Rid your bathroom of lurking germs with these bacteria-targeting bathroom cleaning tricks. From how to descale a shower head to the easiest (and least gross) way to scrub the toilet, consider this your ultimate bathroom-cleaning guide.
The process of deep cleaning your bathroom isn't as complicated as you might think—follow these expert-recommended steps to make every inch of your bathroom sparkling and germ-free.
12 Cleaning Secrets Only the Pros Know
How Gross Is the Bathroom?
According to University of Arizona professor of microbiology Charles Gerba, who has conducted many studies of household bacteria, the bathroom is pretty darn gross. With supereffective tactics from Aggie MacKenzie, a coauthor of How Clean Is Your House?—and Gerba's gory details to spur you on—you can clobber germs like never before.
Rule #1 for how to clean a bathroom? Keep it dry—so as you're cleaning, make sure you dry all surfaces well afterward.
Whether you divvy up your antibacterial blitz into small sessions or complete your bathroom deep clean in one fell swoop, implementing these habits every couple of months will be like flushing your worries down the…well, you know.
Descale the Shower Head
Why: The showerhead can harbor Mycobacterium avium, a pathogen linked to pulmonary disease. Gerba says that turning on a neglected shower can send millions of germs straight into your lungs.
What to do: Take it from the top: Pour an ample amount of white vinegar into a plastic grocery bag (enough to fully submerge the showerhead nozzle) and tie it in place for an overnight soaking. Remove it in the morning and run the water to rinse.
Clean the Shower Curtain or Doors
Why: Those germs from your shower head (and your body) can linger in your tub.
What to do: Give plastic shower curtains and liners a spin in the washing machine with your regular detergent and a few old towels, which help scrub away soap scum and mildew. Rehang to dry.
For shower doors, make a paste by adding a few drops of distilled white vinegar to a cup of baking soda; apply it directly to the door (it's nice and thick, so it will stick). Let sit for an hour, then rub with a microfiber cloth. Rinse and buff dry with a fresh, dry microfiber cloth. As a preventive measure, routinely spritz all surfaces with a shower cleaner to keep odors, soap scum, hard water stains, mold, and mildew at bay.
The 9 Best Cleaners for Glass Shower Doors of 2023
The tub is less of an issue—a weekly scrubbing is usually enough. But for extra gleam, fill it with hot water, then drain. Apply a bathroom cleaner and let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing. It's also good practice to routinely clean and scrub shower caddies. You can cut down on gunky buildup with a good soap scum remover.
To maintain it, wipe condensation from all surfaces after showering, and leave the window open for one hour a day to lower the room's humidity level.
Refresh Dingy Grout
Why: Grout is porous and highly susceptible to bacteria growth.
What to do: Dip a grout brush in straight bleach and scrub any discolored areas; rinse well. Be sure to ventilate the room.
Seal grout every six months to help prevent moisture and grime from infiltrating. For pesky grout and tile stains, use a good tile and grout cleaner.
How to Clean Grout the Easy Way
Clean Bathroom Countertops, Walls, and Ceilings
Why: Soaps (and the dirt and skin cells they slough off) leave behind a microscopic film.
What to do: Spray countertops, walls, and the ceiling with an all-purpose cleaner and turn on the shower, cranking the hot water until steam builds (about five minutes).
Turn off the water, shut the door on your way out, and let the steam and the cleaner mix for 20 minutes. Then wipe down all surfaces with a clean cloth. To reach high spots, use a clean, dry microfiber mop. Wipe the tile floor, too, but only after you've finished the rest of the dirty work. For stubborn mold and mildew, try a mold remover.
To minimize watermarks on ceramic tile, apply a coat of car wax once a year. Water will bead up and roll off. Mildew-resistant paint can also help on untiled walls and ceilings.
Get the Toilet Sparkly Clean
Why: Gerba says that a flushing toilet, when viewed in slow motion, resembles a fireworks display. And since germs linger in the bowl even after flushing, bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, can fly into the air and land on the seat, the handle, and other surfaces.
What to do: Pour a cup of baking soda into the bowl. Let sit for a few minutes; brush, and flush. Still seeing spots? A damp pumice stone is abrasive enough to remove limescale and mineral deposit stains but gentle enough not to damage surfaces.
