleaning supplies for the bathroom are. Some claim that natural cleaning products for the bathroom are best, but others say that they lack the often needed strength of chemical-based commercial cleaning products.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, there are plenty of good cleaning products for bathrooms available to purchase or to make yourself with a few household ingredients.

get the supplies essential for cleaning the bathroom

1. Natural Cleaning Products for the Bathroom

There are some powerful DIY bathroom cleaning solutions out there, but most seem to revolve around two key, natural substances: baking soda and vinegar. The baking soda can be sprinkled on various surfaces and worked into a paste with some water and a cloth.

Vinegar is more complicated because sometimes pure vinegar is the cure, and other times, you need to make a diluted solution. Be prepared for both, and have a bowl or bucket of pure vinegar, and another for a 50-50 vinegar-water solution. Don’t be afraid to soak a few cloths in each.

A few spray bottles will also be very useful for distributing your vinegar-water solutions.

Lemon can be added to baking soda pastes to give your bathroom that citrusy clean smell, and can also clean chrome fixtures instead of vinegar.

A bit of a rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad to apply it with are also good to have if your mirror is particularly dirty.

​2. Chemical Cleaning Products for the Bathroom

A chemical cleaner, such as Calcium Lime and Rust Remover, can be a much more powerful way to tackle calcium-caked bathroom fixtures. All-purpose cleaners can also be used in a variety of places when cleaning the bathroom. You will also need a glass cleaning product.

Cleaning the bathroom with bleach is another common practice. Bleach has existed for a long time and it has many helpful applications in cleaning the bathroom. However, there are some health concerns to consider, so you might not want to use it for everything. Make sure to follow the shower cleaning tips that are on the back of the bottle. 

If you have tiled floors or shower walls, you might want to keep some oxygen bleach on hand. Chlorine bleach is also effective, but much more dangerous and can discolor the grout over time. There are also commercial tile cleaners, which are typically bleach based, but all purpose cleaners will generally work with tile as well.

While baking soda will do for a toilet cleanser, there are many good commercial options as well if you’d like something scented, more powerful, or in liquid form.

​3. Get the Right Brushes

Having the right brush can make scrubbing off gunk quick and simple. There are a variety of bathroom cleaning brushes on the market, but some great bathroom cleaning tools were not intended to fulfill that role. For example, and old toothbrush can do the same job as many specialized brushes, though not as effectively.

A bathtub cleaning brush usually has a long handle, allowing you to clean the tub without too much hassle or taking too much time. Sometimes, they double as shower cleaning brushes.

If you have a tiled floor or shower walls, you will need a grout brush to clean them. A grout brush is small and very stiff, and they sometimes have long handles. Unlike many cleaning brushes, an old toothbrush does not suffice as a replacement because the bristles are too soft.

use the right brushes in cleaning bathroom

The best shower cleaning brush should be able to clean the walls of the shower and ideally the nozzles of the shower-head.

A toilet cleaning brush is vital to have. Some toilet brushes are curved, allowing you to clean hard to reach places.

​4. Get Plenty of Cloths

Generally speaking, flat-weave microfiber cloths are the best cleaning cloths for bathrooms. However, any soft cloth will do in a pinch. Be sure to have a few–you will need a fresh cloth for each kind of cleaner you use, as well as clean ones to dry things off with.

Disposable bathroom cleaning wipes are another option. In some cases, such as cleaning the toilet or some particularly fierce gunk, you may risk ruining your precious cloth. They often come presoaked in a cleaning solution, which can save some of your cleaning products and replace a cloth in many situations, but the wipes will not be enough completely replace a few cleaning cloths and products.

Here are some bathroom cleaning hacks to help you decide which things to clean together. This approach makes sense when you have several bathrooms, or are cleaning other areas of the house with similar features.

You can use the same products and methods with a few areas in the bathroom. Cleaning bathroom fixtures is a good example of this because calcium and other minerals can build up on your all of your fixtures, especially if you have hard water.

The best natural cleaner for your fixtures is white vinegar, but some people have more success with commercial calcium removers. Refer to the checklist below for more information.

Tubs and sinks are all typically made of the same material. This is why the tub and sink can theoretically be cleaned with the same tools and supplies. However, bathtubs are much larger than sinks, and tools made specifically to clean bathtubs are designed with that in mind; using a bathtub brush will be much faster than scrubbing the tub with an old toothbrush.

The Bathroom Cleaning Checklist

The final bathroom cleaning hack is the following checklist. They are ordered as if you are cleaning the bathroom in one day, working from area to area, but that is only a recommendation–apply these bathroom cleaning hacks and instructions to your own cleaning schedule.

1. Clean the Bathroom Walls

It’s easy to forget about walls. The walls should be dusted with a microfiber cloth every few months. They should be washed with water a bit of dish soap about once a year.

Make sure to test clean a small area of your wall to make sure that cleaning them won’t cause any harm. However, bathroom wall coverings must be able to withstand steam, so you should have nothing to worry about when cleaning the walls with water and dish soap.

