Intro: How to Clean a Bathroom (with 6 DIY Cleaning Product Recipes!)
If this sounds like a silly joke instructable, let me assure you I am dead serious. One assumes everyone knows how to clean a bathroom, but, having raised a couple boys, I know first hand that humans are NOT born knowing how to perform this vital task, and that it takes a good amount of determination and repetition to master all the necessary skills. Luckily (or unfortunately), because of the nature of this room's use there are plenty of opportunities to practice and master the art of cleaning your bathroom.
Step 1: The Toilet
The toilet is not JUST the toilet bowl. No. The toilet is the rim, it is the seat, it is the underside of the seat, and the lid -- both sides. It includes the flusher, and those annoying hinges which are so hard to wipe off. Don't forget the bowl exterior either! Defying all logic, the underhang of the toilet bowl is usually the grossest part. At the risk of being graphic, pee tends to dribble down the sides, leaving colorful residue right where it drips to the floor.
I use commercial cleaner for the inside of the bowl, because I like the bottle design which can squirts up to reach the hidden part inside the rim, but for the exterior I use a bathroom spray which I make myself:
- One empty, clean, 32 oz spray bottle with the label removed.
Mix washing soda in 2 cups of warm water till it dissolves. Pour into an empty 32 oz spray bottle and add bleach, soap, and enough cold tap water to top off your spray bottle.
Shake the bottle before each use, spray the surface generously and allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it off.
Step 2: The Sink
Approach the sink with the same thoroughness as the toilet. They have many nooks and crannies, do not leave a single part untouched!
Besides the handles, the spout, the soap dish and the bowl itself (inside and out), unscrew the drain to remove any hair and gunk. Buying a proper brush (long, stiff and narrow enough to get deep into your drain) is definitely worthwhile, and it will cut down on your need for chemical cleaners.
When the water starts draining slowly I pour about 1/8 cup each of washing soda and citric acid into the drain. I'll let it foam for a while, which loosens up the gunk, then I'll scrub and rinse. If needed I'll repeat. Even when the drain was completely blocked I've never needed to use anything stronger. You will notice, if you clean the drain regularly (before it slows down), that you won't even need to use these mild chemicals. Your drain won't clog up anymore.
Step 3: The Tub
The most important time-saving tip is to rinse off the tub (and preferably wipe it down with a rag or a paper towel) right after use. Unfortunately that tends to cancel out your post-soak zen, so if you neglect this step, you'll need a stronger cleaning solution. I originally created this recipe for the oven, but it works for the tub as well:
- 5 teaspoons borax
- 2/3 cup white (distilled) vinegar or 4 teaspoons citric acid
- 3 tablespoons liquid castille soap
- Baking soda
- Clean 32oz spray bottle
Dissolve borax in one cup very hot water. Add vinegar or citric acid and liquid castille soap. Pour into spray bottle and fill to the top with water.
Use: To clean the tub, spray all the surfaces generously then sprinkle liberally with baking soda. It's hard to sprinkle vertical surfaces, so you can put some baking soda on a rag and rub it on the surface to make a paste. Leave this paste overnight (or an hour or two -- or less depending on how much oil is incrusted), then scrub off and clean with warm soapy water.
As always, don't forget the details! Spout, shower head, valve, drain, etc. Spray all corners with bleach based spray (recipe in step 1) to kill mildew!
Step 4: The Shower Curtain
Shower curtains (or glass doors) will quickly get coated with white mineral deposits, especially if you live in an area with hard water. The easiest way to deal with this is to clean it after each use, which is easier than it sounds. All you need to do is quickly spray the curtain, or if you have a clear glass door, use a squeegee to wipe off the water and soap residue.
Shower curtain spray recipe (more details in step 4 of my Clean Green instructable).:
Dissolve citric acid in 1 cup of warm (distilled) water. Add liquid castille soap, pour into clean 32 oz spray bottle, and fill bottle to the top with cold (distilled) water.
If you failed to do this maintenance and you are faced with a filthy shower curtain, your only choice is to remove it, and either scrub it by hand or put it in the machine machine (cold, gentle cycle) with a few white towels, and some soap and bleach. It might come out a bit wrinkly, but it should straighten out after you hang it back up, and it will be perfectly clean!
Step 5: Floor
Step 6: Don't Forget the Walls!
Back in the horse and buggy days they used to scrape the walls of stables, and collect pee-soaked straw to leech out saltpeter, an important chemical for making gun powder and lots of other things. Now I suppose I could scrape these tiles carefully with a razor blade and collect the white powder to add to my hand creams for soft skin, dump in my garden to help my plants grow or use for other concoctions, but generally at this point in my cleaning frenzy I'm too riled up to start recycling the waste product. I'm cursing my houseful of boys and going through paper towels like climate change isn't a thing and I'm not a part of the problem. What can I say? I'm only human. Also, just scrub the walls. Pee splattered walls will spoil the effect of a gleaming sink, toilet and tub.
Step 7: All the Other Stuff
Don't forget to wash all the towels, wash cloths, bath mats, etc. Also wipe off the towel rack, toilet paper holder or any other built-in hardware.
The trash can, toilet brush, and any other accessory you have in the bathroom should be cleaned as well.
Empty out your medicine cabinet and discard out of date or unwanted medicine -- but discard them responsibly!
Clean out the medicine cabinet interior before replacing all the items you want to keep.
Clean your mirror with this DIY window cleaner recipe (from step 3 of my Clean Green instructable):
- 1 tsp borax
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp liquid castille soap
- 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
- 1/4 cup ammonia
- 1/2 cup white (distilled) vinegar
Directions Dissolve borax in one cup hot water. Add remaining cup of cold water, combine all other ingredients and pour into clean 32oz spray bottle.
To use, spray window and clean with crumpled newspaper or paper towel.
Step 8: Conclusion
If you didn't spend at least an hour cleaning your bathroom then chances are you missed a spot...
If you're curious about these recipes, I developed them as part of a book project I started a while back, called Make Anything, a Handbook for Saving Money, Living Green, and Having Fun with Trash, a project which was unfortunately sidelined by the need to make money in the immediate moment as opposed to just saving money and having fun. Which is why I started selling my pop-up cards, and I've been (for the most part) focussing on paper engineering.
Second Prize in the