In cases of extreme grime buildup (or acute toilet-crevice trepidation), invest in a small, light-duty electric pressure washer. It lets you blast hard-to-reach areas, like the spots where the hinges meet the seat, from a safe distance. Start on the lowest setting—you'll be amazed by what comes out.
Close the lid when you flush, and use the vent fan (it sucks up bacteria before they can settle). Start now if you're not already storing toothbrushes and contact lenses inside the medicine cabinet.
The 8 Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners to Keep Your Bathroom Fresh
Clean the Bathroom Sink
Why: Prepare to shudder: The sink drain wins for the highest bathroom bacteria count—topping even the toilet seat. In his research, Gerba has detected as many bacteria down there as you would find on a cutting board used to slice raw meat. And faucet handles? You touch them after using the toilet and before washing your hands. Eww.
6 Common Disinfecting Myths That Are Sabotaging Your Cleaning Efforts
What to do: You don't need heavy duty cleaners to make the bacterial stew disappear. The best tip for how to clean bathroom sinks? Pour white vinegar or baking soda down the drain and flush with hot water.
For the faucet, Gerba recommends disposable disinfecting wipes, which significantly reduce bacteria. (In contrast, cloths may just move germs from one spot to another; Gerba has even found bacteria from the toilet bowl living in the kitchen sink.)
If you must use cloths, be fastidious about where each one is employed and stored. When the handles are done, floss the faucet (yes, you read that right). The stringy stuff is perfect for tackling that narrow, grimy space where the base of the faucet and the taps meet the sink. While you're at it, give the bathroom mirror a once over with glass cleaner.
Wash Hand Towels the Right Way
Why: Many share them, and they trap moisture—that's a recipe for bacteria stew.
What to do: Use the sanitizing setting if your washing machine has one (or bleach them). Replace with clean towels every three to four days.
Spread wet towels on a bar, where air can circulate, rather than hanging them from a hook, where folds form. Don't forget to clean the towel bar; it too collects bacteria. And avoid hanging wet towels near the toilet. (Remember that slo-mo spray we talked about?) It's also a good practice to wash your bath mats often as they are another breeding ground for bacteria.
Degerm the Bathroom Vent
Why: While it helps reduce mold and mildew, the fan also inhales a smorgasbord of airborne particles, which can linger on the blades and the vent.
What to do: First, flip the circuit breaker. Then remove the cover and soak it in warm water and dish soap. Use the vacuum's nozzle attachment to get gunk off the fan blades; wipe with a damp cloth. Remove dust from the motor and other nooks and crannies with a stiff, clean paintbrush, and suck up the debris with a vacuum. When it's completely dry, replace the cover.
Later, put the fan on a switch timer (an easy job for a handyperson), and run it during every shower and for 30 minutes afterward to keep moisture (and energy use) in check.
Clean Your Bathroom Cleaning Tools
Why: Without this deep clean, your toilet brush could simply be a breeding ground for bacteria.
What to do: Tackle the toilet brush itself, which you should clean after every use. Here's how: Secure the brush handle between the already-cleaned seat and the basin to hover over the bowl; pour bleach over the bristles. Let stand for a few minutes, then douse with a pitcher of clean water. Next, fill the brush canister with warm, soapy water and let sit; dump the dirty water into the toilet.
Deep cleaning your bathroom involves reaching all spaces, even those you don't think of very often. Use a disinfecting spray or wipes to scrub down all the surfaces. All the surfaces include the floor of your shower. Ensure not only to scrub but also sanitize your vanity.How do you deep clean an extremely dirty bathroom? ›
- Clear the clutter. Bathroom counter covered in stuff? ...
- Vacuum all surfaces. ...
- Wipe down surfaces. ...
- Clean the shower. ...
- Clean the toilet. ...
- Deep clean the floors.
Deep cleaning your bathroom involves reaching all spaces, even those you don't think of very often. Use a disinfecting spray or wipes to scrub down all the surfaces. All the surfaces include the floor of your shower. Ensure not only to scrub but also sanitize your vanity.How long should it take to deep clean a bathroom? ›
If your bathroom is dingy and not smelling fresh, it's probably time for a more thorough cleaning. To get everything shiny and germ-free, expect it to take from 20 to 45 minutes to clean a bathroom. That includes cleaning and disinfecting toilets, showers, bathtubs, and more.What best removes dirt and grime from bathroom? ›
White vinegar and dishwashing liquid form the perfect partnership when it comes to tackling shower floor scum. White vinegar is a natural acid, meaning it can dissolve mineral deposits, soap scum, and other types of dirt and grime that accumulate.How do you clean the worst shower ever? ›
Fill a bag with vinegar. Secure the bag over the showerhead or faucet with an elastic (making sure it is fully submerged in the vinegar). Let it sit for 20 minutes (or even overnight, if it's bad) and the vinegar will do the rest!What is the correct order to clean a bathroom? ›
- Remove all items from their usual spots. ...