Don’t forget about the bathroom exhaust fan. It can be cleaned easily with a can of air–the same kind you would use to clean the dust out of a computer.

2. Clean the Mirror

There’s nothing like a clean mirror. Use some rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad to clean up thick grime, such as cosmetics or toothpaste.

Next, apply glass cleaner or your diluted vinegar solution (see above). Then, working from left to right and top to bottom, wipe the mirror with your cloth. That should be all it takes to keep your mirror looking good.

A flat-weave microfiber cloth will not leave streaks on your mirror. Another option would be to use a squeegee. Unfortunately, newspaper ink is not the same as it once was, leaving many newspapers ineffective for cleaning glass.

3. Clean the Bathroom Countertop and Sink

Bathroom sinks are often built into a counter-top. The counter-top is less likely to gather grime than the sink, but can be cleaned with the same tools. The following instructions should be fine with most sinks, excluding those made from copper or stone.

Clean the sink fixture first. Unless it is particularly dirty, some warm water and dish soap should be enough. If calcium or other minerals have built up, wipe them away with a vinegar-soaked cloth or a calcium remover. If you’re using a commercial calcium remover, make sure to follow the printed instructions carefully.

how to clean bathroom sink and countertop

Now, for the counter-top and sink. Wet the area with warm water, add a pinch of baking soda (and maybe a squeeze of lemon), and work it with your cleaning cloth or brush until it forms a kind of paste. The baking soda has the power to remove toothpaste, soap scum, hair, cosmetics, and most anything else your sink is subjected to.

You can use an old toothbrush to get into the caulk sealed areas. Rinse and dry the sink, making sure that all the baking soda has been removed.

Next, use the diluted white vinegar and water solution (see above) and a cloth to wipe everything down again. Remember those volcano science projects in school? That’s baking soda and vinegar–the reaction is safe, and if you hadn’t cleaned away all the baking soda, you may see it happen on your sink and counter.

Note: if your bathroom sink is clogged, baking soda and vinegar can unclog it, so don’t worry about the reaction occurring in the drain.

Finally, rinse everything with warm water and a bit of dish soap. With a copper or stone sink, this would be the only step in cleaning (though owners of a stone sink may want to invest in cleaning solutions made specifically for stone sinks).

4. Clean the Toilet

Cleaning the toilet can be fairly unpleasant, but these toilet cleaning tips should make it more bearable. Keep in mind these bathroom cleaning hacks for the toilet won’t cut down on the tasks you need to do, but cut down on the time needed to perform them all.

First, remove everything near the toilet in case there’s any splashing. Next, add your toilet cleanser of choice or pour a cup of baking soda into the toilet.

While the cleanser or baking soda sits in the bowl, close the lid and clean the outside of the toilet. Starting from the top, spray the toilet with your cleaner of choice or a vinegar-water solution and wipe it down. Make sure to clean the tank, the handle, where it meets the floor, and everywhere else.

Next, clean the toilet seat. Spray the top, bottom, lid, and rim of the toilet with cleaner and wipe it down. Don’t be afraid to get out a screwdriver and remove the seat for a deep cleaning. By now, the cleaner inside the bowl should have done its work.

Using the toilet brush, scrub from the top of the bowl down, and then the hole. Flush the toilet with the lid down to avoid letting anything splash out. Now, over the newly cleaned bowl, clean the toilet brush by pouring a bit of bleach or other disinfectant on the bristles of the toilet brush, let it sit for a few seconds, and rinse.

Unless you’re also planning on cleaning the floor, replace the items you moved away earlier. Another toilet-related bathroom cleaning hack: pour some kind of disinfectant inside your toilet brush holder so it will be clean the next time you reach for it.

5. Clean the Shower

Gather together the ​shower cleaning tools to get ready for these shower cleaning tips. You’ll need a shower cleaning brush or an old toothbrush, vinegar or calcium remover, a few cloths, and, if you have a tiled shower wall, your grout cleaning tools.

Start with cleaning the shower head. Calcium buildup on your shower head can be unsightly and reduce water pressure, also causing your shower head to clog.

Many shower heads have little rubber nozzles which can be gently scrubbed clean with fingers or a toothbrush, but a shower head brush is best. When you’re deep cleaning the bathroom or dealing with a particularly resilient calcium buildup, it’s time to move up either white vinegar or your commercial cleaner of choice.

​If you have an old shower head, you might want to upgrade to a new handheld shower head. You’d be surprised by how powerful and affordable you can pick one up for, and how easy they are to install.

  • Put some white vinegar or cleaning product into a plastic bag, tie it off, and let it soak for a few hours or overnight. Another option is to remove the shower head from the pipe and let the whole thing soak in a bucket.
  • After cleaning, run the shower for a few minutes to drain out any leftover cleaning product.
  • Next, clean the shower walls. Unless they are tiled and have grout, simply wipe them down with a vinegar-soaked cloth or a commercial calcium remover.

