Friday, July 20, 2012

Bathroom Cleaning Routine

In this post, you will
  • See before and after pictures of my bathroom cleaning routine (I have no shame) 
  • Learn how to effectively clean your bathroom using a sequence that gets the job done in half the time
  • See how one simple homemade product can do the job of at least 4 different store bought supplies
  • Download a simple schedule chart for daily and weekly bathroom routines (if you are creating a home management binder, this is the chart you need!)
Let's keep it real! Bathroom cleaning is the worst chore ever! And I am not just talking about the gross stuff we have to clean, it is also someone else's gross stuff AND we have to bend on our knees and stretch in some crazy yoga pose to get the job done. Don't you just hate it?

Judging by the number of products available on the store shelves, each promising to outdo the competition, remove grime before it even gets there and so much and so forth, I am not he only one who dreads the bathroom chore! Like many of you I found myself suckered into believing the fads, I bought the automatic shower spray (useless), the automatic bowl scrub mac thingy (the kids emptied it over one week end), the sprays, the foams, the pads, the one use only scrubby, the reusable forever microfiber glove etc. If the products were that good in the first place, why do manufacturers keep reinventing the wheel every six months or so?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this bathroom chore issue and realized that the problem was NOT necessarily the products themselves, instead, it was the method by which I used to clean. There was no real routine, I would start on the sink one day, the tub the other day, it never really made sense and it was always a chore no matter what! Have you ever found yourself moving the same wet hair from one side of the counter to the other, only to find more later on the floor, glued to the mop, constantly having to bend over to get rid of them along with more wet dust? Is this cleaning or working out? I was confused!

Spending my entire Saturday morning scrubbing tub and bowl was never how I envisioned the rest of my adult life! So I came up with a plan, a cleaning schedule that also follows a specific sequence to cut the amount of time I spend cleaning each bathroom in my home (we have two full and one half bath). For the purpose of this blog post, I will demonstrate my cleaning routine using our guest bathroom which is also the boys bathroom.

This is our guest bathroom the day we bought our home in 2010...the house was built in 1929.

And the guest bathroom today (we have plans to entirely remodel this room...sometimes in the next 10 years). Right now I can only see it as not much more than simply functional. I need to add that I also do not care for that corner sink! It has a bathtub with an enclosure, but I removed the doors and placed a shower curtain instead, it allows for an easier access when giving a bath to our little guy...not to mention less cleaning!

Our guest bathroom which also doubles as the boys' full bath.

These lights were actually supposed to face up but the mirrors were in the
way so we had to have them face down instead.

Last week I posted a series of before and after pictures on how I cleaned my entire kitchen using White Vinegar + Dawn detergent. Because I had such great results with my homemade cleaner, I have decided to test out the same cleaner while following my own cleaning routine.  I also did not clean the bathroom for an entire week to see how well it would work. So here goes:

What you will need:

1. Paper towels (I use the Viva brand, they are very thick and last a long time)
2. A mix of white vinegar and Dawn detergent in a spray bottle
3. Baking soda (as cheap a variety as possible)
4. A small bucket of warm water
5. A washcloth (or two) you no longer use.
6. Mop

That's it!

Here is my cleaning chart (you can later download it as a PDF or click on the image to see the large version & print):

There are several things you can do with this chart. You can print it and put it in a frame on your bathroom wall. The glass can be used as a dry erase surface and you can check the boxes as you go. You can put it in a plastic sleeve and do the same with a dry erase marker, either on the wall or inside a home management binder if you chose to have more of these to keep track of your cleaning around the house. Either way, part two (the weekly schedule) follows a specific sequence and that is the key to your successfully (and effortlessly) cleaning your bathroom(s).

Why follow a specific sequence?

You want to minimize the number of back and forth or repeat actions and movements in your bathroom. To me, it made no sense to be cleaning the sink only to use it later to contain the water with which I was rinsing the toilet's sponge! There is the dust and the loose hair issue, no matter what they just would not go away and I often found myself going over the same surface again and again chasing the same hair...What a waste of time!!!!

So my routine follows specific steps in a specific sequence so that I never go over a surface more than once!

  • Shake rugs and Sweep the Floor
Before I start cleaning, I thoroughly shake all the floor rugs and immediately sweep the entire bathroom to get rid of any hair and dust.
  • Sprinkle 1/3 cup of baking soda inside the toilet bowl
The baking soda serves as an odor absorber and also brigthens the bowl. Do not scrub, just let it sit there while you move on to another task.

  • Spray the mirrors and the entire counter/sink area with White Vinegar + Dawn mix
You want to spray from top to bottom (mirrors first). Once all the surfaces are sprayed, use the paper towels to immediately wipe the mirrors. My boys have managed to splatter toothpaste on my mirrors just about every day, no matter the number of reminders. You will be amazed how good of a job this cleaner does, it leaves no streaks behind and dissolves toothpaste almost instantly!
Look at the mess the kids left...

And the mirrors after using my homemade cleaner!

Once the mirrors are done, wipe the counter, the sink and the faucet with a wet washcloth and use the faucet water to rinse the cloth.