- Dust and sweep. ...
- Apply cleaner to shower and bathtub. ...
- Tackle other surfaces. ...
- Mix cleaning solution for floor. ...
- Hit the shower and bathtub. ...
- Finish the shower and bathtub. ...
- Clean the vanity area.
“Things like white vinegar, baking soda, and dishwashing soap can do just as good of a job and are more cost effective.” Baking soda is a great solution for removing rust and soap scum, especially around faucets.What do hospitals use to clean bathrooms? ›
- Chlorine & Chlorine Compounds.
- Hydrogen Peroxide.
- Peracetic Acid.
- Hydrogen Peroxide & Peracetic Acid.
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds.
Use clean paper towels to wipe down all around the toilet, behind the toilet and on the adjacent walls. Don't forget to remove the toilet paper and wipe the holder down. Mop down the floor with a disinfectant.
A natural solution made of equal parts distilled white vinegar and hot water works well on soap scum and grime. White vinegar is safe on ceramic tile and fiberglass, but will not work on marble. Using a soft-bristled brush or sponge, scrub the tiles and grout. Then, rinse the walls completely.How do I clean a filthy shower? ›
You can use baking soda and water, or use washing soda with hydrogen peroxide. Some people find it easier to use a toothbrush to apply solutions on the grout before scrubbing them off. This will allow you to reach all the necessary spots and clean your shower walls thoroughly.What is the black stuff under toilet rim? ›
Because water deposits build up under a toilet's rim, it can take only 24-48 hours for colonies to start breeding. As it grows, you will see what looks like black debris or rings inside the bowl. This can cause respiratory problems for people as the mold and mildew release tiny spores into the air.How do professional cleaners clean showers? ›
How do professionals clean showers? Professionals use acid-based cleaning solutions like vinegar for hard water spots and soap scum. For deep-set soap scum, cleaners will use heavy-duty detergents and degreasers. Bleach cleaning solutions are best reserved for cleaning the mold and mildew from grout.Is vinegar better than bleach for cleaning bathroom? ›
“Of course, vinegar does eliminate some things, but it's important to note it's not a complete solution to disinfectant. It is only 90% effective against bacteria and around 80 percent effective against viruses and mold or mildew. Bleach, however, eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and mold or mildew.What is the best thing to clean shower floors with? ›
Generally speaking, we recommend using baking soda and vinegar as a gentle and natural cleaner that is also tough on soap scum and hard water buildup.Is vinegar strong enough to clean bathroom? ›
Vinegar is excellent for cleaning bathrooms, because its high acidity deodorizes, dissolves soap scum, and loosens mineral deposits, says Nelson.What do you clean first in the shower? ›
Start at your neck and shoulders, and work your way down the length of your body. Don't forget to wash your legs and get between your toes with soap and water. Rinse off any soapy residue with a little more water to make sure you're not drying out your skin with scaly soap remnants.What is the best chemical to clean a dirty shower? ›
- Best Foam Cleaner: Kaboom Foam-Tastic Bathroom Cleaner.
- Best For Daily Maintenance: Scrub Free Daily Shower Cleaner.
- Most Versatile: The Bucko Soap Scum and Grime Cleaner.
- Best For Hard Water: Bioclean Hard Water Stain Remover.
- Best For Glass Doors: Rain-X Shower Door Cleaner.
In order to avoid these problems, hotels often use a shower filter that removes these minerals from the water. However, you can also clean your shower door regularly with a vinegar solution to help remove any built-up deposits.
