How to Clean a Bathroom

A gloved hand scrubbing bathroom tile.

I’m not a professional bathroom cleaner, and I’m suspecting neither are you, which is why you’re visiting this page, but I have cleaned a bathroom or two in my time—when family or friends are coming over or I want to get my security deposit back. The bathroom is likely the only room in your house where guests get to conduct a private inspection while you wait in the other room. With a smart cleaning strategy, some simple cleaning supplies (such as white vinegar, baking soda, sponges, clothes, spray bottles, and a bucket), a bit of elbow grease, and a little time, your bathroom will pass anyone’s inspection with flying colors, or at least not make them retch.

So, whether you’re trying to prove to Mom and Dad that you’re not a complete slob, impress upon a potential bedfellow that you’re nasty only in bed, or make sure you get that deposit back from your landlord, you’ve come to the right place. This article will outline a few simple steps that will help you win the battle with your bathroom and maybe even the war.

Strategy for How to Clean a Bathroom

  1. drawing of a stoplightStart with the high traffic hotspots. The typical bathroom has three hotspots: the sink, the shower and the tub, and the toilet or, if you prefer, commode (either way, it’s probably dirty). The condition of your bathroom depends on how much traffic it gets and how long you’ve let it go between cleanings (that is if you’ve ever cleaned it). Regardless of what level of filth you’re starting with, targeting the high traffic hotspots and taking an overall top-down approach makes the most sense.
  2. topdown view of a dirty toiletThe Toilet. Since it’s probably the most neglected hotspot in your bathroom, you should start by cleaning your toilet. This will give the cleaning agents time to work while you’re attending to the mess that’s the rest of your bathroom. We recommend cleaning your toilet with vinegar. It’s a great natural cleaning agent that’s not harmful to the environment. And it’s fairly cheap. What’s not to like? Here’s our in-depth article on how to clean a toilet with vinegar. And if you’d like a natural cleaner that maybe smells a little better than vinegar, you could try Earth Friendly Toilet Bowl Cleaner. It’s made of cedar oil.
  3. Topdown view of a dirty tubThe Tub and Shower Stall. Next, you should move on to the tub and/or shower. Cleaning the tub should come before cleaning the sink because you’ll probably find yourself using the sink right up until you clean it. Your tub or shower, like many people’s, is probably suffering from a bad case of soap scum and scale (mineral deposits). The amount of scaling depends on your local water—the harder your water, the more scaling you’ll have to contend with. And whether you have an old-fashioned claw foot tub or a new prefab shower stall, you can clean your tub and shower stall with baking soda and vinegar. Follow this link to our article on how to clean a tub in a few easy steps. Comet Disinfectant Cleanser with Bleach will also work, but while it’s kosher, its manufacturers don’t make any claims for it being particularly Earth friendly.
  4. Dirty ShowerheadThe Shower Head. And if your shower head is growing stalactites, we have a great article that explains how to clean a shower head with—you guessed it—vinegar and a plastic bag. But, if you happen to already have some CLR Bathroom & Kitchen Cleaner around the house, it’ll do the trick as well. Either way, be careful not to make too big of a mess in the tub while cleaning the shower head.
  5. Dirty SinkThe Sink. The last of the hotspots to tackle is the sink. It’s the bathroom catchall—besmirched with dirt, soap, toothpaste, various kinds of clippings, beauty products, and sundry things. You know what you try to put down your sink. At any rate, now, after the toilet and the tub, is the time to attend to the sink. And we have a fantastic article that outlines how to clean a sink—basin and fixtures—with vinegar, of course. Both Mrs. Meyer’s and Ecover make eco-friendly, all-purpose cleaning products that you could also use to tackle your sink. And while you’re cleaning your sink, you should probably clean the mirror. For brilliant tips on performing this seemingly simple task, you really should readhow to clean mirrors. There is a great tip in it for making your bathroom mirror fog-free.
  6. Dirty floorThe Floor and Walls. You’ve cleaned the hotspots and your bathroom looks and smells a whole lot cleaner. This might be fine, but if you’re like me and gravity is at work in your bathroom (remember this is the top-down approach), you’re going to want to clean the floor. And we have superb articles on how to clean tile floors, how to clean grout, andhow to clean linoleum. And depending on how dirty your bathroom is or how clean you want it to be, we also have an article with a great approach and very useful tips for how to clean walls. You know what you’ve been doing in there; you be the judge.

Keeping Your Can Spick-and-Span

And now that your bathroom is clean, you can keep it this way with regular attention. This maybe the most obvious thing, but you should set up a schedule for cleaning your bathroom. Try not to go more than two weeks without giving a little TLC to your toilet, tub, and sink. Make dates to clean these three. And since you have your bathroom under control, make it easy on yourself by just cleaning one hotspot at a time. This will keep everyone happy. Visit us often for instructions and tips on how to clean the things in your life.

Green Products for Cleaning the Bathroom

Bottle of Earth Friendly Toilet CleanerEarth Friendly makes a Toilet Bowl Cleaner. It’s a natural cleaner made with cedar oil and citric acid. It doesn’t contain dyes, perfumes, or phosphates. So, if you’d like a natural cleaner that maybe smells a little better than vinegar, give Earth Friendly Toilet bowl Cleaner a try. You can order bottles of it from Amazon.

Bottle of Mrs. Meyer's cleanerMrs. Meyer’s makes an eco-friendly, biodegradable, all-purpose cleaning product that you can use to tackle your sink. Mrs. Meyer’s products are made with essential oils, and the All Purpose Cleaner is available in four scents: Basil, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, and Geranium. They all smell great. Or, if you prefer, you can get it unscented.

Container of CometComet Disinfectant Cleanser with Bleach will also work to get at your tub and shower, and, according to its manufacturers, it’s kosher. But it’s a bit harsh and not particularly eco-friendly.