Faucet splattered with dried up toothpaste...the before pictures.


Not a clue what that is!

 Here is the sink, entirely covered with my homemade cleaner...

And here it is after a good wipe with the washcloth...The vinegar + dawn removed all this dirt and soap scum effortlessly, I did not need a scrubbing pad or scouring powder!

 At this point, the sink and counter are cleaned, dried and buffed with a paper towel, you will not have to revisit this area.

  • Swish #1 and spray the bowl
This is my favorite part (no joke) you have no idea how much the baking soda, by itself, will clean your toilet bowl! At that point I don't even flush, I simply use the toilet brush and give the bowl a good swishing around, spreading the baking soda...any odor is simply gone. leaving the baking soda and bowl water as is, I liberally spray the entire bowl with my homemade cleaner, again from top to bottom and side to side, remember the underside of the bowl and the toilet seat. Just spray it all and let it stay there. Move on to the next task!

The baking soda already cut the job in half!

Simply spray the entire bowl with white vinegar + Dawn
and let it sit there while you move on to another task.

  • Replace glass/tumbler and straighten magazines (if any)

  • Spray tub, faucet, tub enclosure (walls, glass etc) and tracks if you have doors.
While the toilet continues to soak in, go ahead and spray your entire shower/bathtub area with the white vinegar + Dawn. Before doing so, you may want to check on the products and trash whatever is empty or any soap bar reduced to the size of a nickel.

Here is my tub before I gave it a good spray....

Just let the cleaner sit there and move on to the next task.

  • Swish #2 and wipe bowl
While the tub is soaking under my whitening and soap scum removing concoction of white vinegar + Dawn, I give the toilet bowl its second and final swish. I then fill my bucket with warm water from the tub and use a washcloth to wipe the entire bowl. Whatever splatter was in this area, it is now sanitized by the vinegar, no longer smells and is easily wiped off thanks to the Dawn. This is another effortless task!

  • Scrub and wipe the tub
While I was wiping the toilet bowl, the cleaner lifted all the soap scum and hard water that needed cleaning in and around the tub. You don't really have to scrub, but if you do, do not use the same washcloth that was previously used for the bowl, get a new one! If your tub as a detachable spray, chances are you can simply give the area a good spray and every dirt will be lifted off. Use paper towels to wipe the inside of the tracks (if you have an enclosure) and wipe the glass. I use a dry towel to buff the faucet and fixtures as well as the tiles to prevent any dry water spots.

Here is the tub after the white vinegar and Dawn treatment...No scrubbing needed on mine.

  • Dust all surfaces
If you have nick knacks in your bathroom, now is the time to give them a quick dusting using a damp paper towel. I also go over the edges of the tiles, the baseboards and the door frame.

  • Check products and replace as needed
At that point in my routine, I give myself a quick tour of the cabinets and the supplies. Do I need Q-tips? Do I need to trash anything? If so, it all goes in the trash can.

  • Change towels
I change the towels at this stage because there is no more dusting or flushing of the toilet bowl. To me it makes no sense to bring in clean towels before the bathroom gets a thorough cleaning first.

  • Empty the trash
While I was cleaning I used the trash can to throw the dirty and wet paper towels as well as all the products I needed to purge. Now is the time to empty the trash and change its liner. I leave the trash outside the room.

  • Mop the floor
I mop the floor last, starting from the far end corner. First I dump whatever water I have left in the bucket into the toilet bowl. I then refill the bucket with HOT water and spray the floor with my cleaner. I do not let the cleaner sit for too long and mop the floor right away, again working my way out the room. Because I already swept earlier, there is no hair or dust on the floor, the moping is a one pass and I am done!
Once the floor is dry, dump the bucket water into the toilet bowl and flush. Bring the trash can back into the bathroom.

You are done!
In all, this is a 20 minutes routine and the bathroom is sparkling clean. This is what I do every week.
Again, for the purpose of this post I did not perform any of my daily tasks this week to make sure there would be more dramatic before pictures. Generally, the daily routine consists of putting things where they belong, quickly wiping any spills and swish the bowl after each use.

Before guests arrive and if you are concerned the bathroom may smell a bit too much like vinegar, simply light up a decorative candle for a few minutes. Mine is a woodstick, soy candle with a warm Rosewood and patchouli scent!

On a side note, I can't believe how clean the faucet
looks after just one spray of my
homemade cleaner!

Click on the link below if you want a copy of my cleaning schedule as a PDF you can print.

As always, thank you for your time, interest and sharing my post with your friends and family.
Don't forget to "LIKE" My Great Challenge on Facebook.

Sophia, NJ.


  1. Im very impressed on how you cleaned the whole thing.

  2. Prevent clogged drains with a strainer to keep hair, food and other stuff from building up in the drain. If you cook with a lot of oils, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain once a week to flush fats and oils away.

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  4. “Let's keep it real! Bathroom cleaning is the worst chore ever!” — I couldn't agree more! It’s really a hard thing to do. You got to bleach, scrub and disinfect just to make sure that scums and molds wouldn’t form. However, it feels rewarding, especially if you see how white and shining the wall tiles and floorings have become after working hard to clean them.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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