Start at the top to prevent dripping on already clean surfaces. Spray the tank, handle, and tank edges and wipe them all down. Next, do the outside lid of the toilet. Finally, wipe down the entire outside of the bowl.What's the best way to mop a floor? ›
Mop around the edges first, then move to the middle of the floor, using overlapping, figure-eight strokes. When one side of the mop gets dirty, turn the mop over to the clean side. When both sides are dirty, wash the mop in the bucket; otherwise, you'll be spreading dirt around instead of removing it.Should I shower or clean the bathroom first? ›
“You should always wet your shower before cleaning it unless the instructions on your cleaning product say otherwise,” Cooper says. Why? By wetting your walls, you can rinse off the dust, dirt, and other loose debris—making it easier for your cleaning products to go to work.How do you clean a bathroom smartly? ›
- Squeegee the shower. Use a squeegee to dry your shower walls and glass after each time you shower.
- Wipe down counters. After using the bathroom each morning, quickly wipe down the counter with disinfectant wipes that you can keep stored in the vanity.
- Dust the toilet.
In general, you should give your bathroom a good clean at least once a week. This includes wiping down the toilet and sink. The floor and bathtub should be cleaned every two weeks or so. It is also important to invest in a deep clean every month or so.What happens when you mix dawn and vinegar? ›
“Vinegar is a good cleaner because it's acidic, but when you add dishwashing liquid/dish soap to it (which is a base or neutral) - you neutralise the vinegar. You take away the very thing that makes it work well. “The dishwashing liquid works that well on its own.What is the last step in the 7 step cleaning process? ›
Step 7: Inspection Inspection is defined as the process to ensure that the area is free of debris and dust, disinfected, has clean linen / curtains, trash and linen containers are emptied, consumable products are replenished, and no EVS equipment or supplies remain.What do professionals use to clean toilets? ›
Professional cleaners often use the same household supplies as you would: toilet-bowl cleaner (or bleach), disinfectant wipes, rubber gloves, as well as a nonscratch scrub sponge, a microfiber cloth, or paper towels. A handheld scrub brush or a pumice stone can get to especially tough stains.How do you disinfect and sanitize a bathroom? ›
- Start by doing a basic cleaning. ...
- Launder the towels. ...
- Wash the shower curtain and liner. ...
- Gather supplies. ...
- Spray all surfaces with disinfectant. ...
- Let surfaces air-dry. ...
- Disinfect the toilet. ...
- Sanitize the sink.
Bleach solutions will be effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi when properly diluted. Learn more about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces using bleach solutions.
Bowl cleaner: A cleanser specifically made for toilet bowls will do the majority of the work to remove bacteria and hard-water buildup. The experts we talked to recommended any cleaner with some form of bleach, but you can find plenty of bleach alternatives, as well.What is the best thing to clean the bottom of a toilet? ›
To remove limescale from the bottom of your toilet you will want to pour vinegar into your toilet bowl and leave that on there for three to four hours. After the vinegar sits, you can scrub those stains with either a toilet brush or a wet pumice stone and flush the toilet.How long can you leave vinegar in the toilet? ›
To safely and inexpensively clean your toilet bowls, pour a generous glug of vinegar, followed by a heavy sprinkling of baking soda, into the bowl. While the mixture is bubbling up, scrub the bowl (get under the rim, too). Let it soak for 30 minutes and flush. That's it.How do you clean shower walls without scrubbing? ›
Baking Soda and Vinegar
To get rid of soap or grout stains on your tiles, just add some water to the baking soda and make a thick paste. Apply this paste generously to your tiles. Add a few drops of vinegar to the paste to clean your tiles even more effectively. The paste will start to bubble.
Surfactant leaching, or the appearance of brown residue or streaks on interior and exterior painted surfaces, is a common problem that occurs when painting with water-based latex paint.How do you clean a shower with Dawn? ›
Dawn dish soap and vinegar – Mix equal parts of vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap into a spray bottle. Run the shower for a few minutes on hot to heat up the shower space. Spray to coat the surface of the shower walls evenly with the mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes then use a damp cleaning rag to wipe away.How do you deep clean a neglected bathroom? ›
- Clear Everything Out. The first step when deep-cleaning your bathroom is to remove all the accessories and items that might be in your way while cleaning. ...
- Dust and Vacuum. ...
- Apply Bathroom Cleaners. ...
- Start Scrubbing. ...
- Mop the Floors. ...
- Replace Everything & Enjoy Your Clean Space.