If your shower walls are tiled with grout, look to the section 7 to get some tips for cleaning bathroom grout. Keep in mind that most shower curtains are machine washable. Try adding a towel or two to the load so they can scrub your shower curtain.

guide to cleaning the bathroom

6. Clean the Bathtub

Start with cleaning the bathtub fixtures. The bathtub faucet can first be cleaned with warm water and bit of dish soap.

If that wasn’t enough, try applying a solution of a half white vinegar and half water to the faucet with a cloth. While it should be safe, first just clean a relatively hidden spot to make sure it doesn’t damage the finish of the fixture.

If you are using a commercial cleaner to clean your bathroom fixtures, make sure to follow the instructions on the label.

Next, make sure everything is out of the tub and get your tub cleaning products and tub cleaning brush together to clean the tub itself. The following bathtub cleaning tips should apply to just about any assortment of cleaners, brushes, and cloths you choose.

Apply your choice of cleaner: a vinegar-water solution in a spray bottle, a tub cleaning product, or an all purpose cleaner. For the vinegar-water solution, allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Make sure to follow the instructions for commercial cleaners.

After the cleaner has gone to work, it’s time to loosen up the grime with your tub cleaning brush or and old toothbrush. A tub cleaning brush will allow you to cover more area quickly.

Rinse everything with water, and dry it by wiping it down with a clean, dry cloth.

If your tub drains slowly, try sprinkling some baking soda and pouring some vinegar down the drain. Close the lid to the drain, and after a few minutes, rinse it out with hot water. You could also use a commercial drain cleaning product.

7. Clean the Floor

There are two primary methods for cleaning bathroom floors. One method is for floors with tiles and grout, and the other is for everything else.

A key difference being that vinegar, with it’s multitude of uses, is far from the best product for cleaning bathroom tiles while it is suitable for other bathroom flooring.

Grab your grout brush and grout cleaner (see above)–if you don’t have a grout brush, any small, stiff brush will do. Follow the instructions on your commercial cleaner–you will likely need to apply the cleaner to grout, scrub it with the brush, and rinse and dry.

For the tiles themselves, wipe them down with a vinegar solution or an all purpose cleaner. Be careful with vinegar–it can damage the grout.

You can also grab a great powered tile floor mop, which will use steam to clean your tile flooring and grout. They work really well.

If your bathroom floor is not tiled, the only difference between cleaning bathroom floors and any other non-carpeted floors are the tight spaces in the bathroom.

In addition, bathrooms are generally a bit small for long handled mops and wipes, so sometimes it is easier to wipe the floor with a vinegar solution or an all purpose cleaner–you will need to do that for the places your mop can’t reach, anyway.

How to Clean the Bathroom in 5 Minutes

Let’s be honest – sometimes you just don’t have time to do an extensive deep clean of your bathroom. When you only have a few minutes, here is a great, fast bathroom cleaning schedule:

  • Tidy up. Put everything back in its place, including anything still left on the countertop, and any towels or clothes that are on the floor.
  • Spray all the surfaces with a cleaning agent. A good purchased option is 409 and Windex, or you can make a homemade mixture of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar. Spray counters, mirrors, sinks, toilet, and inside the shower.
  • Grab your toilet bowl cleaner, and squeeze some into your toilet. Its best to squeeze it at the very top of the bowl liner, so that it seeps down into the toilet bowl.
  • Wipe down all of the surfaces that you sprayed. Move your towel in fast, circular motions. Use a separate towel for the toilet.
  • Scrub your toilet cleaner with a toilet brush – rinse the brush and flush the toilet.

Depending on how dirty your bathroom is, this quick process can take 5-10 minutes, and is a great way to quickly clean the room. If you’re in need of a quick clean, such as when guests are coming over, this is a fantastic routine.

If you’re looking for more of a deep clean, we’ve put together a comprehensive outline for you, including what supplies you’ll need and where to grab them.

Bonus: Get an Aroma

Cleaning the bathroom with aromatics

No bathroom cleaning list would be complete without mentioning freshening up your bathroom with some kind of aroma. This isn’t just to combat the smells which will find their way into the bathroom, scent is much more powerful than that. There is a very good basis for the cliched relaxing bubble bath being complete with scented candles.

However, leaving your bathroom with the citrus scent common to many cleaners may encourage you to keep the area clean. Another approach to this same effect is to use similar scented diffusers, candles, and the like. They won’t smell quite as “clean,” but the scent of a freshly cleaned bathroom is too fleeting to rely on.

And that’s it for the bathroom cleaning checklist! If you follow all of those bathroom cleaning tips and stick to a schedule, your bathroom should always be in good shape. Remember, it takes much less time to maintain a clean bathroom than to clean a dirty one–make sure your schedule is manageable enough for you to stick to.

One last tip: you can apply a lot of these guidelines to the other rooms in your house! While your other rooms probably have less soap scum and calcium build up, the same vinegar solutions and all purpose cleaners, not to mention your microfiber cloths, will be useful throughout the house.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.