Bathroom Cleaning 101

Most importantly, be sure not to mix chemicals. When cleaning the bathroom, you may use a variety of chemicals in different cleaners, and they may not play nice with each other. They can be mixed and become dangerous even by using the same sponge with different products. Be sure to read the product labels so you know what they contain and what should not be mixed.

Make sure you use products that are safe for the surfaces you are cleaning. Some surfaces, such as granite and copper, may be damaged by some cleaners and must be cleaned with special cleaners. Other cleaners may react with certain metals. Basically, just read the labels.

Now, let’s get started!


Tub and Shower
  • Spray your tub/shower with your tub cleaner of choice (be sure to follow the directions on the label). Dawn/vinegar (1:1 ratio) is also a great choice, but it works best when it can sit for at least 30 minutes. Scrub it down with a sponge or handled brush, adding water or cleaner as necessary. Be sure to get all the crevices, such as around the faucet, drain, and in the grout, if you have tile (a toothbrush works great for this). Rinse well.
    • Tip- Spray down the tub with cleaner before cleaning the rest of your bathroom to allow the cleaner to work its magic. Letting it sit before you start scrubbing will save you some time and energy.
    • Note- Fiberglass tubs and glass doors should be cleaned with non-abrasive cleaners. Abrasive cleaners and harsh scrubbing pads may scratch or dull the finish.


  • Apply toilet bowl cleaner to the bowl. Place the cleaner nozzle under the rim and squeeze the bottle as you guide it all the way around the bowl. If the label allows, let stand for a few minutes to dissolve deposits. Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl, being sure to get the entire surface, including the underside and around the top of the rim. Flush to remove all the cleaner.
  • To clean the toilet brush, secure the handle between the toilet seat and the toilet bowl, so the bristles are over the bowl. Pour bleach over the bristles and let sit for a few minutes. Rinse the brush in the toilet bowl and place it back in between the seat and the bowl to air dry.
    • If you used a non-bleach cleaner to clean the toilet bowl, be sure to flush enough times to be sure the cleaner is completely gone before pouring bleach on the bristles and into the bowl. If your toilet bowl cleaner had bleach in it, you don’t need to worry about bleach mixing with any leftover cleaner.
  • Use an antibacterial bathroom cleaner or a disinfecting wipe to wipe down the exterior of the toilet, including the seat and lid. If you’re using an antibacterial cleaner, it may need to sit for 10 minutes or so while it kills bacteria before you can wipe it up (don’t forget to read your labels!).


  • Clear off the counter and unplug any appliances before cleaning.
  • Wipe off the counter with a clean dry rag to remove dust. Then, spray with a bathroom cleaner and wipe it down.


  • Use a dry rag to wipe up any hair so it doesn’t go down the drain. Spray your sink and faucet with bathroom cleaner (Dawn/vinegar would also work for this). For more hardened deposits, use a soft-scrub or abrasive cleaner instead (do NOT mix products!). Scrub it down with a sponge or handled brush, adding water or cleaner as necessary. Use a toothbrush to get all the crevices like around the faucet and drain. Rinse well.


  • Spray the mirror with glass cleaner (such as Windex), and wipe it down with a lint-free cloth rag, paper towel, or even crumpled up newspaper, which can minimize streaks. Start at the top corner and wipe all the way down to the bottom, then back up to the top, moving slowly across the mirror. Finish with a wipe around the edges of the mirror to remove any residual lint.


Walls and Ceiling
  • To remove any foreign matter, including everything from hair product overspray to dead skin cells, wipe the walls and ceiling with a rag dampened with warm, soapy water or an all-purpose cleaner.
    • Note- Flat paint (as opposed to eggshell, semi-gloss, or gloss finish) needs to be treated more carefully and most kinds should not be cleaned with soap and water.


  • As needed, dust and clean the cabinets. First, dust the cabinets, especially on any horizontal edges. We recommend Swiffer dusters or microfiber cloths, as they remove dust and do not leave any residue behind.
  • If your cabinets have food and/or grime stuck on them, we recommend warm water with soap and a rag. Only use as much water as it takes to get the grime off. Remember, water on wood cabinets can weaken the wood. Many will recommend Murphy’s Oil Soap or Old English Polish. This will leave a waxy coating that looks lovely at first, but will leave a buildup on your wood that attracts dirt and makes them look dirty faster. This really is a personal choice, just know that it is not in the long-term benefit of your wood.
  • If wood is scratched or dull from dryness, they should be stripped of their polish and repainted. If this is not financially feasible and you want a quick fix, you can use a rejuvenating product such as Old English Scratch Repair (be sure to use appropriate stain darkness). This will not be a permanent fix and may come off when cleaning off the grime, but it can be a fiscally responsible ‘quick fix’ that will slow further damage from occurring.


  • Save this step for the end. Pick everything up off the floor, then sweep up dust and debris.
  • Mop/clean with the appropriate method/cleaners (see “How to Clean Your Floors“). If you have tile or vinyl flooring, use a mop and floor cleaning solution, such as Mr. Clean. A steam mop is also a great choice for killing germs without the use of harsh chemicals on tile and vinyl flooring only.


Hard Water in the Bathroom
  • If you have hard water, your bathroom might be showing it. Look for cleaners that target lime scale and calcium/mineral deposits.
  • For the toilet, the black label Lysol is a great choice. A pumice stone may also be used, but use gently and sparingly as it can cause scratches.
  • Dawn/vinegar works great for many people’s glass shower doors and fixtures, but if you have very hard water or significant deposits, you may need something stronger. Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser would be a great option.
  • If your shower head has mineral buildup, partially fill a plastic sandwich bag with vinegar and place it around your shower head so that the nozzles are submerged. Secure with a rubber band and leave for a few hours or overnight. Remove the bag and scrub with a toothbrush, then rinse by running water through it.


Helpful Tips
  • Make easy, economical cleaning rags by cutting up an old knit t-shirt. No need to hem because knit doesn’t fray. Thicker white t-shirts work best (men’s undershirts are pretty flimsy and don’t work as well). A good general size is 9″x9″, but you may prefer larger or smaller. Be sure to make plenty; you’ll need a new cloth for each cleaner and for each area of the bathroom (you don’t want to use the same cloth for the toilet and the counter!).
  • Don’t forget to clean your shower curtain as needed. Most can be washed in the washing machine (check the care tags, if any). Wash with a few old towels on a gentle cycle and hang to dry. To keep it fresh, pull it closed when not in use to prevent water from sitting in the folds.
  • To prevent water spots and soap scum on shower doors and walls, use a squeegee to wipe off water and condensation after each shower. Leave a window open or fan on for at least half an hour to lower humidity and reduce the risk of mold overgrowth.




By Heather DeVoll