Clean your bathroom once a week as a good rule of thumb. Kelly Reynolds, PhD, MSPH, professor and director of the environment, exposure science and eisk assessment center at the University of Arizona, recommends cleaning your bathroom at least weekly. More often than that might be overkill.Why does my toilet bowl get dirty so fast? ›
The Surprising Reason Why Your Toilet Gets Dirty Fast
The high mineral content in hard water is usually to blame for those colored rings and tracks that form in your toilet bowl seemingly overnight, and make it appear dirty even if it was cleaned recently!
Aren't our bodies clean after showering? It turns out, people aren't as clean as they feel after showering. Sure, soap and hot water go a long way. They scrub the body of a lot of dirt and germs.
How Often Should You Clean Your Shower? Koch advises cleaning your shower weekly, but don't worry, it doesn't have to be a serious deep clean every time. She says at the very least to clean the floor, any shelves, and glass doors (if you have them) as part of your weekly housekeeping line-up.How do professionals clean shower grout? ›
What do professionals use to clean grout? Whether you believe it or not, most professionals use a solution of white vinegar and water with a 1:1 ratio. This solution is often more effective than dedicated Ph-neutral grout cleaners.How do you remove ingrained dirt from a bath? ›
Baking soda can remove hard dirt from the acrylic. For tough stains: First, fill the tub with hot water and vinegar. Allow this soaking mixture to stay for 15 minutes or more to loosen any mildew and scum, then drain the water. Use a damp cloth or sponge to scrub the baking soda into the tub and faucets.How do you clean a neglected shower? ›
If you've neglected your shower for a long time, a paint scraper can gently loosen the build-up and Soft Scrub with Bleach Cleanser Gel will dissolve it. Keep your ceramic shower tiles clean every week with Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl Spray. Just spray and wipe for a clean, spotless shine. Scrub the tub.How do you clean built up toilet dirt? ›
Vinegar and baking soda: Add 1 or 2 cups of vinegar to the toilet bowl along with a few sprinkles of baking soda. Swish the solution around the bowl with your brush for a few minutes and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Scrub the stains with your brush (or pumice stone).How can I make my old bathtub look new again? ›
First, you want to mix a quarter cup of white vinegar with a litre of hot water and douse the surface of the tub. Grab a handful of baking soda and toss it over the surface of the bathtub. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinse your tub clean. Baking soda should help to whiten your tub.What is the brown gunk in my bathtub? ›
If you have brown or orange slime on your bathroom fixtures, it's likely to be caused by iron bacteria. This is present due to a higher concentration of iron or manganese in your water supply.What is the brown stuff in my tub after bath? ›
The stains in your toilet, sink, and tub are caused by what is in your water. The following are the most common culprits: Reddish-brown stains: These types of stains are usually caused by dissolved iron in your water. Once this iron is exposed to oxygen, it forms iron oxide, which gives it the reddish-brown color.How do professionals clean showers? ›
How do professionals clean showers? Professionals use acid-based cleaning solutions like vinegar for hard water spots and soap scum. For deep-set soap scum, cleaners will use heavy-duty detergents and degreasers. Bleach cleaning solutions are best reserved for cleaning the mold and mildew from grout.What is the best thing to clean showers with? ›
A natural solution made of equal parts distilled white vinegar and hot water works well on soap scum and grime. White vinegar is safe on ceramic tile and fiberglass, but will not work on marble. Using a soft-bristled brush or sponge, scrub the tiles and grout. Then, rinse the walls completely.
Baking soda and vinegar, when mixed together, can form a chemical reaction that looks sort of like an eruption. This chemical reaction can help clear your toilet and any pipe clogs that you might have.What is the best thing to clean the inside of a toilet? ›
The experts we talked to recommended any cleaner with some form of bleach, but you can find plenty of bleach alternatives, as well. I personally use Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Toilet Bowl Cleaner. A bucket: To ensure that the entire bowl gets clean, you need to reduce the water level before applying the cleaner.What is the best way to clean the bottom of a bathtub? ›
Sprinkle baking soda on all tub surfaces. For extra-dirty tubs, use tub-and-tile cleaner instead. Fill your bucket with a half-gallon of hot water and two tablespoons of dish soap. Dip a scrub sponge or a stiff nylon brush into the bucket, and scrub all bathtub surfaces.How do you completely disinfect a bathtub? ›
Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach kills 99.9% of germs, making it the perfect choice to clean and disinfect the bathroom so you can enjoy the space. Using a bleach and water solution in the tub or shower is simple.